Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

The Accidental Salad

Warm Salad

For Meatless Monday this week, the Everyman was out of town on business, but flying home late that night.

I promised him I would set a plate aside for him, so the obvious question became what could I make that would keep relatively well for an indeterminate period of time?

After pondering for a little bit, I recalled 2 things.  One was the warm potato salad that we both loved at last year’s Outstanding In The Field dinner and the other was a potato and bean salad that I tested while reviewing Earth To Table.  I couldn’t remember much about either, except that a) they were warm, b) they both contained potatoes and c) they came with light, yet creamy dressings.

Given that I was in no mood to excavate my way through the stacks of cookbooks in my house to find Earth To Table (you know you have too many books, when…) I decided to improvise.

Both dishes used fingerlings but I didn’t have any, so instead I cubed a few yukon golds and quartered some shallots and tossed them in some coffee olive oil, then roasted in the oven for an hour.  When they were getting close to being done I melted a little high milkfat artisan butter in a pan until it foamed, then quickly sauteed half a pound of chopped asparagus until it turned emerald, then left it to get slightly blistered and browned.  Removing the pan from the heat, I sprinkled close to half a cup of freshly shelled peas in and let the residual heat of the pan turn them bright green, too.  Next I combined all the veggies in a bowl and tossed with a simple white wine dijon vinaigrette made puckery tart by the addition of a splash of barley vinegar.

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The Garbagepail Garden Shall Rise Again

Tatties

A few weeks ago (some time around Mother’s day I think) I took my 1 pound box of mixed potato species and Carman sunchokes and planted them in last year’s winningest idea for a planter; the garbage can!

Only this time, I remembered to drill holes in the bottom because the gross bog of rainwater that was left in the bin after all this spring weather really did not need to be repeated next year.  As you can see, the warm, almost summery weather we’ve been having lately has had quite the effect on my potatoes.  In only 2 short weeks I’ve gotten sproutlings that are already several inches tall.  I’d say this bodes well for an even better harvest than last year, which I didn’t start until much later in June.

The Beginnings Of A Salad Bowl

Also growing on the roof are some shoots that will soon make it into my salad bowl.

Beet Sprouts

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Shepherd, Meet Cottage Pie

Mega Pie

When I was a child, shepherd’s pie was one of several dishes that my dad could make relatively cheaply and easily, so it was one we had fairly often.

I’m not sure what it was about shepherd’s pie exactly, but for years I’ve mercilessly decried its very existence.  If I had to guess, I’d say it was likely the whole frozen pea/carrot/corn blend that caused me to hate it with a passion, because I’ve had too long and varied a love affair with mashed potatoes for them to be the cause.

That negative connotation stuck with me even after all of these years, and though the Everyman is quite a fan of shepherd’s pie (categorizing it as one of those dishes he never craves but whenever he ingests it he wonders why he doesn’t eat it more often) I have never so much as considered making one.

But, then I concocted that delectable chicken pot pie recipe.  And it got me thinking – why limit a shepherd’s pie filling to that sad, sloppy mess of frozen veggies and ground beef?  Having just recovered from a bout of food poisoning (where the only things I could ingest were mashed potatoes or peanut butter on toast) I had a gigantic bowl of creamy buttermilk mash left over but no semblance of a plan for what to do with it.

Before I knew it I was mentally mapping out a shepherd’s/cottage pie hybrid that had the filling of a chicken pot pie, but was topped with pillowy mash instead of golden puff pastry.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that having all that mash on top meant I should omit the chunks of potatoes from the filling and replace them with something else.  My pot pie recipe typically consists of a carrot, celery, pearl onion and potato blend, and having nothing else in the house I opted to just beef up the other quantities.  To make the hybrid version that much more complete though, next time I would replace the potatoes with those ubiquitous frozen peas and corn instead.

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Garbage Pail Garden

Taters

For those who doubted my ability to produce a decent harvest from my garbage can garden, I give you proof of the potatoes and sunchokes I unearthed yesterday.

Chokes

Two chitted potatoes blossomed into over 4 pounds of decently sized spuds, though the sunchokes clearly needed to stay underground longer.

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Anticipating Harvest

Third Jane Doe

At this time last year, I was up to my eyeballs in lusciously imperfect tomatoes.

But, like almost everyone else this year, my garden’s been slow to blossom.  About 2 or 3 weeks ago I was finally able to start harvesting close to a handful of mixed cherry tomatoes per day.  Even though we’re now a couple of days into September, I still haven’t tasted the first full size fruit yet.

Unknown

As with the red ones above, I’m not sure what varietals these (and the one below) are.  I don’t recall planting any white varieties, but these tomatoes seem awfully pale to me.  Perhaps they might be garden peaches…
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Strange And Delicious

Raw Ingredients

On Saturday afternoon I began to wrack my brain for something nomlicious to have for dinner.

I’d been to Terroni earlier in the day to procure a jar of pepperoncini for ‘nduja after grinding all 4 bags of dried chillies came up short.  As an educational aside, grinding that many chillies in a mini prep can be hazardous to your health because the fiery dust will get lodged in your nose and lungs.  The preserved pepperoncini were intensely spicy and salty, and surprisingly delicious all on their own.  Once the initial blast of heat wore off, they had a wonderful lingering finish.  I wanted to incorporate this interesting new condiment into our evening meal, but was drawing a blank on how to do so.

Being a somewhat rainy spring day, and also owing to the Everyman not feeling entirely top notch, a tart seemed to be the perfect compromise of a meal.  Several flavor combinations were considered but rejected once I realized that pepperoncini would completely drown out anything else.  I wanted to use a bit of guanciale, because you can’t really go wrong with pork fat of any description, so I built the flavor profile around that.  Next I contemplated a medley of potatoes and pears that I originally envisioned as some form of pave but in the end became small chunks.  To round it all out I added some sliced leeks and rosemary, sauteed in a pan and stuffed it into pre-made puff pastry shells.

Potato, Pear And Leek Tart

The pepperoncini was still on my mind, so I grabbed a few Paris toasts, smeared them with the flaming paste and topped them with small knobs of caciocavallo.  A brief blast of heat from the oven and I had perfect fiery-cheesy croutons to top off my salad.  And the verdict?  I liked it, the Everyman liked it, but next time I’d probably cut down on the pear a tad and cook the potatoes further before stuffing them into pastry.  Recipe proportions have been adequately adjusted to reflect those preferences. (more…)

Memories Of Panama (Or Foodie’s Version Of A Top Scallop!)

Starting Point

With the Everyman out of town this week, deciding what to make for dinner has become slightly more entertaining for me.

Last night for instance, I knew I had to make scallops… it’d been ages since I had some, and it’s one of those things I’ve been craving lately.  I even formulated a haphazard plan to glaze them with some of my infamous lemon pickle (jam), but I still needed some form of vegetable or starch to round out the meal.  After all, one cannot live off protein alone, despite what the Atkinites think!

Enter the one bright culinary memory among the bleak dining options available on our trip to Panama… something I’ve coined the brocotato mash.  The food on our trip had been pretty much a wash, which I’ve come to understand is pretty standard when it comes to all inclusive resort fare.  But the one night we went to the resort’s Italian themed restaurant, there was an amazing jerk-seasoned pork loin, with a funky, fluffy broccoli potato mash.  I won’t even get in to the oddity of serving jerk anything at an Italian restaurant, but the mash was outstanding.

During the time since that trip, I’ve recreated the mash at home several times.  It’s always been delicious, but never exactly as I remembered it.  Last night it occurred to me that it would make an excellent accompaniment to my seared lemon scallops, so off I went, pots and pans a-clattering.  Once the mash was finished cooking, I thought about echoing the lemon flavor, and threw in a cube of my lemon artichoke pesto.  One bite and it was confirmed, this was good stuff.  The recipe follows…

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Anything Goes…

Every day that passes brings the gardening season that much closer (fingers crossed that we’re done with snow).  To while away the time I’ve become hooked on something I read about over at You Grow Girl several months ago… Gardening Mama!  It’s a game from the people who making Cooking Mama, which I also obsessively love, but more than that, it keeps my hands busy while I’m waiting for the universe to hurry up and warm up outside already…

Though I may have let the past few months pass in relative silence on the garden front, you can be assured that I’ve not been dormant.  From taking my seed catalogs with me on Christmas vacation so I could pick out my new projects (yes, I am a garden dork and I was mocked mercilessly about it the entire vacation), to harassing the people at West Coast Seeds when an order didn’t arrive, to finally breaking out the potting soil and mucking about in my basement laundry room, the last 3 months contained their fair share of preparatory activities.

Project Sustainability 2009 is well underway, with approximately 60 seedlings chilling out on the grow tower.  Considering that last year was my first attempt at growing anything more involved than a cactus, I was pretty impressed with the end results.  There were definitely lessons learned, and notes made about plants I wouldn’t bother to grow again (read: corn and those weeds I thought were beans).  But this year, along with bringing back favorites and successes from 2008, I also picked a bunch of new plants to try.  As our diet becomes increasingly varied, the memories of how explosively flavorful my completely organic, fresh picked produce was last year inspired me to try my hand at even more.  I can never replace Bob (our organic delivery guy) or our CSA farmshare from Zephyr Organics, but being able to combine two of my all-consuming passions is just too good to pass up.  Plus, creating your own tiny microcosm means being able to experiment with more unique and just plain bizarre produce that larger growers might not bother with.

So far on the rooftop roster this year we have:

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