Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Swiss Fried Potatoes

Who knew the Swiss were awesome with potatoes? The rosti is basically an enormous hashbrown, cut into wedges like a pizza. The recipe below suggests applesauce and rosemary for garnishes, and I heartily endorse this plan. This was one of my hands-down, favorite recipes I've made in awhile.

One note: the butter content is enormous. I made eight medium sized potatoes in two pans, and used the recommended amount, but yes. This is not a diet food. Still, uber-tasty.

Also, I used normal applesauce and rosemary. *Shrug*

From Epicurious:
  • 6 large russet potatoes (4 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallots (about 6)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tablespoons (about) prepared usli ghee* or clarified butter, divided
  • Rosemary and Brown Butter Applesauce

Cook potatoes in large pot of generously salted boiling water until partially cooked (tester will meet some resistance), about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, rinse in cold water, and drain again. Peel, cover, and chill until very cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Coarsely grate potatoes into large bowl. Melt butter in large ovenproof castiron skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots; sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Add shallot mixture, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to potatoes (reserve skillet). Toss to blend evenly (do not compact potato mixture). DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Melt 4 tablespoons usli ghee in reserved skillet over medium heat. Add half of potato mixture (5 1/2 to 6 cups). Stir gently until ghee is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Spread potatoes to even layer, then press firmly with metal spatula to compact. Cook 5 minutes, pressing and flattening occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low. Place slightly smaller skillet atop potato cake. Weigh down with heavy can (such as 28-ounce can of tomatoes). Cook potato cake 15 minutes, pressing occasionally.

Remove can and small skillet. Press potato cake again to flatten. Spread with 2 tablespoons ghee.

Place skillet in oven and bake potato cake uncovered 15 minutes. Run narrow spatula around potato cake. Turn out onto platter, bottom (crusty) side up. Immediately cut into wedges and serve with applesauce. Repeat with remaining potatoes and ghee.

* Indian clarified butter (also called ghee); available at some supermarkets and specialty foods stores and at Indian markets.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cold Weather Calls for Soup

Yesterday J and I made a very winter soup for dinner: while called "Barley Soup with Porcini Mushrooms", it's really more of a general vegetable soup, especially since there is a lot of potato involved. It was my first chance to use my Christmas mandoline, and what a sweet one it was. Not only did it do all it promised about making all that vegetable cutting significantly faster, it was really fun. The last one I had came with a pretty weak handguard (next to huge blade = kinda scary), but this one is much stronger and makes a huge difference. All in all, mandolines are awesome.

We made two major changes to the recipe:
1- The store didn't have any porcini mushrooms, dried or fresh. At all. So we went with dried oyster mushrooms. Still delicious; no complaints.

2- In order to get some protein into the soup, we added some lentils, about 3/4 as many lentils as barley. It was really good--the heavy winter vegetables mix with lentils very well, and it made the dish more of a fully rounded meal.

All in all, it was one of the healthiest dinners I've had in a while (sadface), and quite tasty. It also turns out in this nice golden color, which I would prove if I hadn't lost my camera cord. Next week I'll have a new one.

One last note: the Food and Wine site says that overall this recipe takes 10 hours. That is outrageous. I think everything--chopping, simmering, and all--came to maybe 2.5. So, I have no idea what they're talking about.

Ingredients

  1. 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (2 cups)
  2. 2 cups warm milk
  3. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  4. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  5. 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  6. 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  7. 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  8. 1 bay leaf
  9. 1/2 pound pearl barley (1 1/4 cups), soaked overnight and drained
  10. 3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  11. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  12. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

  1. In a bowl, cover the porcini with the warm milk and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Rub the porcini in the milk to rinse off any grit, then coarsely chop them. Reserve the milk.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the porcini and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the stock, bay leaf and barley and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer until the barley and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the reserved milk, stopping when you reach the grit at the bottom. Simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve, passing olive oil and Parmesan cheese at the table.

Make Ahead

    The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Add more stock when reheating if the soup is too thick.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lazy Days BBQ Pizza

As much as I really hate Sandra Lee's show, the concept of "semi-homemade" isn't a bad one. I don't know anyone who actually makes all their own stock, or all their own bread. This recipe is a build-off of ready-to-go pizza crusts. We've used both the Botoli and the Trader Joe's pizza dough, and they're both great. All prep included, this takes about 15 minutes of actual work, and another 12-15 in the oven. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

I've mostly used this one for days when I feel like cooking, but not really. It's also great for parties, though, cut up into little 3-inch squares.

1/4 cup barbeque sauce
1/3 cup smoked gouda, grated
1/3 cup Monterey Jack, grated
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
1 tsp basil (fresh)
1 tsp tarragon (dry)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1 pizza crust

Saute the mushrooms in the garlic, scallion, and herbs until mostly cooked. Set aside.

Coat the pizza crust in barbeque sauce, leaving a 1 inch margin around the edges. Add Jack cheese, and then gouda on top. Spread cooked mushrooms over the pie, and bake 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ultimate Comfort Food: Garlic and Saffron Soup

This soup was absolutely amazing comfort food, especially for a chilly day. The actual soup itself has no dairy in it at all--it's thickened with bread, of all things. Cut or torn up bread cooked in the broth, garlic, and saffron. Oh man, it was tasty. It was also a chance to use my handy stick-blender, the novelty of which still hasn't worn off. I did put a little bit of the Jack cheese on top of the soup as well as on the croutons, which turned out to be tasty (it's cheese...it wasn't exactly risky).

In any case, highly recommended recipe I stole from Epicurious. Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups trimmed sourdough bread cubes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, quartered
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 generous pinches saffron threads

  • Salt
  • 8 1/2-inch-thick French bread baguette slices
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego or Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Minced fresh chives or green onion tops
  • Saffron threads

Preparation

Heat 4 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. add bread cubes and garlic and sauté until bread is light golden, about 4 minutes. Add wine, then broth and saffron; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes. Puree soup in blender. Return soup to saucepan. Season with salt.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange French bread slices on cookie sheet. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over croutons. Transfer cookie sheet to broiler; broil croutons until cheese melts. Place 2 croutons in each bowl. Bring soup to simmer. Ladle over croutons. Sprinkle with chives and a few saffron threads and serve.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Normandy Christmas

This recipe is one I made for Christmas dinner this year--I just was not signing on for turkey, and my family has a whole spectrum of eating habits, so we decided on Cornish hens. Alton Brown says that he makes them for his family on Christmas day (using a sandwich iron of all things), but mine we a little different. Still, they were uber-juicy, to the point of my worrying that they were undercooked, but no, they're just like that. The flavors in this recipe give them a sweetness that's really pleasant, and the sage and nutmeg balance it really nicely.

A tip. The garlic I used was pre-crushed, which saved a lot of time and pain. When I made these before, I chopped it myself, but the crushed is easier to spread.

One last note. I assumed everyone would need their own hen, since they are smaller than chickens. Oh no. Even Dad only had one half. Leftovers are always great, but for planning purposes, be on notice.

Anyway, the recipe itself, below (from recipes.com):

Cornish Hens Normandy

3 Cornish hens, frozen
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. orange juice
3 thick slices navel orange, cut in half

Thaw and split hens in half down the middle. Combine salt, sage, garlic, nutmeg, garlic and lemon juice. Rub mixture over skin side.

Melt butter in shallow roasting pan in 350 degree oven. Place hens, skin side down, in melted butter. Roast 15 minutes. Turn skin side up and roast 15 minutes longer. Pour orange juice over hens. Roast 15 minutes or until brown and tender.

Remove to platter. Pour pan juice over. Garnish with orange slices. Slices may be sauteed in butter to which a dash of cloves has been added. Serves 6. Freezes well.

NYT Article: The Latest Must-Haves for the Pantry

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Polenta Gratin with Mushrooms

Stolen from Epicurious, with a few adjustments. I love those polenta tubes--I can't imagine why anyone would make polenta from scratch for every single use. It's healthy as hell, and equally tasty, and those $2-3 tubes at the grocery store make an easy dinner. Normally I toss polenta with gorgonzola, parm, and pine nuts over the stove, but this is a great family-style recipe. It debuted at Christmas dinner this year, as an attempt to convince my mother (and possibly father) that they like polenta. At least on the former count, it worked. I made it again one week later for a dinner party, and one of the guests requested the recipe.

Polenta Gratin with Mushrooms

  • ACTIVE: 30 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 15 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 8

Ingredients

  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 12 ounces sliced mixed wild mushrooms (5 cups)
  3. 1 large shallot, minced
  4. 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  5. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  8. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  9. 3/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  10. 1/2 cup fat-free half and half
  11. One 18-ounce log of prepared polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  12. 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 cup)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the shallot and cook over moderately low heat for 3 minutes. Add the spinach, thyme and nutmeg and cook over high heat until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the spinach evenly in a 2-quart baking dish.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour over moderately high heat. Add the stock and cream and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper and pour over the spinach. Arrange the polenta slices on top of the spinach in overlapping concentric circles, pressing to submerge the polenta slightly. Sprinkle the Gruyère on the polenta, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Uncover the polenta and broil 6 inches from the heat for about 2 minutes, or until golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead

The unbaked gratin can be refrigerated overnight.