Wednesday, September 28, 2011

turmeric & cumin crispy smashed potatoes

i do enjoy
serving a meal 
freshly harvested food
i swell with pride
as i lay a platter down proclaiming
all prepared from our garden harvest
'so simple and easy'
knowing full well
that the ease i feel is from years
of curiously
observing generations of the amazing cooks in my family
of boldly
wandering into restaurant kitchens simply asking to see a technique
of sitting with locals
at a farm table in the hills of italy
on the banks of a river in costa rica
roadside in india
and listening 
of trial and error
of trial and success
i learned of turmeric potatoes in india
brightly colored and deeply spiced
a perfect accompaniment to richly stewed meats
the version i present here
is a bit more tame
still brightly colored and assertively spiced
but more suited to roasted meats or a vegetarian meal

sadly, my potato harvest was a bit of a bust this year...but in a brush of serendipity, i was sent a few pounds of potatoes from friedas asking if i would like to give them a try.  i like the piccolo potatoes (sold in 1 1/2lb bags from the little potato company at Ralphs grocery) for this recipe once cooked they have crispy crust, with creamy interior
 turmeric & cumin crispy smashed potatoes
1 1/2 lbs small potatoes
(i used piccolo from the little potato company, this will work with new, fingerling or any other small potato)
1 Tbs turmeric powder
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 Tbs olive oil
1 generous teaspoon whole cumin seed
1/2 generous teaspoon whole mustard seed

place whole potatoes in a pot of cool water to cover.  add turmeric and 1 tsp salt and stir.  bring to a boil and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes (until the potatoes are cooked through)
drain and place in a roasting dish in a single layer.  
using the back of a fork, press each potato until it is a bit broken and smashed, but not completely flattened.
in a skillet, place the olive oil, cumin and mustard seed.  heat on medium until the seeds begin to jump and pop.  immediately pour the hot oil and spices evenly over the smashed potatoes.  place immediately into to 375 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes. check periodically and stir if needed for even roasting.  remove from oven and taste for salt.
pair with roasted chicken or minted lamb or simply dab a bit of plain greek yogurt mixed with a bit of lemon juice over the top for a warm salad.

while i was sent the potatoes as a courtesy, i was not prompted to write about them nor was i compensated in any way to write this recipe-post.  the opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

cookbook review {the homesick texan-by lisa fain}

such a gorgeous book
the homesick texan
slick and bright
filled with beautiful food
real food
styled to seduce
without mocking the earnest home cook
(we've all been there, full of color and gloss on the page and just a muddle of beige in our home kitchen)

the homesick texan tells a story
of a time
of a place
of a person
of a passion

skillfully woven like heirloom linens
 yellowed with age
well worn memories

everything is not BIG in texas
lisa fain proves
flavors can be bold in their subtlety 

with careful alchemy
dried chiles are coaxed back to life
delicately nudged into sweet strawberry guajillo jam
and then
as if a storm rolled in
generously heaped into one-hour texas chili

the food in this book is not fussy
nor is it expected
its pages do not hold
a nacho recipe
piled high with runny cheese and a week's worth of calories
you find
fresh baked corn chips neatly crisp 
each composed to a perfect bite

in the hundred plus recipes
you will find
the makings of
a homey winter breakfast 
biscuits, cream gravy, canned apples and migas
a summer lunch 
avocado soup, crawfish rolls and cornmeal shortcakes
a longhorn tailgate 
chipotle pimento cheese, dr. pepper ribs, shrimp and okra gumbo, cornbread and cobbler

along with many other intrigues
that will coax the texan out of you

The Homesick Texan is now available on-line and at your local book shop 
i give it a strong recommend

a small group of us virtually gathered each week
to cook, share and review
(you can see those recipes and reviews here)

as part of this effort

we received an advance copy of 

*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Levain Bread & The Institute of Domestic Technology

it isn't true
that graduating from
le cordon bleu
in baking and patisserie
makes you a fearless baker
i know
i have a diplome
the seemingly innocent combination 
yeast, flour, salt and water
gives me the shakes
or, should i say

on a bit of a whim
i signed up for a course
(you should check out the great foodcrafting courses here)
i came for the goats
but i stayed
for the bread
i made it
if i seem obnoxiously giddy
it is because
i am
Levain Bread
recipe from erik knutzen
100 grams starter
250 grams white flour
250 grams whole wheat flour
375 grams filtered water
10 grams sea salt
stir together the starter and water until dissolved.  mix in the flour until water and flour are incorporated.  do not knead, just get the flour fully combined. cover and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes.  add the salt and mix together with wet hands. cover.
at the end of the 1st hour
turn dough onto a floured surface. hold one end of the dough and with your other hand, pull the other end to stretch. fold the stretched end on top of it. give the dough a half turn and repeat the stretch and fold. place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let sit.
end of hour 2
repeat the stretch and pull and put back in the bowl. cover.
end of hour 3 or 3 1/2
turn the dough onto a floured surface.  begin to shape the boule. take the dough and pull the sides together as if you are making a beggar's purse, press the edges together and pick up the dough. turn it over in your hands and turn to form a round.
place the dough, round side down in a heavily floured proofing basket or in a bowl lined with heavily floured baking canvas/or cloth.  cover and let sit at room temperature for 3 1/2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator (preferred)
when ready to bake
you will be baking this in an dutch oven
preheat oven and cooking pot to 500 degrees, turn the bread out of its basket or bowl onto a floured surface.  use a razor blade to score a 4" square on the top of the bread.  once the oven/pot is up to temperature,  plop the bread in the pot, round side up.  cover and let bake for 25 minutes. remove the top and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. the bread should be nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.
allow to cool for 1 hour before eating

Thursday, September 15, 2011

spinach and mushroom enchiladas {cooking from the homesick texan}

hubster was living in alaska
when we met
he had
what i like to call
a food routine
minimally diverse
easily prepared

as i write this
i feel sorta bad

i suppose
there was a bit of steam-rolling involved
his beloved flavor-wave
to a dust laden storage bin
paired with
a slightly traumatic
to a place
where winter is 
a bit of rain
breakfast of fresh seasonal fruits

aside from everyone
being all up in his business
he doesn't mind it much
he is craving enchiladas
i hear how much he loved
the spinach enchiladas in anchorage
how perfect
and creamy
and spinachy

i do like spinach
he says
in a tone more suited to love of chocolate cake
than greens

hubs is neither italian nor jewish
when it comes to
my play in his separation from
those enchiladas
the guilt

imagine my joy
when he came to me
the homesick texan cookbook
in hand
turned to page 155
can you make this?
was his query

spinach and mushroom enchiladas
tomatillo salsa

using the best wasilla accent i could muster
i tossed a
"you betcha"
right to him
spinach and mushroom enchiladas w/tomatillo salsa
from the homesick texan
4-6 servings
(printable recipe)
tomatillo salsa
1 poblano chile
1/2 lb fresh tomatillos, husks removed or 11 oz can tomatillos--drained
1/2 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1-2 serrano chiless, seeds and stems removed, cut in half
1 tsp lime juice
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp vegetable oil
salt and black pepper to taste
roast the poblano chile under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side.  place the chile in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight, and let the chile steam for 20 minutes.  take the chile out of the bag and rub off the skin.  remove stem and seeds and chop the chile. place in a blender.
meanwhile, if using fresh tomatillos, on high heat, bring a pot of water to boil and cook tomatillos until soft, about 5 minutes.  drained cooked tomatillos. (if using canned, skip this step.)  place tomatillos, either cooked or canned, in the blender with the poblano chile. add the cilantro, garlic, serrno chiles, lime juice, chicken broth, and cumin, and blend until smooth.  
heat the oil in a pot on medium low, pour sauce into pot, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. adjust seasonings and add salt and black pepper to taste.
1 tsp vegetable oil
10 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 medium yellow onion--sliced
2 cloves garlic--minced
1 serrano chile, seeds and stem removed--diced
1 lb fresh spinach or 10oz frozen spinach thawed
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 Tbs lime juice
1/4 ts cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
heat the oil on medium in a large skillet.  saute the sliced mushrooms for 5 minutes. add a pinch of salt and with a slotted spoon remove the mushrooms from the skillet and place in a large bowl. add to the skillet the onion and cook until translucent, 5 minutes. add the garlic and serrano chile and cook for another minute. add the spinach. stir until it is mixed with the onions, garlic and serrano chile. cover the skillet and cook for 5 minutes or until it is wilted.
remove the lid and season the spinach with salt and pepper.  drain spinach mixture and add to the bowl with the mushrooms. stir in the ricotta cheese, lime juice, cayenne. cumin and cinnamon and mix well.  taste and adjust seasonings.
For the Enchiladas
1 Tbs vegetable oil or lard
12 corn tortillas
2 cups monterey jack cheese--grated
preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking dish.  in a skillet heat up the oil or lard on medium-low heat. one at a time, heat up the tortillas in the hot oil.  keep them wrapped in a cloth or tortilla warmer until all the tortillas are heated.
take a heated tortilla and with tongs, dip it into the salsa.  shake off most of the salsa, but make sure that its moist enough to be pliable. lay the tortilla on a place or clean cooking surface, add 1/4 cup of the filling down the center of it, and then roll the tortilla. place rolled enchilada in the greased baking dish and repeat with remaining tortillas. pour salsa over enchiladas and top with grated cheese.  bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly brown and bubbling.

*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef

Friday, September 9, 2011

poblano macaroni and cheese {cooking from the homesick texan}

i grew up in
a waspy neighborhood
too rude?
perhaps i should say
well heeled
cotillion on tuesday
how we landed there
bronx bred
italian family
moving in
must have been quite the shocker
a very dark man
(my father)
doing his own landscaping
seemed to be
equally disturbing
i tell you this
so you'd understand

it wasn't until my thirteenth year
that i discovered macaroni and cheese
while babysitting

mrs. ran me through the schedule
bath, bedtime
no tv
no prank calls

and for dinner?
i queried

pointing to
a little blue box on the counter
she said
the girls love macaroni and cheese

...out it came
in my not so soft voice
lilting to a question

is that what is in the box?

to which
i got the look
it made me feel

it. is. true.
i didn't know
macaroni and cheese
came in a blue box
to me
was a big plate of pasta
meatballs and sausage
cheese came in wheels, grated tableside

i think she felt sorry for me

fast forward more than 30 years
in of which
i have eaten 
many a mac n' cheese
from scratch
none being
a healthy eat

this one
the fresh bite of citrus and cilantro
combined with the warmth
poblano and cayenne
to cut through the dull sludge
gobs of  gooey dairy
which most macaroni and cheese recipes
hide behind
wrapping this fabulous meal
in the illusion
spa food

  *This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef
  poblano macaroni and cheese
8 servings
2 poblano chiles
8 oz (2 cups) elbow macaroni
2 Tbs unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic--minced
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup cilantro--chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups (12 oz) grated white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cojita cheese--for serving
roast the poblano chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side.  place chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tightly, and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes.  take the chiles out of the bag and rub off the skin. remove stem and seeds and chop the chiles into 1" long pieces
bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta.  cook according to your package's directions and then drain the pasta.  (you want the pasta to be cooked but not mushy; i cook my pasta 5 minutes.)
preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  grease a large baking dish or cast iron skillet, and pour the drained pasta into the dish.
in a pot (you can use the pot the pasta cooked in or you can do this while the pasta boils), on low heat melt the butter. add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. whisk in the flour and cook until a light brown, toasty paste is formed, about 1 minute.  whisk in the milk and stir until it's thickened a bit but still fluid, about 1 to 2 minutes. remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, lime zest, cilantro and chopped poblano chiles. adjust seasonings and add salt and black pepper.
slowly add half of the cheddar cheese and stir until it's melted and well combined into the sauce.  (if the sauce has cooled too much and the cheese won't melt, return the pot to low heat on the stove.  if, however, the sauce gets too thick, like a custard, you can then thin it by stirring in milk, a teaspoon at a time.)  pour sauce over pasta and top with the remaining half of the cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling. sprinkle with cojita cheese, and serve immediately.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

cornmeal and fig financiers

i  met
a young man
he asked to meet 
to discuss an idea

an idea
born in sharing

i was early for the meeting
i have yet to shake some of my
uptight corporate mores

he was tardy
only by minutes

delay caused by
a sweet pause
 to pick these gorgeous ripe figs
which he then
gifted to me

we talked for hours
our love of
good food
how we share it with others
cornmeal and fig financiers
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal *
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
5-6 fresh figs-halved

measure the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  whisk to combine. in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and honey. add the eggs one by one, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  quickly beat in vanilla and buttermilk.  on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients, do not over mix.  scoop into small brioche molds, cupcake tins or other vessel. fill to about the halfway mark (perhaps just a tad bit more), and then gently push 1/2 fig on top.  bake at 350 for approximately 15-30 minutes. use the toothpick method to ensure they are baked through.  
*i used a medium coarse cornmeal--but you can use anything from fine to coarse...the texture of your cake will reflect whichever you choose to use.

{to learn more about devin's project
i can't promise he will bring you figs, but he could probably point you in the direction of someone who would!


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