Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes

This recipe originally comes from Bon Appetit, and was in their special Thanksgiving Issue from 2014. A classic issue, if there ever was one. It also had the Spatch-cocked Turkey recipe.

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2” pieces
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more
1½ cups whole milk
3 sprigs thyme (optional)
2 bay leaves
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Place potatoes in a large pot and pour in cold water to cover by 1”. Add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very tender but not saturated or crumbly, 20–25 minutes (boiling will lead to waterlogged pieces).

Drain potatoes, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid if making potatoes ahead. Return potatoes to pot and set over low heat. Gently stir until dry, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, heat milk, thyme sprigs, if desired, bay leaves, and ¾ cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat.

Pass hot potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl (if allowed to cool, the potatoes will become gummy).

Remove herbs from warm milk mixture; discard. Gradually add milk mixture to potatoes, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth; season with salt and pepper. Serve mashed potatoes with a few pats of butter on top.

Hasselback Potatoes

The name of this potato comes from the Stockholm restaurant where it was first served: Hasselbacken. I used a giant russet potato, but I think this might be better with a Yukon Gold or other medium-sized thin-skinned potato.

Tip for cutting: Lay two wood-handled spatulas/spoons on either side of the potato, and slice the potato crosswise at 1/8″ intervals, cutting to within 1/4″ of the bottom.

Ingredients:
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed; leave skin on
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Scrub potatoes, then cut as shown above in the photo, making sure not to cut through the bottom of the potato, as it will fan out a bit as it bakes.

Combine olive oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, smoked paprika and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Mix well. Lay the potatoes on a baking sheet (can line with foil, if desired). Spoon some of the mixture over the top of the potato, then carefully insert pinches of the mixture in between the slits of the potatoes. Rub the outside with any leftover mixture, or if needed, a bit more olive oil.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the inside is cooked through and the outside of the potato is a bit crispy. If olive oil pools in the pan, it’s possible to baste the potatoes with this one time, to assist in crisping. Garnish with additional parmesan and chopped chives.

Note: the giant russets took forever to cook, nearly 90 minutes, and the flavor is earthy (not buttery like the Yukons), so I won’t use them again.

Honey-Garlic Roast Carrots

Ingredients
2 pounds carrots washed and peeled
1/3 cup butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
3 garlic cloves minced
Salt
Freshly-cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Instructions
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil spray; set aside. (If you choose to line the pan with foil, it may stick, so be generous with your cooking spray.)

Trim ends of carrots and cut into thirds. If the end of the carrot is thick, cut in half lengthwise, so that all carrots are about the same size. Place into large bowl.

Melt butter in a pan or skillet over medium-heat. Pour in honey, oil, garlic and cook while stirring, until garlic is fragrant.

Pour over the carrots, tossing so the carrots are well coated. Transfer carrots to baking sheet, and arrange into a single layer so they cook evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until carrots are fork-tender. Sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving.

Optional: Broil for 2-3 minutes on high heat to crisp/char the edges. (I did not do this.)

Charred Carrots with Orange/Balsamic Glaze

This is originally a recipe from Ina Garten, but as I didn’t have any “syrupy balsamic vinegar” that she calls for in the recipe, I made some modifications.

Ingredients
   1 ½ pounds rainbow carrots, scrubbed (about 8 large or 15 medium carrots)
   3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
    1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
   Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  ½ orange, zested and juiced
  1 tablespoon high quality balsamic vinegar (if you have the aged syrupy kind, all the better)
   Fleur de sel or sea salt

Preparation
   Position an oven rack 4 inches away from the broiler and heat the broiler.
   Cut the carrots crosswise into 4-inch lengths. Cut the larger pieces lengthwise in half or quarters so the sticks are roughly 1/2-inch wide. Place in a bowl, and toss with the olive oil, thyme leaves, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.
   Place the carrots on a sheet pan and grind 1/2 teaspoon pepper over everything. Spread the carrots out in an even layer.
   Broil the carrots for about 10 minutes, tossing every few minutes, until they are tender and randomly charred. Top the carrots with the orange zest, orange juice and vinegar, return to broiler so juice/vinegar mixture thickens up a bit and coats the carrots. Sprinkle with some fleur de sel, if you have it, or kosher salt/grind some salt, if you don’t.

Taste for seasonings, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Braised Fennel with Orange

I want to make this every day.  Just kidding.  We served it with some stuffed pork chops, but tonight we are having it with grilled chicken-apple brats.  It’s been modified from where I found it: the last (yellow) Gourmet cookbook.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter (can omit if vegetarian)
Juice of one lemon, about 3 Tablespoons
1 large fennel bulb (one pound or more), thinly sliced, fronds cut off (but save a few for garnish)
1 navel orange, peeled and chopped in large chunks
1 medium onion, peeled, and sliced thinly
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, plus a few bits for garnish
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
shake of sugar (if needed)

Place oil in a large skillet.  Add fennel, oranges, onion and rosemary.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir, briefly sauteeing.  Then pour in the orange juice and lemon juice.

Continue to stir to let the vegetables cook until tender, another 10 or 15 minutes or so.  Add in more orange juice if it starts to dry out.  You want them slightly saucey, but not liquidy (hope that makes sense).  Test for taste and if too tart, sprinkle some sugar over the top and stir in.  Garnish with chopped fennel fronds and rosemary bits.

 

Potato, Snap Pea and Tomato Salad

I was determined to get rid of some of those magazines I had laying around, so went through them one day, folding down the corners of pages that looked great.  Then, today, a friend and I went into the local specialty olive-oil-and-vinegar store, and picked up a couple of different vinegars and oils.  All of this combined to yield tonight’s dinner, served up with a piece of flaky grilled salmon. Perfection!

Ingredients:

1 lb. mixed potatoes: fingerlings, small white or red potatoes, small blue potatoes (our market sells them together, but you can mix and match from your grocer’s produce section).  Cut all potatoes the same size (I made them all about the size of a man’s thumb.)

1 cup sweet pearl tomatoes, cut in half
1-1/2 cups (approximately) sugar snap peas, washed and cut in half, ends trimmed
4 very thin slices of red onion, cut into quarters, then soaked in water for 5 minutes
1 clove garlic, chopped fine (not smashed), then soaked in water for 5 minutes
7-8 basil leaves
salt and pepper — If you don’t have a salt grinder, use a few shakes of David’s Kosher Salt (no substitutions)

Lemon Vinaigrette

Splashes of other vinegars: red wine or lemongrass mint or your other favorite tangy vinegar
Extra drizzles of flavored olive oils: herb, or lime, or other mild flavors

Preparation:

Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until almost tender.  To the same pot, add snap peas and cook until crisp (potatoes should be tender).  Check by dunking the snap pea in ice water; don’t overcook.  Drain and then place in ice water bath to cool quickly and to stop the cooking.

Meanwhile, while potatoes are cooking, snip the basil leaves into ribbons in the bottom of a medium bowl.  Add cut tomatoes.  Drain the onions, and add those to bowl.

Make up a batch of Lemon Vinaigrette, added the drained garlic to the mix, along with salt and pepper, and a splash or two of other vinegars.  Pour over the above vegetables and let sit for a few minutes to blend.  (Note: you can reverse the order of this–prep up the vegetables, then putting the potatoes on to boil.)

When potatoes are cooked and cooled down, drain and pour onto clean kitchen towel, patting to remove excess water.  Place the potato/snap pea mixture into the bowl with the vegetables, toss to coat evenly.  Add drizzles of flavored oils, splashes of vinegar if it doesn’t have enough kick, and plenty grinds of your salt shaker.

Serve immediately.

Happy Summer!

Summer Squash Caponata

While I admit that the above photo of the vegetable melange doesn’t look at all like the one on the New York Times website, this is still a great summer vegetable-based dish, the kind we’re all supposed to be making these days.  I incorporated some of the suggestions from the commenters on that website, but generally, it was a pretty straight forward, chop-up-the-vegetables, juicy, sort of dish.

Ingredients
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds medium green zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 ½ pounds yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons medium capers, rinsed, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes and drained
24 green olives, such as Castelvetrano or Cerignola

Optional Garnishes:
6 hard-boiled eggs (9-minute)
Italian parsley leaves
Basil leaves
Green olives

Can be served with 12 (1/2-inch) slices Italian or French bread, toasted.  However, since we are from Southern California, I cooked up some tortillas in a pan (the heat-and-serve kind), and served this caponata in a tortilla, topped with chunks of rotisserie chicken.

Preparation
Pour a glop of olive oil into a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the chopped onion.  Cook the onions over medium-high heat, stirring, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add celery and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper and transfer onion mixture to a large bowl.

Sprinkle the pinch of red-pepper flakes over the onions, then the green olives (I had to take the pits out, so they were in chunks); set aside.
[NOTE: if you are going to use the green olives for a garnish at the end, don’t add them now.]

Add another pool of olive oil (roughly 2-3 Tbs) in the hot pan, and add enough zucchini to cover the bottom of the pan.  (Note: my pan had gently sloped sides, so I pushed the zucchini up the sides of the pan, too.  I was able to fit all of the 1 1/2 cups into one batch, but if you can’t, please divide into two batches.)  Season lightly with salt and pepper, letting zucchini sizzle and brown slightly. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove to a large bowl.

Continue cooking zucchini and summer squash in batches, adding oil to the pan as necessary, then transferring cooked vegetable to the large bowl.

When all the vegetables are cooked, add, sugar, vinegar and capers. Toss gently together. Taste and adjust, making sure the seasoning is bright, with a balanced sweet-sour flavor. Leave for 10 to 15 minutes and taste again. (If time permits, let the flavors marry for an hour or more before serving. The caponata may be refrigerated for up to 2 days; bring to room temperature to serve.)

We served ours from a bowl, filling our tortillas, but to do it the original way: transfer mixture to a large platter. Top with olives and hard-cooked eggs, halved or quartered. Garnish with parsley and basil.

Roasted Root Vegetables (for Christmas Dinner)

vegetables before roasting

Roasted Root Vegetables

12 – 13 cups red potatoes chunks (4 lbs.)
6 cups sliced carrots (2 lbs.)
8 cups chopped onions (4 medium – about 2 lbs.)
2 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
2 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
2/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Cut up the vegetables (and photo, above):

  • Scrub potatoes.  Leave skins on but cut off any bad spots. Slice each potato in half lengthwise. Slice each half lengthwise again and slice once crossways.  (If a potato is unusually large or small, adjust cuts accordingly.) In other words, you’ll end up with 8 chunks per average size potato.
  • Peel carrots.  Trim small end on the diagonal.  Cut each carrot on the diagonal about 1 1/2” long and about ¾” wide. (Do not include the top end.)
  • Peel onions.  Cut each in half lengthwise.  Cut each half lengthwise two or three times so that the cuts are about 1” apart.  Cut these pieces across into about 1” pieces.  Don’t worry.  These will all cook down.

Place all of the vegetables in a large bowl and toss together along with melted butter,  olive oil and seasonings.

Meanwhile, place two large rimmed baking sheets in oven and preheat to 450F.  When oven is ready, remove baking sheets and spread half of vegetable mixture onto each one. (NOTE: If the vegetables are too crowded, they will steam, not roast.  Please give them room.)

Use a pancake turner or wide spatula to turn vegetables over and mix around about every 15 minutes for about an hour until nicely browned.  Switch the top pan to the lower rack and the bottom pan to the lower rack about midway to promote even browning.  Some of the onion pieces may get quite dark.  Don’t worry about.  It adds flavor and an earthy look.

Cover the pans with foil or combine the batches into one container to deliver to the church kitchen by 5:45 p.m..  From there we will combine all of the contributions into roaster ovens to keep warm. Please take your own pans to your car to take home to wash.

Thank you!

Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts

1 ½ – 2 pounds brussels sprouts
¼ cup olive oil
¾ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon (or 10 grinds) black pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
To prepare the brussels sprouts, remove any yellow or brown outer leaves, cut off the stems and cut in half.
In a large bowl, toss the brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Once all of the brussels sprouts are coated in oil, spread them into a 9-by-13-inch (or larger) baking dish or sheet tray to roast. Note: You may want to line your sheet tray with foil for easy cleanup because the caramelizing process leaves a sticky residue.
After 15 minutes, stir the brussels sprouts with a spatula or large spoon to even out the browning. After 30 minutes, stir in the maple syrup. Continue to roast the brussels sprouts for about 15 more minutes, or until they are fork tender (about 45 minutes total roasting time).  Toss the roasted brussels sprouts with the hazelnuts and devour!

NOTE: If your sprouts are on the smallish side, they may need less time overall.  Cook only until fork tender.

To toast hazelnuts, place in pan over low heat, tossing or stirring frequently so they don’t burn.  They should let off a fragrance when they are toasted, in probably no more than 5 minutes total time.

Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Corn

This is a variation of a soup from my cookbook Bowl Food, as I sort just opened the refrigerator and morphed my ingredients into a meal.  The variables you’ll need to keep track of (as they relate directly to each other) is the amount of broth you use is in relationship to the amount of cauliflower you use.  I cook the leek and garlic, then add the chopped up cauliflower.  I then add broth so it’s just covering the vegetables.  You be the judge.

1 Tablespoon oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 potato, chopped (can add a cooked. chopped, potato later in the soup, if that’s what you have in your larder: that’s what I did)
6 cups chicken stock or canned broth (3 cans)
1/2 cup cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 -1/2 cups sweet white frozen corn

Heat the oil in a large pot, large enough to hold all ingredients.  Add the leek and garlic, and cook over medium heat until the leek is soft, but not brown (about 6-8 minutes).  Increase the heat to high and add cauliflower, potato, chicken stock and bring just to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower and potato have softened.

Turn off heat.  Using a stick blender (or, alternatively, cool the soup and use a blender or food processor), puree the soup until smooth.  Add the cream, lemon, red pepper flakes, chives and frozen corn.  Place over heat until all ingredients are warmed, about 2-3 minutes.  Sometimes the heat of the soup will suffice.

Cauliflower Soup, served with Oyster crackers

Serve with Mary’s Retreat (homemade) Bread, or Oyster crackers, or homemade croutons, or crostini.

Serves 6-8.