Colcannon

What I used

5-6 red skin potatoes
2 tbls butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1 med. onion, sliced thinly
4-5 leaves curly kale (purple, if you can), tough stems removed, chopped in to small pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely diced/smashed
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

What I did

1. Boil potatoes until tender
2. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are golden yellow.
3. Add kale to onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until kale is softened but still has a bit of crunch in the stems.
4. Drain potatoes. Add butter and sour cream then mash. Add more sour cream if they seem a little dry.
5. Combine kale & onion with potatoes. Season to taste and consider a garnish of sliced scallions and/or balsamic vinegar drizzle.

image

Note: You may need to box up leftovers right away, unless you plan on eating this all in one night. Or banish yourself from the kitchen for the night. Sorry, honey, I can’t help you with those dishes!

Meat and potatoes

Spring has sprung. And with spring comes after-work time spent lounging in the yard and grilling. Yesterday, I stayed in the yard listening to the loudest frogs ever, in our pond, until the mosquitoes came out. Overcast today so less time lounging but we still grilled.

Chris was in charge of that- he grilled a hunk o’ meat from Whole Foods (technically speaking it was a NY strip) which had been seasoned with salt, pepper and the ubiquitous maple sugar garlic pepper.

I was in charge of sides.

1. Fingerling potatoes with caramelized onions

2. Steamed asparagus with lemon and mustard sauce

Potatoes & Asparagus with mustardy-mayo

Ingredients

4-5 medium fingerlings, sliced in rounds
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
maple sugar garlic pepper
salt

asparagus, trimmed of thick ends
lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 pinches of onion powder

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil with 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat in a large pan. Add onions, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions begin to brown and crisp up on the sides.

While onions are browning, put potatoes in boiling water. Cook until just tender. Remove from water, drain. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter to saute pan. Add potatoes, laying rounds flat so they can get crispy.

Meanwhile, add asparagus in a steamer insert to the pot of boiling water. Cook until greened up and cooked through- about 5 minutes for the thick stems we had tonight.

Combine 1 tablespoon mayo with 1 tablespoon smooth dijon mustard and the 2 teaspoons onion powder. Divide in to two cute serving cups (or dollop on the plate).

Garnish asparagus with freshly ground pepper and lemon juice. Serve with potatoes and onions and the grilled hunk o’ meat of your choice.

A Complete Meal


The frogs are so loud, we have the TV volume at least 3 ticks higher.


Artsy shot

Railroad Potatoes

Chris loves Indian food. Loves it. He’d never partaken of the tikka masala, the tandoori, the naan (etc) until I took him to a place in Grand Rapids with some friends. Good Indian but by no means comparable to the two places I know best, both located in Metro Detroit.

Sadly, in all this time we’ve been tgoether, I still haven’t been able to take him to either of those places (I also recently learned that Priya in Troy has new owners and is no longer very good or very clean).  For now, we have made do with regular trips to Sindhu in East Lansing. If this place were on the west side of campus instead of at the Epcot Center World Tour Plaza* (uh, Hagadorn Plaza) on the east side of Michigan State University, we’d probably be eating there weekly.

I tend to vary my choices there but usually get chicken biryani or some chicken dish which is not on the restaurantdb.net website menu so I can never remember what its called until I get there. Chris always gets chicken tikka masala. He’s obsessed, I think.

Not having a tandoor oven at home, its almost impossible to recreate the flavors for this dish as you get in a restaurant. Awhile back, I made chicken tikka masala from almost-scratch, a recipe I’ve repeated a few times since then. But on this President’s Day, despite having a 3 day weekend, I didn’t have the motivation or time to do a full court press. Plus, I was watching the Olympics! And knitting because that is my new hobby.
So, I used a jar of tikka masala simmer sauce. I wish I could tell you which brand I used but I threw out the jar already. It wasn’t great and I can say that it was not the Seeds of Change brand. We do like that one although there is not enough to cover 1 lb of chicken, in my opinion (I add yogurt or cream at the end). I had just a bit of the tandoori spice mix from the spice shop in Ann Arbor so I sprinkled that on the chicken before sauteing it.


My main focus tonight was on the side dish. Normally, we have rice and/or naan. However, over a month ago, I bought Chris a book about Indian cooking at home- using only 5 spices. I thought this would be perfect for him to try out as Indian food can quickly become complicated with many spices, frying seeds, grinding and mixing, etc.. Since, a month later, no Indian has magically appeared on the nights when it was his turn to cook, I grabbed the bull by the horns (or the book by the covers) and picked something out.

The five spices required in 5 Spices, 50 dishes are: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ground cayenne and ground turmeric.  At our last trip to Whole Foods, I picked up the coriander seeds and also some cardamom pods (green) because I like to add those to the rice. We already had everything else in stock. Side note: my spice “rack” is out of control.

This particular recipe uses 3 of the five spices.

Railroad Potatoes

(Slight modifications, as noted, from original in book)

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced (equaled 2 cups for me)
2 teaspoons salt (!)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

DirectionsSlice potatoes in to quarters then crosswise in to 1/4 inch slices. The original called for red skins and smaller chunks but this is what I needed to use up and hello, Olympics are on!

Make the tadka: Heat oil in large deep pan or wok. When oil begins to smoke, add mustard seeds and cover with a lid.  Once seeds stop spattering, add turmeric and stir. Then add onions and potatoes, salt and cayenne. Toss together, cover and cook over medium heat about 10-15 minutes.

Railway/road potatoes in all their yellow glory!

The book calls these Railway Potatoes because the author’s mother often made these up and served them during train trip vacations. For travel purposes, I think smaller potatoes and lots of onion would be fabulous on bread- just like she described.

One modification I should have made was using less salt. I got two cups of onion out of 1/2 an onion but the recipe suggested a whole onion and perhaps the extra salt would have been okay. Not that they weren’t good but they were a little saltier than I prefer.

A tadka, for the uninitiated is how the flavor of the spices get in to the oil (and hence in to the food) while also bringing out the best of those spices. Because you are working with hot oil, its important to have all your ingredients ready before you heat the oil, just like with Chinese stir-fry.

A quick note about my discovery of this book: I originally entered a contest to win it from the food blog Food on the Food. When I didn’t win, I ordered it from the ubiquitous Amazon. There are a lot of books that use 5-7 spices for making Indian food. I have no idea if this one is the best but I have several recipes marked and I believe that most are more authentically Indian that Chris’s beloved chicken tikka masala. I have the feeling this is the kind of food our old neighbors used to make, the stuff that made us want to just barge in over there on a nightly basis as the aromas filled the hallway of our building.

If any Michigan readers visit Food on the Food, try not to get too jealous. Tammy’s regular descriptions of her farm share, her fish share and all the locally available meats, cheeses, and the like make me pout. Instead, plan a trip to the Boston area using her posts as a travelogue guide- just be sure to get a hotel room with a kitchen so you can cook on your vacation. (Seriously, we are thinking of doing something like this next fall on a honeymoon anniversary return to Vermont).

**I am reminded of a childhood trip to Epcot Center when they had this International Village thing (at the time only 10 or so countries) where you could walk from section to section, visiting Mexico, France, Morocco and more in just steps. That is what I think of when I go to Hagadorn Plaza: sushi, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean and even Jimmy John’s, all in one strip mall.

One final picture, a little Photoshop goof that came out really cool looking although I probably wouldn’t eat anything that looked like this:

Potatoes Au Gratin & Bacon

Over the weekend, Chris and I stopped at a small farm stand and picked up some fresh basil, zucchini and a bag of red skin potatoes. The bag is probably about 5 pounds worth, mostly very small potatoes. I am envisioning some kind of steamed potatoes with a mustardy dressing for the really small ones.

For the bigger ones, I envisioned potatoes baked with cheese so that is just what I made, borrowing heavily from this recipe at Eating Out Loud.

potatoes up close

Ingredients

1 pound Red potatoes thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1/2 Onion thinly sliced
3 slices Bacon
1/2 cup Parmesan grated
2 sprigs Rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Gratin Sauce

2/3 cup Colby-monterrey jack blend shredded
1 1/2 cups Milk
2 tablespoons Flour
1 tablespoon Butter

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 400°.

In small sauce pan, melt butter. Add flour and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute. Whisk in milk until thickened. Stir in cheese, allow to melt then remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat olive oil in medium saute pan. Cook onions until golden-brown then remove from pan.

Add bacon slices to pan, cook until cooked through but not crispy. Remove bacon, drain and slice in to 1 inch pieces.

Layer 1/2 of potoates in a gratin or casserole dish. Sprinkle carmelized onions over potatoes than add second layer of potates. Pour gratin sauce over then top with parmesan cheese, and 1 teaspoon rosemary (finely chopped). Sprinkle bacon over top.

Insert 1 sprig of rosemary, cut in half, along edge of pan. Place dish in oven, bake for 35 minutes.

potates au gratin with baconChris seemed to like it.

Top Ten Ever List Item

According to Chris, I “hit this one out of the park.” And its “on the top ten ever list.” And I “can make this again later this week.”

What did I make?

Just some pork n’ potatoes.

I used this potato recipe from Simply Recipes but with a few modifications:

Ingredients

* 3 Slices of thick style bacon
* 1/2 pound new purple potatoes sliced in half and then in small wedges
* 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
* 4 medium sized shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
* Olive oil
* Kosher Salt
* Freshly cracked pepper
* 1 pinch red pepper flakes
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
* 1 tablespoon chopped capers
* 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Method

1 In a small sauté pan heat one tablespoon of olive oil over a low heat. Add the sliced onions in one even layer, after five minutes add 1/2 tablespoon of butter, stir and add a pinch of kosher salt. While rendering your bacon and cooking your mushrooms in the next steps, make sure to stir the onions every few minutes and remove once they are evenly browned. This should take around 30 minutes, remove from heat when finished and reserve.

2 While the onions are slowly cooking slice the bacon in small batonettes (1/8-inch crosswise strips) on your cutting board. Heat up a larger sauté pan on medium and when your pan is hot add the sliced bacon. Slowly sauté the bacon until slightly crispy and remove from the pan on to a paper towel-lined plate, reserve for later.

3 Julienne the shiitake mushrooms and then add them to the pan which now has the rendered bacon fat. Add a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper to the Shitake mushrooms, don’t shake the pan but let the mushrooms brown evenly on one side. Once browned, flip the mushrooms delicately and remove from pan onto a smaller plate, reserve.

My changes:

Used red skin potatoes instead of purple.

Used regular bacon instead of thick-cut (honestly, I think that thick-cut would have been better but at minimum, get decent center-cut bacon. More meat and less fat).

Used a 4 oz package of shiitake mushrooms which may or may not be equivalent to the original.

Used 1 tsp dried tarragon instead of fresh. Added the tarragon to the potatoes after the first flip during browning. Left out the capers as we don’t have any. For fresh green color, I tossed a little roughly chopped parsley (curly) on just before serving.


Pan-fried Pork with White Wine-Tarragon sauce:

Ingredients

2 medium-thick boneless pork chops or similar
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs seasoned with Italian seasonings
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend with parmesan)
1/4 cup Chardonnay
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 scant tablespoon Creole mustard (or other grainy-type)
up to 2 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper
olive oil

Directions

1. Combine bread crumbs and cheese in a shallow dish or plate. In second dish/plate, break the egg and whisk lightly to combine yolk and white. Season pork with salt & pepper, both sides.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. When heated, dredge pork in egg then in bread crumb mixture. You can pat the bread crumbs on for better stick, if necessary.

3. Saute pork 3-4 minutes per side, until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove to plate, cover and keep warm.

4. Bring heat up to medium-high and add wine to pan, deglazing for any bits on the bottom. Add vegetable broth, tarragon and mustard. Bring to a boil.

5. Boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to just above low, add cold butter. Start with 1 tablespoon. Melt in to sauce then add second tablespoon if thicker sauce is desired.