Perfect Potatoes

Perfect Potatoes

There’s a technique that creates a perfect potato (in my opinion) which, upon trying it, has changed the way I cook potatoes at home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a red potato, Yukon gold, sweet potato, yam… just start with a potato, follow my steps, and see how it turns out. I’ll replicate this in future posts with different potatoes, but for this posting I had local Colorado red potatoes on hand.

First, par-boil them in salted water until a knife can pierce them without force.

Then, take them out of the water and let them sit until they’re cool enough to touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

When a potato is par-boiled, it’s not quite cooked evenly through, and you can see the difference in doneness when it’s sliced in half.

par-boilded potatoes

For this particular evening, I sliced the almost fist-sized potatoes in half, sliced the halves, and then cut them again in half to 2-inch long pieces. You could slice them into any length or width you want, but your oven roasting time might then vary.

I tossed the potatoes with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them on a baking sheet.

Perfect Potatoes

After 10-15 minutes in the oven they’ll be sizzling, or as I like to say, “talking to you,” at which point it’s OK to check to see how brown they are on the underside. When they’re looking crispy, I flip them, repeat the process, and voila- a perfect potato.

Perfect Potatoes

They have the crust of something fried with the creamy interior of a french fry done correctly, yet are tossed in just a few tablespoons of olive oil. They’re not just a guilty pleasure of mine, but something I’m really proud of figuring out while chef’s out working and I’m preparing dinner.

Eataly, Chicago- A Gourmand’s Dream Come True

You walk in to a gourmet fresh produce market with raisins dried on the vine, exotic fruits, fresh vegetables, and a free vegetable butchering service. Turn to the right and approach a coffee bar, then a snack bar, an ice cream shop, chocolate shop, and home goods specialty shop. Head up to the second floor and enter a brewery, winery, olive oil shop, bakery, cooking school, pizzeria, vegetable restaurant, fish market and restaurant, cheese shop, fresh pasta shop, butcher counter, salumi shop… I’m definitely forgetting a number of “shops” under this two-story department store sized restaurant and marketplace. But, hopefully you get my point if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting EATALY in NYC, Chicago, or any of its other European, Middle Eastern, or Asian locations.

Sean and I did a really quick reconnaissance after enjoying The Publican, and decided to return the next day for lunch.

We chose to dine at the Verduri restaurant, and started with their Bruschetta del Giorno.

Bruschetta EATALY

And a couple glasses of rosé in EATALY glasses (available for purchase, of course).

EATALY rosé

Next came the Asparagi dish with a beautifully fried egg on top.

Asparagi

We followed that with Verdure Piastra, which was essentially a big serving of farro topped with roasted veggies.

Verdure Piastra

And chef had to try their Green Pea Farrotto, as he’d just been talking about wanting to put a Farrotto on his own menu at Zeal.

Farrotto

The verdict? The Farrotto, which is essentially a risotto-style dish made with farro rather than rice, seemed to be rapidly prepared rather than slowly cooked the way this labor intensive dish is best made for a creamy, delectable experience. It seemed like pre-cooked farro was added to a pea broth rather than cooked in a broth over a long period of time. But, the flavor was good. The Verdure Piastra was a HUGE portion of food, yet priced the same as the Farrotto. This seemed off to us. And in the end, lunch cost $130 including tax and tip. That’s a pretty expensive lunch!

Hazelnut Pesto

I bought a bouquet of basil at the Boulder Farmers’ Market. When I picked it up, I knew it was large. When I got it home, the enormity of this bouquet really struck me. What’s a gal to do with so much basil? Pesto, of course.

I had raw hazelnuts in the house, so I decided on hazelnut pesto. I’d never made it before, but walnut pesto is great, so hazelnut pesto should be great, too. And, it is.

First, I roasted a couple cups of hazelnuts in the oven at 200 degrees until they became fragrant. Reminder: PAY CLOSE ATTENTION WHEN ROASTING NUTS! You turn your back for a second and they burn…

When they were cool, I peeled off the skin.

Then it’s all quite simple. I peeled some garlic from the market, washed the basil, found my olive oil.

It took four batches in my mini food processor, plus a little sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns, and I have multiple meals-worth of pesto.

Finally, I filled two ice cube trays to freeze my pesto so I can enjoy the flavors of the summer harvest in the fall or winter. When I thaw my little pesto cubes, I’ll add some grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Sautéed Hon Tsai Tai

I must give my thanks to Mark at Ollin Farms for introducing me to Hon Tsai Tai. Since I joined Ollin Farms’ CSA, I have a feeling this summer is going to be one of culinary experimentation with whatever they give me in my weekly share of organic veggies. I’m definitely up for the challenge.
Hon Tsai Tai, however, wasn’t really a challenge. I treated it like broccoli rabe and was pleased with the result. It also went well with some Hazel Dell mushrooms.

I chopped the hon tsai tai into reasonably sized pieces and sautéed them in a little olive oil and chopped garlic for just a few minutes until they softened and turned deep green. Then sprinkled it with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. This was really simple and really good.
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