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.
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.
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.
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.
When our local Whole Foods ripped out it’s prepared foods counter to install a Beyond Meat Burger Bar, Sean and I took a look at these veggie patties and decided to pick some up for our July fourth BBQ. Would we buy them again? No. Not a chance.
These pea protein burgers are in the freezer section, and they look very much like ground beef. Once you get through the packaging, they’re VERY similar in appearance to beef.
They’re juicy, unlike any other veggie patty I’ve seen. Beet juice makes them red, and it allows them to “bleed” when you bite into them. That’s where this company lost me as a potential consumer/customer. I enjoy veggie patties that function like a burger in the sense that they stick together and can be on a bun with toppings. If I wanted the meat-eating experience, I’d eat a real burger. But, we gave them a try…
We thawed them and followed grilling instructions. These patties have coconut oil, which makes the grill flare up as soon as they go on. Personally, I’m not on the coconut oil bandwagon and don’t easily succumb to food trends, so, though it’s smart to add it for the grilling experience, it’s a bit gimmicky to me. The chicken sausage from Whole Foods on the right of the grill was my dinner for the night, by the way.
The Beyond Burger grills up to really look like a burger.
Chef dressed one up with all of the Sir Kensington’s condiments we had in the house as well as some romaine, blue cheese, and caramelized onions. It looks like a burger, kind of tastes like a burger, but isn’t a burger. It’s a highly processed food item designed to look like one of the “sexiest” things you can indulge in. A Hamburger. So, this is where they’ve completely lost me. Why do we Americans need to create food items that resemble things we enjoy eating, but make them “healthy” by making them vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, or paleo? I’m going to stick to a balanced diet of mostly vegetables with an occasional indulgence in meat, seafood, chicken, or turkey. And, chef and I will continue to make home-made veggie patties when we’re feeling like a burger at home.
Beyond Meat has “chicken” strips, tenders, burgers, and crumbled “beef” all made of veggie protein. While I agree whole-heartedly that we should consume fewer animals and animal products, I don’t think that needs to be highly processed, packaged, and made to resemble the animal protein we’re eliminating or cutting back on for the time being. Why can’t a vegetarian stir fry have just veggies and rice in some amazing spice or sauce? Why does it need to include a fake piece of chicken that looks and almost tastes like chicken? Just as weaning your way off of sugar and chocolate bars will eventually cut your sugar addiction, eating more of and enjoying more whole foods based meals will change your eating habits and preferences. Give it a try. I dare you.
As I mentioned in my blog post about my Piedra Azul cocktail- La Última Palabra– A Bolder Table was invited to participate in a Dip and Sip Challenge featuring Piedra Azul Tequila and Avocados in honor of National Guacamole Day, which is September 16. Sean and I had plans to invite friends and have a little soirée in our loft, but then Boulder suffered through a 100 year flood, making roads impassable. In fact, we were asked to stay put so only emergency vehicles were on the road, and at the time of this posting, we’re still under a flash flood warning. So, needless to say, there was no fiesta with the $25 gift card we received to Whole Foods nor with the bottle of Piedra Azul Tequila. It was just the two of us, tequila, and avocados.
Before the flood of the century, I had plans to go to the Boulder Farmers’ Market for all of the ingredients I couldn’t purchase at Whole Foods. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen because the market was canceled due to flooding. Most of the farms, in fact, were totally wiped out, so I’m not even sure we’ll have a market for the rest of the season. But, disaster aside- plans changed. When life gives you lemons, make lemon-aide. When Piedra Azul gives you avocados and tequila, make guacamole and libations. It’s simple, sometimes.
When there was a break in the rain we rode our Linus bikes (couldn’t resist the plug) to Whole Foods to grab some Hass avocados, Haystack Mountain Boulder Chévre, and a few other ingredients to make an avocado dip to pair with my tequila tail and some veggie fajitas that the chef planned for dinner after working a ten hour shift at OAK.
The Dip and Sip Challenge is straightforward: Create a unique avocado dip and tequila libation. We received a $25 gift card to Whole Foods, a bottle of Piedra Azul Blanco Tequila, and Gaby Dalkin’s cookbook Absolutely Avocados.
When I lived in Santiago de Chile, I ate avocados every single day. After moving to Boulder and seeing a $2-$3 price tag per avocado, I pretty much made them a food specialty item in my kitchen. So, I was eager to accept the challenge, the gift card, and the cook book since I absolutely LOVE avocados. Disastrous flooding canceled our party, but the bright side is Sean and I had two days of serious avocado indulgence, which is not custom in our home.
Sean made a caramelized onion chipotle chévre guacamole for dipping with chips and spreading on fajitas. The recipe is straightforward:
Caramelize a yellow onion in olive oil. If you’ve never caramelized an onion before, it’s easy. Slice them thinly and add them to a hot pan with olive oil. Turn down the heat and let them slowly turn brown over 30-40 minutes, agitating them occasionally.
The caramelized goodness went into a food processor with a log of locally made Boulder Chévre and a couple chipotle peppers from a can of San Marcos Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce purchased at Whole Foods.
While Sean sliced the avocados, I had a giddy-as-a-school-girl-look on my face. But, we have no photo of that. Just the aguacates.
The final steps are simple- add the caramelized onion chipotle chévre mixture to mashed avocado, add Meyer lemon, French sea salt, Aleppo Pepper to taste (recall those ingredients from my cocktail?), and mix well.
This was a fun challenge for both of us. We learned some interesting facts about avocados from Gabby’s book, were both challenged to create something new, and had a great dinner for two as a result.
Citrus season is upon us, and lucky for me, a local Boulder chef wanted to preserve some ripe ruby red grapefruit in a mint simple syrup right here in my house. I got to watch, take some photos, and will eventually get to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Not such a bad deal for me…
Chef Sean Smith plays with fire at Boulder’s esteemed OAK at Fourteenth. Recently, we decided to collaborate on a few food projects, and preserving grapefruit in mint simple syrup is one of the first recipes in a series that will be featured here on A Bolder Table.
- 10 pounds of ripe ruby red grapefruit
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh mint
- 1 cup sugar- not the refined crap. I prefer Vegan Cane Sugar
- 1 quart water
- 2 quart or 4 pint jars for canning
Sean started by preparing the jars for canning. This is a boiling process to kill anything that might cause spoilage, and I’m not a canner, so please don’t just trust me when I say to boil the jars for 15 minutes or so. To avoid botulism, check out these canning tips.
While the jars are boiling, bring the quart of water to a boil in a non-reactive pot. When it’s rolling, add the sugar, lower the temp a bit, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add most of the mint to the sugar water, reserving a few sprigs for later, take it off the heat, and let it steep for 20 minutes.
Then it’s time to supreme the fruit, or remove the skin, pith, membrane, seeds, and segment it. This takes a little time, and gets juicy, so be prepared to capture that grapefruit juice in a bowl.
Fill each jar slightly more than halfway with the grapefruit, layering with the reserved mint. Remove the mint sprigs from the simple syrup and pour evenly into the jars.
Process each jar as you properly should, and allow them to cool at room temperature. Enjoy at some unknown date in the future.