Tag Archives: potatoes

potato salad w grainy mustard and thyme

I know potato salad isn’t the first dish that leaps to mind when the weather turns cool, but there is something to be said for making the dish even more savory than usual with the addition of musky herbs, such as thyme, or sage, and lots of grainy mustard. It pairs well with nearly every main course, year round, and is particularly amazing with these pork chops.

If you’re an inveterate potato-salad maker, you know that there are as many ways to make potato salad as there are moments in time. Lots of crunchy vegetables can—and in my opinion should!—be added to the mix. You can try finely diced fennel, celery, snap peas, or carrots, for example. You can leave out the mayonnaise and use Greek yogurt; you can make a dressing of olive oil and vinegar like you do for other salads. Most people have their own way to make potato salad and I’m no exception. I learned from my grandmother (no measurements, of course) and in the summer I still use her method when I’m making a traditional summer meal with fried chicken, or hamburgers. This recipe is a variation on that theme, with the addition of a lot more vegetables and a healthy dose of grainy mustard. The market is brimming, still, with yellow and red bell peppers, potatoes, and thyme, so now is our moment. Granny wouldn’t like this potato salad much, I can tell you. But for the rest of us it’s a great fall option that keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days, and gets better with time. I’d make a double batch this weekend, if I were you.

Potato salad w grainy mustard and thyme

Serves 4 as a side

  • 12 small potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 small bell pepper, any color, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grainy mustard
  • Leaves stripped from 12 stalks of thyme
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • up to 1/4 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar

1. Place potatoes in a pan of cold water, with enough water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil and boil gently for about 25 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted into one of the potatoes slips in very easily with no resistance. Drain potatoes and cool. Quarter potatoes with a sharp knife, removing any skin that peels off, but keeping skins that cling to the potatoes.

2. While potatoes are cooking and cooling, combine the remaining ingredients except vinegar. Mix vigorously to dissolve sugar. Add vinegar 1 tablespoon at a time until the dressing reaches the consistency you desire. (Remember you want the dressing a little runnier at this point, as the potatoes will absorb some dressing.) Taste the dressing and add salt if needed, 1/4 teaspoon at a time. If dressing is too tart for your taste, add another teaspoon of sugar. When potatoes have cooled, combine them very well with dressing. Refrigerate until you plan to serve it, and stir very well before serving.

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roast leg of lamb stuffed w olives

We are fortunate to have a farmers’ market brimming with great food, including terrific lamb from Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm. At the risk of sounding like a hopeless Food Dork, there really is something special about this lamb. It is such a treat to have lamb for supper, and I do overlook it as a simple weeknight meal. Something about lamb seems purpose built for special occasions, but it cooks relatively quickly, pairs well with any number of other dishes, and it makes for some terrific leftovers.

When I find myself n the throes of hot, humid, summer—the days when not having a glass of frosty cold pink wine in the evening seems too much to bear—I turn to the magnificent Lulu Peyraud and imagine what it was like to live just down the rold from the Domaine Tempier in the dusty Provençal summer. I cannot resist Richard Olney’s book of Lulu’s cooking and I comfort myself with the knowledge that the particular but practical Lulu might forgive me for not having just the right olive or the freshest rosemary on hand when supper time rolls around. I do believe that at least having just the right lamb, straight from the farm, would gain her approval. And I know that in her zest for life and food, she would definitely agree that we should not wait for the weekend to enjoy a perfectly roasted lamb.

Roast leg of lamb stuffed w olives

Adapted from Lulu’s Provençal Table by Richard Olney and How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis

  • 2 lb. leg of lamb, butterflied
  • 3/4 cup Lucques olives (or another mild green olive), pitted
  • 2 plum tomatoes from a can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 oil-cured anchovy
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup coarse breadcrumbs
  • fingerling potatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, or more as needed

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Dry leg of lamb with paper towels and lay flat on cutting board or work surface. Cut 4 lengths of twine; 3 large enough to wrap around the roast, and 1 to tie it lengthwise. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade, combine pitted olives, plum tomatoes, crushed red pepper, garlic, rosemary, anchovy, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and capers. Pulse until olives and tomatoes are well chopped into small pieces. Add breadcrumbs and pulse to combine.

2. Dump stuffing onto surface of lamb. Rolling from the short end, roll lamb up into a cylinder, with the stuffing forming a spiral inside. Tie tightly with twine and trim excess, three ties around the cylinder, and one longways. Place roast fat side up in a 9 x 13 metal pan. Surround with potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil to coat potatoes and a little on top of the roast. Pour 1/2 cup dry white wine into the bottom of the pan; it should be enough to cover the bottom.

3. Place roast in oven for 1 hour. Check after 30 minutes and rotate pan, adding more wine if the bottom of the pan has dried up. Reduce heat to 375 F. Continue cooking until meat registers 150 F on a meat thermometer, which is medium. Remove roast to a cutting board and let it rest undisturbed for 10 minutes. Cut into slices, removing strings as you go along. Serve with potatoes on the side.

 

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smoked trout + asparagus salad

After we feasted on this salad the other night, I got the third degree from Ty: where did the recipe come from? I’m not quite sure really. I kind of applied the transitive property to a couple of things in the refrigerator, and landed on this particular combination. So much of cooking is this way for home cooks, I think. We know that A traditionally goes well with B, and that C traditionally goes well with B, and therefore A and C also make a great pairing. Sometimes you get several degrees away in these relationships and still end up with something stunning. So with this salad.

I think the original inspiration here is our annual trip to the Adirondacks, where we stay in Keene, N.Y., at the delightful Dartbrook Lodge. (Note to self: plan this year’s trip.) While there, one of the delights of local cuisine that we enjoy is smoked trout. It is served there on Club crackers (why are they so good?) and on spinach salad, and with eggs, and in all cases with some combination of horseradish cream, capers, or red onions. Every restaurant in the area seems to feature smoked trout in one dish or another, and like many foods that we associate with a particular place, we love the food more because of the location where we’ve enjoyed it. And vice versa.

Asparagus pairs as naturally with eggs as does smoked trout, which you frequently find with scrambled eggs at breakfast. Potatoes are a lovely companion to asparagus, and also eggs. Red onions and capers are both the frequent companions to these items. And asparagus, smoked trout, eggs, and potatoes all love horseradish. I should pause here to say that my lovely colleague Lani, who makes her own horseradish each year with her husband, gave me a jar of the potent stuff. Without it, this dish would not have been possible! I know the pain and suffering involved with grinding one’s own horseradish, and I therefore treasure it all the more.

Each component of this salad is blanched or browned separately to prepare the final dish: bacon crisped, eggs hard-boiled,  asparagus blanched,  potatoes boiled. All of these things can be done in advance—a few days in advance, even. (Except the asparagus, which is always more crisp-tender if blanched and iced just before eating.) The dressing, a simple mixture of Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, horseradish, and lemon juice, can also be prepared the day before. Or, you can do as I did, and come home from work and set a pot of water to boil and fry your bacon. (Truthfully I should also note that the bacon is absolutely unnecessary to the success of this dish. It is marvelous without it.) Everything gets cooled with chilled water before composing the salad (now is when you can fry up your croutons) and you are ready to eat.

While putting this together has its logistical challenges, none of its components are difficult, and all in all it is a route to an easy weeknight supper. Happy spring!

Smoked trout + asparagus salad

Serves 4

  • 4 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 medium waxy potatoes, such as red bliss or Yukon gold, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch cubes
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 20 spears), washed and trimmed of tough stems
  • 3 slices bacon (optional)
  • 8 ounces of smoked trout, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 8 slices of ciabatta or baguette
  • olive oil for frying ciabatta or baguette

1. If you do not have hard-boiled eggs on hand, make them first. Place 4 eggs in a pan, just covered with water. Put the lid on the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit, without disturbing the lid, for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from pan and plunge carefully into very icy water until you are ready to prepare the salad.

2. Make dressing: combine yogurt, mayonnaise, horseradish, and lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup or small pitcher. Set aside.

3. Place potato chunks in a pot with a lid and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and leave at a simmer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Test a large potato chunk to be sure they are cooked. Drain in a colander in the sink and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside.

4. Refill potato pot with fresh water. Salt lightly and bring to a rolling boil. When it boils add asparagus and blanch until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove asparagus from pan into another pan filled with very icy water.

5. Meanwhile, if using, in a skillet over medium heat, brown the bacon until it is very dark and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Wipe out skillet and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Heat over medium-high until shimmering. Add ciabatta or baguette slices and fry until deep brown on the first side. Quickly and carefully flip the slices and brown on the second side. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate.

6. Assemble the salad: Remove eggs from ice water (or refrigerator if already cooked) and peel them and cut them in half lengthwise. Arrange asparagus, tips pointing to rim of platter. Heap potatoes in the center of the plate (on top of asparagus stems). Drizzle some of the dressing over potatoes and asparagus stems. Arrange halves of eggs around potatoes among asparagus spears. Break up smoked trout and distribute over potatoes, asparagus and eggs. Do the same with bacon, if using. Distribute chopped onion and capers over entire platter. Drizzle everything with more dressing. Serve with croutons on the side.

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asparagus hash + poached egg

Today is Easter and so predictably I must write a post involving an egg. I actually spent the day on my own, but wanted some kind of holiday meal that would seem like an official meal—I remind myself that standing over the sink dipping stoned wheat crackers into a container of hummus is not an official meal—without being too difficult to prepare. The eggs at the farmers’ market really are terrific right now. I had a potato, an odd bit of bacon, and some fresh spring asparagus and scallions, and it seemed like this could make something quite delicious.

The recipe I give below can be scaled up to feed any number of people. The rate-limiting factor here is knowing how accomplished you are at poaching eggs. I can’t poach more than four at a time, and I don’t recommend trying to do more than that. Since I was just cooking one for myself, the timing worked out. I like my eggs poached for exactly 3 minutes. So I cut the asparagus into tiny enough slices (1/4 inch) that I knew it would cook during the time the egg was poaching. The idea is that you make the hash with bacon (or olive oil if you want a vegetarian version), cook the potatoes through, and then when you add the asparagus and green scallion to the pan, you slide the egg in to poach and set the timer. You spend the next three minutes alternately nudging the egg(s) from the bottom of the poaching pan and stirring and shaking the hash to crisp up the asparagus. When the egg is finished, so is the asparagus, and everyone’s happy. Add a quick squeeze of lemon to the hash to give it some brightness, stir, and serve.

Instead of lemon juice you could make a very mustardy vinaigrette here and add it at the end. But what I do like about using a poached egg is that it is really the lazy woman’s hollandaise sauce. You know how you’re supposed to serve asparagus with hollandaise? Unfortunately for me, Escoffier’s mother sauce doesn’t generally appear around here at supper time. However, with the hash doused in a bit of lemon juice, and the runny yolk kind of stirred into the hash, it has a pretty similar effect. Seriously. What is hollandaise, anyway, but egg yolk, lemon juice, and butter? And what are holidays for—standing around fretting over your broken sauce? Never. Poach your egg, swish it around in your hash and bon appetit.

Asparagus hash + poached egg

I didn’t base this recipe on anything when I made it this week. But as I wrote this post, I thought, I know this idea came from something I read somewhere. I searched through my Google Reader and found this post from SmittenKitchen, and I think it is probably influential in this recipe.

For every 2 servings as a main course:

  • 1 slice thick-cut bacon, chopped into ribbons across the grain*
  • 1 large (baseball sized) red-skinned potato, cut into 1/4-inch batons**
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts sliced finely, white parts separated from green parts
  • water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • half a bunch (4 oz.) asparagus, washed, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch slices diagonally
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • coarsely ground fresh pepper
  • coarse sea salt or lavender + meyer lemon finishing salt

1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon ribbons over medium heat until fat is rendered and they are brown and crispy.Add the potato batons and the white parts of the scallions. Stir and then turn heat to just below medium, letting the potatoes rest on the bottom of the pan to get brown on one side. Then stir gently, nudging batons to get at least another side browned. Cook in this manner until potatoes are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes, if all potatoes are in contact with the surface of the pan.

2. While potatoes are cooking, bring water and white vinegar to a simmer in a pan large enough to hold the number of eggs you are cooking, up to four eggs. (If you are making more than four servings, poach eggs 4 at a time.) Water in the pan should be about 3 inches deep. When it reaches a simmer, turn it back so that it remains at a simmer temperature, but no bubbles break the surface. Salt the water as you would for pasta. Crack each egg into 1/3-cup measuring cup or a small ramekin.

3. When potatoes are just cooked and nicely browned, add asparagus and green scallion tops. Stir well and shake down to a single layer to cook.

4. Holding the 1/3-cup measure with the egg just at the surface of the water, tip the egg into the pan of water. Tip the second egg in. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Stir the asparagus mixture periodically to redistribute and shake the pan.When egg white solidifies, use a small spatula to loosen each egg from the bottom of the pan, if they are stuck there.

5. When the egg timer is about to go off, turn off the heat under hash and sprinkle with lemon juice. Stir and then distribute asparagus mixture into plates or dishes. Top each dish with a poached egg, removed from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Serve.

* For a vegetarian version, substitute 3 tablespoons of olive oil for the bacon. Warm the olive oil over medium heat and start the recipe by adding the potatoes and white parts of scallions.

** To get potatoes that cook quickly, I cut each potato in half lengthwise, then place the flat sides down on the board. Then I cut across the short way into 1/4″ slices, then rotate the board and cut long way into 1/4″ slices. You get 1/4″ batons that are as long as half the potato’s depth.

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shepherd’s pie

I feel that after 37 Christmases (but who’s counting?) of putting together my mother’s nativity scene on the dining room sideboard, I can say with great certainty—nay, expertise—that anything called shepherd’s pie qualifies as a Christmastide dish. While her set included the three wise men, those other visitors to the stable, the shepherds were somewhat more relatable. We clearly were not meant to identify with the wise men, with their fancy gowns, gilded gift boxes, and crowns, which screamed, “We are The Other, come from afar.”

There were two shepherds in the set, one standing with his sheep in his arms, and the other kneeling. The set also included several other random sheep to scatter around the general area. (The sheep mysteriously had green painted bases, as though they were standing on grass, whereas all the other animals and people had brown under them to represent sand. Magical sheep that take their grass with them—there’s a miracle.) The camels—one kneeling, one standing—were also quite fancy and presumably belonged to the wise men. The wise men seemed serene, knowing. The shepherds looked a little awestruck, maybe even gobsmacked, which is how I usually feel from Thanksgiving until I get through January 1. I felt for those kids.

I think the whole point of shepherd’s pie is that it’s supposed to contain lamb. From a preliminary reading of cookbooks and online recipes, it looks to me like most people make this with ground beef these days. But if you have a source for ground lamb, you really should use it here. I mean, isn’t it the whole point? Get it, shepherds? They had a lot of sheep, and presumably their pie would contain lamb. In my case they also really love a lot of carrots, and turnips. That said, beef is a plausible substitute here.

Over the years I have developed this recipe, which is very easy to make, even though it appears to have a lot of ingredients. Generally it contains things that you have kicking around the house: carrots, celery, potatoes, canned tomatoes, a smidgen of leftover white wine, a bit of stock. I start the potatoes first and while the filling is cooking, I finish the potatoes and mash them in between steps. This is a dish easily made ahead and reheated the day you want to eat it. (You should extend the baking time if you do this.) All together, a convenient recipe to have in your command during the holidays.

Shepherd’s pie

  • 2 lbs potatoes (I use Yukon gold)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 carrots (11 ounces),  in small dice  (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 stalks of celery (8 ounces), in small dice (about 3/4 cups)
  • 1 medium onion (10 ounces), in small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium turnips (12 ounces), in small dice (about 2 cups)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 plum tomatoes from a can, roughly chopped, with no juice (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable, lamb or chicken stock
  • 2 cups frozen green peas
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup whole milk

1. Quarter potatoes. Place in a pot filled with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Drain and keep warm as needed.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a shallow casserole that can be used on top of the stove and later in the oven. Add carrots, celery, onion, and turnip. Stir until just beginning to soften. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Continue to stir and cook for a moment more, until golden bits just appear on the bottom of the pan, or vegetables begin to color slightly. Add ground lamb and cook and stir until cooked through and no longer pink.

3. Add wine, tomatoes, and stock to the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan, and stir to combine and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Preheat oven to 375 F.

4. When potatoes are cooked through, add butter and mash with a hand masher. (Or you can use a mixer for this step.) I leave the skins on, but you can remove them if you wish. Add salt and pepper to taste. When smooth, add the milk and use the masher, mixer, or a spatula to combine. Set aside.

5. Add peas to the shepherd’s pie filling in the pan. Stir well and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. Turn mixture off and spread mashed potatoes on top of the filling.

6. Pop the entire casserole into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, until mashed potatoes begin to brown and filling is bubbling. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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pork roast with potatoes + poblanos

One of the delights of Sunday suppers can be the leftovers. I love making something on Sunday that can extend into sandwiches, or stews, or sauces throughout the week. That’s why I often find myself on Sunday making something like a big batch of meatballs or a pot roast. For my money, a pork roast is one of the great Sunday meals. Pork sandwiches on toast with mustard or tomato jam are heaven. Odd bits of the roast chopped into a hash are marvelous, and just a sliver of cold pork out of the refrigerator is a tasty snack.

Roasts cooked in the same pan with potatoes were a staple of my childhood. Mom put potatoes (and often carrots) into the roasting pan with chicken, beef, meatloaf, and pork. When you start the roast with the lid on (anathema, I realize, to many fancier chefs than I), the pan juices collect  and glaze the potatoes with tasty drippings. This helps cook the potatoes thoroughly (the easiest way for inexperienced cooks to ruin dinner is to neglect to leave enough time for potatoes to cook through) earlier in the process. Removing the lid after the first three-quarters of the cooking time allows the roast and potatoes to brown and the juices to thicken up into a nice sauce.

I have learned that October is a great month for experimenting in the kitchen here in Connecticut–everything seems to be in season at once. I happened to have a couple of poblano peppers in the refrigerator when I made this. They are quite tasty cooked in the pot with everything else. I don’t think green bell peppers would be as good, but red ones might be delicious, as well as really ripe tomatoes. I also love to add quartered turnips, just coming into season now in Connecticut, and you can never go wrong with carrots. Or cubes of butternut squash. (What was I saying about everything being in season at once? It’s like a cornucopia exploded in my kitchen.)

Pork roasted with potatoes + poblanos

  • one pork loin roast (3 to 4 lbs)
  • a few glugs of olive oil
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile pepper powder or paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled, dried oregano
  • 1 – 2 lbs small potatoes for roasting, quartered
  • 2 poblano peppers, whole

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a lidded roasting pan or enameled cast-iron pan with lid, sear the roast on all sides until well browned. Salt the roast and sprinkle with the ancho chile pepper or paprika and oregano. Add quartered potatoes to the pan and the poblano peppers.

2. Place lid on pan and slide into the oven. Roast with lid on until internal temperature of the meat reaches 140 F. Remove lid from pan and continue cooking until internal temperature of roast reaches 160 F and roast is well browned and potatoes are cooked through. Quite a bit of juice should have accumulated in the pan by the time you remove the lid. If not, add a couple of glugs of stock or wine to the pan.

3. Slice the roast and chile peppers. Serve each person some roast, potatoes, and chiles, topped with the juices that remain in the pan.

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potato, fennel + leek gratin

Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. After the haul from the farmers’ market this weekend, I had potatoes, fennel and leeks left in the refrigerator. With the sudden cool turn in the weather, I turned to the half-and-half in the refrigerator and thought: gratin.

Given the presence of leeks and fennel, I wanted to keep the gratin light (after all, it’s not yet the dead of winter when I must turn to cheese and cream to survive), and the mixture of half-and-half and chicken stock was just right to preserve the flavors of the vegetables but present the creaminess of a gratin. I know I will use this combination again and again this fall. Vegetable stock would work just as well as chicken; I simply didn’t happen to have any on hand.

The key here is to thoroughly caramelize the fennel and leeks to a very dark brown. I then added the somewhat unorthodox step of deglazing the casserole in which you’ve browned the leeks and fennel (and will later bake the gratin) with the warmed stock and then half-and-half. This grabs every iota of flavor from the caramelizing process, but it means that when you start to layer in the potatoes and the caramelized vegetables, you’ll be doing it blind until they come up higher than the level of liquid in the pan. This is fine, as far as I’m concerned. This is, after all, an art (perhaps a religion) and not a science!

Another nice benefit of this process is that the three pale vegetables involved are transformed into a lush, golden, flavorful dish. Don’t skimp on the cooking time—make sure that the potato slices are thoroughly cooked before removing this from the oven. And, as difficult as it is when your home is filled with the smell of brown, baking vegetables, do let the dish sit for at least 10 minutes after you pull it from the flames. The potatoes will absorb more liquid and the dish becomes more dense and unified. Save yourself another dinner-related task, such as making vinaigrette for your salad, to distract you from the temptation to grab a fork and burn your tongue.

Potato, fennel + leek gratin

  • 3 large or 4 medium leeks, sliced 1/8″ thick into rounds
  • 2 bulbs of fennel, sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, sliced paper thin
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

1. In a shallow, ovenproof, lidded casserole or braiser on medium-high heat, place butter and olive oil. When sizzling but not yet browning, add fennel and leeks. Stir and then let leeks and fennel caramelize and brown a bit before stirring. Caramelize, stirring infrequently, until vegetables are caramel-colored and soft. (This takes 15-20 minutes.) Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Remove caramelized vegetables to a plate. Add stock to pan and scrape up all brown bits stuck to pan. Add half-and-half. Bring just barely to a simmer. Add salt to taste (this was about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt for me) and freshly ground pepper. Add half of potato slices in a distributed layer. (They will be submerged beneath liquid.) Top with half of caramelized leek and fennel mixture. Add remaining potato slices, distributed in a layer. Top with remaining caramelized leeks and fennel.

3. Place lid on casserole and bring pan to a definite simmer on stovetop. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake 10 minutes more, until potatoes are fully cooked and top is browned.

4. Let dish sit for 10 minutes and serve.

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green bean, tomato + potato salad

I love a salad with potatoes that is not really all about the potatoes, know what I’m saying? I also love side dishes that are mostly vegetables, with a little starch—which always mean I am only fixing one side dish instead of two or more. (See examples of rice salad, farro salad, bread salad.) (Not that I don’t love some carbs mind you, and frequently recommend combining several carbs into one dish, such as potatoes and pasta or breadcrumbs and spaghetti.)

This salad is an easy call in late summer, when you can get fresh green beans, fresh potatoes, and fresh tomatoes. There are just a few small potatoes in it—though you could certainly add more!—and loads of green beans, tomatoes, and a little garlic in the dressing. And while perhaps legitimate chefs would frown on the technique, I love just popping the green beans into the boiling water with the potatoes when they’re through cooking, which saves a pot, some time, and a couple of steps along the way.

I like this salad best at room temperature, or even just a little warm, so I let the tomatoes macerate with the dressing and garlic while the potatoes and beans cook. I cut up the potatoes to speed their cooling, but mix everything together while the potatoes are still a little bit warm. For one thing this brings out the scent of the garlic just a little. You could add a little mustard to this, use red onion instead of garlic, capers instead of olives, or toss in a handful of fresh herbs. It’s a fun type of dish to play with when you have potatoes on hand and a mixture of other vegetables—and it will dress up any meal.

Green bean, tomato + potato salad

Serves 4 as a side

  • 4 small potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/2 lb fresh haricots verts (skinny green beans) or regular green beans, trimmed and washed
  • 1 large slicing tomato or 4 plum tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch pieces or 2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 10 – 12 kalamata olives
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or fleur de sel
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In the salad bowl, combine the tomatoes, olives, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

2. Place potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them and, ultimately, the green beans. Cover potatoes with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook at a simmer for 25 minutes. Then add the green beans and cook 2 minutes more, until green beans are bright green and tender, but still crisp.

3. Strain potatoes and beans in a colander. Remove potatoes to a cutting board. Rinse green beans in cold water until they cool to room temperature. Cut potatoes into quarters and peel if desired. Let them cool for a bit.

4.  To the tomato mixture, add room temperature green beans and potatoes when slightly warm. Mix well but be careful not to mangle the potatoes. Serve at room temperature.

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inside-out chiles rellenos

Ever since I was a little kid I have loved chiles rellenos, those wonderful peppers stuffed with potatoes and, sometimes, cheese. Somehow whenever I am faced with a menu in a Mexican restaurant, they are just irresistible. The last few weeks we have been in that felicitous season in Connecticut when all the hot peppers are coming on in full flavor and a variety of heat levels. My favorites are the ancho-poblanos, which taste so very peppery and green and have lovely, mild heat. (For the locals: I have been getting my peppers—and potatoes—at the CitySeed farmers’ market from Stone Gardens.)

The other night I really wanted chiles rellenos but didn’t have time after work to roast the peppers and then stuff and bake them. I had some fresh pork chops, so I dusted those in dried ancho chile powder and a bit of salt, and thought I could get the chile rellenos effect—fluffy, buttery potatoes, with vegetal, spicy chiles—by turning the dish inside-out. I love mashed potatoes with pork chops, so I decided to roast the peppers on the gas burner and add them to the mashed potatoes. A winner! With the skins on my potatoes, which were red, and the green peppers and herbs, the dish was quite festive. These potatoes would be great with steak, chicken—any dish really—or just with a fried egg for supper.

Inside-out chiles rellenos

  • 4 poblano peppers, or other medium-hot chiles
  • 3 lbs. medium thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1. Over a gas burner or grill on high heat, char peppers thoroughly, turning occasionally with metal tongs. They should be completely blackened when finished. Place them in a paper bag or plastic storage container and close the top. (The peppers are now “sweating” so they’ll be easier to peel.)

2. Place potatoes in a large pot of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 30 minutes, or until a potato pierces easily with a knife all the way to the center.

3. While potatoes are cooking, trim stems from peppers and loosen the charred skin and remove it. Chop the peppers (with seeds if you would like the final dish to be more spicy) roughly with the herbs and set aside.

4. When the potatoes are done, drain off the water and return potatoes to the pot. Add butter and mash with a potato masher. (You could also do this in a stand mixer.) When smooth, add the milk and herbs, and mash some more. Then add the roasted, chopped peppers and taste and adjust the salt. Mix well and serve.

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verdant potatoes

An unexpected shipment arrived at the house today. Ty’s mother, who has the most extraordinarily herb garden I have ever seen at their home in Maryland, had the brilliant idea to wrap a variety of her gorgeous herbs in wet paper towels and FedEx them to New Haven. As soon as they arrived this morning, Ty popped them into the fridge, damp paper towels and all. What a treat to arrive home and find them waiting for me!

When I see fresh herbs in spring, I immediately think of potatoes. Luckily I had some tiny fingerlings on hand. I apologize in advance for this post, which is not so much a recipe as a reminder that sometimes, the simplest foods are best. Especially when it comes to the first flush of verdure in our herb gardens. I had an embarrassment of riches to choose from, and selected tarragon, which has the taste of licorice and grass, and chives. You can substitute other herbs, such as sage, thyme, or parsley, if you wish.

Marcella Hazan says that one of the tests of a great cook in Italy is their boiled potatoes. While the simplest thing of all to prepare, a seasoned cook knows from experience exactly when the potatoes will be tender, exactly how much salt to throw in the pot. This gives me hope that cooking really does become more rewarding as we get older, but not because it gets more complicated.

Verdant potatoes

  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped finely
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt to taste

1. Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water.

2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Turn the heat back until potatoes are at a perky simmer, but not boiling too hard, for 20-25 minutes. (A really rapid boil will break their skins and make them soggy.)

3. Test one potato with the point of a sharp paring knife to see that they are cooked through. Avoid prodding potatoes too much, as they will take on water and become mushy.

4. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add butter and toss gently. Add herbs, and additional salt to taste, and toss to coat the potatoes. Serve immediately, while piping hot.

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