Smashing Good Potatoes

I served smashed potatoes with lunch the other day and they were sooo good I just had to share. I used the pretty, multi-color ones but small Yukon gold potatoes, little new potatoes or fingerlings work just as well.

I make rosemary salt by chopping fresh rosemary and mixing it with coarse kosher salt in a two parts fresh rosemary to one part kosher salt ratio. Stored in an airtight jar, it lasts for months and you can refresh it by adding more fresh rosemary.

This is one of my go-to side dish recipes. The smashed potatoes are crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

Smashed Potatoes

2 lbs small potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary salt

Place washed potatoes in a saucepan of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes for about 10-15 minutes until fork tender. Larger potatoes will take longer.

While potatoes boil, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Drain potatoes and return to the saucepan to dry in the residual heat. Pour on the olive oil and sprinkle the rosemary salt over the potatoes. Stir to combine and then place on a lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to crush the potatoes onto the baking sheet – they don’t need to be squashed flat, just pressed until they pop. Roast for 30-40 minutes (the longer the cook, the crisper the outside will get), flipping them halfway through to brown both sides.

Mushroom Pistachio Sourdough Focaccia

I oven roasted more than enough mushrooms for pizza and had almost a cup left over. Michelle had given me a bag of pistachios and I had a hankering for focaccia, so this recipe was born.

To roast the mushrooms, slice and place in a large bowl with a generous amount of olive oil. Stir well to coat before placing mushrooms on a parchment covered baking sheet and spreading out in a single layer. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until done, stirring once during the baking.

This is a bread that eats like a meal. While it takes a several long rises totaling about 6 hours as it only uses the wild yeast in the sourdough starter, the final result is almost meaty and nutty and deliciously crunchy.

Mushroom Pistachio Sourdough Focaccia

2-3 cups bread flour
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons plus extra for drizzle olive oil
½ cup sliced and roasted mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup dry roasted pistachios, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
flake salt

Mix 2 cups flour, water and sourdough starter together in a large bowl until it comes together in a sticky dough. Let this dough rest for 30 minutes to hydrate the flour.

Add another 1/2 cup of flour, salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil to the dough and move to a bread machine or a stand mixer. Set the bread machine on dough cycle and let the cycle run. With a stand mixer, use a dough hook to knead the dough for 10 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl – if it is too sticky to do so, add another ½ cup of bread flour.

Cover and let rise for two hours or until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and mix in the pistachios and mushrooms. Place in an oiled bowl to rise for two hours or until doubled in size.

Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9×13 pan and use your fingers to coat the bottom. With oiled fingers, turn the dough onto the pan and press gently to spread the dough out evenly to a one inch thickness. Cover and let rise for another hour.

Sink your finger tips into the dough to make deep dents. Drizzle a good coating of olive oil over the top. Sprinkle top with sea salt and Italian seasoning (I have a recipe for an Italian seasoning mix here).

After the dough has rested for at least 30 minutes, preheat oven to 450º F.

Place the focaccia into the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and it sounds hollow when you tap on it.

Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

Crusty, Chewy Sourdough Rolls

We planned to have some leftover Crab Imperial for dinner and I decided to make dinner rolls. I used my sourdough starter to give the rolls a flavorful start and poured a pan of water in the oven to give them a perfectly crusty exterior.

This isn’t a fussy recipe although it does take some time. As my starter has the consistency of pancake batter, the first step only took about 30 minutes but waiting longer doesn’t hurt, just adds a depth of flavor.

If you don’t gobble them all down in a single sitting, the rolls can be frozen once they have cooled completely. Defrost in the microwave on the DEFROST setting for about a minute.

Final result is a nice chew and light tang to the rolls. Delicious accompaniment to dinner or lovely on their own with butter or a little olive oil.

Sourdough French Rolls

1 cup unfed sourdough starter
2 ½ cups to 3 cups bread flour
1 cup water
½ teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon yeast

Combine the sourdough starter, flour, water and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. The mixture should be a shaggy, sticky dough. Cover and allow to rest for about 45 minutes to an hour to hydrate the flour.

Transfer dough to a bread machine and add the salt and yeast. Set it on dough cycle and hit start. After the bread machine has been running for about ten minutes, check the consistency of the dough. It will be a little sticky, but should clear the sides of the bowl. If it seems too wet, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time. Let the machine complete the cycle and leave it in the machine for 30 additional minutes.

Dust a baking sheet lightly with cornmeal. Set aside.

After the dough has doubled in size, place it onto the counter or a cutting board.  Divide the dough into 9 equal sized pieces.

Shape the pieces into rolls by pinching the bottoms and rolling on the counter to smooth out. Place on the cornmeal dusted baking sheet. Rub the tops with flour and then make a slash into the tops with sharp knife. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Bring the oven to 450 degrees F. Place an empty, rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack to get hot while the oven preheats.

When the oven has come to temperature, pour 1 cup of water on the hot baking sheet to create steam (the pan may buckle – this is okay). Place the baking sheet with the rolls on center rack and bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden brown and they sound hollow when thumped.

Cool rolls on wire rack.

 

Grilled Charbroiled Shrimp

Mmmm, grilled shrimp.

I was able to grab a bottle of Drago’s Butter Garlic Charbroiling Sauce at my local grocery store but, if you can’t get it at yours, you can find copy-cat recipes for the sauce on the internet (NOLA Cuisine has a good one). If you’ve never been to the New Orleans area restaurant, their charbroiled oysters are legendary.

Frankly, this recipe was born from my laziness – I didn’t want to have to skewer 2 lbs of shrimp but I still wanted the smokey flavor of the grill. Cast iron to the rescue! Use a large skillet as you want the shrimp in as close to a single layer as possible so you don’t overcook them.

The end result is basically a grilled version of scampi. If you have a lemon, cut it in half and place it on the grates while the shrimp is cooking. Squeeze it over the final dish for a hit of citrus.

Quick and delicious! The use of fire adds a complex flavor and the bottled sauce is a nice shortcut to a delightful dish.

Grilled Charbroiled Shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ bottle of Drago’s Butter Garlic Charbroiling Sauce or make one recipe of the sauce

Set up your charcoal fire for direct heat. When the coals are nice and ashy, place a large cast iron grill on the grate. Add oil to skillet and sear the shrimp on one side until golden brown, 3 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Close the lid during the cooking so the shrimp picks up a lovely smokey flavor.

Mix in the butter garlic sauce and cook until aromatic, stirring constantly. This will take about 2 minutes.

Bring the skillet inside and transfer shrimp and sauce to a serving plate. Serve with plenty of crusty bread for dunking.

Oaty, Chocolately, Peanut Buttery Bars

I wanted to munch on something with chocolate and peanut butter but Dad is trying to eat healthy so I looked for a recipe that could qualify. These no-bake oat bars were just the ticket! Okay, so maybe they aren’t actually good for you on any measurable scale but they sure are rich and tasty.

You want to use quick cooking oats or the old fashioned that only need 5 minutes. This is not the recipe to try out steel cut or instant!

These are yummy with lots of chocolate – a great recipe with which to start the new year.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oat Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
½ cup brown sugar, packed
3 cups oats
1 cup bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Butter an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan.

In a large saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar. Add oats. As these are no-bake bars, you need to soften the oats. Stir for the amount of time recommended on the container (1 to 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

Place two cups of the oat butter mixture into the prepared pan and use a piece of wax paper or a spatula to press down.

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter. Once melted, pour over oat layer and smooth out. By spoonfuls place the remaining oats on top. Place the saucepan back on the stove and melt remaining chocolate chips. Drizzle the chocolate over the top.

Place pan in refrigerator to solidify for at least 4 hours. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.

Bars are best when brought back to room temperature before eating.

Savory Sourdough Bread Pudding

My friend Charlotte gifted me with a loaf a sourdough bread her husband had made. My folks and I had some lovely sandwiches with it and decided the reminder would be perfect to form the base of my overnight casserole.

This is a great timesaver on Christmas morning, as you build it the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The bonus is it is also one of those dishes where you can empty your fridge of leftovers – we had some sausage patties from a previous breakfast and some mushrooms we had sautéed for pizza but are using here instead to go with bread that was starting to go stale.

I like using smoked Gouda but Cheddar or any other good melting cheese would be delicious. We used sourdough bread but use what you have, knowing that thicker slices is best.

The bread softened beautifully and the casserole was so nice and creamy and smokey. Such a very good way to start a holiday or for brunch anytime of the year.

Sourdough Breakfast Casserole

1 pound sourdough bread, about thick 5 slices
½ pound breakfast sausage, about 4 to 5 patties
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half (or cream)
8 ounces smoked Gouda, grated (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Toast the bread until golden brown. I run it through 3 light toast cycles to get it well dried out. Let cool, then tear into large bite-size pieces.

Brown the breakfast sausage. Remove from heat to a large bowl. In same pan, sauté the mushrooms until they’ve released their juices. Remove from heat.

Lightly butter a 9×13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, toss together bread, sausage and mushrooms. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, half and half, 1 1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper.

Lightly butter a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Turn bread and sausage mixture into pan, spreading it out evenly over the bottom. Pour custard into pan, pressing bread pieces down gently to help absorb the liquid. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, heat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top of the casserole. Transfer to oven and bake uncovered until casserole is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Lemon Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I wanted to make a pound cake this week and, serendipitously, my parent’s next door neighbor offered to let me pick all the remaining lemons from his tree (Did you know lemon trees have thorns? I do now). Lemon pound cake it is.

Before I left New Orleans, I went to Dorignac’s Food Center to pick up some Creole Cream Cheese. This is a soft farmer’s cheese similar in texture to a mix of cottage cheese and sour cream that is both sweet and tart. Poppy Tooker has a recipe  (as does Edible New Orleans) to make your own batch. If you’re not in the area or not in the mood to make cheese, you can substitute softened cream cheese or sour cream in the recipe.

Lovely lemon flavor and scent, light texture and crumb and just the right amount of  tart to sweet. Perfect for holiday snacking with one to keep and one to give away!

Lemon Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

3 cups cake flour, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
3 ½ cups granulated sugar
8 ounces Creole cream cheese (or use sour cream or softened cream cheese)
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice and zest from 3 lemons (about ½ cup fresh lemon juice), divided

1 ½ cups powdered, confectioners sugar

Butter and flour two loaf pans (three, if they’re small). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, corn starch, salt and baking powder. Use a mixer to cream sugar, butter and Creole cream cheese until light and fluffy. In another bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Add eggs to creamed sugar and mix. Stir in vanilla and half of the lemon zest. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for an hour, until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Let cake cool about 10 minutes. Poke 10-15 holes evenly throughout cakes with a cake tester or toothpick. Pour ¼ cup lemon juice over the top of the cakes (works out to about 2 tablespoons per loaf pan). Let cool completely.

While waiting for the cakes to cool, make the glaze by stirring together the remaining ¼ cup lemon juice with the powdered sugar. Stir in the rest of the zest.

Remove cakes from pans once cool. Pour the lemon zest glaze over cakes, letting it fall down the sides. Let icing set for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Also good lightly toasted the next morning.

Wrap in plastic wrap to store. Wrap well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and then in a zip top bag to freeze.

Sourdough Caraway Loaf

I’m beset with a surplus of sourdough sponge in my efforts to create a sourdough panettone. As a bonus, I get to play with lots of different baked goods. Today is a bread sourdough loaf with caraway seeds.

To fully hydrate the sourdough sponge, feed your starter with water and flour and let sit on the counter overnight. Stir and take out a cup of the sponge to begin the dough.

There is a lovely nutty flavor to the loaf with a nice crust and chew.

I have some pastrami so I’m thinking this will make a nice sandwich bread – I lightly toasted a couple of slices, placed hot pastrami on one slice topped with some provolone cheese and broiled it for a couple of minutes. Even without sauerkraut or 1000 Island dressing, it was very good!

Sourdough Caraway Loaf

1 cup fully hydrated sourdough sponge
½ cup warm water
3 cups bread flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons caraway seeds, crushed

Mix together the sponge, ½ cup water and 1 ½ cups bread flour. Stir well and place in the bread machine. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Add to the sponge mixture the baking soda, remaining 1 ½ cups bread flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and caraway seeds, in that order. Set the machine for basic cycle, medium crust.

Shrimp Étouffée

A very good friend of mine just got out from a week in the hospital after getting a heart bypass, so I decided to make him something delicious and comforting. Shrimp Étouffée fits the bill perfectly – I mean, c’mon smothered is IN the name. This classic dish was my gateway to Cajun/Creole cooking. It is much easier than gumbo as you only need to cook the roux to blonde plus it is ready in under an hour.

While this is already a full flavor/lower fat dish, I did want it to be a little more heart healthy for him so I made up a batch of my Creole Seasoning with no salt (original recipe here), used low sodium chicken stock and no salt added tomato sauce, and am serving it with brown rice.

To up the shrimp flavor, make your own shrimp stock. Peel the shrimp and place the shells in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until shells start to turn pink, stirring regularly to prevent burning. Add 6 cups of water, a celery stalk broken in half, a carrot similarly broken and a bay leaf and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain to remove solids. Use 1 cup in the recipe and freeze the rest in 1 cup measures for later uses.

It tastes like you spent all day over a hot stove – the natural heat from the Ro-tel plus the Creole seasoning gently warms you from the tongue to your tummy making this a lovely meal on a cold night. For those who want less heat, double the tomato sauce and eat more rice with each bite. For those who need more, add a dash or two of hot sauce at the table.

Shrimp Étouffée

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1 small green bell pepper, chopped fine
2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can RoTel tomatoes and green chilies
1 -5 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until the onions have turned golden, at least 10 minutes. Add bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and sauté until tender and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Stir in butter and flour and cook until the roux is golden brown, up to 10 minutes. Be sure to stir constantly and don’t let it darken too much.

Reduce heat to low; add RoTel, tomato sauce and stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or so until thickened. Toss shrimp with Creole seasonings and put into the saucepan. Simmer until shrimp are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and taste for seasonings.

Serve over rice. Have hot sauce on the table for those who need more heat.

Alabama Hot Brown

From the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky comes their 1920’s creation of an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon, tomato slices and a cheese sauce (their recipe here) called a Kentucky Hot Brown.

My version is a little different. I’m using Thanksgiving leftovers so we’re ladling on gravy instead of cheese sauce because gravy goes well on everything. As tomatoes are out of season, we are using some tomato jam.

Mom had me spread leftover cranberry sauce on hers instead of the tomato jam and it paired really well, especially with the Muenster cheese I put on hers and which shows the versatility of this sandwiches’ construction.

The sandwich is a delicious change from the usual leftover, post-Turkey day fare and will fill up those Black Friday shoppers’ bellies.

This recipe is for 4 people but it scales up if you’re serving a larger crowd.

Alabama Hot Brown

4 slices of thick sandwich bread
1 cup gravy
½ cup of tomato jam or one large, vine ripened tomato, sliced thinly
8 thick slices roast turkey breast
8 slices bacon, cooked to crispy
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Lightly toast the sandwich bread and set on a rimmed baking sheet.

Warm the gravy in a double boiler so it doesn’t thicken too much.

Set the broiler on low and put the rack in the middle of the oven.

Spread a layer of tomato jam on the toast or place thin slices of tomato on it. Place 2 slices of turkey (or more to cover) on each piece of bread. Place bacon on top. Generously cover with spoonfuls of gravy and sprinkle with cheese.

Place the baking sheet into the broiler and roast until cheese is melty. Serve immediately.