Rosemary Fondant Potatoes

Fondant style potatoes traditionally means cutting potatoes into cylinders and then cooking them in broth to make them meltingly tender. I find trimming them to be a bit wasteful so I just slice off the barest ends of a bunch of Yukon gold potatoes and nestle them in a skillet with broth and butter and oil and cook them low and slow.

So good!

2 lbs smallish Yukon gold potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth

Trim the potatoes of any eyes or damaged areas and, for those you don’t trim, cut off the ends. Wash well in cold water and drain.

Stir together the softened butter, olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Toss the potatoes with the mixture. Arrange the potatoes in one layer in a 10-inch skillet. Pour in enough stock or broth to come up halfway of the potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan but leave the lid a tad ajar, and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 20-30 minutes. The liquid should still halfway surround the potatoes; if it doesn’t, keep adding more broth or water until it does.

Once tender, press gently on each potato until they crack open. Return the pan to medium-high heat and boil, uncovered, until all the liquid has evaporated and the potatoes have browned on one side, about 10 minutes. Gently turn the potatoes and brown the other side, another 5 minutes or so.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the potatoes rest for 5 minutes before transferring them to a serving platter. Serve immediately.

 

Stepping up the Gazpacho Game

I have a recipe for Simple Gazpacho that I blend up in just a few minutes and which I make several times a summer when the tomatoes are at their peak. However, for something to really knock your socks off, a few additional steps can mean a world of difference.

Roasting the garlic and onion deepens the flavors and takes out any harshness from having them raw. I also added roasted cashews as a thickener and for a hit of protein. You could use almonds instead.

Additionally, I used Aleppo pepper here for a lovely pepper taste without adding much heat but you can use a pinch of cayenne if you’d rather. As the flavor intensifies the longer it rests, don’t add so much seasoning you can’t eat the leftovers!

It is so pretty and oh, so delicious! Summertime never tasted so good!

Roasted Gazpacho


1 small head garlic (about 5-8 cloves)
1 small onion
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 lbs tomatoes – about 4 good sized
1 large cucumber
1 green bell pepper
1 slice bread, torn into chunks
1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
1/3 cup cashews
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 cup V-8 or tomato juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the top off the head of garlic. Place it on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle generously with olive oil and seal the foil around the bulb. Roast for about 30 minutes or until tender. Squeeze out the softened garlic and let cool.

Quarter the onion and separate the layers. Toss generously with olive oil and place on a baking sheet in the oven with the garlic. Roast until the garlic is done, flipping layers over once during baking.

Wash the tomatoes and cut small x’s in both ends. Place in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove to an ice water bath. Peel off skin, core and quarter. 

Peel cucumber, scrape the seeds out with a spoon and cut the cucumber into chunks. Core and seed the bell pepper and cut into large pieces.

Soak the bread in the sherry vinegar. While adding the bread isn’t necessary, I find it thickens the soup and mellows the flavors.

Pulse the cashews in a food processor until they become a fine meal.

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic in the food processor with the nuts and pulse several times. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add in the sherry vinegar soaked bread, then drizzle in the remaining olive oil, salt and Aleppo pepper until well combined. Add just enough V-8 or tomato juice until the soup reaches the desired consistency. It should not be thin or watery but neither should it be the consistency of a smoothie, either.

Chill for several hours or overnight. Taste for seasoning before serving. Serve with fresh bread.

Michelle made a gorgeous loaf of crusty bread to go with our soup.

Yummy! I’ll see if she’ll give me the recipe for blogging.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

These sweet potato fries are some of Michelle’s favorite. She likes the seasoning blend a lot but she also likes how they are like thick cut fries but are so soft and tender.

I like ’em because I can pretend I’m eating healthy when I have them.

Either way, you should give these a try next time you have a craving for sweet potatoes.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

3 medium sized sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix all the spices together in a bowl.

Slice sweet potatoes into 3/4 inch wedges. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss with 3 teaspoons of the spice mixture (remaining spice mix can be stored in an airtight container).

Use remaining olive oil to coat a large baking sheet. Place sweet potato wedges in a single layer on baking sheet, skin side facing the same way (to make it easier to know which you’ve flipped later). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn wedges over and bake for another 10-15 minutes. They are done when soft and tender.

 

Mississippi Style Potato Logs

One of the best things about getting off the highway is finding great food on the road less travelled. In fact, some of the tastiest boudin, barbecued brisket and fried chicken I’ve eaten has come from gas stations across the South.

One of things I’ve found in Mississippi gas stations (and some local fairs like the Okatoma Festival), are potato logs. These are large wedges of baked potato, dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried. You basically get the creamy interior of a baked potato plus the crunchy skin and coating of the best French fry. All in all, they make a really awesome appetizer or side dish.

I tried several versions at home and found I like best Creole Seasoning in the flour (1 teaspoon seasoning per 1/4 cup flour – each large potato cut into 5 wedges used about 1/2 cup flour). I also found that you only need a double dip of flour (toss in flour, dredge in an egg beaten with some oil, and then dredge through the flour again). I found using breadcrumbs was unnecessary and actually a little heavy.

I used peanut oil as that is my go-to deep fry oil but you can use your choice. I fried them after I brought the oil to 325 degrees F in a cast iron skillet. Fry for about 3 minutes per side or until the crust is golden brown. After removal from the heat, drain on a brown paper bag. Salt generously.

These are delicious as they are but, if you like them with a dipping sauce, I enjoyed them with ranch dressing with a little sriracha mixed in. They had a lovely kick.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Michelle has some frozen corn in the freezer that we wanted to use up before this year’s crop is harvested. We made up a huge batch of Cuban Style Black Beans and used three cups of the beans and a half a bell pepper along with the corn for this light and healthy summery salad.

If you have fresh cilantro, add a tablespoon of chopped leaves to the corn and beans and omit the dried.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

juice of 1 lime, about 1/4 cup
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
2 cups corn cut off the cob (1 10 ounce package frozen corn kernels)
3 cups black beans (2 15 ounce cans)
1 bell pepper, diced

optional, 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Whisk together the lime juice, oil, sugar, salt, pepper and cilantro in a large bowl. Add in the corn, black beans and bell pepper. Gently stir together to mix. Add the jalapeño pepper, if using. Taste for seasonings and then refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to come together.

 

Cuban Style Black Beans in the Slow Cooker

Michelle and I have several meals over the next couple of days for which we need black beans. We decided to go ahead and make a big pot of frijoles negros using two pounds of dry beans. Recipe plans include corn and black bean salad one night and to be refried with our shrimp fajitas and breakfast burritos plus enough should be leftover will go with our soup dreams.

If your beans are old, it may take longer for them to cook. After 6 hours in the slow cooker, if your beans are still rocks, consider putting the still tough beans in a One Pot or pressure cooker for 15 minutes.

Cuban Style Black Beans in the Slow Cooker

2 lbs dried black beans
2 medium onions, quartered
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bell pepper, quartered
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Soak beans overnight in a bowl with enough warm water to cover the beans plus 2 inches.

Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in the slow cooker with the quartered onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour in 8 cups water and stir gently to mix.

Turn the slow cooker on high. Check to make sure water level stays above the top of the beans. Warm water before adding any into the slow cooker. Skim off any foam during the cook. Beans are done when tender but not mushy and that can take from 4-6 hours, depending on your slow cooker.

Discard the bay leaves. Strain out the vegetables and place them in a food mill or food processor with 1-2 cups of beans and about a cup of the bean liquid. Process to liquify then add back into the beans and stir to combine. Add in the vinegar and sugar and continue to simmer for 15 minutes to thirty minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Serve with rice or use as a base for soup or in a corn and black salad (recipe here).

Creole Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Topping

I went to the Crescent City Farmers Market on Saturday and found some beautiful Creole tomatoes. These tomatoes have a wonderful taste because they are grown only in the River Parishes of Louisiana, so they don’t have to travel far from the field to reach my plate.

I used the new-to-me bread machine from Michelle’s mom to make the dough for some French bread. I relied on the recipe from the Fleischmann’s Bread World website. It wasn’t the prettiest loaf of bread I’ve ever made, so no pictures of it.

While the dough was rising, it was time to toss together diced tomatoes with some basil, olive oil and salt. For about two large tomatoes, you’ll need about a 1/4 cup of high quality olive oil, about 1/4 cup of fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them like a cigar and slice thinly). Add in a few generous pinches of coarse sea salt like Fleur de Sel and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Stir and let sit for the flavors to come together.

I took the bread from the oven and, once it had cooled, I cut it into rounds. Those, I lightly brushed with olive oil and then toasted them on a grill pan (to make pretty grill marks). While still warm, I rubbed them with a raw clove of garlic. Then, I mounded on the tomato and basil mix and ate until I was fit to burst.

Oh, the taste of summer!