Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Peppers, Cilantro and Thyme

Quick to make, Oven Roasted Potatoes are simple to make.  The usual recipe – garlic & Rosemary is nice, but gets a bit old.  This is one I’ve been using for quite a long time, and is full of interesting flavors, as well as texture and color.  Not only tastes great, but plates nicely.

Cilntro (aka Coriander)

Cilantro (aka Coriander)

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Peppers, Cilantro and Thyme

1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes (about 15), washed well
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil, if you have it)
4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup diced red bell peppers
1/4 cup diced green bell peppers
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash well, and then dice the potatoes into bite sized pieces – about 1 inch.  I hardly ever peel the potatoes.  I like to leave it intact, as it gives good flavor, and texture.

In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and cilantro and thyme.  Add the potatoes and peppers and toss well.

Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan, and arrange into a single layer.  Roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife, which should be between 25-30 minutes.

Serve hot, or cold, as these are great leftover.

Note:

I have sometimes made a ‘potato’ salad with the leftovers, adding in mayo, and eggs, with a bit of spicy mustard.

Fettuccine Alfredo, History and Recipe

Todays post is by a guest poster — Enjoy!

This is an exerpt from Esquire Magazine. I made this myself for Christmas, wow. Add some garlic and lemon pepper to this to make it zesty. Cook some chicken on the side with more garlic and you’ve got yourself a wonderful meal. Some might view the additions as sacriligious, but it’s still good, and, to me, it’s the taste that matters. You have to walk a fine balance between being creative and being authentic, a question I plan to discuss in a future post, but it is a line you can indeed walk, if you know what you’re doing. Anyway, serve this along with a salad and crusty Italian bread. I personally dislike wine, but follow the instructions at the end, I’m sure they work. I drink a fine espreso after this, myself.

Fettuccine all’Alfredo is one of those dishes everyone I’ve ever met swoons
over. They imagine it to be the richest, most extravagant amalgam of
ingredients ever to send a palate reeling, but it’s also comforting, sensual,
and entirely satisfying, strand after creamy strand. Indeed, the dish was
created to restore the appetite of a woman, and I cannot imagine any woman not
being impressed by a man who knows how to tum out this classic pasta with
finesse.

This is a cute story: Back in the 1920s Alfredo Di Lelio ran a little
restaurant on Rome’s Via della Scrofa, not far from the Piazzo Navona. His
wife had just given birth to their first son, an experience that left her
exhausted, without an appetite, and therefore without milk for the baby, which
meant Alfredo had to stay up half night rocking a squalling infant. “It was
really a hell of a life,” he wrote. “So one day I decided to take the bull by
the horns and solve the problem once and for all.” He whipped up a dish of egg
noodles, extra-rich butter, and the best parmigiano cheese he could find.

Naturally, his wife gobbled up the noodles with gusto, and soon Alfredo began
serving the dish in his restaurant.

The dish became legendary when Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford visited
Rome in 1927 and ate at Alfredo’s place, proclaiming him the “king of
fettuccine” and presenting him with a golden fork and spoon as a memento. From
that moment the dish became part of a tradition among celebrities, who had to
eat at Alfredo’s when in Rome-and to get their photos in one of the two
competing Roman restaurants that now call themselves Alfredo’s.

What happened was that during the war Alfredo retired, handing over the
restaurant to two of his waiters, but afterward decided to open a new place
called Alfredo l’Originale. Over the years both places have claimed to be the
“original” Alfredo’s, but the Di Lelio family is still in charge of the newer
restaurant and has opened three outposts here called Alfredo, the Original of
Rome-one in New York, another in Philadelphia, and a third at the Italian
Pavilion in Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center-all serving the ilustrious dish
better than anywhere else I’ve ever had it. There’s no secret to making the
original fettuccine all’Alfredo, but most people botch it anyway. Alfredo’s
own printed recipe is deliberately vague: “water-salt-extra fine flour of the
highest quality, mixed by hand with fresh eggs-a most carefully selected
butter and finally Parmesan cheese, but not dried and aged Parmesan (I just
take the core of fresh cakes and grate it by hand).” That’s it? No
proportions? No pots or pans?

Well, I’ve come up with an estimable home preparation that’s as close to the
mark as I think you’ll come. The key is in the ingredients and in the cooking
time. If you have no intention of going out to buy these kind of ingredients,
don’t bother with the dish at all. You may come up with a nice-looking plate
of noodles, but it’s like wearing a blue-flannel blazer with a polyester tie:
it’s a cheat and someone will notice.

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

If you have a pasta machine at home, by all means make the fettuccine fresh,
using nothing but flour and eggs (no water, no oil in the dough), but be aware
that Alfredo’s uses three different types of flour-semolina, durum, and a
high-gluten variety-for their noodles. Or buy a fettuccine freshly made at an
Italian pasta shop-and I don’t mean the “fresh” fettuccine put up in plastic
boxes and stored in the refrigerator section of the supermarket. Otherwise,
use a good imported brand such as De Cecco.

Put on a large pot of water (at least sixteen cups) to boil. While you’re
waiting for it to boil, melt one stick of sweet butter (not margarine) in a
saucepan and allow it to melt but not to sizzle. Add about four tablespoons of
heavy cream (not light cream, not half-and-half, not milk), and stir it in.

(You’ll notice that the original recipe does not contain cream, but I’ve seen
it added at the New York Alfredo’s; Americans seem to expect the dish to be a
little creamier.) Remove the mixture from the heat.

When the water is boiling furiously, throw in two tablespoons of salt. Then
plunge the fettuccine in the water. If it is fresh pasta, wait till the water
retums to the boil, then count to twenty: the pasta should be perfectly
cooked-al dente. If you’re using packaged fettuccine, figure on about eight
minutes in a rolling boil.

Drain the noodles well in a colander (do not rinse under cold water, which is
just plain stupid), then toss them into the melted butter and cream over low
heat. Grate into the mixture about one and a half cups of parmigano reggiano-

this is the true imported Parmesan cheese, and nothing else comes close. But
grate the cheese from the sweet, golden core, not from the harder, drier,
white part near the rind.

Toss together for about thirty seconds so that the cheese melts and the whole
thing comes together. Serve on a slightly heated plate. The consistency should
be satiny, and rich but not heavy, with the slight tang of cheese and the
lusciousness of butter, all buoyed by the slightly chewy texture of egg
noodles. Once you learn how to do this correctly, it’s like knowing the
“thirteen times” tables. Nothing to it really, but something so few ever
bother to master.

With fettuccine all’Alfredo, you should drink a good Italian red, like
Lungarotti’s Torgiano or Antinori’s Tignanello.
-John F. Mariani
From “Esquire” – March 1986

Easy Cherry Almond White Chocolate Fudge

White Chocolate Chips

White Chocolate Chips

December has always been the time to make all those delicious recipes you’ve saved up for the Christmas season.   And this, in my house, is one of those.

I first had cherry almond fudge at my Mothers house one year when we were there for Christmas.  She had purchased it from a local candy maker, and didn’t have a recipe.  Once I was back home in New York, I did a search and came up with the following recipe.

I’ve never really changed it, though I do add a bit more chopped almonds. And I have had to substitute white chocolate chips for regular chocolate chips, as well as “white candy making disk” like things I found at a craft store in the candy section.

This recipe takes about 10 minutes to prep, and a minimum of 2 hours to cool, so it is relatively quick.  I really like to individually wrap each piece in candy foil, which makes a great presentation.

Enjoy!

Easy Cherry Almond White Chocolate Fudge

2 cups or 12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup candied cherries chopped
1 teaspoon almond extract

Use an 8×8 square pan — Spray with pam, and then line with parchment paper.  Alternativly, you can line the pan with the non-stick foil that is on the market nowadays.

Mix the chocolate and milk together, and then microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is smooth.

Stir in the almonds, cherries, and almond extract.  Pour the mix into the pan.  Chill for at least 2 hours, but best after at least 6.

Lift out the fudge, or turn out onto a cutting board.  Remove the paper or foil, and cut the fudge into 1 inch squares.

Notes:

  • I like this with extra nuts – up to 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • IF you can’t find white chocolate chips, replace them with chocolate chips, or white candy discs.
  • Hand wrap these in candy foil wraps.

Summer Fruit Bruschetta with Banana Bread and Cream Cheese Vanilla sauce

Another simple fruit recipe, perfect for breakfast, brunch or dessert.  Change out the fruits seasonally, and you’ll be surprised at the variation of flavors you can come up with.

Summer Fruit Bruschetta with Banana Bread and Cream Cheese Vanilla sauce

The sauce:

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla)

Combine the cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla.  Blend well — easier if using a hand mixer, but will come out smooth with just a bit of elbow work.  Add the yogurt and mix until smooth.  Refrigerate for 1  hour.

1 chopped Banana
2 fresh peaches or nectarines, chopped
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 lime
4 slices of thick banana bread

Prepare the fruits, combining the bananas, peaches and raspberries in a bowl.  Mix in the lime juice and refrigerate (up to 2 hours).

Once you are ready to serve, plate the banana bread, with pile of the mixed fruit on top, and a drizzle of the vanilla cream cheese sauce.  Serve immediately.

Some variations

  • Toast the banana bread just prior to serving
  • I’ve not had banana bread in the house, and have substituted this with cinnamon flavored bagels, or cinnamon bread.
  • Sprinkle finely chopped pecans over top, after the sauce is drizzled on
  • Make this fall inspired by using apples, raisins and walnuts, and  use pumpkin bread.  Add a bit of fresh (canned) pumpkin to the sauce

Potato Salad

I’ve said this often on my blog, and to people when discussing recipes: There are many variations to any recipe. I really believe that recipes, in all their variations, are as personal as fingerprints. And, in essence, a recipe really *is* a fingerprint to an individual. The same ingredients of a recipe can be arranged in such a way, that from one person to the next, the change can be drastic. Our inherent need for change, our intrinsic need for a singular or individualistic expression, can sometimes be articulated best through food.

However, because of the vast amount of recipes, and their variations, I sometimes hold back and don’t bother to post a recipe — why, when there are 308,000 search results, should there be 308,001? Well, my own take on a recipe is what makes this blog work, I suppose. So, I’ll start to post a bit more.. even though you might find 308,000 other recipes of the same title, none of them will be exactly what I post here.

To that end…

Potato Salad..

From about mid-May, to the end of September, potato salad was made often by my mother — served with almost any meal — from the lowly hot-dog, to a nice pork roast, as well as fried chicken, a good steak, or just beer brats.

Every summer get-together had some version or other of potato salad, and, even within my own family — my grandmothers, my aunts, my mother — all the versions of potato salad were slightly different — one put in onion, one didn’t. One put in sour cream, one didn’t.

My own version of this recipe is akin to both my Gram, and my mothers version — it contains a lot of egg – my favorite part of this salad. I hope you enjoy it as much as I always have, and as my family always does.

One quick note here — I do not have measurements for this recipe. It’s one of those recipes you never actually use a recipe for. I just do it by eye. I will try and give some bit of guidance, however. This recipe assumes you will use between 10-12 medium sized red potatoes.

redpotato

Potato Salad

Red potatoes
1 egg to each potato – (e.g. if you are using 14 potatoes, use 14 eggs).
Mayo – about 1-1.5 cups up to 2 cups if necessary
Mustard – anywhere from about 1/2 to 2/3 cup
Celery — usually 2 stalks, diced
Onion – a medium onion, diced
Kosher pickles (the more sour, the better), one large, minced
1 medium red pepper, diced
Salt and Pepper, to taste

The key to this potato salad is to have lots of boiled egg — one egg for each potato you use. Boil the eggs.

Wash the potatoes well, and then boil until soft, but not mushy. They need body to stand up to the mayo – you don’t want mushy potatoes here. If you overcook them, make mashed potatoes and try again ;).

Allow the potatoes and eggs to be completely cooled. I usually cook both the eggs, and the potatoes the day before, and then refrigerate overnight.

Dice both the eggs and potatoes. The eggs should be a small-medium dice, whereas the potatoes should be bite sized.

Prep the celery, onion, pickles and red pepper as above – diced. Have the mayo and mustard ready to go in.

Add the vegetables, eggs and potatoes to a large mixing bowl, and gently mix together. Now, add at least one cup of the mayo, and 1/2 cup of mustard. The best way to mix this is without a spoon — use your hands. Cover the mixture with the mayo & mustard, adding more to taste as necessary. I always over-add both the mayo and mustard as the potatoes will absorb a bit before serving.

Once you’ve mixed it well, add salt and pepper to taste, and chill for a few hours (or overnight) to allow the flavors to meld.

Classic Macaroni And Cheese

I’m putting this recipe up for those that have been looking for a Mac and Cheese recipe, with a béchamel sauce, instead of the version I prefer (The Lady’s Cheese Mac). 

Enjoy!

 

macandcheese2

 

Classic Macaroni And Cheese

Recipe from: America’s Test Kitchen

Bread Crumb Topping
6 slice white sandwich bread (good-quality — about 6 ounces), torn
into rough pieces
3 tablespoon unsalted butter (cold) — cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese
1 Lbs elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon  powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon  cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cup milk (see note)
8 ounce Monterey Jack cheese — shredded (2 cups)
8 ounce sharp cheddar cheese — shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon  table salt

For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor
until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second
pulses. Set aside.

For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position
and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high
heat. Add macaroni and 1  tablespoon  salt; cook until pasta is tender.
Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until
foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to
combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens
in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to
boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully
thicken).

Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally,
until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off
heat, whisk in cheeses and 1  teaspoon   salt until cheeses are fully
melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly,
until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and
sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden
brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning.

Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Recipe Notes from Americas Test Kitchen

It’s crucial to cook the pasta until tender–just past the “al dente”
stage. In fact, overcooking is better than undercooking the pasta.
Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe
can be halved and baked in an 8-inch-square, broiler-safe baking dish.
If desired, offer celery salt or hot sauce (such as Tabasco) for
sprinkling at the table.

Simple Hash Browns

My Grandmother (known as “Gram” on this blog from now on) makes these hash browns that are just.. amazingly good. They are light and crispy and were a total freaking mystery to me until about 2 years ago. There is a secret to hash browns. It’s not just the potatoes, salt, oil.. it’s the moisture.

I did not ever actually watch my Gram make hash browns. As I think back about the times I stayed at her house, it seems I never actually saw my Gram waking up. She is an early riser (as am I as an adult, for the most part). She wakes between 4 and 5 every morning, as she has done for the past 60+ years. As a child, when I would stay at her house, I was almost always awakened by the scent of food cooking..bacon, muffins, eggs, doughnuts, fritters, baked apples and the like. I would stumble, along with the rest of the kids, into the kitchen, plop down at the table as close to the heating stove as I could get, and wait until breakfast was actually ready. You know it’s never actually ready when you first are awakened by the scent.. you always have to wait.

Gram would set the hash browns, still in the cast iron skillet she cooked them in, right on the table. If you were unlucky, and didn’t get up when you first smelled food cooking, you were out of luck. Her hash browns didn’t last 2 minutes in the pan.

After I moved away, and out of Nebraska, my trips to my Grams house were very infrequent. 1 visit every year at first, then every few years, and then, as now, even less that that. So I experimented with making hash browns. She gave me step by step instructions.. how many potatoes, how much salt, oil, the kind of pan, how much heat, and they never once came out like hers. Mine were greasy, mushy, and heavy. No matter what I did, they were always that way.

A few years ago, Gram came out to visit. And one morning, as I was finishing making tea, she started to shred some potatoes for breakfast. I stood watching her, and when she spread the potatoes out on a tea-towel, and then pressed the moisture out, my jaw fell open. Ahhhaaaaa! Gram had told me what to use, how much to use, what pan to use, what oil to use, the kind of salt she used, but she had never, ever mentioned that the potatoes should be pressed to reduce the moisture. When I asked her about it, she said she never thought about it. It was just something you do when making shredded potatoes.

I’ve read since then a few articles here and there that suggest the same thing — something to press the moisture out of the potatoes. A potato ricer, leaving them overnight uncovered in a refrigerator, or putting them in the oven for a few minutes.

I just do what Gram did — a towel-paper-towel-shredded potato-paper-towel-towel sandwich. Place a thick kitchen towel on your counter top, place a thick layer of paper towel on top, add the shredded potatoes, another thick layer of paper towels, and another towel. Roll with a pastry roller, or press down hard. You just need to do this a couple of times, and it’s all good to go.

Now.. onto the incredibly easy recipe…

Simple Hash Browns

2 tablespoons oil
2 baking potatoes, shredded
1/2 small onion, diced fine
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

imageWash the potatoes, and using a grater such as the one pictured, shred the potatoes.

In a heavy medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened and caramelized. Remove onions from skillet. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and heat. Add shredded potatoes in an even layer in the skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook until the potatoes begin to brown on the bottom, 6 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent sticking. Add onions back to skillet, press into a pancake. Season with salt and pepper

Using a heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they are caramelized. Remove the onions from the pan, and mix together with the shredded potatoes. Heat the remaining oil, and then add the potatoes to the skillet, in an even layer – -no more than 1/2 an inch. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the potatoes begin to brown on the bottom — about 7-8 minutes. Carefully flip over, or cut in half and flip one part at time over.

Season again with salt and pepper and allow to finish cooking — until golden brown on the bottom, another 7-8 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Notes:

You do not have to peel the potatoes.

Add green or red peppers as a variation.