Posts Tagged ‘potato’

Recapturing a great flavor of New Hampshire


Our latest book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Vermont & New Hampshire (Globe Pequot Press), just arrived two days ago and it brought back fond memories of the research. One of our favorite meals was at the Bedford Village Inn, when Benjamin Knack, fresh from a season on Hell’s Kitchen, had just take over the dining program for this romantic destination property.

It so happens that Ben makes a killer gnocchi, which he claimed was so simple that even his then 4-year-old daughter could do it. There are a couple of secrets to getting just the right texture. The potatoes should be cooked so they “squeak like Styrofoam when you squeeze them,” he says. And they should be pushed quickly through the sieve so the potato remains warm while you’re making the gnocchi.

That particular night we ate the gnocchi tossed with duck confit, but they’re equally good dressed in a light sauce made of roasted tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and nothing more. We managed to get the Bedford Village Inn into Food Lovers’ Guide to Vermont & New Hampshire, but the gnocchi recipe arrived too late to make the first edition. Next time, maybe. In the meantime, here it is in all its glory (and simplicity).

GNOCCHI WITH ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients

3 russet potatoes
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch pepper
1 egg
1 cup flour

Directions

1. Bake the potatoes until they are soft (about 45 min) in a 350-degree oven. While still warm, cut in half and, using the skin, push through a sieve or tamis onto a table top.

2. Sprinkle cheese, salt, and pepper over potatoes and cut in with bench scraper. Break egg on top and cut into potato mix until well incorporated.

3. Add flour and cut in until it is fully incorporated. Knead gently until a ball is formed. Flatten dough to about 3/4 inch.

4. Cut dough into 3/4 inch dowels and cut dowels into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss uncooked gnocchi in flour and allow to dry for 15 minutes.

5. Set 6 quarts water, well salted, to boil in large pot.

7. Drop gnocchi into boiling water and cook until they float. Then allow to cook for 2-3 more minutes.

8. Toss with 1/4 cup canola oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve.

ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients

5 vine-ripened tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Set oven to 350F.

2. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan and cook 25-30 minutes.

3. Remove tomatoes from oven. Separate skins and discard. Purée tomatoes until smooth. Add 1/4 cup olive oil while blending and add salt and pepper to taste.

from Benjamin Knack, executive chef at the Bedford Village Inn

Stuffed tomatoes from Roman pizzerias

Like many Roman visitors (and many Romans, for that matter), we took advantage of the city’s many pizzerias for quick meals or snacks. Once our Zone 6 garden swings into production around mid-July, we hope to revisit the subject of Roman pizza for the myriad of vegetable versions.

But it was in the pizzerias that we stumbled onto another quintessentially Roman dish: stuffed tomatoes on a bed of roasted potatoes. Tomatoes stuffed with rice are a standard dish in a lot of parts of Italy, but Rome was the first place where we had seen them served with a big batch of potatoes. The simplicity of the single combined dish appealed to us, as it clearly does to many Romans getting an inexpensive casual meal. It took only a little experimentation at home to come up with a viable recipe for this starchier, heartier version of stuffed tomatoes.

ROMAN ROASTED STUFFED TOMATOES AND POTATOES

When served with potatoes, the tomatoes are relatively unseasoned. But if you want to serve the stuffed tomatoes alone as a first course, leave out the eggs and add three finely chopped anchovy fillets and a 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to the mixture before stuffing.

Ingredients

3 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in 3/4-inch dice
1/4 cup olive oil
6 large tomatoes, ideally with stems intact
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 cup water
2/3 cup Arborio rice
1/4 lb. ground veal or pork
large bunch flat parsley, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten

Directions

Combine potatoes and olive oil and spread evenly in roasting pan. Roast in 350F oven for 25 minutes.

Cut 2-inch diameter cap from tops of tomatoes. Scoop out pulp, seeds, and jelly and place in strainer, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let drain to separate juices. Reserve juices and reserve cap.

Add remaining salt to water, add rice and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

In frying pan, crumble ground meat and cook over medium heat until browned. Add reserved tomato juices and fistful of parsley. Stirring regularly, continue cooking until liquid is mostly reduced.

Mix meat mixture with rice, remaining parsley, and eggs. Stuff mixture into tomatoes and set caps on top. Place tomatoes on top of potatoes in roasting pan, raise oven to 425F and continue roasting for 30 minutes.

27

05 2011

Making pâté chinois the cooking school way

In our most recent Montreal residency we were amazed by the explosion in cooking classes. Montrealers have always loved to go out to eat, but more and more they’re also dining well at home. One of the pioneers in teaching classes for the general public was the Académie Culinaire (360 rue Champ-de-Mars, 514-393-8111, academieculinaire.com), which has its offices and kitchens in a modern facility on the edge of Old Montreal.

The Académie created a modernized, jazzed-up version of pâté chinois that reflects the increased sophistication of even basic Quebecois cookery. We find it a wonderfully comforting supper dish on a cold winter night. The recipe required no tinkering at all, except that we adapted it for cooking in a 9×13 pan. If you prefer, individual portions can also be prepared in six small casseroles.

PÂTÉ CHINOIS

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
12 oz. creamed corn
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground veal
1/4 pound pancetta
3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, diced
1/2 cup brown stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

1. Place the potatoes in a sauce pan and cover them with cold water. Season the water with a generous pinch of salt, and cook the potatoes until they are fork tender (7-10 minutes).

2. Place the cooked potatoes in a food mill and process them to prepare the mashed potatoes. Add cream and truffle oil and mix well to obtain a smooth texture. Season the potatoes to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.

3. Mix the two types of corn together and reserve.

4. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté veal and pancetta. After a few minutes, add the sun-dried tomatoes and the brown stock and continue cooking until the meat has completely lost its pink color and the sauce has become thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Preheat oven to 400°F. In 9×13 pan, create three even layers for the shepherd’s pie starting with the meat, followed by the corn and finishing with the mashed potatoes (using a piping bag fitted with a star tip will add flair to the finish).

6. Cut remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small cubes and distribute over top of potatoes. Place in oven until the potatoes start to brown, 25-30 minutes.

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29

01 2011

Making patatas a la Riojana at home

We don’t feel too bad messing around a little with tradition to make this dish with New England provender. This rich stew hails from the Ebro River valley in La Rioja, but until Napoleon brought potatoes to northern Spain in the early 19th century, this dish was made with chestnuts!

Of course, nowadays the local potato varieties of the Ebro valley are highly prized—considered by many the tastiest potatoes in Spain. In fact, the Riojanos tend to keep them for themselves. Not only do they have the rich potato flavor of say, a Kennebec, they also keep their shape like a waxy potato while containing enough starch to thicken a broth. We discovered that a mix of waxy potatoes (Red Bliss are the easiest to find) with some starchy potatoes like russets both thickens the stew and provides some toothy pieces of potato.

The Riojanos also have a special way of cutting their potatoes to maximize the exposure of starch to the broth. Hold the scrubbed, unpeeled potato and insert a sharp small knife at a 45 degree angle to the surface. Dig in about an inch, then twist the potato to make a conical cut. Snap out the piece, and continue until the whole potato is cut into irregular, roughly conical pieces. (It’s actually a quick way to cut up potatoes with a small knife.)

Spanish chorizo is usually available in U.S. grocery stores that cater to a Latin American clientele. Other types of chorizo are less spicy; if substituting, double the garlic and add an additional teaspoon of paprika.

This version of the dish is adapted from chef Raúl Pérez Marín of Restaurante Sopitas in Arnedo, southeast of Logroño, the capital of La Rioja.

Patatas a la Riojana

Ingredients

1 ancho chile pepper, stemmed and seeded and torn into pieces
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/4 lb. (two large) russet potatoes
1 1/2 lb. Red Bliss or other waxy potatoes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled, cut into quarters and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and roasted to remove skin, cut into 1-inch pieces
3-4 large cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 large fresh tomato, cored and skinned, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
8 oz. Spanish chorizo, cut in 1/2-inch slices
1 cup dry wine (white or red)
3 cups chicken or beef stock
coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste
chopped parsley to garnish

Directions

1. Soak dried chile pieces in boiling water for a half hour. Puree in blender or food processor. Set aside.

2. Cut up potatoes. Peel russets and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. (They will almost disappear and provide the thickening.) Scrub the waxy potatoes and cut into irregular, more or less conical shapes about 1 inch on widest dimension. Set potatoes aside.

3. Heat olive oil over medium heat in 4-5 quart Dutch oven or other large pot. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté until onion is soft. Add garlic, tomatoes, and bay leaf and sauté until most liquid has evaporated. Stir in thyme and paprika and cook another 30 seconds.

4. Add chorizo and raise heat to lightly brown the meat. Add the pureed pepper.

5. Stir in potatoes and add wine. Bring to boil and cook 3 minutes to burn off alcohol. Stir in broth and raise to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.

6. Remove about a cup of potatoes from the stew and mash with a little liquid. Stir back in and cook another 5 minutes.

7. Serve in shallow bowls with a little chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

05

03 2010

Sustenance for the long walk to Santiago de Compostela

Full disclosure first: We did NOT walk one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. But last spring, when we were in northern Spain to research a guidebook, we did see pilgrims everywhere.

Guess we shouldn’t have been surprised. Pilgrims have been walking across Europe to Santiago de Compostela, ever since the tomb of St. James the Apostle was discovered around 814 A.D. Pilgrims often carry walking sticks with scallop shells, the symbol of Santiago. Alas, they also often throw rain ponchos over their backpacks. There’s a good reason the north is called “green Spain.” It rains a lot.

Two of the main routes from France (the Camino del Norte and the Camino Aragónese) converge in Navarra and La Rioja, continuing west across the rugged northern mountains to Galicia. The pilgrimage routes are marked with a scallop shell, and in some places the path parallels the modern paved highway. Many towns along the route were founded as way stations for the pilgrims, like the colorful Santo Domingo de la Calzada, and they usually have hostels where pilgrims can spend the night. Generally, though, the pilgrims are required to hit the road by 8 a.m., rain or shine.

Santiago cathedral

Many bars and restaurants, naturally, have special discounted pilgrim menus of hearty, earthy dishes to give them the energy to keep going. Whenever we would stop at one of these pilgrim restaurants, we’d feel a little guilty after a day in the car, but we couldn’t resist the food either. One of the most sustaining dishes is called patatas a la riojana, or Rioja-style potatoes, and we still find our adaptation the perfect bowl to lift body and spirit on a cold and rainy day.

More in the next post…

25

02 2010