Posts Tagged ‘Potatoes’

Last weekend, Marin Sun Farms was running a special at their stand at the Ferry Building farmers market – all cuts of meat were buy one, get one free.  If you have ever bought natural, grass fed, pastured, humane meat, you know this is a major deal.  I convinced my husband to get up early and head over.  At 8 am we were there, loading our bags up with meat.  I felt a little guilty walking out of there with what seemed like a half a cow, paying just $66 for it, but we belong to their CSA, and the fact they appreciate their customers enough to offer these great deals just cements my commitment to renew our membership next month.

 While there, we grabbed a bunch of dinner supplies.  My husband fixed up the dinner, so I’m just recording what he did.

With the exception of olive oil, salt and pepper, and an accidental splash of cognac, this was all bought at the Ferry Building last Saturday.  We picked up a couple flat iron steaks and a couple hangar steaks.  They cook the same way. For a steak that’s about 3/4 pound to a pound,  just heat a cast iron skillet until it’s hot, add a bit of olive oil, and cook the steak for 5 minutes on a side for medium rare.  Easy peasy.

To make the sauce, remove the steak from the pan, cover with foil, and let it rest.  Reduce heat to medium, and add a pat of butter and some minced shallot.  Saute for a few, then hit the pan off with something liquid.  My husband, forgetting this was our local meal, used cognac.  Wine or broth would be fine too.  Scrape up all the goodies on the bottom of the pan, then add mushrooms (we used chanterrelles).  Cook for another couple minutes, add a splash of cream, and voila, mushroom cream sauce.

The fingerling potatoes were extra large.  We cut them in half lengthwise, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, and stuck in the oven at 400 for a good 40 minutes or so.  They were amazing like this.

The romanesco was prepared in almost the same way.  Separate the florets, toss in olive oil and salt and pepper, and into the oven, right next to the potatoes for about 30 minutes.  I had never had romanesco, but it is so much better than broccoli or cauliflower, so I may be buying ot more often.

To drink, a syrah from Sonoma which we picked up on our trip there in November.  We got it at Amista, which is a lovely little winery, and I highly recommend it.

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I had never heard of champvallon before but if Martha Stewart says it’s a real dish, I believe her.  Apparently, it’s a French dish of stewed lamb and potatoes that may have been invented by a wife of Louis XIV.  It seems to me more like peasant food than a dish of kings, but wherever it came from, it’s delicious.  And, for a dish that’s just a pile of meat and potatoes, surprisingly light, though that could be my super delicious Marin Sun Farms lamb talking.

Recipe by Martha Stewart

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for sprinkling
5 to 6 russet potatoes, peeled

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Season lamb generously with salt and pepper.  Cook a third of the lamb, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to a bowl.  Stir in cup stock, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom.  Pour liquid over browned lamb.  Repeat with oil, lamb, and stock.  After the last batch, do not pour out stock.

Add onions, garlic, and rosemary to pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Return browned lamb and juices from bowl to pot.  Add remaining stock and  bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice potatoes as thin as possible.  If you have a mandoline, even better.  I don’t, but managed to get about 1/8 inch slices with a good knife and some patience.  Rinse, then pat dry.  Toss with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Cover bottom of a 12-inch dish with half the potato slices.  The recipe recommends a gratin dish, I found a good wide pie plate worked fine.  With the potatoes, start at outer edge, overlap each potato by half, working in concentric circles toward center.  Spoon lamb and broth over top, then repeat arrangement with remaining potato slices on top of lamb. Sprinkle with rosemary, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until top is gold, edges are crisp, and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour.  Let cool slightly before serving.

The resulting dish was delicious. The potatoes on top get crispy and brown and the ones on that bottom soak up all the juices from the lamb and the rosemary infused broth.

Because this is a French dish, I thought French wine would be fitting.  But, with all my jaunts to Napa and Sonoma, there’s just no French wine anywhere in my house.  Fortunately, we had on hand some lovely French style pinot noir from Freeman Winery in Sonoma.  Ken Freeman and his wife Akiko have built this beautiful little winery in Sebastopol, complete with a spectacular wine cave.  They make lovely French style wines, and some of the best Chardonnay I’ve ever had.  I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.  And, if you are not in the area, I recommend seeking out some of this Sonoma Coast pinot to drink with your champvallon.  It was a perfect combo.

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I recently came across some lovely blue potatoes.  But, unlike most blue potatoes, they had white flesh.  I thought they’d make a great potato salad.  I had a bunch of herbs in my fridge and just tossed everything together and hoped for the best.  It turned out delicious – much lighter and fresher than typical potato salad.

It’s fairly simple and I didn’t really measure anything out.  Just use what you have and trust your instincts.

Potato Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette

Potatoes – I used about 2 pounds
A bunch of herbs- I used about a cup and a half of mixed parsley, dill, and chives
Olive oil
White wine vinegar
zest of a lemon

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender.  Drain and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

Mince the herbs and toss into a large bowl.  Add some olive oil, a couple tablespoons or so, and a good splash of vinegar.  Add the lemon zest and some salt and pepper and whisk together.

Peel the potatoes if you want and slice into coins.  Toss with the herb mixture.  Chill for a couple hours or overnight.

I served mine with a grilled bratwurst sausage from Marin Sun Farms and a pint of Fat Tire beer.  Perfect summer meal.

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I’ve been neglecting my blog for the last few weeks, but I’m back.  The farmers’ market is in full swing with spring produce, so I’ve got a few good recipes lined up for the next couple weeks.  This weekend, my freezer was full of ground meat from Marin Sun Farms and I wanted to try something other than burgers.  I gathered up some good looking spring vegetables at the farmers market and set to work on a shepherd’s pie.  Or, apparently, it’s a cottage pie, since it’s made with beef and not lamb.  Whatever it is called, it was good.  I continued the spring theme with a simple spinach and strawberry salad and served it all up with a bottle of Sonoma zinfandel for a really great dinner.

I cooked the dish in a 8×10 casserole dish and it made about 4 large servings.  I think next time around, I might double the recipe and make it in a 9×13 so that it’s a little thicker and deeper.  Plus, it was good enough that we wanted more leftovers.

Shepherd’s Pie with Spring Vegetables
Loosely inspired by Elise’s version at Simply Recipes

1 lb of ground round beef
3 spring onions, finely minced
2-3 sprigs of green garlic, chopped
2 cups of chopped carrots and peas
About 2 pounds of potatoes – I used about 4 medium ones
A few springs of thyme and a few sage leaves, minced
1 teaspoon chives, finely minced
1/4 cup of milk or cream
Butter and olive oil
Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

While the potatoes are cooking, heat up a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Saute the onions and carrots for 5-10 minutes, until the carrots start to soften.  Add the green garlic and mix together.

Add ground beef and herbs, sauteing until just about cooked.  Turn off the heat and add the peas, salt, and pepper, and stir together.

When the potatoes are finished, drain and return to the pot.  Mash them, incorporating the minced chives, salt and pepper, a splash of cream, and a couple pats of butter. 

Spread the beef and vegetable mixture at the bottom of the pan and gently spread the potatoes over it.  Bake at 400 degrees oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes), sticking under the broiler if necessary and serve. 

Strawberry Spinach Salad for Two

3 cups of spinach, washed and chopped up into ribbons
4-5 large strawberries, sliced
an ounce or two of crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used blood orange infused from Stonehouse)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
a drop of honey
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and the honey until its emulsified.  Add salt and pepper.  Add the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.  Sprinkle on the goat cheese and serve.


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The weather is warm and gorgeous and the dark days are definitely over in this part of the country, though the challenge continues for a few more weeks.  In solidarity with my brethren in colder climates, I made a warm, hearty wintery dinner this week.   Our meat CSA, Marin Sun Farms, delivered to us this beautiful top sirloin roast, so I went for pure comfort food.   At the farmers market, I came across spring shallots.  I’m not entirely sure what they are, though I guess they are just what shallots look like when they are still young.  The flavor is a little grassier and more oniony than a regular shallot.  I bought a bunch, along with some creminis to make a sauce for the beef to serve along with some mashed potatoes.

The beef I used here was a 1 and 1/2 pound sirloin roast.  I rubbed it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and a bit of rosemary.  Then, I roasted it at 425 for 10 minutes, then at 300 for another 40 minutes or so.  I found timing the cooking a little tricky and I think I need a good meat cookbook, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know!

When the meat came out of the oven, I tented it under some foil.  I chopped up the shallots and reserved the juice.  To make the sauce, I heated a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil in a pan.  Added a couple cups of sliced mushrooms and sauted for a few minutes.  I then added the pan drippings and a half a cup of red wine, and the diced shallots.  I reduced it to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

For the potatoes, I used this recipe from epicurious, except I only had skim milk on hand.  Not a problem – the potatoes were still really rich, earthy, and delicious.  All and all, when paired with a glass of a Bordeaux blend from Sonoma – a delicious winter meal…at the beginning of spring.

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Boxty is an Irish potato pancake.  I’ve had them a couple times in Irish pubs and they rock.  Since I failed last year to create an authentically Irish St. Patrick’s Day offering, I wanted to do something delicious this year.  And what’s more Irish than potatoes?

The recipe is fairly straightforward.  The batter is a little sticky and tricky to work with, but I think they are kind of hard to screw up.  And, they were delicious.  

Recipe adapted from Epicurious and this blog, The Evening Heralt

1 9-ounce russet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups grated peeled russet potato (about one 9-ounce potato), squeezed dry in kitchen towel
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (about) buttermilk

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Happy new year!  I’ve been travelling around visiting family for the holidays and very behind on my blog posting.  Hopefully, you all were busy with your own holiday plans to miss me too much. 

I made this soup right before Christmas, and since it used all local ingredients, it’s my submission for the Week 7 Dark Days Challenge (sadly, I missed week 6 because of travels).  I got the idea from fellow Dark Days Challenge participant, Married With Dinner, who made Emeril Lagasse’s Potato Leek Soup a few weeks back.  I’ve never made potato leek soup before, but this version looked so good that I had to try it out.  It was absolutely delicious.  Next time, I am going to make a double batch and freeze half of it.

Everything I used here except the salt and pepper are local.  All the produce comes from the farmer’s market.   For stock, I used homemade vegetable broth that I had made and froze a while ago, using an onion, carrot, leek trimmings, herbs, and whatever other things happened to be in my produce drawer that afternoon.  The bacon comes from Fatted Calf, the dairy from Clover Stornetta Farms in Sonoma, and the wine is a sauvignon blanc that my husband picked up at St. Supery in Napa on a recent trip. 

Potato Leek Soup
Recipe by Emeril Lagasse

1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns (I just ground up a bunch)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock  (I used vegetable)
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced  (I used Yukon gold)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper (I skipped)
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used half and half)
2 tablespoons snipped chives


The original recipe calls for creating a bouquet garni using some leek trimmings to make a packet that you fill with the peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme.  That is way too much work for a Tuesday night, so I just skipped that step.  I just tossed the bay leaves and thyme right into the broth and fished them out before blending, then just ground in lots of fresh pepper.  So much easier for essentially the same thing.   Just be sure to count the bay leaves as you put them in and take them out because you don’t want to grind one of those up.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped up pieces of bacon.  Stir occassionally, cooking for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. 

Add the leeks and stir gently until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the bay and thyme, or the bouquet garni if you are using, the stock, potatoes, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and falling apart.

Remove the bouquet garni or fish out the herbs.  Working in batches, puree the soup, using a a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.   Stir in the cream or creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Sprinkle some of the snipped chives on top to serve. 

Particularly delicious on a cold night with a glass of the wine you poured in (can’t let it go bad!) and a hunk of bread from a local bakery.

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One of the biggest perks about moving to the west coast is the good Mexican food.  I actually don’t understand how Chipotle is even profitable in this state, when the local taco trucks and burrito joints are so vastly superior. 

As part of my evolution into a taco snob, I have sworn off those yellow boxed taco kits, with the stale corn shells, baggies of sauce, and that weird spice packet.  My taco kit looks like this:

On the left, handmade soft corn tortillas, from Primavera, in Sonoma.  On the right, chorizo from Fatted Calf, located in Napa and made from happy, organic, local pigs.   Both were purchased at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.

So my local meal as part of the Dark Days challenge this week was tacos.  Because the chorizo was quite pricey, I mixed it with some sweet potatoes to stretch it a little farther.  The sweetness of the potatoes complimented the spice and the starchiness worked really well with the fat.  On the side, a quick citrus and radish salad made from local Persian limes, satsuma mandarins, radishes, and pomegranate seeds.  I mixed them together and sprinkled them all with a bit of salt and a bit of sugar.

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Tacos

8 oz Mexican chorizo (the raw, loose kind, not the Spanish, smoked and cured kind)
2-3 sweet potatoes, diced into small chunks, about 3/4 of an inch
Peppers – I used a couple small sweet chiles, almost like baby gypsy peppers, finely minced.  If you want something spicier, toss in a jalapeno or serrano.
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Half of a medium onion, chopped
A bunch of cilantro
A lemon or a lime
Corn tortillas (recipe should make about 8-10 tacos)

Combine the onion and cilantro with a generous sprinkling of salt.   I used a mortar and pestle to pound them together.  If you don’t have one, you can whiz them in the food processor, or just chop them together, and maybe press on them a bit with a fork to release some of their oils.  Add to a bowl and hit off with a squirt of lime juice and a bit of zest.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, warm a bit of olive oil – a tablespoon or so.  Add the sweet potatoes and saute for 5-10 minutes until soft.  If they start to stick, don’t add more oil.  Just add a quarter cup of water or so, as needed.  Basically, you want them cooked before you add the chorizo, since that will cook quickly.  But you don’t want to use a lot of oil because the chorizo is fatty.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, add the garlic and peppers.  Saute for about a minute.

Add the chorizo to the sweet potato mixture, breaking it up with your wooden spoon.  Cook for a few minutes until the chorizo is thoroughly cooked.  If it starts to dry out or stick, add a splash or two of water.

To serve, warm up the tortillas and fill with a couple spoonfuls of the chorizo-potato mixture.   Top with the onion-cilantro mixture and serve.

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When I made sweet potato gnocchi a couple weeks ago, I froze half the batch.  I wanted to try something new with the second half, so I opted for this recipe from the great blog Not Eating Out in New York.  Since the gnocchi were already made, it took me no time at all to throw this dinner together.   It was incredibly delicious, and I liked it even better than the cider sauce I made the first time around.  Of course, given this blog’s name, that should come as no surprise.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Arugula and Hazelnuts
from Not Eating Out in New York

1 pound of sweet potato gnocchi
1 large bunch arugula, coarsely chopped
about 1/3 cup hazelnuts, crushed or chopped
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
freshly grated parmesan (optional)

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and add the hazelnuts.  Toast for about 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. R emove from the pan just as you begin to notice some sides of the nuts darkening.  Transfer to a bowl or a cutting board to crush or chop.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi.

Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan with about half the olive olive and when it’s hot, add the arugula and a pinch of salt and pepper.   Stir frequently for about 2 minutes, until the arugula is just wilted.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the finished gnocchi to the pan with the arugula, transfering some of the cooking water with you.  

If you finish cooking the gnocchi before the arugula is ready, just drain it and reserve a bit of the water, and add in a few splashes as neccessary to keep things from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Season with more salt and pepper, and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil.  Transfer to serving plates and top with the crushed hazelnuts.  Finish with the optional garnish of grated nutmeg, or do what I did, and grate some parmesan on it.  Serve immediately.

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I decided to participate in the 3rd Annual Dark Days of Winter Eat Local Challenge organized by (not so) Urban Hennery.  The challenge is to cook one meal each week focused on SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients and blog about it.  I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few months ago and have been looking for ways to incorporate more local food into my diet.  Because I live in a pretty fantastic part of the country for agriculture and food, I don’t really have an excuse to be eating stuff that’s been flown in from around the world.  Aiming to cook and eat local one night a week is a fairly reasonable goal.

I found out about the challenge a week into it, and with Thanksgiving prep, I didn’t have enough time to do a proper search for locally grown supplies.  And with all the leftovers, I couldn’t justify buying more food.  That said, I’m pleased to say that I’ve created a dish using only a couple non-local things, namely flour and baking powder, and possibly one other non-local ingredient which I’ll get to in a minute.  I hope to find some locally milled flour for future challenges, but for the time being, this is what I’ve got.

For my Turkey Pot Pie, I used leftover Thanksgiving turkey, which came from a farm in Sonoma.  The butter and cream are from Clover Stornetta farms, also based in Sonoma.  I made the turkey stock from the turkey carcass.  And all vegetables and herbs in the dish come from the farmers market, with the exception of the parsnip.  I had bought a few to mix in with my mashed potatoes, and had a giant one left.  For some reason, I can’t seem to find parsnips here at the farmers market so I resorted to the grocery store.  My grocery store sucks, and does not label where the produce comes from.  My guess is that it is from California, though I suppose I can’t be sure.  I probably would have omitted this for the purposes of the challenge, but since it will get eaten eventually, I figured I’d just toss it in.

The directions to the pot pie are vague, partly because I didn’t write things down as I did it, but in part because it’s a very easy dish to prepare and adapt to whatever you have on hand.    I have never had a pot pie with a biscuit crust before, but I wanted to try it out with sweet potato biscuits, using my leftover sweet potatoes.  I must say, I think I’m a convert now.  Biscuit crusts rock.  Flufflier and heartier than a pie crust.  So good.

To make the pot pie, I started with the turkey stock.  Most of the meat had been picked off the carcass, and I put that in a pot of cold water, with an onion, salt, and some bay leaves.  If you’ve got extra carrots or celery around, those can go in too.  Boiled it for about two hours, strained, reserved the extra meat, and set it aside.

Then I rolled out the sweet potato biscuits using this recipe.  I put the biscuits in the fridge, then preheated the oven to 350.

To make pot pie, you basically want to cook vegetables on the stove, then once cooked, make a sauce, pour into a pan, cover, and bake.  Start with the hardest, longest cooking vegetables first and work your way down to the softest, most delicate vegetables.  Hard root vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips will need a good 8-10 minutes.  Unless they are already cooked, then just add them during the last minute or two to warm them up.  Leeks and shallots went in at the 5 minute mark, and my leftover green beans from Thanksgiving dinner got added in the last minute.  This is a pretty hard dish to screw up, so just use your judgment here based on whatever produce you have on hand.    I sauted everything in butter, though you can use olive oil or a mix if you’d like. 

Once the vegetables are cooked, add the turkey meat, whatever herbs you are using (I used thyme and sage) and some salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and sprinkle everything with a few tablespoons of flour.  Add a couple ladles of turkey stock and a splash of cream.   Stir together until you get a nice gravy-like sauce.  Add a little more liquid or flour if you need to.  You want it to be rich and wet, but not runny.

Pour everything into a deep baking dish or casserole dish, and cover with the biscuits.  Brush the biscuits with an egg wash or some cream, and into the oven for 30-40 minutes.

When it comes out, let it sit for a couple minutes, then dig into the bliss.

I paired it with a chardonnay that my husband picked up on a recent trip to Napa.  Yes, I realize I’m extremely lucky to have all this good stuff in my 150 mile radius.  I think I’ll be eating well this winter!


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