Smashed Summer Potatoes


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Can you tell it was a market day? These days are some of my favourite and I’m still trying to figure out what is the best summer food.
One might guess asparagus, berries, tomatoes or corn… but then there is the humble potato. Nothing screams summer dinner to me more than every including a cob of fresh corn, green beans and early treasures like baby potatoes.

There are about five thousand varieties of potatoes and ALL of them have to start out as babies.
These small, young, thin-skinned delights have just started to be robbed from the ground and sent to market on the same day. They are waiting to be boiled up and melt in your mouth.

Super easy, crazy delicious!

 

SMASHED SUMMER POTATOES

12 – 15 Baby New Potatoes
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (about)
1 Tablespoon Chives, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Dill, finely chopped
Zest of 1/2 Lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste.

In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes until fork tender.
Drain and score the bottom of each potato crosswise. Place knicked side down and smash each potato with your thumb or the back of a spoon to flatten.
Heat olive oil on medium high and sauté each side for about 3 – 5 minutes or until equally golden and crisp.
Remove potatoes to serving plate, reserving the remaining oil in the pan.
Sprinkle with salt, cracked pepper, herbs and lemon zest.

Serves 4

Countdown To Christmas: Dinner


Dinner, oh dinner.
Yeah, this is the big one. It’s also the one that by experience has proven that planning ahead, pop it in the oven kind of dinners are waaaay more enjoyable than missing out on events while slaving away in the kitchen. Plus, there really are so many relatively quick and impressive recipe options to choose from, so I can watch the yule log burn on the Apple tv and sip wine while I build some new lego…  (or play with cooking show Barbie – Shhhhhh.)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mashed potatoes. And although I’m sure you know how to make those, I’ve added a little roasted garlic to these. Not only does it make them extra good, it’s going to match up the rest of the dishes served.

Next are steamed green beans, because you can’t go wrong with those. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them… even the picky seats at the kiddie table!

To balance things out, I just wouldn’t be a mother if I didn’t serve brussels sprouts. Actually, these are the one vegetables I was made to sit and stare at as a child but thankfully, I’ve learned to cook them properly. The trick is to under cook them, there the secret’s out – now stand back and watch and the hoards make way in the produce aisle! Briefly roasted with oil, then tossed with rosemary and a little of the dinner’s themed garlic seemed utterly delicious!

One of my most favourite sides I’ve made almost too many times to count. Popular around Thanksgiving, yet I haven’t made it for Christmas. Combine two of my favourites, it’s a creamy spinach and squash gratin.

The main attraction? Another relatively easy but impressive dish. Adapted from Gourmet’s November issue. This mushroom spinach pie has a little something for everyone with earthy mushrooms, spinach, walnuts and, of course, roasted garlic.

My favourite part? The pie seriously took me about six minutes to make it but it can be made hours in advance.

This dinner will serve 4- 6.

SIMPLE ROASTED GARLIC

3 Bulbs Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cut the tops from each bulb and peel the outermost layers of papery skin from the garlic.
Coat each bulb well with the olive oil and roast for 30 – 35 minutes, until each bulb is soft, sticky and golden brown. Adding more oil or cover with foil, if necessary to avoid drying and over-browning.

ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

4 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Using a pressure cooker or traditional stove top method, boil the potatoes until soft.
Drain then mash by hand, those little lumps and bits are good.
Squeeze the cooled garlic from the skin into a bowl and mash with a fork.
Add the garlic, oil, continuing to mash until fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + SPINACH GRATIN

This recipe can be made days ahead, up to the point of adding the crumb topping, which can be done while reheating.

1 Small Butternut Squash
1/2  Bulb Roasted Garlic, about 2 Tablespoons mashed
6 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk, or unsweetened soy milk will do
1/2 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1/8 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt, scant
1/4 teaspoon Pepper, to your liking
2 Slices Whole Wheat bread
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled – optional

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly spray a casserole dish with oil.
Sauté the spinach in the olive oil. Once wilted, remove with a squeeze and discard any extra liquid.
Slice the neck of the squash in to 1/4″ rounds. Remove the skin from the edge and evenly layer the bottom the casserole dish.
Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and pepper.
Top with sautéed spinach, nutmeg, another sprinkling of salt and pepper, then evenly dot with the roasted garlic.
Add another layer of squash to cover in an even layer, sprinkling over another pinch of the salt and pepper.
Combine the almond milk with the arrowroot powder and pour over the squash.
Tightly cover with foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile toast the bread slices to dry out completely. Either add to a food processor or chop finely by hand.
Add the butter and rosemary to the crumbs, mixing evenly.
Top the baked squash with the crumb mixture. Return it to the oven and continue to bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until brown and crusty.

MUSHROOM SPINACH + WALNUT PIE

2 (397g) Packages Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Cups Sliced Mushrooms, I used crimini, but I’m doing shiitake for the next one.
8 Cups Baby Spinach, packed
1/4 Cup Walnuts, chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft and browned.
Remove the mushrooms to cool.
Add the remaining oil and sauté the spinach leaves. Squeeze over the bulb of roasted garlic and stir.
While the spinach wilts and the mushrooms cool, roll out the first package of dough into about a 12″x8″ rectangle.
Place the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Top the dough with the mushrooms, then the wilted spinach.
Sprinkle over salt, pepper, rosemary and chopped walnuts.
Roll out the remaining dough to top the pie, crimping and tucking the edges under.
Lightly score the top with a sharp blade, occasionally piercing for steam vents.
Bake in the center of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Warm New Potato & Dandelion Greens Salad


Officially spring when the weeds beat out the flowers – even in the grocery store.

Today was one of those exciting days at the market. Everywhere I turned there was new, fresh seasonal produce. I was greeted by thin, crisp greens, herbs and miniature everything like these potatoes which were about the size of fallen acorns.

I was worried that they might be too bitter. I had always been a little nervous about dandelions, unsure of what to do with them. I figured they must be pretty damn good though, judging from the number of elderly Mediterranean women I’ve spotted out along the highway boulevards collecting the young greens.

Knowing that you can neutralize a bit of bitterness with lemon or by choosing early, fresh leaves of any bitter greens, I set out to do just that with the dressing I had in mind for the salad. Of course, my live-in partner in crime’s first curiosity was to why I would buy weed, since I would soon be able to harvest from my very lawn in a matter of weeks, naturally.

But spring has sprung and I just couldn’t have waited any longer.

WARM NEW POTATO AND DANDELION GREENS SALAD

1/2 Lb Dandelion Greens, one big bunch with the tough stems removed
1/2 Lb New Baby Red Potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoon Good Quality Grainy Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice, juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 Lemon
8 Capers, finely minced
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
1 Garlic Clove, slivered

Boil the potatoes until just fork tender; about 10 – 15 minutes depending on their size.
Combine the lemon juice, oil and mustard in a medium sized bowl with tall sides.
Whisk throughly to emulsify.
Mince the capers and add to the dressing along with 3/4 of the lemon zest, reserving the remainder for garnish.
Continue to whisk to incorporate.
Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
Drain potatoes and cover to steam while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Rinse the dandelion greens well and spin to dry.
Remove any of the lower, tough stems then tear leaves into about 2″ pieces.
Peel and very thinly slice the garlic clove on the diagonal.
In a small sauté pan add the pine nuts along with the slivered garlic and dry toast until golden and hot.
Toss the greens in the dressing then add the potatoes.
Transfer to your serving plate and top with reserved lemon zest, pine nuts and garlic.

Side, By Side, By Side.


For some, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without having a bird as the guest of honour.
For others, it’s everything else that fills the plate; your aunt’s famous stuffing, homemade cranberries or your mom’s casserole that make the meal. Bumping elbows, it’s not tough to see, for our herbivore guests, the sides become the main. However, the gravy might be out, the stuffing perhaps filled that bird or decadence won with the addition creams and cheese, making even the sides slim pickings.

Since Holidays are about the company, these few tweaks on some delicious classics are sure to be enjoyed by the entire table. Be thankful, celebrate the season… and your guests. (& I’m sure they will thank you too.)

I’ve put together a few quick and easy side dishes for Thanksgiving, and beyond. Simple and fast to prepare, these sides can easily be doubled or made ahead of time and just reheated, allowing more time for company…. and dessert.


Continue reading Side, By Side, By Side.