Sunday, May 31, 2009

Herbed Rosti with Wild Mushrooms


So...the picture doesn't do it justice. I made a rosti the other day, and it was splendid...earthy and texturally interesting. But wait! I'm getting ahead of myself; let me back up a little.

**NOTE: I'm drinking sweet tea vodka lemonade while writing this so if it goes a little haywire, well, what can I say?!

A girl friend of mine recently suggested the formation of a cookbook club, and several friends (including me) jumped on the idea. Our first pick is Martha Stewart's Cooking School. For the next month everyone who is participating in the cookbook club is supposed to cook from the selection as much as possible. At the end of the month we will meet, discuss what we cooked, and bring a dish we've prepared (from the cookbook) to share. Sounds like fun to me!
I've tried a few things from the cookbook, including this rosti. Honestly, I had never even heard of a rosti until I flipped through the book, found a picture of one, and said "Hey! That looks tasty!". I have since learned that a rosti is a German/Swiss dish consisting primarily of potatoes that are shredded and pan-fried. In a nutshell, it's a giant latke. Mmmmm...
Without further ado, here is the recipe with pictures and commentary:

Herbed Rosti with Wild Mushrooms

2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/4 lbs)
1/2 small leek, while and pale green parts only, washed and cut into julienne
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 small leek, while and pale green parts only, cut into julienne and washed
4 oz fresh chanterelles, wiped clean (halved if large)
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 oz fresh goat cheese, softened

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel potatoes and grate on the large holes of a box grater. Soak in water to cover for five minutes. Lift out with your hands, and squeezed out liquid, then squeeze out excess liquid in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. You should have three cups potatoes.
Toss together the potato, leek, and thyme, and season with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
Melt 1 Tbsp each butter and olive oil in a 10-inch ovenproof pan over medium-high heat, swirling to coat evenly. Add potato mixture, and cook, pressing down lightly with a large spatula, until bottom is golden and releases easily from pan, about 4 minutes.


Invert rosti onto a plate. Add remaining 1 Tbsp each butter and oil and swirl to coat pan. Carefully slide rosti back into pan uncooked side down and cook until starting to brown underneath, about 3 minutes.


Transfer to oven and cook until deep golden brown and cooked through (it should offer no resistance when pierced in the center with the tip of a paring knife), 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute mushrooms. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook leek until translucent, stirring, about 1 minute. Add chantererlles, season with salt and pepper, and saute until golden, about 3 minutes.

Stir in stock and cook until reduced and slightly thickened and the mushrooms have softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Slide baked rosti out of pan onto a serving platter. Spoon dollops of goat cheese in center of rosti and spoon mushroom mixture over top.
Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

I served the completed rosti with baked flounder (tossed with a little lemon juice, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper) and a green salad (spinach, Belgian endive, Bibb lettuce) with blueberries, sunflower seeds, and a honey-lemon vinaigrette (pictured below).


The rosti was delicious. The actual potato pancake was crispy on the outside with a tender inside, and the leeks added a quiet sweetness. The goat cheese and mushrooms brought out a woodsy quality that grounded the dish. Adding a salad with nuts (well, seeds) and berries added to the earthy quality of the meal. Mmmm...I could eat this every night!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Storing Bakeware

I really love my apartment.  It's in a great area of the city, has a fabulous sun room, and it's just the right size for my husband and me.  My only real gripe is a common one.  There isn't quite enough storage space, and I have a LOT of stuff -- especially kitchen stuff.  So when Charlie suggested that we put magnets on the pantry walls and stick our bakeware to the magnets I was all about it.  We went around and around about what type of magnets we should use, and we tried a few types, but none of them worked as well as we'd hoped.  Then one day I put away one of our cheese knives and realized that the answer had been staring us in the face the whole time.  
We keep some of our knives on a long, thin magnet above the kitchen sink.  It's the same type of magnetic knife rack commonly used in professional kitchens, and it's also perfect for storing bakeware in the pantry.  Take a look:


Oh wow, I'm so pleased!  Charlie did a wonderful job of installing the magnets, and we were able to free up an entire shelf in the pantry.  We bought the magnets at Ikea, and they cost $9 apiece -- totally worth it.  Also, (according to Charlie) they were simple to install.  If every inch of storage space matters where you live I highly recommend giving this a shot.  The sound the pans make when the magnets suck them in is pretty cool as well.  


Friday, May 15, 2009

Dip Night with the girls

My friend Stacey had a brilliant idea this week: to have a girls night centered on dips. We did, and it was fantastic. Each of the following dips made an appearance:

Caramelized Vidalia Onion Dip served with crostini
Reuben Dip served with chunky bread
Jalapeno Popper Dip served with corn chips
Spicy Peanut Dip served with chicken satay and bell peppers
Ranch dip with veggies
Chocolate Sauce (dip) served with strawberries and bananas

I made the Spicy Peanut Dip, which was pretty good. I had a feeling there would be a number of (delicious) creamy dips, and I wanted to take something a little different. Here's the recipe:

Spicy Peanut Dip


1 large shallot, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, ginger, and garlic; saute until shallot is tender, about 3 minutes. Add curry powder and crushed red pepper. Stir until aromatic, about 15 seconds. Stir in chicken broth, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, and brown sugar; whisk to blend. Simmer until mixture thickens, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool, whisking occassionally to prevent separation. Serve at room temperature, and sprinkle with curry powder just before serving.

The chicken satay was a tasty and aesthetically pleasing accompaniment, and the crunchiness of the bell peppers contrasted nicely with the other textures. Overall a good solid dip that I will make again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A weeknight Indian dish -- at last!


Indian food, if properly prepared, has such a rich, complex flavor that I can't get enough of. I've taken several classes at The Cooks Warehouse on North Indian cooking, and all that I've tried at home has been delicious, BUT it takes a lot of prep work and a lot of cook time -- not ideal for a weeknight after a long day at work. So, I was very pleased when I found the following recipe for Sindhi Chicken Curry. It has all the complexity of a slow-cooked, time-consuming Indian chicken dish without the hour of prep work, three hours of marinating, two hours of slow cooking, etc. In fact, the whole thing took a little under an hour to prepare. Check it out:

Sindhi Chicken Curry

1 cup plain yogurt -- room temp, stirred to a creamy consistency
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 Tablespoon ginger root, peeled and minced
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
4 teaspoons minced serrano chilies
12 large chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon coriander powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
28 oz diced tomatoes in liquid
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 cup cilantro chopped

*NOTE: I know this is a long ingredient list, however, once you have all of the spices in your spice cabinet it isn't too bad. I buy mine in bulk at the Dekalb Farmer's Market.

1. Stir yogurt and cornstarch together until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until beginning to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and saute onions until dark golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes longer.

The onions should look like this when you start:

They should look like this after caramelizing:

3. Stir in ginger, garlic, and chilies. Saute for two minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken and brown well, 6 to 8 minutes.


My pan was a little crowded, but I managed to get all the chicken thighs in!


Here they're starting to brown.


4. Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper over top of chicken. Mix well, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

The spices before they are added:

And the chicken after they've been stirred in:


5. Add tomatoes, yogurt mixture, 1/2 cup cilantro, and salt. Mix well. Cover and bring to a boil.


6. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is no longer pink inside, about 25 minutes.

7. Turn off heat. Stir in garam masala and 3 Tablespoons cilantro (or more to taste).


8. Garnish with remaining cilantro before serving. Serve with rice or any Indian bread.


As you can see, I served it atop basmati rice. I was very pleased with the result. It had a little heat, but that was cut by the yogurt. A few cashews or slivered almonds on top might liven up the texture, but it was very good as it was. AND totally do-able on a weeknight! (That's my favorite part -- can you tell?)

And now, a couple of notes:

It is important that the yogurt be at room temperature. If it is cold it has a better chance of curdling when it hits the hot pan. Just pull it out of the fridge when you start making the dish, and it should be ready by the time you need to add it. Removing it from the yogurt container and placing it near the warm stove should help speed up the process.

If you double the recipe, do not double the turmeric. It will make the dish too bitter if any more is added. (As a general rule, the amount of turmeric used should never be increased when doubling recipes.)

I enjoy eating the chicken thighs with the bone in, but some people find this to be too messy. There's no reason why you can't use boneless chicken thighs (or even chicken breasts, though they won't have the same depth of flavor) if you want a more fork-ready dinner.

Get ready for leftovers! This recipe makes a ton of food!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mussels and Shrimp in a Spicy Tomato Broth


What a bad blogger I've been!  It's not that I haven't been cooking, I just haven't been photographing my creations, and I don't want to post without at least a few pictures.  I recently made a lovely meal consisting of Mussels and Shrimp in a Spicy Tomato Broth, Arugula and Edamame Pesto on Crostini, Caprese Salad, and Stuffed Mushrooms.  I also tried out Vodka Rosemary Fizzes which were beautiful (and it's a real shame I didn't snap a couple photos of those).  So, here we go.  Over the next few posts I'll dive into the dishes listed above.

For starters, the Mussels and Shrimp were just fantastic.  I used plenty of white wine and garlic for the broth, then added a fair amount of heat with crushed red pepper flakes.  Next time I'll toss the whole thing with linguini, but even as it is this recipe's a keeper.

Mussels and Shrimp in a Spicy Tomato Broth
adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentis

1/4 cup olive oil
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 - 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 cup white wine (I like a slightly sweet white wine with the seafood)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 lbs mussels, debearded and scrubbed
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup torn basil leaves

In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over a medium flame.  Add garlic, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes, and saute until the garlic is tender, about 1 minute.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add tomatoes and their juices and simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes begin to break down and the flavors blend, 8 - 10 minutes.  Stir in the mussels, then cover and cook until they open, about 5 minutes.*
Using tongs, transfer the opened shellfish to serving bowls.  Add the shrimp to the simmering tomato broth, and simmer until they are just cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Do not overcook!  Stir in the basil, and remove the bay leaves.  Divide the shrimp and tomato broth among bowls and serve with crusty bread.  OR toss with linguini and sprinkle with additional chopped basil.

*When cooking mussels, always discard any that do not open after cooking!


I wish I had a better photo of the finished dish because it was just beautiful.  Mussels always make for a dramatic presentation, and the bright red of the tomatoes really makes them pop.  This is a quick, simple dish perfect for a weeknight meal and inexpensive to boot.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Focus on: Senor Juguera

Please meet the acquaintance of my favorite juicer ever.  He's a lot of trouble to wash, somewhat inefficient, and the only juicer I own.  Love it.