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Archive for October, 2008

Skordalia- (skor DAHL yah) A greek condiment made from pureed baked potato, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, parsley and sometimes breadcrumbs or ground nuts. Eaten as a dip with breads or vegetables, it can also be used on top of broiled meats.

Potato Cake- (po TAY to kayke) A hearty and delicious meal made from leftover skordalia (or other mashed potato type item) that is fried in a hot skillet until crispy and browned.

Mmmmm….I love mashed potato cakes. I originally found a procedure to make them in a Sara Moulton cookbook and now I often will hide the leftover mashed potatoes in an effort to save them for a crunchy potato cake breakfast.

Then along came Skordalia. I had a small plateful at a local greek restaurant and wanted to lick the thing clean, it tasted so good. But I was in public so I restrained myself. The next day I hit the internet search to find a recipe to make for myself. The result wasn’t too bad- it wasn’t like the restaurant version- but it was palatable after the ingredients were allowed to hang in the fridge to get cozy and acquainted after being rapidly introduced in the food processor. The longer the stuff sits, the better it seems to taste, but like all potato leftovers in my house, I dreamed of a hot and tasty cake.

The procedure is pretty simple; form leftover mashed potato into a uniform sized cake and dust each side with flour. Heat a combination of oil and butter in a skillet, and when hot, gently place the cake in the pan. Don’t move it or disturb it until the bottom has achieved a nice crunchy browned crust- it could take 10 minutes or more- then carefully turn it over and allow the other side to brown as well. Keep the heat around the medium mark. Once cooked, allow to cool before eating- if it’s like some of mine, the center of the cake becomes a creamy molten flow of cooked potato and can be painful if your patience is lacking. Try it with a slice of seared ham, some eggs and a cup of strong coffee. Breakfast just can’ t be beat when there’s a potato cake on the table.

(jump for recipe and notes)

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Beef, Barley and Leek Soup
Kate’s Version

Split three large leeks down the center and wash well. Slice thinly. It’s a massive amount but will cook down significantly. If you wish for a more onion-y flavored broth, slice a yellow onion also.

Get one pound of good quality sirloin with a little marbling; trim the fat on the edges and cut into 1/2″ chunks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown meat in batches over medium-high heat, removing to a bowl as they darken. If you happen to have a good beef bone on hand, adding it to the pot for the cooking process will greatly enhance the beef flavor.

When all the meat is browned, add the onion and leek to the pan, along with 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are slightly soft and browned in some spots. Return the beef to the pan, add in about 1/2-3/4 c. of pearled barley (depending on your love of the grain- I used 3/4 c.), 1 1/2 quarts of beef broth and 1/2 c. red wine. This liquid-to-solid ratio results in a pretty thick soup- add more liquid if you want a thinner option.  If you’re like me and you keep various cheese rinds on hand in the freezer to flavor soups, toss a few in at this time. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender and barley is cooked through. This will depend on the type of barley used- mine took about an hour but I kept the heat pretty low.

Additions can be added as well; sliced carrots, cubed potatoes, mushrooms…..the list is infinite. Continue cooking the soup until added ingredient is tender. Just before serving, pour in about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, or more red wine. Season with salt and pepper.

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Arroz Con Pollo
(From the nameless Food Network personality)

1 (3-pound) whole chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 t. ground cumin
1 1/2 T. dried oregano
2 t. sweet paprika
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
2 dried chorizo sausages (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 bay leaves
2 cups long grain white rice
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes with liquid
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warm
1 cup pimento stuffed green olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. In a small bowl, blend 2 tablespoons oil, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika and cayenne. Rub each piece of chicken with the spice paste and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes for the flavor to develop.

In a heavy, ovenproof casserole with lid, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Fry the chorizo over medium heat until it is crispy and renders its fat. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes Remove from pan and set aside. Make a sofrito by sauteing the onion, garlic, bell pepper and bay leaves; cooking until the vegetables are very soft and almost dissolved. Stir in the rice so the grains are well coated with the sofrito.

Crush the tomatoes lightly with a wooden spoon and add the tomatoes and broth, season with salt and pepper. Return the chorizo and chicken to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and transfer pot to oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is done and the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Scatter the olives on top of the chicken and rice before serving.

Colombian Arepas (thin corn cakes)
1 c. masa harina (no substitute)
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 c. hot water

Stir together salt and masa harina. Pour in water and mix with spoon. Dough will be crumbly- DO NOT add more water. Resist! Get your hands in it and press it together- it should be dry. Break off small amounts and press them between your hands to flatten them. Fry them in oil in a hot skillet until both sides are browned. Serve hot. I add to the dough about a cup of frozen corn kernels that I put through a few pulses in the food processor.

NOTES FROM KATE’S KITCHEN:
I used lots extra pepper and onion in this dish, it adds a lot to the flavor. I also added more garlic because you just can’t get enough of the stinking rose. If you have fresh tomato, by all means use them (peeled first and roughly broken up) and add in a 14 oz can of tomato sauce to help with the ‘red’ factor of the dish. Use good quality green olives- not the jarred kind, the flavor is really enhanced with them, or if you can find tiny little spanish sweet pickled peppers known as Piparras, use them as a garnish. I used chicken thighs in this version with plenty of success, and used the mexican style of a looser chorizo as opposed to the spanish style dried. Both are good but remove the casings on the mexican if its all you can find. This dish is just as flavorful made as a simple spanish rice without the meats.

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Foolproof Pie Dough
Cooks Illustrated, November 2007

Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until it’s slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

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