Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts


A few years ago for my birthday, Pete gave me 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer, a cookbook I’d had my eye on for a while. Full of mouth-watering recipes layering spices and ingredients, there’s a huge section of both vegetable and legume curries to satisfy any vegetarian, plus biryanis, spice blends and pastes, and it starts with a detailed primer on curries. There’s also a large chapter called “Curry Cohorts,” that in addition to rice recipes, contains delicious curry accompaniments like coconut noodles, lentil pancakes, and all sorts of heavenly Indian breads from naan to roti to parantha.

After making a few recipes, I found several more I really wanted to try, but they called for fresh curry leaves. What!?! I had heard of curry powder, but never curry leaves. After searching large grocery stores and the co-op, I finally found them after checking several Asian food stores that, unfortunately, weren’t conveniently located for me.  Eventually, the book was set aside, and has been gathering dust.

Recently a Whole Foods Market opened up near our house and I had to check it out. Impressed with the variety of produce that includes items not found in other stores near me, I was so surprised and excited to see fresh curry leaves. Time to dig out 660 Curries again.

Fresh curry leaves


With my stock of fresh curry leaves, I perused the book to decide what to make. For a weeknight when there wasn’t a lot of meal prep time, Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts was deemed the ideal recipe. It had a manageable list of ingredients, some intriguing flavor combinations, and called for fresh curry leaves!

The combination of sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, and chiles piqued my interest, and smelled wonderful after being combined in the food processor. Not used to potatoes and tomatoes together, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this dish, but we weren’t disappointed. The sesame-peanut blend will release the most amazing aroma into your kitchen while cooking, and once combined with the rest of the ingredients, will morph into a delicious scent that makes it hard to wait until supper is ready.

The cookbook suggests this as either a side dish or stuffed into fresh pita. Since this was to be our main course (actually, our only course), and I didn’t have pita or naan (which would go so perfectly), I cooked up some brown basmati rice and served the potato dish over it. Gradually growing on me from one bite to the next, this spicy, hearty meal won me over and will definitely be made again . And I had plenty left over to take for lunch the next day (which I thought about and, even dreamt about, all night!). Enjoy!

Chunky Potatoes with Garlic and Peanuts

From Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons raw peanuts or roasted peanuts (if salted, reduce salt later in recipe)

4 medium-sized cloves garlic, peeled

3 dried red Thai chilies or cayenne chiles, stems removed (I used about ¾ teaspoon crushed red chili pepper)

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 pound russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes, and submerged in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning (I didn’t peel my potatoes and skipped the bowl of water because I cut them up at the last minute, quickly, while the sesame-peanut mixture was roasting)

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt (use only one if both your tomatoes and peanuts already contain salt)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you are cilantro-averse)

12 medium to large-sized fresh curry leaves (if you can’t find curry leaves, this dish will still be delicious)

Combine the sesame seeds, peanuts, garlic, and chiles in a food processor and pulse to form a gritty, sticky, mellow-smelling blend.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Scrape the sesame-peanut blend into the warmed oil and roast the mixture, stirring, until it starts to release it’s own oils and loosens, turning crumbly and nutty brown, 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the potatoes, if they were in water.

Stir the turmeric into the sesame-peanut blend and cook for a few seconds. Then add the potatoes, tomatoes, (with their juices), 1 cup water, and the salt. Stir once or twice, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender and the sauce has thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and curry leaves and serve. Great as a side dish, stuffed inside a pita, along-side warm naan, or over brown basmati rice. Makes 4-6 main dish servings.

Vegan Chorizo and Crispy Potato Tacos

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Yesterday was National Taco Day. Seems like there are more and more of these “holidays” I’ve never heard of before, Siblings Day, Pet Day, Popcorn Day, etc. Today is National Kale Day. I kind of like them—it’s actually rather fun to have a theme for the day.

I hadn’t really given Taco Day much thought until I remembered I had some Trader Joe’s vegan chorizo in the fridge and some fresh corn tortillas. A quick google of chorizo tacos brought up a number of recipes, but the one that caught my eye had “crispy potatoes” in the title. My potato-loving husband would definitely approve.

I had all the ingredients or suitable substitutes on hand and this all came together quickly for an easy, filling, and delicious weeknight meal. And there were plenty of leftovers for Day After Taco Day lunch. Enjoy!

Vegan Chorizo and Crispy Potato Tacos

Adapted from this Serious Eats recipe

One pound russet or gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon white vinegar

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided (grapeseed works well)

12 ounces fresh vegan chorizo sausage (Trader Joe’s is my favorite)

To serve:
10 warm corn tortillas

Sliced yellow onion

Fresh arugula

Chopped fresh tomato

Homemade or all natural store-bought salsa verde

Lime wedges

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are just cooked through, about 5 minutes after coming to a boil. Drain potatoes and let rest over sink until mostly dry.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add chorizo and break it up with a spatula. Cook until just beginning to crisp. Remove chorizo from pan to a bowl and set aside. Wipe pan clean.

In the same pan, heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Add potatoes, shake to distribute around the pan, and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally until very crisp and golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Add cooked chorizo to pan with potatoes. Toss to combine and season to taste with salt, if needed (mine didn’t need additional salt). Serve chorizo and potato mixture immediately in warm tortillas with onions, tomato, arugula, salsa verde, and a squeeze of lime.

Creamy Sriracha Potato Salad

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Scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches have been the extent of my culinary adventures lately as I recuperate from total hip replacement surgery. Until my appetite and agility return and I dive back into cooking escapades worth sharing, here’s a potato salad recipe I came up with last month. A little creamy, a little tangy, and subtly spicy. I hope you like it. Enjoy!
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Creamy Sriracha Potato Salad

½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes

1 cup sliced radishes

¾ cup sliced scallions

¼ cup sour cream or plain Green yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon dill pickle juice

1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (depending on how much heat you’d like)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ cup chopped parsley or dill

Cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Place in a pan and cover with water and throw in some salt. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook potatoes until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, and dump into a large serving bowl. Add radishes and scallions and toss.

While potatoes are cooking, combine sour cream, mayo, lemon juice & zest, pickle juice, sriracha, olive oil, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and creamy.

Pour dressing over potato mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle in parsley or dill and toss again. Cover and chill for a couple hours before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Colcannon, with a Twist

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It’s getting to be that time of year when one starts thinking of what Irish dish to make for St. Patrick’s Day. A couple years ago I made these Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting. You have my guarantee if you bring a batch of these babies to work on St. Patrick’s Day (or any day, really), your co-workers will gobble them up in no time and beg you to bring them again. They are amazingly good, and no one would ever guess they’re vegan.

Several years ago, in the early days of my blog (before I had a decent camera), this Shepherd’s Pie with Irish Soda Bread was our hearty St. Paddy’s Day meal, and made for some delicious leftovers.

This year I got an early start with another savory concoction and gave it a little twist to make it a full meal. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish mainly consisting of mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale (or both), along with lots of butter!

I dialed the butter back quite a bit to make this version a little less artery-clogging and used some low-fat buttermilk to give it more buttery flavor without the butter. My intention was to use both kale and cabbage, but at the grocery store I saw the most beautiful bunch of rainbow chard, which I decided to use in place of the kale. I grabbed a head of pre-wrapped organic cabbage and went home to get cooking.
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Well it turned out my head of cabbage was actually a head of organic lettuce. Grrr! Opting not to go back to the store and make an exchange, I decided to make my colcannon with just the rainbow chard—no cabbage this time.

Now for the twist that makes it a full meal: I threw the Colcannon into a casserole dish and made four indentations, each just the right size to cradle an egg. About 15 minutes in the oven and dinner was ready. Firm whites and runny yolks atop this buttery potato-chard creation—such a splendid meal that, at least in our house, will not be relegated to just St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy!

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Colcannon, with a Twist

2 ½ lbs. russet potatoes, washed, but not peeled

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 bunch rainbow chard or kale, hard stems removed, cut into thin ribbons

3 or 4 green onions, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 eggs

Cut potatoes into quarters and place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Sprinkle the tablespoon of salt into the water. Cover pan and bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook potatoes 15-20 minutes, until tender.

Drain potatoes and let them sit in the pan on the still hot, but turned-off burner, allowing them to dry a bit.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 3-quart casserole with cooking spray or lightly oil or butter it.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add chard or kale and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add green onions and cook another minute or so. Add the milks and cook until milk is hot, but not boiling.

Pour milk mixture over potatoes, and, using a potato masher, mash until potatoes and milk mixture are thoroughly combined. Add salt & pepper, to taste. Dump it all into the casserole dish and make four impressions evenly spaced. Crack an egg into each impression. Bake about 15 minutes, until whites are set, but yolks still runny. Makes 4 full meal servings.

Warm Potato Salad with Arugula

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Pete is an experienced cross-country skier and racer who loves the sport as much as I love running. He’s had a blast skiing races when it was cold, but not bitter cold, and been miserable during a race or two with double digit below zero temps.

None of my marathons have been run in those temperatures, but I have run half marathons and 10k races in sub-zero temps and it certainly takes a lot of the fun out of the experience, so I can totally relate to Pete stressing about Saturday morning’s upcoming Vasaloppet USA ski race. The overnight low is projected to be -17 F.

A few years back, Pete skied a 35k race when it was -14 at the start and still below zero when he crossed the finish line. Afterwards he said never again in that kind of cold—it just wasn’t fun. This time, he’s skiing a 40k race, so he’s going to be out there for hours and he’s questioning whether he should just skip the race.

Knowing the pressure he’s feeling, plus the fact that Pete loves potatoes, I decided to make a potato-centric supper tonight because what eases stress more than a little comfort food? And what’s more comforting to a potato-lover than a warm potato salad?

Knowing what I had on hand, a little Googling led me to this Food & Wine recipe. I added some Trader Joe’s Italian Sausage-less Sausage as a protein to make a full meal, and voilà, no one’s even thinking about Saturday, at least for now. Enjoy!
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Warm Potato Salad with Arugula

Slightly adapted from Paul Virant’s Food & Wine Recipe

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed

3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard or other grainy mustard

2 1/4 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)

2-3 handfuls baby arugula

A couple servings of cooked veggie sausage or your protein of choice

Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch wedges. Scatter the potato wedges on 1 large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 25 minutes, until browned and crisp, tossing again about halfway through the cooking time for evening browing.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the mustard and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the onion and arugula. Top with the dressing, toss again and serve right away. Serves 4-6 as a side and 2-4 as a main course.

Sweet Potato Tots

Tots and burger
These little nuggets of crunchy goodness came about in a what-to-serve-with-grilled-veggie-burgers quandary. I wanted a healthy vegetable side dish, but something that tasted as unhealthy as French fries. We made baked French fries over the weekend and they were amazing, but twice in one week seemed a little too often for something probably best eaten “in moderation,” especially since between the two of us, I think we at four whole potatoes worth!

While possibly a little more nutritious, baked sweet potato fries have always left me disappointed—they just don’t crisp like russets or Yukon golds do. And I refuse to deep-fry! The one time I made homemade tater tots they were pretty good, but I was afraid there’d be the same mush for texture if I tried “totting” sweet potatoes. Then I got to thinking about the crispy panko-coated eggplant in my Baked Eggplant Parmesan. Maybe panko-coated sweet potato tots!?!

So I gave it a shot. I undercooked the potatoes so they would be firm enough to shred, and included a small russet in the mix; just because. A pinch of cinnamon seemed like it might be a nice touch and I included a generous amount of sea salt to contrast with the sweetness of the taters.  The panko bread crumbs stayed put and with a spritz of olive oil cooking spray, the result was a lovely crisp exterior and a firm, not mushy, interior.

We loved them! They went perfectly with the burgers and now I’m excited to make them for company as a cute little appetizer. My mind is going crazy thinking of delicious dipping sauces to serve them with like spicy curried ketchup, kimchi aioli or a Cajun concoction with a kick. Your suggestions always welcome. I hope you like them as much as we do!
Tots from aboveTray o tots

Sweet Potato Tots

2 narrow red sweet potatoes, about halfway cooked and peeled

1 medium russet potato, about halfway cooked and peeled

½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon salt

A pinch of cinnamon

½ cup (or more if necessary) cup panko bread crumbs, seasoned with additional salt and some freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. You can cook the potatoes in the microwave or boil them, but only cook them about halfway so that they are still rather firm. Once they are peeled and cooled enough that they can be handled, shred them on the small side of a box grater.

Place shredded taters in a medium bowl and add parmesan, salt and cinnamon and stir with a fork to combine. Place panko that has been seasoned with salt & pepper into a flat dish. Form potatoes by the tablespoon into the shape of a tater tot. Roll in panko until coated on all sides. Place tots on prepared baking sheet (at this point you can freeze them, on pan until frozen, then placed in zip-lock plastic bag—can cook from frozen, just increase cooking time).

Lightly spray tots with olive oil cooking spray. Bake for about 12 minutes. Turn tots and spray again. Bake another 12 minutes or so. Turn the oven to broil, and broil until tots are golden and crisp, making sure not to burn them—it will probably only take a minutes or two. Serve immediately. Makes enough for 2-4 as a side dish.

Vegetarian Borscht

Borscht
In honor of the warm, friendly, and mostly snafu-free atmosphere it appears the Russians have delivered as Olympic host country, how about a batch of borscht?

Pete and I have been having so much fun watching these world class athletes throw their hearts and souls into competition and giving us thrills, chills, exhilaration, joy, and in some cases disappointment (never in the athletes, just some of the results). From the beauty of the opening ceremony, through the excitement of competition and the personal stories, the games have brought so much enjoyment, we’re sad to see them coming to an end with the closing ceremony tonight.

The skiing has especially entranced us. Near and dear to our hearts have been the cross country races, (we both got our first skinny skis when we were 12 and love the sport, with Pete still competing in Vasaloppet USA). And the amazing downhill events: super G, giant slalom, ski-cross. Also the different snowboarding events, sliding sports, hockey (yes, it still hurts), speed skating, figure skating and curling, it’s all been such a delight to experience from afar.

We’ve also recently had the excitement of the biggest snowstorm of this winter, so a soup is especially appropriate. And the stunning color of borscht is a beautiful backdrop to our snow-white landscape.
SnowCardinal
No matter how old I get, I still get giddy over the prospect of a good old-fashion blizzard, and this latest storm didn’t disappoint, although it has made driving extremely slow and stressful, even a couple days after the snow ended and the sun came out. Oh well, spring is less than a month away, and we’ve got borscht to warm us when we come inside. That, and maybe a shot or two of vodka! Vashe zdorovie!

Pulled together after reading a few recipes (including this and this) borscht is a hearty, filling soup that only needs some crusty whole-grain bread on the side for a complete meal. Enjoy!
Shredded beets and carrotsSachet

Borscht

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups shredded green cabbage

4 medium beets, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

2 large carrots, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

3 medium unpeeled russet potatoes, cut in bite-size chunks

3 ripe tomatoes chopped (can use good quality canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)

8 cups water

3 cubes good quality vegetable bouillon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

3 bay leaves

4 whole cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnishes:
Chopped fresh dill
Lemon wedges
Plain yogurt, sour cream, or vegan sour cream

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add the onion and garlic and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage, beets, carrot, and potato. Continue to cook for several more minutes, stirring once or twice.

While the veggies are cooking, cut a square of cheesecloth and place the bay leaves and whole cloves in the center. Bring the corners together and tie with kitchen twine or string, making a sachet or bouquet garni. Set aside.

To the stockpot, add the tomatoes, water, bouillon, vinegar, sugar, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir it all up and then place the sachet or bouquet garni into the soup and give it another stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring every once in a while. Remove the sachet from soup before serving.

To serve, ladle the hot borscht into bowls. Squeeze a little lemon over soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and sprinkle with lots of chopped dill. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread for a full meal. Makes about 8 servings.


Bowl of Borscht