Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

Salade Nicoise


Summer is a tough time for cookery, especially in a hot city of small kitchens. Although there’s great produce to be had, the idea of spending much time in front of the stove is unappealing to say the least.

Which is why summer cooking takes some adjustments: Nothing in the oven unless you’re able to leave the room while it’s in there, nothing that requires constant attention on the stove top, etc. This is why hearty salads – like Salade Nicoise -are such a good summer option.

Salade Nicoise is a classic French composed salad – “composed” is just a fancy work for a salad that has all the ingredients piled on top rather than tossed in – and although it does have cooked ingredients, they can be prepared in under 30 minutes. And it’s a Julia Child favorite, so – in honor of the upcoming movie that I can’t decide whether or not I want to see – here it is:


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Tortilla española with a side of purple kale
Tortilla española with a side of purple kale

Last night I had a few friends over to bid bon voyage to a friend who is leaving town for the summer. Fired up the grill, slapped on some steaks, potatoes au gratin, wine, dessert – the works. However, this morning one thing became clear – my graduate student “income” handles treating friends to a steak dinner just about as well as my head handles a bottle and a half of wine. In situations like this, I turn to my go-to, budget-easing, good-for-what-ails-ya, all-purpose meal solution – tortilla española.

Despite what my friends always think, tortilla española is not a type of burrito (so stop bringing salsa!). Rather, it is the hearty potato-and-egg concoction that Spaniards eat pretty much constantly. I learned how to make tortilla when I spent a semester abroad in Spain, where I ate tortilla at least four times a week (best on Sunday at about 2PM after a long sangria-filled night). I knew I needed the recipe.

In Spain I lived with a host family, and it was my host mother Josefa (jet black eyes, fiery dyed red hair, even more fiery temper) who taught me everything I know about tortilla. Josefa imparted the technique to me as if she were revealing a secret magic spell with apocalyptic power. Each step came with a grave warning (e.g. You can add zucchini, but NEVER EVER EVER anything else!). Yet despite Josefa’s stern admonitions I have found the recipe to be rather malleable, and I encourage you to experiment once you’ve got the basic technique.


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Paprika and Potatoes


If you are like me, you have a barely-touched jar, or dozen, of spices that you rarely have occasion to use. Last week I realized that I had a humongous amount of paprika sitting around, so I googled paprika and its uses in cooking. I was happy to learn that this spice is a frequent feature of Spanish cuisine and is often used to give a nice “kick” to potatoes, a pound of which I’d just bought from the Greenmarket.

After looking over several recipes for Spanish style potatoes with paprika, I devised a cooking plan that seemed both easy and sure to guarantee delicious results (it did). Here are the ingredients and the basic strategy… (more…)

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I’ve long been an avid follower of the New York Times Dining section and have watched with interest the changes that recent years have wrought on it.

It has long been home to some of the best restaurant reviewing out there (for the record, I am a Frank Bruni devotee, and if you can’t see the genius in this review, which is both a fine piece of criticism and the classiest professional self-outing on record, I fear you may be a philistine) and excellent articles on American food culture and errata, but their actual home cooking writing was for years slanted much too much toward the unrealistically fancy.

No longer. While Mark Bittman’s weekly Minimalist column was once the sole home of recipes that I might actually cook, the Times now regularly runs several recipes a week that are eminently doable under a myriad of headings including “A Good Appetite” and the recently launched “Cooking with Dexter,” which sees Dining section editor Pete Wells cooking with his young son Dexter – it’s an admittedly schmaltzy conceit, but so far I’ve found it more charming than saccharine. And the Minimalist himself now has a blog and a video series in addition to his regular column. There’s clearly been a conscious shift.

My favorite addition, though, is the Recipes for Health series that is part of Tara Parker-Pope’s Well blog. TPP, as she signs her numerous responses to reader comments, is a good journalist and a great blogger. She does an impressive job of surveying research, and gives her readers a sense of what’s fact, what’s consensus, what’s theory, and what’s hokum.

And she runs terrific recipes. The Recipes for Health site is a great place (in addition, of course, to Food Junta) to turn when in need of some culinary inspiration. This potato salad is from Martha Rose Shulman, a professional recipe and cookbook author, and it’s fantastic…


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One winter’s day I showed up cold, bedraggled and hungry at my friend Leda’s door. As is her style, she effortlessly produced the perfect salve: a steaming bowl of these Greek potatoes. It’s comfort food at its finest — filling (starch!), warming (zingy garlic and olives!) and easily consumed with a spoon while watching TV.

This dish also gave me new appreciation for the potato. It’s more than a reliable base for the surrounding ingredients; its got its own buttery flavors and a great spectrum of texture, from floury to pliant to crispy. In this recipe, the outsides of the chunks reach that final stage during a 15-minute fry in olive oil, and the result is a great counterpoint to the juicy tomatoes, olives and onions. (more…)

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It’s time for another seasonal vegetable post as part of our ongoing collaboration with the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Visit their blog and read all about the crazy-looking root vegetable above, including, of course, how to cook it.

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Last week, I once again came home from my CSA weekly delivery a bit stymied about how to best use my ingredients. We’d been getting insane amounts of kale for weeks and I was tired of just sautéing it, which was my go-to preparatory move. This past week, we got potatoes as well, and my Irish colleague suggested I make a colcannon. After some googling, I figured out what exactly that was and found the below recipe. Since it was originally written in metric measurements, I made guesstimates about many of the conversions. The result was delicious – the kale becomes crispy when baked, and the mix of hearty potatoes and flavorful kale was satisfying without making you feel stuffed. (more…)

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