Dear Friends,

I’ve been digging potatoes. You can interpret that both ways. Whenever I can steal a half hour I unearth hill of potatoes in my garden. Nine down, two to go. I’ve been relishing  these tender new potatoes in a variety of ways. I made a potato galette one evening, slicing a couple of the larger spuds into a small skillet with sizzling butter and olive oil. The potatoes fused together into a disk that was creamy inside and browned to a crisp outside.

On another occasion I parboiled a handful of fresh green beans and fingerling potatoes I had cut into chunks. Then I heated olive oil in a skillet and stirred in some good-quality curry powder until fragrant. Just before serving I stir-fried the drained beans and potatoes in the hot, curry-seasoned oil.

This is my first big success at potato growing. I even found potatoes in a hillock that failed to produce last year. The volunteer produced 10 pounds of redskin and Russian fingerling potatoes. Tony and I were so amazed at the volume that we weighed them.

Ironically, I have lots of fabulous new potatoes but little time to experiment because I’m feverishly trying to finish a cookbook. I’m cooking a lot, but nothing that involves potatoes.

In need of fast, easy potato recipes and fresh out of ideas , I turned to cookbooks and the Internet last week. Whoa. Who makes all those gooey, leaden, calorie-laden casseroles of potatoes and cheese, potatoes and cheese and sour cream, and potatoes and cream and cream cheese? I had a hard time finding a recipe that showcases the natural flavor of potatoes without the high-fat additions.

Finally I found one. Just one. No doubt there are more but I had to stop searching. That cookbook isn’t going to write itself.

Here’s the quick but chic recipe for new potatoes with rosemary and olives that I adapted from a Food Network recipe. My camera is acting cranky so there’s no photo of the dish. You’ll have to make do with a photo of Tony and me rooting in the dirt for the spuds.

If anyone has a good potato recipe that doesn’t involve loads of butter, cream or cheese, I’d love to see it.

Image

NEW POTATOES WITH ROSEMARY AND OLIVES

  • 1 lb. baby new potatoes or fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
  • Sea salt
  • fresh-ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, cut into thin slivers

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches; season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer just until tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the oil and rosemary in a small skillet. Heat over medium heat until the rosemary sizzles; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, and then remove from the heat and let stand.
Drain the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, cut quarters. Gently toss with the rosemary oil and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

HELP U COOK

This is the time of year to snag some of the last fruits of summer and turn them into pies. Even under ripe fruits make fine pies. Baking not only softens the fruit, but intensifies its flavor.

Fruit pies freeze well baked or unbaked. The experts at Farm Journal recommend  freezing baked  pies to avoid a soggy crust. Here are the instructions from “Farm Journal’s Freezing and Canning Cookbook,”  by the editors of Farm Journal:

Slightly under bake the pie. Cool and freeze without wrapping, then remove from freezer and wrap well or vacuum-pack. Before serving, thaw the pie in its wrapping for 30 minutes at room temperature. Unwrap and bake on the lowest oven shelf at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until warm all the way through. This technique works for any fruit pie.

THE MAILBAG

From Tom Noe:
I have an easy peazy solution to your reticent (or perhaps recalcitrant) pizza issue — parchment paper! Simply place the stretched dough on a piece of parchment, dress it and then slide the whole thing from the pizza peel onto the stone. After 10 minutes, the dough will be set enough that the paper should easily slide out from between the pizza and the stone. I do this trick for my especially wet doughs like ciabatta and it really helps to alleviate the entire problem.

Dear Tom: Brilliant. And I don’t see why you can’t just leave the parchment on the stone for the entire baking time.


From Lin A.:

You can also use semolina flour to make your pizza slide off the peel.

Dear Lin: Thanks for the advice.

From Sherri Steiner:
Regarding your comments about MasterChef, I gave up watching the cooking shows that involve doing cooking in an allotted time frame. It was too stressful. Why the rush? Can’t they just give constants an hour and edit it down?  I enjoy cooking at my own pace and want to enjoy my time in the kitchen, not be pressured to have it done in a short time.

Dear Sherri: Maybe they are edited down. Otherwise, where do all those mid-task interviews come from?  Such as, “I can’t believe she is on my team for this challenge. If she says one word to me I’ll deck her.”  

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