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Potato, potahto November 3, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, random stuff, Sides.
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Well, maybe not call the whole thing off.

I never learned to type.

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I mean, I can type now, of course, but back in high school, when girls took shorthand and typing classes, and boys took, I don’t know, woodshop? – back then, I didn’t take those girl classes.

Nope, not me.  I was in the band, and majored in math and science (my father insisted) and agriculture (my way of getting back at him for making me do the math science thing).

All my friends were in typing and shorthand.

Remember, too, that this was before there was a computer in every home.    One did not learn to “keyboard.”

PhotobucketReally, it may have even been before electric typewriters were popular, though I couldn’t say for sure, since, you know, I didn’t take the class.  But I seem to remember seeing the old-school acoustic typewriters in the “offices services” classroom.

And so, many years later, I contemplated going back to school.  Obviously, the math-science thing didn’t didn’t work out for me.  (Nor did the agriculture thing.)

And one thing I wanted to learn – before I started my first class – was how to type.

PhotobucketSo, I borrowed a word processor and went to work.

Remember word processors?  Like an oversized electric typewriter, only with a fancy “diskette” so you could save and edit your work.  It even had a carrying handle.  Plus, you could play Tetris on the little screen.  Really!

So, me being the thrifty kind of person I am, I wanted to be typing something useful, and not just repeats of “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”

So I went through my recipe clippings (oh yes, I had recipe archives even then!) and started typing up recipes.

PhotobucketIn hindsight, does it strike anyone as a particularly good idea to learn how to type by typing recipes?

And then throwing the originals away?

Yeah, fortunately, most of the recipes were not all that complicated, and I’d made them often enough that I was able to write in corrections where I needed to.

So about the potatoes.

PhotobucketDo you ever find yourself at a loss for side dishes?  I mean, yeah, we’ll have meat.  And maybe a salad.  Or, lately, whatever vegetable is closest to the edge.  And that leaves, what?  Potatoes or rice.  Yeah, but what do you do with the potatoes?

So I came across an old favorite – I have absolutely no idea where “Crispy Potato Wedges” came from, though a Google search places a version on the Taste of Home website, but, I’m guessing my “typing tutorial” version predates that website.  Regardless, this has been an old favorite for a long time.

Here’s the recipe, as typed, lo these many years ago.

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It’s still just as good as it was back then.  Truly.

Not So Sneaky Vegetables April 12, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, random stuff, Sides.
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I like most vegetables – I can’t really think of one that I won’t eat.  Maybe turnips, but I suspect that’s more because I have no idea how to cook them.

It’s not you, turnip, it’s me.

But seriously, I do like most veggies, and, fortunately, as a kid, the Boy needed very little prompting to eat his vegetables.

(Have you heard of these people who actually hide their vegetables?  Hoping no one will realize that, hey, there’s SQUASH in the  cheesemac!  I don’t know what planet these poor kids are from, but if they can’t tell the difference between butternut squash and Velveeta, well. . . they’ve got bigger problems than a vitamin deficiency, let me tell you!)

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Unfortunately, it seems that we’ve gotten into a bit of a rut on the vegetable front.

We have salad fairly often, which is good – especially with homemade dressing.

Then there are the old defaults – steamed broccoli or green beans, roasted or mashed squash, or sauteed greens.  All good, sure, but slightly . . . boring.

Of course, for a change of pace, I do like to try to incorporate vegetables into soups and stews as much as I can, but again. . . yawn.

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And so, the other night, one of the two nice days we’ve had so far this spring, when we pulled some Korean beef out of the freezer to grill, I thought maybe I’d do something a little different with a pound or so of green beans that I’d gotten at the market.

I of course trimmed then – cut the ends off and snapped them into 2-inch pieces, and washed them.

Meanwhile, to complement the sweet smokiness of the beef, I combined a teaspoon each of sesame oil and grated ginger with a (heaping) tablespoon of sriracha – you can use rooster sauce if your husband doesn’t make it himself, of course!

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Heat a couple of teaspoons of canola oil in a large (10-inch at least) skillet, then add the beans, a pinch of salt, and bit of black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are spotty brown (yes, that’s a thing – they’ve  got brown spots on them) – about 5 minutes or so.

 

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At that point, the point at which the beans are spotty, just dump a quarter cup of water in the pan and slap a lid on it.

Let the beans cook over medium heat for just a couple of minutes – until they’re bright green and tender-crisp.  You know – tender enough to eat, but not mushy.  You know, tender-crisp.

Then increase the heat and cook another minute or so, until the water evaporates.

Then, remember the ginger and stuff?

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Yeah, we just stir that in and cook, continuing to cook until the beans are sufficiently browned and done – maybe another couple of minutes.

And, if you’re feeling especially fancy (and if you remember), you can sprinkle some sesame seeds over top when you serve.

Now these beans?  No need to hide them – they’re delicious!

Who is this Anna person? April 7, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Cook's Illustrated, Cooking, random stuff, Sides.
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And why is she shaking her pommes at me?
PhotobucketNow, you may already know this, but it bears repeating.

Peeps and I are big fans of potatoesregular and sweet.

And, even though we knew it would probably be far more work than, perhaps, we might like, when the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated arrived with its “simplified” potato galette, well, we figured that maybe, just possibly, Cook’s Illustrated‘s “simplified” might just be “reasonable” – early in the week , when we tend to feel a little more ambitious about cooking dinner.

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We started with 2 and a half pounds (about 6 or 8 medium-ish) potatoes – Cook’s recommends Yukon Golds, and gee, we had some, so that’s what we used.  (I wouldn’t hesitate to use russets, if that’s what I had lying around.)

We sliced them super-duper thin- 1/8 inch (seriously!) – we use the V-slicer for precision.  That, and neither of our knife skills is up that that task and we’re good with that!

PhotobucketOnce the potatoes had been soaked in cold water, we patted them dry.  After all, it wouldn’t do to have damp potatoes, now would it?

Then we combined a tablespoon of cornstarch (remember all the potato starch we soaked out of the potatoes?  Well, we replace it.  Only in Cook’s!) , a teaspoon each of salt and black pepper, and a bunch (maybe 2 tsp.) of chopped fresh (or, in our case, frozen) rosemary.  Stir in half a stick of melted butter, then toss the dried potatoes in the mixture.

See, here’s the thing.  We got rid of random amounts of potato starch and replaced it with corn starch – in an amount we could control.  (The starch will help bind the potatoes together.)  And of course, you can’t have potatoes without a little seasoning.

And the butter – well, butter don’t need no reason!

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We took another tablespoon of butter and melted it in the bottom of our big (10-inch) non-stick skillet.  Ovenproof, of course – it’s going to go in a (preheated, right?) 450-degree oven.

So we’ve got the melty butter, and we’ve swirled it around the bottom of the pan.  Then just take and lay the potato slices, one at a time, on the bottom, starting in the center and working in overlapping circles around.

Tedious much?

Yeah, but the cool thing is that we only have to do one layer – that’s going to be the top.  The Presentation Side, if you will.

PhotobucketBoy, those guys at Cook’s are clever, aren’t they?  The rest of the potatoes just get (carefully) dumped on top of the pretty ones – spread them out fairly evenly, and Bob’s your uncle.

Speaking of clever.

After we cook the potatoes on the stovetop just until they’re sizzling and the potatoes are starting to turn translucent, THEN we’re going to bung them in the oven – cover with a sheet of aluminum foil, then a pan full of pie weights.  Or, in our case, dried pink beans (yes, I keep a jar of pie beans, don’t you?).

The weight will help keep the potatoes compacted – they’ll stick together better.  Really!

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And so we baked the potatoes, covered and weighted, in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, then uncover, return to the oven, and finish baking another 20-25 minutes, until the top is browned and the potatoes are tender when you stick them in the center with a paring knife.

Kind of like a cake, I guess.  A lovely, buttery potato layer cake.

Now, once the potatoes are done, we pull the pan out of the oven (don’t forget that the handle will be HOT!) and put it back on the stovetop, over a medium flame, and cook, shaking gently, another couple of minutes, or until the galette (because that’s what it is) releases easily from the sides of the pan.

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(You may want to use silicone for this – metal will scratch, and rubber will melt.  Though I suppose you could use wood.)

Remove from heat, and place a cutting board over the pan, and flip the whole thing over, carefully and using pot holders.

Now your galette will be on the cutting board, out of the pan, and with the pretty side up.

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Cut it into 6 or 8 slices, since it’s right there on the cutting board and everything.

And let me tell you – it tastes as pretty as it looks!

And it wasn’t really that hard – just a little fussy. But the way I look at it is this – when it comes to fussy dinners, just like so much in life, you often get out of what you put into it.

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