12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 7 : Roast Potatoes

 

PotatoesAfter weeks of sweets and baked goods, it’s time to switch things up with some savoury sides for the holidays. And no Christmas table is complete without a side of potatoes, in some form.

I love rosemary potatoes, it’s a classic combination, easy to prepare, and is an agreeable accompaniment to all kinds of meat.

There are enough rosemary potato recipes out there, from Jamie Oliver to Ina Garten and even Popsugar + Sorted Food. Most of the recipes I make here come other bloggers and food websites, or from cookbooks I own. But today’s recipe comes out of an old issue of Vogue India! The magazine did a feature on Padma Lakshmi and her favourite holiday recipes, and I went old-school and cut out a few of them for later.

Each of the recipes differs from the other, but is the same at it’s core. Ina adds some minced garlic, the Popsugar recipe calls for a little truffle oil and JO leaves his simple and unadorned, just olive oil+salt+pepper. Padma’s recipe calls for  balsamic and a wee bit of sugar, which adds a lovely sweetness and tang in contrast to the woody rosemary.

ROAST POTATOES WITH ROSEMARY & BALSAMIC VINEGAR (Recipe here.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g baby potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (I used dried)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  •  A pinch of sugar
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 220 C
  • In a deep saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes, allow them to cool a little and cut into quraters
  • Place the potatoes in a single layer in a shallow baking pan.
  • In  bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, sugar, and black pepper. Drizzle this over the potatoes so they are evenly coated, then sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake at 220C for 20 to 22 minutes.

 

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 6: Baked Peppers And A Series Of Kitchen Flops

DSC01173

So this past week has been somewhat of a disaster for me in the kitchen. A week where I planned and prepped but crashed and burned, literally. I had specific recipes in mind to test and photograph, and not one of them turned out right. I lost my kitchen mojo.

I wanted to bake bread and make rosemary potatoes, neither of which worked out. The bread dough didn’t rise properly, and I left the potatoes unattended, which led them to burn to blechness.

Then I tried Sarah Britton’s cumin roasted carrots, but I didn’t slice them well enough and they came out all wrinkly and gnarly, hardly appetizing.

And then I thought I’d make some strawberry jam, because I’ve done it before and jam is always Christmasy. I went and bought a box of strawberries- and when I was ready to make jam, I opened the fridge to discover my toddler had eaten all but 3. Oh well.

Sometimes plans go awry. And the perfect post you plan in your head doesn’t materialize. So I decided to forget the recipes altogether and just go impromptu. Make something that I would like to share with friends, something I’d rustle up for a last-minute dinner. I took inspiration from Nigella Lawson’s baby aubergines recipe from Nigellissima, and from Simon Hopkinson’s Piedmontese peppers recipe.

So here I give you an “unrecipe,” something that works for me when I mess up in the kitchen. And I think it would be nice with some crackers and feta for holiday party.

I took a handful of baby eggplants, one large red pepper and sliced them up. (I removed the stalks of the eggplants.) Then I tossed everything with olive oil, sea salt, garlic, red chilli flakes and some dried herbs  and poured everything into a baking dish, drizzled more olive oil and baked at 200 C for about 45 mins. A squeeze of lime/lemon over the top once done, and fin.

DSC01174Here’s hoping the week ahead will turn out better.

 

Marcella Hazan’s Braised Leeks With Parmesan

A little crooked. Oh well.

A little crooked. Oh well.

The first time I became interested in leeks was when I read the book French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. In it, she shares a recipe for “Magical Leek Soup,” which she drank in an effort to get back in shape. The leeks are boiled with salt and pepper, drained, and the liquid is drunk as a broth every couple of hours. It sounded interesting- and the author says her love affair with leeks began because of it- but I merely dismissed leeks as a vegetable I’d never get to cook with in India.

But as it turns out, one does get leeks here. Maybe not all the time and at every greengrocer, but you do. And in Pune they are easily available, so I’ve been cooking with them on and off. I attempted braised leeks for the first time a couple of months ago, and both my husband and I enjoyed them.

I made braised leeks a few more times after that, and all but forgot about them until I found this poem, A Leek Haiku on Eat This Poem. I am going to make this post short and sweet, much like the inspiration behind it: a haiku. Just 17 syllables, but this poem describes the little leek so, so beautifully. The author  calls leeks slender stalks of “ribbons and roots,” and, when you think about it, leeks are quite a pretty vegetable! I think they make a nice sight, the jade green tops peeking out from your shopper as you carry your groceries back home.

Leeks are full of flavour and I feel braising is one of the best ways to enjoy them- a little fat, some seasoning, and enough water to cook them till they are tender. This recipe is from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials Of Classic Italian Cooking. It takes little effort, and seems almost too simple to warrant a recipe, but it’s simply delicious. Her recipe says, “do not cut off the green tops,” but I had to trim a little because I didn’t have a pan large enough to accommodate.

BRAISED LEEKS WITH PARMESAN CHEESE (From Essentials Of Classic Italian Cooking)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large or 6 medium leeks
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

METHOD

  • Pull off and discard any withered, yellowing leaves from the leeks and trim the bulbous ends off the roots and the dark green parts of the leaves, leaving only white and light green parts.
  • Slit the leeks lengthwise into two.
  • Wash the leeks under cold running water to get rid of any hidden grit.
  •  Lay the leeks in a pan long and broad enough to accommodate them.
  • Add butter, salt and enough water to cover the leeks.
  • Cook covered on a medium low flame for 15-25 minutes, or until the thickest part of the leek at the base is fork-tender. (Turn them over with tongs every now and then as they cook.)
  • When the leeks are done, remove the lid of the pan, turn the heat up to high, and boil away all the juices in the pan, allowing the leeks to get lightly browned.
  • Add the grated parmesan, flip the leeks over to coat, and serve.