23 March 2015

Rösti with sweet potato

Rösti with sweet potato

We've talked about rösti a few times before. This Swiss concoction is essentially a big pan-fried shredded potato cake, not unlike hash browns. We like to eat it for big weekend brunches, with plenty of coffee and possibly an egg or two. It's easy, impressive, delicious, and cheap. What's not to love?

This weekend I decided to switch it up and try adding sweet potato to rösti. Since sweet potatoes are significantly harder and less fluffy than the standard white boiling potato -- not to mention sweeter -- I decided against a 1:1 switch. Instead, I used about 1/3 sweet potatoes and 2/3 mixed yukon gold and red. This turned out to be a good ratio: we got some nice sweet potato flavor and color, but preserved the general texture of a classic rösti.

Now, of course, we are thinking about more things to shred and add to rösti. Carrot? Zucchini? Beets could be really excellent if you wanted to top your rösti with a classic sour cream and smoked salmon combination. Fennel might be interesting there as well. And a mixed-veg rösti would certainly be a good way to use up broccoli stems and the odd heads of kohlrabi that come in our CSA box. I'm definitely going to keep this in mind for next fall.

Rösti with sweet potato

Rösti with sweet potato

6-8 medium boiling potatoes
1 sweet potato
4-6 green onions
salt, pepper
oil or butter to cook

Start out by peeling your potatoes and sweet potato. Shred them with a box grater or food processor, using the largest size shred.

Squeeze the liquid out of your potatoes. We just take big handfuls and squeeze them out over the sink before depositing them into a mixing bowl. You can also use a dish towel or paper towel if you prefer. This step is critical to ensure that your rösti cooks well, so don't skip it!

Slice up your green onions and add them to the bowl. Add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix everything together.

Heat a 10-inch frying pan or skillet of your choice over medium-high to high heat. I think a well-seasoned cast iron pan is your best bet here, followed by nonstick. When your pan is hot, add a generous tablespoon of oil, butter, or a mix of the two. Swirl the pan to coat well.

Add your potato mixture to the pan, pressing with a spatula to get it reasonably even. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until lovely and golden brown on the first side, adjusting the heat down a bit if necessary. You'll be able to see the color coming up around the edges. The potatoes should also come free of the pan in one big solid cake when shaken back and forth a few times.

Next, flip your rösti. To do this, you'll need some intact oven mitts and a wooden (or otherwise unmeltable) cutting board big enough to cover your pan. Wearing the oven mitts, put the cutting board on top of the pan. Grab the pan and board at opposite sides and flip the entire contraption over onto your counter. Remove the pan to the stove, add a bit more oil if needed, and slide the flipped rösti back into the pan, uncooked side down. You did it!

Cook another 8-10 minutes, or until the second side is just as beautiful as the first. Slide the finished rösti onto your cutting board, cut it into wedges, and serve.

Just about anything that sounds good with potato should be good with rösti. I had mine with plain yogurt and pickled peppers. John had his with ketchup. If you are a proponent of fried eggs with runny yolks, this is an excellent place to apply them.

How do you like to eat your brunch-hour potatoes?

18 March 2015

Chicken in wine with onions and herbs

Chicken in wine with onions and herbs

John went to Vancouver this past weekend for a conference. I stayed here. You know what that means: I got to cook and eat whatever I wanted! Which I could totally do when he is here, and often do. Actually, HE frequently cooks me whatever I want when he's here too. So basically what I'm saying is that I had the exact same thing I would probably have had were he here, except that I was a little more excited about making it myself. Hey, that works for me. Food is exciting; the sense of "ZOMG I CAN HAVE ANYTHING" makes it more exciting, even if it isn't technically true.

Anyway. I made myself a nice pan of chicken and onions in wine, and it was excellent.

I got this recipe years ago from...someone on the internet. Who? That's a good question. The print date on the bottom of the page is February 13, 2003, which means I've been making this for a good twelve years. Let's just say that if you came to a dinner party at our house when John was in grad school and I was just out, you probably ate this chicken and a red pepper stuffed with risotto and baked. Also something green of which I have no recollection. Yes.

This is an especially nice dish to have in your back pocket because it is delicious and low-effort. It's very easily scalable to any amount of chicken. The ingredients are cheap, especially if you use dry vermouth instead of expensive white wine and break down your own chicken instead of buying skinless, boneless chicken breasts. And once the pan is in the oven, you get to anticipate future deliciousness as the smell of onions simmering in wine wafts through your house. A win all around.

Chicken in wine with onions and herbs

Chicken in wine with onions and herbs

yellow or white onion
thyme, marjoram, paprika, salt, pepper
chicken pieces of your choosing (I used two deboned chicken thighs)
chopped fresh parsley
butter or olive oil
white wine, dry vermouth, or other cooking alcohol of your choice

Start by preheating your oven to 450F.

Slice up enough onions to make a good half-inch thick layer in a casserole dish big enough to hold all your chicken. I used an entire medium yellow onion, which was more than enough for my two puny chicken thighs. Half would have been fine, but I like onion, so I went for it.

Sprinkle a generous dusting of thyme, marjoram (or sub oregano), paprika, salt, and pepper over your onions. We were out of paprika, so I used some hot New Mexico chile flake instead.

Put your chicken pieces on top of the onion and season with a little more salt and paprika. Cover with a good handful of chopped fresh parsley.

Add your oil or butter and wine to the pan. You want the liquid to be about half an inch deep, or just cresting the layer of onions. I used about 1/2 cup of olive oil and 3/4 cup of dry vermouth, and dotted some extra butter over the top for good measure. If you're cooking more chicken, increase accordingly.

Chicken in wine with onions and herbs

Bake your pan of chicken and onions at 450F for 30 minutes, basting with the pan liquid once or twice. Then turn the temperature down to 325F and continue baking for another 30 minutes, or until your chicken is completely cooked and your onions are golden and braised and lovely.

Serve your completed chicken and onions, plus a spoonful or two of pan juices, over a spoonful of rice, a scoop of mashed potatoes (recommended), or another starch of your choice. Cauliflower rice/etc. should also be just fine here. I actually ate my chicken and onions by themselves, since I was feeling too lazy to make mashed potatoes. That worked too.

A salad or other green vegetable is a must on the side. That way you can drag pieces of lettuce through the delightful onion and wine juices. So good.

Leftovers are super easy to use, because the overall dish is so simple. Just cut up your chicken and onions and put them in anything you want. I made a plateful of scrambled eggs with chicken, onions, some leftover brown rice, and a handful of parsley, and it was excellent. Adding chopped chicken and onion to quesadillas or burritos is also an excellent plan.

What do you cook when you have nothing to consider but your own personal tastes?

15 March 2015

$1.85 at the farmer's market

$1.85 at the farmer's market

If you're careful, $1.85 at our farmer's market can get you this. Three zucchini, six pea pods, one tiny carrot, and an armful of assorted peppers from the $.65/lb sort-outs bin: $1.20. A small bag of broccolini, no price sign to be found: $.65.

What will I do with all of these?

Most of the peppers will get washed, trimmed judiciously (there's a reason they were in the sort-outs bin), and put into a quick brine to pickle. The few in good enough shape to keep for a few days will go into all kinds of things: quesadillas, salads, scrambled eggs, tomato sauce.

The zucchini will probably get sauteed with olive oil and garlic and thrown over some pasta, maybe with a handful of toasted breadcrumbs on top.

I could eat the peas raw with some hummus, slice them at an angle and throw them into a green salad, or cook them with the zucchini for pasta purposes.

The broccolini will likely get a simple saute, either with butter and garlic or a good squirt of sriracha sauce and some chopped almonds. To be eaten next to a piece of fish or some spicy seared tofu.

The carrot will get eaten one way or another.

What kind of vegetables are popping up at your farmer's market this spring?