INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR

Every once in a while I like to group very simple recipes in a single post, like I did last February and again in June.  Today’s post has three really simple recipes and one slightly more involved, but  still uncomplicated enough to justify hanging out with the others. A meaty main dish, a cute skewer-salad, a side dish, and oh-so-very-trendy kale chips. Yeap, I am jumping on that bandwagon, and you should too because when my beloved loses all self-control next to a bowl of kale, it means a lot. Seriously, it was a scene never before witnessed in gastronomic history.

 

POUNDED FLANK STEAK

This non-recipe was in a recent issue of Bon Appetit. Get a flank steak, lay it over a cutting board, place a saran-wrap over it. Pound it with gusto with the flat side of a meat mallet. With gusto. You want to really get at the fibers and tenderize them. Try to go for less than 1/2 inch width all over. Season with salt and pepper, give it a very light coating (or spray) with olive oil. Grill to your desired degree of doneness. It will be medium-rare very quickly, a couple of minutes per side on a super hot grill. In fact Bon Appetit called it “minute steak” for good reason. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

We loved it so much I made it three times within a ten-day period.  Very good paired with a red cabbage-cucumber salsa, but I need to tweak that recipe a little before sharing with you.


WATERMELON-FETA SKEWERS

Cut seedless watermelon into cubes. Do the same to the best quality you can find feta cheese. If you find real Greek feta, go for it. Place in wooden skewers cubes of feta and watermelon separated by pieces of fresh mint leaves. Make a simple dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, a touch of balsamic vinegar, or, if feeling particularly trendy, add a bit of pomegranate molasses. Whisk all together and drizzle over the skewers, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper (keep in mind that feta is very salty).

Only two pointers for success: use good quality feta (repeating this point because it is really important), and do not skip the mint. It offers the exact right counterpart to all other flavors. Great also as a little appetizer for a dinner party. Can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for a couple of hours.

 

TOMATILLO RICE

TOMATILLO RICE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the tomatillo sauce:
8 large tomatillos cut in half
2 medium shallots peeled
1/2 Serrano pepper, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice of half a lemon

for the rice:
1 cup rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt

Place the tomatillos, cut side down, shallots and Serrano pepper on a baking sheet and roast at 425 F until soft and the tomatillo skin is starting to get brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer everything to a blender shallots to a blender, add half a cup of chicken stock or water, a bunch of fresh cilantro leaves and the juice of half a lemon. Process until smooth. Adjust seasoning. Sauce is perfect over fajitas, or seafood. To make rice, you only need 1/2 cup of it.

Sautee one cup of rice on a little bit of olive oil, add 1/2 cup of tomatillo sauce and 1 + 1/2  cups of water. Cover and cook for about 18 minutes, until done. Leave it covered for 10 minutes, fluff with a fork, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This rice is addictive.

 I could easily eat it every day for a year.

Yes, that’s how much I love it. 

 

KALE CHIPS


Remove the stems from a bunch of fresh kale, cut the leaves in large pieces. Wash and dry them well, a salad spinner is the best way to approach it. Add very little olive oil to the leaves, massaging them briefly. Add them to the basket of an air-fryer at 390 F, and fry until done, shaking the pan every couple of minutes.  It will take less than 10 minutes to finish. Season with salt, pepper, and spices of your choice if so desired. No air-fryer? No problem. The hot oven works the same way, only a bit slower. Also, make sure to have all leaves as a single layer. As to the seasoning, cumin and paprika go very well with kale, on my next batch I will try nutritional yeast, as I heard it gives it a very intriguing flavor. And of course, it would take the trendy quotient of this dish to the highest possible level. I don’t do trendy often. But sometimes, when that special mood strikes…

Phil went absolutely crazy for these chips. He showed up at the kitchen as I was preparing dinner, and mumbled his usual “hummm… kale.”  Not the yummy-anticipating-hummmm… it was the “how-to-escape-this-hummm….”. So yes, I was unprepared to have to fight for the last four chips sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Go figure.

 

I hope you enjoyed these four simple recipes, and give some (or all) a try, even if kale might not be your thing, or watermelon in a savory dish a bit too much of a stretch for your taste buds. Sometimes it’s fun to try something different, especially when the preparation is so simple.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Going naked, and my husband loved it

TWO YEARS AGO: Cream Cheese Mini-Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

THREE YEARS AGO:  Star-Shaped Chocolate Brioche Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

SIX YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

 

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES THREE

Back in February I made a post with four super-duper simple recipes, and here I am again to showcase three more. A drink, a side-dish, a dessert. Like last time, they all deliver a lot more than you would expect.

ONE

Starting with the drink. Fabulous. Refreshing. Delicious. I saw the recipe at Mike’s The Iron You, and made it the day after. Exactly as he posted, except that I cut the sugar down a bit. Since then, I’ve made it four times, and adapted it, simplifying it even further and leaving sugar out completely. You will need to find your favorite way, but trust me, this is a drink you must try if you love tea. The touch of genius is a pinch of baking soda after brewing. Do not twist your nose, it is magical. Have I ever lied to you?

MINT AND GINGER ICED GREEN TEA
(adapted from The Iron You)

4 cups of water
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 bags green tea
1 bag of mint tea (or 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves)
1 lemon, divided
Pinch of baking soda
sugar is optional (coconut sugar is particularly  nice)

Combine water and ginger in a pot. Bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove from the heat and add tea bags and fresh mint (if using them).  Cover with a lid and steep for 15 minutes. Remove the bags and strain tea separating the liquid from the mint leaves and ginger slices. Stir in sugar, juice of half lemon, and baking soda. Transfer to a pitcher and let cool before refrigerating.

Serve on a tall glass with lemon slices and fresh mint added, if you so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I reduced the amount made to four cups instead of six, because I’m the only one drinking it. When I make it before dinner, I have leftover drink to enjoy next day at lunchtime, so that works well for me. Check out Mike’s original version and see if that appeals more to you in terms of amount and level of sweetness.

TWO

 

Second, a side-dish that is ready in 6 minutes. That is 360 seconds. Ok, if you have to cut the broccoli florets yourself, it might take you 10 minutes. Best broccoli ever. Perfect texture, bright taste, and you can change it around by using different herbs, vinegars, spices. Love it.

PAN-STEAMED BROCCOLI WITH ORANGE AND CILANTRO
(adapted from Ellie Krueger)

1 large head of broccoli florets (1½ pounds)
zest and juice of half an orange
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 ½ tablespoons  olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the broccoli florets more or less in a single layer inside a saucepan. Add ½ cup water, cover and cook over a high heat for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Do not remove the lid during cooking. When the broccoli is done, it will be cooked to crisp-tender. If you prefer it a bit softer, remove it from the heat and allow it to sit, covered, for another minute or two.

While the broccoli is cooking, zest the orange into a large bowl. Juice half the orange into the bowl, add the lemon juice. Add the cilantro to the bowl along with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the bowl with the orange mixture and toss gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: During the time the broccoli is cooking (pay close attention to the timer, it’s important), make the flavoring mixture right on the serving bowl.  Check Ellie’s gremolata in the link, or try anything you like. I find the combination of orange with broccoli quite delicious, but to cut excessive sweetness I added some lemon juice to it. Apple cider vinegar could be wonderful too. Consider options such as za’tar, a very discreet touch of sesame oil, black olive tapenade, sesame seeds…  This recipe has the potential to become your favorite way to enjoy broccoli. Cannot beat the texture. Am I repeating myself? Apologies, I tend to get excited about stuff like broccoli with perfect texture. There, I said it again!

THREE

Soft-serve pineapple. I saw this one at The View from Great Island, a blog I’ve cooked from many times, Sue’s recipes never failed me. She talks, I listen. It is ready in minutes, once you freeze the pineapple pieces. It is perfectly smooth and soft-serve-like when you first process it. In the freezer it will turn a bit hard, but a little encounter with the microwave just to break the ice (literally), turns it into real sorbet consistency. I had no idea that a pineapple could become a luscious dessert just with the help of the food processor. Remember a few years ago when everyone was processing bananas? Well, pineapples are harder to peel, but totally worth the trouble. A friend from Facebook mentioned that 1 egg white can be added to this type of recipe, to give extra smoothness.  I have to try that soon.

SOFT-SERVE PINEAPPLE-CHILE SORBET
(slightly modified from The View from Great Island)

1 pineapple
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper (ground)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the pineapple into 1 inch slices, core and all. Chop the slices into bite sized pieces. Arrange the pineapple on the baking sheet. Freeze for 2 hours, or until frozen solid.

Put the frozen pineapple chunks into a high power blender or food processor. Add the lime juice and chile powder. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the machine as necessary. Serve right away for a slushy, soft-serve consistency, otherwise, spoon the mixture into a loaf pan and put in the freezer to firm up, at least 4 hours.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Adding pepper to sorbet can be quite interesting, but maybe it’s not for everybody. A purist would probably prefer it “virgin.” I reduced the amount of chipotle and omitted the cayenne that Sue used, so stop by her site to see her version too and decide what to do.  We also made two batches of cantaloupe sorbet (already in the blog), one with pepper, one without, and a few days later enjoyed a triple dessert, refreshing and hot at the same time.  We like to share a single bowl and take turns, a little bite with pepper, a little without… Simple Summer evening pleasures.

😉

And with that, I wrap up three super simple recipes that are sure to please you. I think that even if you are not into green tea, the addition of that pinch of baking soda might change your mind. It removes that bit of harshness, objectionable to some. Worth a try.

ONE YEAR AGO: Dan Lepard Simple White Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Maureen’s Fabulously Fudgy Brownies

THREE YEARS AGO: Wheat Berry Caraway Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mexican Focaccia 

FIVE YEARS AGOSunny Kamut Salad with Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

SIX YEARS AGO: Pane de Casa & Crostini

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Down-home Dig-in Chili

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Cinnamon Rolls

 

TANGENTIAL QUICHE WITH ASPARAGUS AND FENNEL

I would like to thank everyone who contacted me about my Mom’s passing.
It is a natural cycle of life to say goodbye to a parent, but it is still very painful.
Your kind words warmed my heart.

I’ve taken way too many liberties with recipe titles. Hummus without chickpeas? Yes, guilty of that one. Tortillas with no corn? Read my sentence. Rice-free risotto? Just take me. Today I add one more to the list. A quiche. But no crust. In fact, I’ve made a version almost exactly one year ago using sweet potato slices to cover the pie dish. We loved it so much that it’s hard to believe it took me so long to re-visit. This time I paired asparagus and fennel, with a small amount of cheese for good measure. Trickiest part of this recipe is getting the sweet potato slices to roast without shrinking too much and collapsing from the sides of the dish. Still, even if that happens, no major harm will be done. It is all going to be delicious.

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE WITH ASPARAGUS AND FENNEL
(inspired by The Wimpy Vegetarian)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced thin
olive oil spray for potatoes
kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon total)
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced asparagus plus a few stalks left whole for decoration
1 large fennel bulb, diced
4 large eggs
2 egg whites
½ cup half-and-half
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 cup Gruyere cheese
nutmeg to taste

Heat oven to 400°F.

Coat a pie dish with the sliced potatoes, and spray a good amount of olive oil over the slices. Make sure to do a nice layer all around the edges coming up above the rim of the plate. Season lightly with salt. Place in the oven until the potatoes start to get some color, about 12 minutes. Reserve and lower the oven to 350 F.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the asparagus and fennel, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until just tender, about 8 minutes; set aside. Place the whole stalks in a microwave safe dish with a little water, microwave for 30 seconds. Reserve.

Whisk eggs, egg whites, half-and-half, milk, mustard powder,  half teaspoon salt and pepper in another large bowl. Spread the sautéed asparagus and fennel evenly on top of the sweet potato crust. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the vegetables. Pour the egg mixture over it all. Place the stalks of asparagus carefully on top. Grate fresh nutmeg across the top just before sliding into the oven.

Bake until quiche is set and crust is well browned, about 30 minutes, but check after 25 minutes in the oven. It should just jiggle lightly at the center.  Let cool to room temperature before cutting into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love fennel but despise licorice. Go figure that one. My problem with fennel is that you buy this huge bulb and by the time you’re done prepping it, you are left with 1/4 cup at most of goodness. Oh, well. Maybe I don’t do a good job prepping it. But all instructions say to remove the tough outer layer. That “outer layer” is often so thick, a huge amount of fennel is gone once I remove it. Oh, well again. But I do love its flavor, both raw in salads, roasted, sautéed, it’s all great.  I am still learning my way around the sweet potato “crust.”  If you go to Susan’s site, you’ll  notice she opted for a hashbrown path to make the crust. That is definitely something to consider. At any rate, a quiche without the regular crust is so much lighter, and a lot quicker to prepare too. Obviously, you could omit the crust altogether, just coat the pie dish with a little butter or oil, add the veggies, pour the egg mixture and bake it. But it’s nice to have a bit of texture underneath.  Whatever you choose to do, this filling with asparagus and fennel, a touch of Gruyere (a favorite cheese of mine) is a winner.

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Fakebouleh

TWO YEARS AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

SIX YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

ZUCCHINI FRITTATA WITH ROASTED TOMATOES AND GOAT CHEESE

Sometimes inspiration for a meal comes from unexpected sources. My friend Denise sent me a message with a photo of her dinner and four simple words: you must make this. She got it in a publication from her grocery store in England, showcasing their seasonal fresh ingredients. It joined zucchini with roast tomatoes and goat cheese, and looked great.  I ask you, what’s not to love? To make things even more interesting,  the zucchini receives the spiralizer treatment, although you could obviously do a coarse shred or a fine slicing. Don’t let the lack of a spiral cutter stop you. I used my Tarte Tatin pan, which sits patiently in the pantry waiting for the opportunity to shine. It is simply perfect for this type of recipe, so if you own one, open your horizons beyond the classic French dessert.

ZUCCHINI, ROASTED TOMATOES AND GOAT CHEESE FRITTATA
(adapted from Lakeland, UK)

12 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
15g butter
1 medium shallot, sliced
1 large zucchini, spiralized (use green or yellow, depending on availability)
5 eggs
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp herbes de Provence
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
125g goat cheese, crumbled
kalamata olives, pitted and halved, to taste

Heat the oven to 400 F (200 C).  Place the cherry tomatoes on a small roasting tray and drizzle over the olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a round, non-stick 8-inch pan that can go in the oven,  brushing it over the entire base and up the sides to prevent the frittata from sticking. Cook the sliced shallot over a medium heat until softened. Add the spiralized courgette and cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly softened.

Whisk the eggs in a Pyrex cup, add the herbs the Provence and season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the pan with the crumbled cheese, and top with the roasted tomatoes and black kalamata olives.

Cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the frittata is beginning to set, but the top is still a little runny. Finish off under a hot oven until the top of the frittata acquires a golden color. Leave in the pan for 1-2 minutes before turning out onto a plate and cutting into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This goes for our regular rotation, for sure! I think I slightly overcooked the bottom of the frittata this time, but it did not compromise the flavor at all. From the original, I had three modifications. Used herbes de Provence instead of rosemary (a texture thing for me), added a little heavy cream to the egg mixture, and included kalamata olives as topping.  Because, as you might have heard years ago, I am a kalamata-cheerleader. We had a couple of very tiny slices as leftovers, and they were still quite amazing after a brief heating in our small electric oven, just to kill the cold from the fridge.

A very simple and flavorful dish, that you can modify to suit your taste with different veggies, herbs, and maybe adding some coconut milk instead of heavy cream. Yes, that could work quite well…

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ONE YEAR AGO: Playing with Pectinase

TWO YEARS AGO: Poached White Asparagus with Lemon and Pistachios

THREE YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard’s Saffron Bloomer

FOUR YEARS AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

SIX YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere

 

 

AIR-FRIED CARROTS, TWO WAYS

No air-fryer? No worries. Both recipes can be prepared without it.

Lolita, the newest member of our gadget family, has been pretty busy these days. I had only one failure: air-frying broccoli, but even that was not a major catastrophic event. It was just a bit tricky to control the cooking of the crowns. Some bits of their external surface got overcooked and ended up with a harsh texture. Maybe a lower temperature would work better. At any rate, that recipe needs tweaking before I share with you. Moving to carrots, I offer two recipes that could not be simpler. First, air-fried carrots with a touch of honey. And then, a batch of shoestring fried carrots that were pretty much inhaled by the two of us. A bit of an argument happened when two lonely strands were left in the bowl. As often happens, the tropical charm spoke louder, and they both went into my belly. Oh, well. By the way, if you don’t have an air-fryer, follow the link to the recipe as shown in The Kitchen, that calls for deep-frying. It will be a bit more caloric, but still less so than the potato version. Plus, I bet kids will love them. One efficient way to deliver veggies to picky eaters.

AIR-FRIED CARROTS WITH HONEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 to 3 cups of carrots, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
tiny drizzle of soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Set air-fryer to 390 F.

Place the cut carrots in a bowl, add olive oil, honey and soy, toss gently to coat, trying to cover all surfaces with a bit of oil. Season carrots with salt and ground black pepper. Place in the basket of your air-fryer and cook for about 12 minutes, shaking the pan every once in a while.  Serve right away.

If you don’t have an air-fryer, roast in the oven at 420F until done.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve made these carrots three times. Compared to roasting them in the oven, I would say Lolita is faster, and also gives a different texture, quite pleasing. Leftovers were still very nice with a brief encounter with microwaves. Probably even better warmed up in a regular oven, but when lunch time comes, we opt for the simplest, fastest route to go back to work.

And now for a nice variation on shoestring potato fries. These are much lighter and surprisingly tasty!

 

SHOESTRING AIR-FRIED CARROTS
(adapted from Food TV The Kitchen)

1 bag (10 ounces) of julienned carrots (sold for cole-slaw)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle
1 teaspoon orange zest

In a medium bowl, mix the carrots with the olive oil, coating them lightly. Try to coat all pieces of carrots. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the carrots in the air-fryer set at 390F. Cook for 13 to 16 minutes, mixing them around every few minutes.

Remove when they start to get nicely brown, watch them closely because pieces might get too dark very quickly. Transfer them to a serving bowl, add orange zest, spray a little apple cider vinegar, adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I will warn you that the air-fryer (at least the model we have) will not hold more than one 10-ounce bag of shredded carrots. And they will shrink A LOT  during frying, as the water content of carrots is pretty high. At first you will see them shrinking, shrinking, getting kind of limp. Until all the water evaporates, they won’t brown.  So you will be left with a small amount of carrots, but perfect for two.  I would say that the main concern with the air-fryer is the amount of food it can handle. For a couple with no kids, it’s a very nice gadget. If you have kids around, you might have to cook food in batches. However, my niece in Brazil has three young kids and she still loves her fryer, so take my comment with a grain of salt.

The idea of using mini-spray bottles for vinegar is pure genius! It allows you to add just a little touch on the food. You can find those for very cheap in grocery stores, sold usually in a bag together with other types of bottles for traveling. I had no use for the spray one, it was hanging around my bathroom, neglected and lonely. Well, it’s now in my pantry, ready to play!

I’ve made these carrots twice already, first time I simply shook the basket every few minutes, and did not notice that the bottom layer was getting very dark and not moving around with my delicate shaking. Second time I used tongs to move the carrot pieces more efficiently. Worked like a charm.  Of course, if you don’t have an air-fryer, you can deep fry them and they will turn out delicious. I just hate dealing with the leftover oil, and find deep-fried food a bit heavy and hard to digest. Bottom line is, Lolita is working quite nicely for us!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Five Minutes in L.I.T (a tour of our laboratory!)

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Capers

THREE YEARS AGO: Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mushroom Stroganoff

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tomato Sourdough

SIX YEARS AGO: Gamberetti con rucola e pomodori

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Flirting with Orzo

LOLITA JOINS THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN!

Please allow me to introduce the newest member of the family,
Lolita, our air-fryer!

She arrived last week, after a lot exchanges between me and my niece Raquel in Brazil, who owns the exact same model and had been twisting my arm to get one. Then, my friend Karen joined forces with Raquel, even though they’ve never met. A virtual conspiracy of sorts. Karen brought her air-fryer to play and teased me with drool-inducing chicken wings. Take a look at them here. So, I went back and forth, back and forth, bought a cookbook to help me decide, lost hours of sleep tossing in bed. Turn to the left, I’m going to buy it. Turn to the right, do I really need it?  Of course, Phil was close witness to my personal drama. It is possible that he got a bit tired of some of my evening monologues as I walked around the kitchen, cookbook in hand, reading some of the recipes out loud. Although, seriously, who could get annoyed by that? Right? Anyway, all I know is that one morning he informed me that a Philips air-fryer was on its way. Sorry, ladies, the husband is taken.

First experiment: Russet Potato Fries

This is really a non-recipe.  Get Russet potatoes and cut them in slices, mine were around 1/2 inch, but quite variable. I wanted to see how the fryer behaved and optimize the size for the next time around. To a pot of salted boiling water, add the slices and parboil them for 4 minutes. Drain and dry. Once they are dry, place them in a bag or container and gently toss with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt (you will add more salt later once they come out of the fryer).  Try to coat each slice with oil, but no need to go crazy with it. Some recipes recommend you shake them in a bag, I was afraid they would start breaking, so I just tossed them with my hands inside a bowl.

Add them to the fryer set at the highest temperature, which in my model is 390F. Set the timer for 25 minutes, place the potato slices in the basket, and fry away. Shake the basket every 5 minutes or so, and keep an eye on them. Depending on the thickness of the slices and the power of your machine, they can take a little more or a little less to get brown and cooked.

Remove the fries to a serving dish, season with more salt and pepper to taste, and ENJOY!

Comments: I was over the moon with these fries, because of course I was worried about my beloved’s investment. They were really good. One thing that becomes evident is how much oil we consume when enjoying “regular”, deep-fried potatoes. These have a nice crust, but the inside feels more like a boiled potato, creamy, no taste of fat. You know how when you grab fries your fingers get all oily, and your lips might end up a bit oily too? None of that happens here. Are they as good as regular fries? That is a tough question. In all honesty, when you have regular fries for some reason it is easy to over-indulge. These are satisfying but don’t make you compulsively inhale them. I made three Russet potatoes into fries, they were not very big, medium size. We had enough for our dinner and offered some to certain four-legged beings that were nearby. Happy tail wagging was observed. Experiment concluded.

Second experiment: Sweet Potato Chips

Or, if you happen to be in Great Britain, Sweep Potato Crisps. I confess I like that name even better…


For this adventure, I enlisted help of another interesting kitchen gadget, the spiralizer. I used the ribbon blade to cut two sweet potatoes. With regular veggies, you’ll end up with long ribbons, perfect to mimic pasta, think of a very large pappardelle. The sweet potato is hard, so the ribbons break and turn into pieces quite suitable for frying.

Of course, you can use your knife skills and cut them uniformly. After slicing, I decided to soak them in cold water. Some recipes skip that step, but it’s clear that doing it results in crisper chips, which was my ultimate goal. I did that on a Sunday afternoon, just placed them in the bowl of water and there they stayed for a few hours. You could do the step of soaking and drying several hours in advance, if pressed for time. Then it’s all a matter of adding the slices to a bowl, coating them with olive oil, seasoning with salt, or any other spices you’d like, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, chili. I set the temperature to 360F, which is what I saw recommended in the Phillips manual. They were ready in about 25 minutes, with shaking at several time points, as I could not stop opening the basket and peeking inside.  The photo below gives a glimpse into their frying progression. Loads of fun.


From top to bottom, clockwise… The slices just ready to start air-frying, then after 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes (ten minutes left on the timer). They were actually ready before the timer went off, for a total air-frying of 22 minutes. Not bad at all…  If you get your prep work done in advance, sweet potato chips can be enjoyed pretty quickly. And yes, they were very crispy and delicious!  The Philips model heats up very fast, they advise you to wait 2 to 3 minutes before placing the food inside. Experiment concluded. Scientists happy and well-fed.

I have quite a few recipes lined up for future experiments. If you have an air-fryer, I highly recommend this cookbook by Meredith Laurence. it is the one with the best reviews at amazon, and I can understand why. Very creative use of the fryer, with recipes that might surprise you a little. Like Molten Chocolate Almond Cakes… See? I told you!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Cashew Cream Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas

THREE YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer

FOUR YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

SIX YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR

Here I am to share with you not one, not two, but four recipes that are so simple you could make them in your sleep. Each delivers a lot more than you’d expect in flavor and you will find yourself making them again and again. Not necessarily in your sleep.

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From top to bottom, left to right, here they are:

CHEESE JALAPENO CRACKERS. Credit should go to Angela, from Divalicious Recipes.  Recently she composed a post with 50 ideas for low-carb appetizers very well-timed for a Super Bowl party.  These crackers are pure cheese, with a kick of Jalapeno. I made only eight for the two of us. There was a bit of an argument over the last one, we could not quite agree on who had the right to grab it. I won. Determination is everything.

crackerstutorial

My version, 50:50 Monterey-Cheddar & Parmigiano.
Baked at 350F for about 10 minutes.
Watched them like a hawk.

MARINATED CUCUMBER SALAD. I saw this recipe at FoodTV the other day, a show I don’t normally watch called Valerie’s Home Cooking. I admit to having a bit of a problem with Hollywood folks turned into FoodTV chefs. Maybe I should open my mind a little? Nah, I like my mind the way it is… Anyway, her recipe sounded great but I adapted on my second time around because she used too heavy a hand on the sesame oil. It pretty much overpowered the delicate cucumber.

cucumber

In a small bowl mix and whisk well:

1/2 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil.

Slice one cucumber as thin as you can make it, a mandoline could be helpful. I used a Persian cucumber, so I did not remove the seeds, but if you only find regular ones, removing the seeds is a nice touch. Delicately mix the cucumber slices with the dressing, refrigerate for half an hour if you have the time, but it’s good right away too.
So refreshing!

FRIED EGG OVER LABNEH WITH ZA’TAR. This is unbelievably good!  I confess I’m addicted and have it several times each week for my lunch.  I know you will find the combination a bit odd, but trust me, it is to die for. Just smear some labneh or thick Greek yogurt on a plate. Squirt a bit of lemon juice and a little salt (no need for salt if using labneh). Sprinkle za’tar all over, use a heavy hand if you are a za’tar lover.  Fry an egg whichever way you prefer, for this concoction I like a little bit of a crisp edge. Rest the egg on top of the cold labneh or yogurt mixture. Swoon!

zataregg

I use different spices sometimes.  Sumac goes well, Ras El Hanout is superb, but za’tar is hard to beat. There’s something about the mixture of the runny egg yolk with the cold seasoned yogurt, I never tire of it.  I first saw this combination at Maureen’s beautiful blog, she also included in her cookbook Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, which I own.

BLUEBERRY CHIA PUDDING.  I am usually pretty slow to jump on fashionable ingredients, and most of my adventures with chia seeds have been unremarkable. Not this one. It turned out so good I would serve it for company without thinking twice. It is creamy, sweet and tangy at the same time, the coconut flavor so subtle it would not offend those who are not too fond of it.  All you need to do is remember to soak the chia seeds the day before, or at least a couple of hours in advance.  A minute in the blender, and there you have, Nirvana in a bowl.  You can find the recipe here, but I highly recommend you get the book My New Roots, where you’ll find this one and a multitude of other interesting recipes.

blueberry-chia

for the recipe, visit Les Petites Pestes

Sometimes simple is all we need…

four-simple-recipes-from-bewitching-kitchen

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ONE YEAR AGO: Raspberry Chocolate Truffles

TWO YEARS AGO: Red Velvet Cupcakes

THREE YEARS AGO: Valentine’s Day: The Finale

FOUR YEARS AGO: Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Dan Dan Noodles

SIX YEARS AGO: Sophie Grigson’s Parmesan Cake

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Antibiotics and Food