Tag Archives: potatoes

Julie Sahni’s Gosht Kari

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I’m not big on cookbooks.  I know, I know, it’s the same complaint we all have.  I love looking through them, and I daydream about having bookcases filled with cookbooks.  But those daydreams generally go like this: leisurely flipping through a couple of cookbooks while enjoying a late morning cup of coffee and Tartine croissant, and then casually spending the rest of the day shopping for and cooking whatever I picked out that morning,  then upon serving the meal to friends and loved ones, having it gushed over and praised to high heavens during a cozy family meal. Not exactly reality.

The reality is that when I check out a cookbook from the library or actually purchase one and bring it home, I rarely make it beyond flipping through the pages and reading the headnotes.  I’ve been known to make a list of the recipes that look good and copy down ingredient lists and instructions in shorthand out of library books, usually when the book is already 2 or 3 days past due and I’m feeling guilty about not cooking from the book in the last 3 weeks, let alone returning it on time.  Or when I’m feeling guilty about the books I’ve bought and never actually cooked from, I’ll bust out the little sticky flags and mark what looks good- but I usually don’t try more than one or two recipes, even if they’re great.

What’s the deal? I’ve decided I’m stuck in a vicious cycle, one that  most of us find ourselves in now and then: kitchen comfort.  We become content with the repertoire of meals we’ve amassed that not only fall within our resource constraints but that our family will readily eat.  We’re secure in the same list of the ingredients to add to the unwritten weekly shopping list, the ability to fall-back on old favorites on a Wednesday night when you walk in the door late and everybody’s hungry already.  Cooking becomes easy.  As the wife of a picky eater and a woman who refuses to eat most prepackaged and processed “foods,” I’ve struggled over the last few years to expand my List of Acceptable and Realistic Suppers.  Picking up a cookbook and flipping to a new recipe might entail ingredients I don’t already have in the cupboards or that we won’t eat, or flavors that we might not like.  I’ve become lethargic, and who wants to cook when the words “supper” and “boring” become synonyms?

So in this context of boredom and hesitance, thank goodness somebody mentioned Julie Sahni.  Seriously.  I’ve been hugely lacking in cooking inspiration and motivation, and this woman delivered exactly the swift kick in the you-know-what that I needed.  I picked up Classic Indian Cooking at the library last week and spent a few evenings flipping through the pages, trying to pick out a recipe or two to try over the weekend.  I wanted to stick with something fairly basic, which is always hard to discern from looking at ingredient lists for most Indian cooking – so many spices and aromatics!  The first one I picked was Gosht Kari, or meat curry, which boasts a relatively short list of ingredients, all things I knew I could easily get.  I made a quick trip for ground coriander and fresh cilantro, but otherwise had the rest of the ingredients already.

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The recipe starts with familiar actions: browning of beef, chopping of onions, mincing ginger and garlic.  “I can handle this,” I told myself, feeling a boost of confidence at the rhythms of the familiar.  As onions turned from white to pale to golden, I measured out fragrant spices.  As the dish started to come together, the smell was almost breathtaking.  These were smells that I’d never had coming from my own kitchen!  While the braise simmered on the stovetop, I peeled potatoes, sipped a glass of wine, soaked the rice.  Before I even tasted it, I knew it was going to be amazing.  The mix of confidence and novelty was coursing through me.  I was excited.  And better yet, I was salivating.  It smelled delicious.

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It also didn’t hurt that the meal was utterly fantastic.  Warm and hearty textures and a complex flavor profile.  I had to have more.  The next day, I flipped open the book again and settled on Mughalai Korma, or Moghual braised chicken, with saag to accompany (pictured above).  The mix of ginger, cardamom, cloves, and coriander in the chicken sounded intriguing and delicious.  Again the process felt comfortable, and again the smells from stovetop were phenomenal.  It goes without saying that all three dishes were great.  Honestly, the saag was my least favorite; I’m not a huge fan of cooked spinach, but the combo of cumin seed and garam masala was quite nice, and the potatoes were decadent.  In any case, two out of three keepers is hardly failure!  Both the chicken and the beef dishes will be made again in very soon order, and this book is going to be added to my bookshelf pronto… only this time, I don’t intend to ignore it.

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Julie Sahni’s Gosht Kari
very barely adapted from Classic Indian Cooking

Serves 6 as a main dish with rice, or 8 with side dishes

8 tablespoons ghee
3 pounds boneless beef or lamb, trimmed well and cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 meaty beef or lamb bones (I used the bones I cut out of my roast along with an oxtail)
4 small onions or 2 large onions (about 4 cups chopped)
4 cloves garlic (about 4 teaspoons minced)
3-4 inches fresh ginger (about 3 tablespoons minced)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 pound of potatoes, about 4 medium-sized
chopped cilantro for serving

Place a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat with 4 tablespoons of ghee.  While the oil is heating, pat the meat cubes dry to help browning.  Once the oil is very hot, brown some of the meat cubes, being careful not to crowd the meat (this will cause steaming instead of browning).  Brown the meat in batches, removing browned meat to a plate with a slotted utensil.  Once the meat is browned, add the bones to the pot and lightly brown them as well, then place them on the plate with the meat.  While browning the meat, finely chop the onions.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of ghee to the pot and scrape the bottom to release the stuck on bits of meat.  Add the onions and brown them, stirring frequently to avoid burning and sticking.  While browning the onions, mince or grate the garlic and the ginger, and measure out the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red pepper into small bowl.  Put a kettle with about 5 cups of water on to boil.

When the onions are a dark golden brown, add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute, stirring almost constantly.  Add the spices and continue to fry and stir vigorously for about 30 seconds.  Return the browned meat and the bones to the pot, pouring in any juice that the meat had released onto the plate.  Also add the tomatoes, salt, and 4 cups of boiling water; stir to combine.  Bring to a boil; then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally

While the dish is simmering, peel the potatoes and cut into quarter (for medium potatoes), or approximately 2 x 3 inch pieces.  (If serving with rice and forgoing the resting time, this is also a good time to rinse/soak your rice.)  After 90 minutes, add the potatoes and stir; then recover and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and meat are both tender.  Julie says to let the dish rest for at least 30 minutes but preferably 2 hours; I was starving by the time it was ready and let it rest for a mere 15 minutes and it was fantastic as-is.  Before serving, remove the bones and check for salt, then reheat to a simmer.  Serve with rice and/or bread and chopped cilantro.  Leftovers are even better in the following days, though Julie suggests freezing if not eating within 3 days in the refrigerator.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Fall, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Winter

spinach & bacon twice-baked potatoes

Every now and then, I make a conscious effort to feed my husband something more than starches, cheese, or meat.  In this case, it started with spinach.  An innocent thought of spinach…

… that was quickly overrun with starches, cheese, AND meat.

I try my best, people.  At least N loved them– leafy greens and all.

These are the best twice-baked potatoes I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot. Too often twice-baked taters are too cheesy and/or have a runny or thin texture. These guys are creamy AND chunky, thanks to the sour cream and only stirring the filling once; overstirring will break down the potato more and more, until you’re left with mashed potatoes instead of slightly-mashed potatoes. Oh yes, there’s a difference. :)

Small florets of cooked broccoli or cauliflower could easily be substituted for the spinach. The bacon could be skipped altogether, but then you might want to add a little salt to the filling.  Also feel free to add more cheese to the top if that’s your thing.

Spinach and bacon twice-baked potatoes
adapted from Food.com

2 large or 3 medium-sized baking potatoes
2 slices bacon
1/3 c sour cream
1 small or 1/2 large shallot
6 oz. fresh or frozen spinach (approximate)
3 oz. mozzarella or cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400.  Scrub potatoes, then make large slits across the skins, as if marking where to cut them in half lengthwise without actually cutting the potato in half.  Wrap in foil and bake until done through, about 1 hour. (This can be done before and potatoes can be stored in the foil in the fridge for a day or two.)

Heat a small skillet on medium-high and fry the bacon to your liking.  Meanwhile, cut the potatoes in half where you had previously marked them.  Scoop out the insides of the baked potatoes into a medium bowl; add the sour cream, but don’t stir yet.  Once the bacon is fried, drain on paper towels and chop into bite-sized or smaller pieces, and put into the bowl with the potatoes.  Finely dice the shallot and fry it in the bacon grease for just a minute or two, and then dump into the potato bowl.  If using fresh spinach, wilt it in the same pan;  if using frozen, just break it up a bit. Add the spinach to the bowl. Coarsely grate the cheese and add 1/2 of it to the bowl. Finally, take a large fork and mix all of this wonderful stuff together, smashing the largest potato pieces but not completely mashing them to smittereens.

Heat the oven to 350.  Lay the potato skin shells on a baking sheet and fill them generously with the potato mixture.  Grind a bit of black pepper over the top and then top with the remaining shredded cheese.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese on top is bubbly and the potatoes are heated through.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Vegetables, Winter

Pommes de terre boulangere

 Everyone loves potatoes with onions. Everyone loves any sort of pan-fried potatoes, be it slices or home fries or hash, etcetera. But these are made special because of 1) the crispiness and 2) the onions.

Holy balls, even if you don’t make the potatoes, make the onions. Serve them with meat, on toast, on grilled cheese or with sauteed zuchinni or however you want. Eat the onions. Looooooove the onions.

Luisa can tell you about it better than I can.

Pommes de terre boulangere
From The New York Times

3-4 large potatoes (Yukon Gold is my favorite, but reds and bakers are great too)
4 to 6 cups beef or chicken broth, as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons oil, butter, or fat
pinch fresh thyme
2 teaspoons vinegar (white, cider, or sherry)

1. Place potatoes in a saucepan and add broth to cover by about 1 inch. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, or to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer until just tender but not falling apart, about 15-20 minutes. Remove potatoes from broth and allow them to cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, combine onion with 1 T oil. Place over medium-low heat and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add thyme. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and caramelized, about 10 more minutes. Increase heat to medium; add vinegar and cook 2  minutes more. Remove from heat.

3. Slice cooled potatoes into rounds about 1/3 inch thick. Place a large skillet over high heat, and add oil/butter as needed to provide a thick coating on bottom of pan. When oil is extremely hot, add potatoes and allow to sit without stirring or shaking until seared and crispy.

4. Turn potatoes and sear and crisp other sides. When well-browned, add caramelized onions, salt and pepper to taste, and stir to mix. Eat. Be merry.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Fall, Side dishes, Vegetables, Winter

Garlic Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

N is so loveable. He’s really getting into the idea of “using everything we get”… which I consider to be called “sustainable living.” For instance, I carved a killer pumpkin on Sunday night, and roasted the pumpkin seeds. We pined for our future garden and compost pile when I threw away the stringy pumpkin insides.

HD carved pumpkin

He’s also getting worked up about Thanksgiving and how we’re going to make the whole meal in our kitchen with just one stove. Wait a minute… haven’t people been doing this for years and it works out?! N is not convinced. He refuses to cook the turkey ahead in any sort of way, and doesn’t think it will properly cook in our stove with the potatoes, vegetable sides, etc. that will be cooking in there as well. He considered making a smoker out of two large terra cotta planters…. I promptly shot that down. Next: turkey on the grill.

“We’re not grilling, we’re technically barbequing,” he insists. Okay, okay. N also insists on practicing to make sure it goes off without a hitch, and so we started with a smaller poultry carcass to test out the abilities of the little grill that could. Additionally, I had picked up some beautiful Yukon Gold and red potatoes, as well as a large head of garlic, at the farmer’s market on Saturday, and decided to add a new twist to N’s favorite side-dish: cream cheese mashed (and baked) potatoes.

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These were deliiiiicious! Definitely garlicky, but not overwhelming. Creamy and smooth, but with a crunchy top. N noticed the bits of potato peel right away, but I gently reminded him that it’s the only nutritious part of the potato. Plus, what about using everything we get?! Why buy the whole potato and only use part of it?? This calmed him, and he scarfed them up obligingly. :)

mmmmm

Garlic Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

1 head roasted garlic (directions in next post)
2.5# of potatoes
4 oz. cream cheese (RF is ok)
1/3 c. heavy cream OR sour cream (1/4 c. of skim milk or plain yogurt *might* work?)

Scrub the potatoes and cut out any bruises/eyes as desired. Put in a pot and cover with water, allowing 1-2 inches excess water covering the tops of potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and bring to a boil; hold at a simmer until potatoes are tender and skins are loosening/breaking apart. Drain well and let cool 5 minutes.

You can use a stand mixer, hand mixer, or manual potato masher to mash. If using a mixer, dump all ingredients together and blend. If mashing by hand, I would mix the cream cheese and sour cream/milk first, and then mash in the potatoes and garlic.  Add salt and pepper as desired. Spray the sides of a shallow casserole dish and spoon in potatoes. Bake at 375-400 for at least 30 minutes, longer if a crispier top is desired. We baked at 400 for 40-45 minutes.

These can also be refrigerated, covered, for up to 24 hours after spooning into the casserole dish. Reheating + baking time will be longer– at least 45 minutes at 375 if potatoes are fully cooled before baking.

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Filed under Fall, Side dishes, Vegetables, Winter