Sunday, January 30, 2005

Cold Weather and Cookin'

For the second weekend in a row, we're getting a nice snowstorm. Luckily we also are, once again, above the sleet line. Actually, a little bit of the precipitation last night came down as ice, but there was a little bit of snow down first, so it wasn’t too bad to shovel or clean off the cars (just crack the ice layer and lift up; the snow below kept the ice from sticking to the walk).

I have a bad habit of sometimes buying cooking magazines and even cookbooks because a pictured recipe looks too good to not try. The March issue of Fine Cooking is a case in point with its red potatoes roasted with lemon & olives cover shot. Last night, we tried that recipe for dinner and it turned out pretty good.

Evelin was making some applesauce to freeze for Celeste, so she had all the attachments for the KitchenAid out, so I decided to see if the roto slicer could speed up the prep some. It made quick work of slicing the potatoes, but it made a mess of the lemon. In the end, the potato slices would have worked better for a gratin or something; they were a bit too thin for this dish, but it still ended up tasty.

The recipe isn't online, but it's fairly straight forward: 2 pounds of red potatoes, sliced; one lemon thinly sliced; olive oil; 14 cup chopped parsley; 2 toes garlic, minced; salt; 13 cup black olives. Toss everything except the olives with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then spread evenly into a well oiled 9×13 inch pan and bake at 425°F for an hour or so, stirring everything every 20 minutes or so. The olives get thrown in for the last five minutes or so of cooking. The recipe called for oil-cured olives, but I went with kalamatas instead ... it's just what we on hand and they were already pitted.

The potatoes are supposed to crisp while the lemons caramelize, but since the potatoes were so thin, they didn't really crisp they way should. Still it was very tasty (Evelin compared the flavor to a shaker lemon pie, with potatoes instead of eggs), and it worked well when paired with φασολάκια. Actually, I just improvised the φασολάκια, so it ended up not having the dill in it, but the tastes complemented the potato nicely.

Next time, I think I'll try some oregano in the potatoes; I think that'd be a nice with the lemon and olive flavors. I'll also cut the potatoes by hand.

After dinner I ran out and picked up some baklava and Super Size Me — really funny and scary at the same time — and I started soaking the beans for today's cooking fun.

As yesterday's to-do list noted, I need to make a mess of red beans today. It could be Louisiana chauvinism or parochialism or something, but only Camellia Brand Beans will do for red beans and rice. Usually, whenever we're running low (and not headed back South for a while), I'll ask my mother to bring or send some up (that and big jars of Zatarain's Creole mustard), but it looks like Camellia beans are also sold through Amazon now.

I set up 2 pounds to soak overnight and this morning I started cutting up three onions, about six ribs of celery, a few scallions, some parsley, a few bay leaves, and three toes of garlic. All that is cooked down in some olive oil until everything's wilted and the onions are nice and translucent. Then I add the beans and about 15 cups of water and start it to cooking. I let the beans simmer for about a couple of hours or so, until the liquid has reduced enough and the beans are super tender. And, when it seems like things are about an hour or so away from being ready, I scoop out a cup or so of the beans and mash them up; when added back to the pot, it makes things nice and creamy.

Despite the snow outside, the red beans on the stove, the increased humidity level in the house, and the Mardi Gras music in the CD player are making it a nicely Louisiana feeling day.


swell said...

Hi, I found your blog recently & enjoy your stories of
Louisiana & now cooking. I am from NOLA & live in DC, too. You have me in the mood to cook up some red beans this week!
On another topic, falling CD's are nothing to worry about. My husband also took care of our daughter when she was an infant--he let her roll off the changing table. She is now 6 and despite his missteps is quite
bright. Swell

T. Carter said...

Hi Swell. Thanks for the reassurance about infant nondamage.... I know pretty much everybody's been dropped or something at some point during their infancy, but it's still scary to see it play out in front of you.