Friday, October 11, 2019

Potatoes Romanoff - This Didn't Stay in Vegas

They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but that’s mostly because people just don’t remember exactly what happened. Happily, that’s not the case with this incredible Potatoes Romanoff recipe. About 10 years ago, I took a trip to Las Vegas with a group of food writers, and while I don’t recall much, I do remember learning how to make this ingenious potato gratin from Chef John Schenk, at his restaurant, Strip House.

He credits his Mom for the recipe, but the shallots and white pepper scream, “This was adapted by a restaurant chef!” Which reminds me, if you do use shallots for this, be careful. Since they go in raw, a little will go a long way. To play it safe, you can always sauté them in a little butter to take off the sharp, raw edge. Besides shallots, some thinly sliced green onions would be great, as would sautéed leeks, or even just finely minced yellow onions.

This would be a great side dish for those large holiday gatherings, since it can be made the day before, and then baked when needed. And as I said in the video, you can embellish this with all sorts of stuff, including such obvious choices as bacon, or fresh herbs, but no matter how you personalize it, I really hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions:
3 very large russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), scrubbed clean
1/4 to 1/3 cup minced shallots, raw, or sautéed for a milder flavor
3 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons fine salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
2 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 3/4 cups sour cream

- Bake at 425 F. for 30-35 minutes, or until browned and piping hot.
-->

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Pumpkin-Shaped Dinner Rolls – Your Guests Will Blow Their Gourds

The holidays are almost here, which means “show-off” baking season is almost here, and these pumpkin-shaped dinner rolls are just the thing to impress your guests, and more importantly, drive your culinary rivals mad with envy. Sure these take about 20 minutes longer to make than your already perfectly fine dinner rolls, but that’s nothing when you consider all the compliments that will be coming your way.

This very Instagram-friendly roll is the perfect thing to bring to that holiday gathering, and can be made using your favorite dinner roll recipe. The key here is well-oiled string, and being careful not to tie it too tightly. If the string gets embedded too deeply into the dough, it will tear the roll when you try to remove it, and there’s nothing that stops something from being cute, quite like a jagged tear.

By the way, if you don’t feel like tying all those knots, you can try and do this with one long piece of string, winding it around the dough ball, as you turn it, but I find that method harder, and less successful. Faster yes, but not as visually appealing once baked.

If you do a video search for this type of roll, you’ll also see people simply cutting slashes around the outside, which sort of works, but it just doesn’t come out as adorable. But, regardless of which roll recipe, or shaping method you use, I really do hope you give these pumpkin-shaped dinner rolls a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 “Pumpkin” Dinner Rolls:
(be sure to save a few tablespoons of dough for the stems)
1 cup warm milk
1 package dry active yeast
1 or 2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon fine salt
kitchen string
vegetable oil for strings
- Bake at 375 F. for 20-25 minutes
- Feel free to give these an egg wash before baking if you want a shinier look.
-->

Friday, October 4, 2019

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes – My Favorite Frosted Muffin

Banana, walnut, and chocolate are always an amazing combination of ingredients, no matter what the delivery system, but it really doesn’t get any better than in this ganache-frosted cupcake. A close second would be a chocolate-dipped frozen banana, rolled in walnuts, which is also a great treat, although much more awkward to eat in public.

Just be sure to buy your bananas way ahead of time. Using green bananas would be one of the few ways to mess this up, so I’d pick some up at least a week ahead of time, and wait until they’re starting to turn black before using them. For some extra flavor, a little banana liqueur wouldn’t be a bad idea, but these were great as is.

I thought the dark chocolate ganache was a perfect frosting, especially after trying them with a banana-based buttercream, which ended up being way too sweet for such a decadent cupcake. Of course, you can skip the frosting all together, and simply make a batch of the world’s best chocolate, walnut, banana muffins. Either way, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 Chunky Monkey Cupcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
12 banana chip for garnish, optional
- Bake at 350 F. for about 25 minutes.

For the Dark Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup very hot, but not boiling cream
- Pour cream over chips, wait a few minutes, and stir. Wait until mixture is cool enough to be spreadable.
-->

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bombay Breakfast Potatoes – Just Exotic Enough

I like to think of myself as a fairly adventurous eater, but when it comes to breakfast, I usually fall into the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” school of thought, and home fries are a perfect example. I mean, what improvement can you possibly make to perfectly pan-fried, crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle breakfast potatoes?

Maybe this is just semantics, since these Bombay breakfast potatoes aren’t really supposed to be an improvement, but rather a slightly more exotic change of pace. In any event, they were absolutely delicious, and while definitely different than your average diner fare, they managed to retain an acceptable degree of comforting familiarity. And for that, I will mostly credit the texture.

Like I said in the video, even if you don’t plan on using the Indian-inspired spicing, you’ll want to pay attention to the cook-first, fry-later approach. While it does take a little bit of planning ahead, the pay off is substantial. By boiling first, and then thoroughly chilling before you panfry, the starches on the surface “gelatinize,” which makes all that irresistible crispiness possible.

Above and beyond the textural advantages, by prepping the potatoes the night before, you’re making things pretty easy for yourself the next morning. Just toss them into the hot pan, and by the time your eggs are cracked, beaten, and scrambled, your home fries should be just about done. So, no matter how you season yours, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:

Spice mix:
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 large russet potatoes, cut in 16ths, cooked in well-salted water
salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup green onions
1/4 cup diced hot and/or sweet peppers
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
-->