Suzi's Blog

Herbed Crushed Potatoes [well, really smashed]

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Often we prepare our potatoes with swiftness. One [step] and done. Baked or fried or boiled. Salt, pepper, butter or mustard or sour cream. Quick and ready to eat.

Consider a different, slower, more complex, but oh-so-good path. These potatoes are cooked twice: once in a simple boil and then roasted with oil you have flavored with herbs. Optionally, add some bacon and cheese. Maybe that’s mandatory, not optional.

The result? You will have a renewed respect for the not-so-humble potato. Pair with a good [and now expensive steak] and you have a meal worth its price.

The smashing part here is one to enlist family members in for help. Want to introduce your kids to the fine art of cooking? Give them a potato, a towel to cover the potato, and pan to flatten the potato. All those TV shows and video games they watch with violence in abundance? Give your kids some real world experience.

Herbed Crushed Potatoes

Yield: 4-5 servings of 2 potatoes each

Ingredients:

For the oil:

  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sprigs thyme

For the potatoes:

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed [medium to small size]
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ pound of thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled [optional but a really good idea]
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan [also optional but brilliantly wonderful]
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Parsely or chives for garnish

Preparation:

Preheat oven 450°F.

To make the flavored oil, separate the garlic cloves from the head clean and gently bruise. Place garlic in olive oil with rosemary and thyme and bring to a simmer.

Remove from the heat and let sit for 20 minutes.

For the potatoes, cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, pat dry, place potato on dish towel and partially flatten (be careful to not completely crush) with hand or the back of a small pot. Place crushed potato on cookie sheet and brush liberally with flavored olive oil on both sides, season with salt and pepper.

Place in 450°F oven for 15 minutes and then turn potato over and bake for another 15 minutes, until lightly brown and crisp. Remove from oven.

Sprinkle with bacon, parmesan and parsley serve.

Source: Adapted from American Test Kitchen Television

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/50th second at ISO‑800

 

Coffee Nutella Ice Cream

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From your advanced calculus course, you may remember the definition of a fixed point for a mathematical function f:

An attractive fixed point of a function f is a fixed point x0 of f such that for any value of x in the domain that is close enough to x0, the iterated function sequence xf(x), f(f(x)), f(f(f((x))), …converges to x0.

No, Suzen is going to see this and freak. “What do you think …”

Here’s what I’m trying to say. Suppose you try something over and over again and you keep getting the same answer most of the time and then, eventually, the same answer every time. That same answer is the “fixed point.”

When Suzen prepares her seasonal menus for Cooking by the Book twice a year, she assembles many options for first courses, main dishes and sides, and dessert. Every client has potentially 1000 different meals they can select from the menu, yet Suzen finds that clients “zone in” on just a few combinations. And sometimes, for say dessert, everyone wants the same thing.

This spring and summer dessert at Cooking by the Book has been a Killer Brownie with Coffee Nutella Ice Cream. It’s been a fixed point. Just one of these two would be a grand finale. Taken together, this is a double dose of chocolate that will keep you up all night.

This pairing happens to be so richly delicious that you don’t want to be asleep anyway. In the end, it all works out. You can be awake to enjoy hour after hour of after taste. And, Suzen gives you the recipe so you can repeat the whole experience over and over again. Think of all you can accomplish in life if you are not distracted by having to sleep? You could even learn calculus.

This ice cream is non-Philadelphia, meaning it is made with lots of egg yolks plus cream and milk. It’s devilishly rich with an incredible texture, dense yet soft. From the first spoonful, you’ll understand why everyone has enjoyed this dessert. But, you ask, Suzen’s clients selected this dessert off the menu before they tasted it, so how did they know it would be so good?

That’s why it’s called a fixed point. I can suggest some really calculus books if you want.

The proportions of ingredients here can be described in one word: perfect. The first time out, do just follow the recipe. If you want to play with the Nutella or number of egg yolks or the amount of nuts, wait. Make the original so you have the experience of an exceptional recipe. For the record, the first batch of handmade Nutella was crafted by an Italian baker in 1946. 300 kilos of the stuff. It took 18 years, but in 1964 commercial production began and has never decreased. You may want to make a note in Outlook: February 5 is World Nutella Day. 

Killer Brownie recipe is tomorrow.


Coffee Nutella Ice Cream

Yield: 16 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ⅓ cup Nutella or other hazelnut-chocolate spread
  • 1 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped

Preparation:

In a sauce pot set, bring the cream, milk, espresso and salt to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar with the egg yolks. Slowly pour one-third of the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Once eggs are tempered pour them back into the pot with the remaining milk cream mixture.

Return the sauce pot to the stove top over low heat. Stir the mixture constantly until it is thickened and coats the back of the spoon, 10 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and strain it through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Then add Nutella to the mixture. Set the bowl over an ice bath and stir until cool, 15 to 30 minutes.

When completely cold, transfer the custard to the ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's specifications. Add hazelnuts as ice creams reaches soft serve stage.

Source: Marc Forgione

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/60th second at ISO‑3200