From Our Kitchen: Crispy Homestyle Potatoes

September 2, 2009

This past weekend I ran my second half marathon, the SF Marathon.  It was cold, but an absolutely amazing experience!  Prior to the race, of course I had to carb load so I had some potatoes the night before the race, and also for brunch after the race.  Potatoes are one of my favorite foods – whether it be mashed, fried, baked… I love potatoes.  I had a couple of sides of really great crispy potatoes and became inspired to recreate it at home.  I was on a mission to recreate the same crispy, yet soft side of potatoes I had at Crepevine and Park Chow (both excellent restaurants in SF and come highly recommended from me…. I especially enjoyed Park Chow) and this is what I came up with.  I think I was pretty successful :) Enjoy!  The secret is lots and lots of butter… however I did personally try and cut out as much as I could.

Finished Product

Finished Product

Garlic (I used a lot… probably an entire head of garlic.  I like garlic!  I’d say about 3 cloves is good, but you can use as much as you enjoy)
1 tsp of salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Potatoes  (I used about 4 medium sized potatoes)

1.  Pour the water in a pot and start boiling it.
2. While waiting for the pot of water to boil, dice the potatoes.
3. (Optional) Salt the boiling water if desired
4. Toss the diced potatoes in the boiling water, let it boil for 6-10 minutes (soft enough to eat, but not so soft that it’s about to become mushy)
5. While the potatoes are boiling, mix the garlic, rosemary, salt, and olive oil in a big bowl.  I actually added some basil and pepper in too.  Be creative!
6. When the potatoes are done, drain and let it cool.  I also poured some cold water on it to speed up this process.
7. Toss the potatoes in the big bowl with the olive oil mixture.  Make sure to coat the potatoes well.. if more olive oil or herbs are needed then add accordingly.
8. Heat up a pan and coat with butter (use lots of butter if you’re not scared of butter and you want really crispy potatoes…. I used only 1-2 tbsp, just enough to coat the pan).
9. Cover the pan with a layer of potatoes.  Try and distribute the potatoes as evenly as you can.

While the potatoes were cooking

While the potatoes were cooking

10.  Let it fry for 5-10 minutes and then flip the potatoes and do the same.  Try not to stir too much so that the potatoes can crisp up… but repeat until you’ve got the potatoes as desired.

Enjoy!  I’m sorry if the recipe is confusing.. I’m not good at measuring things out when I cook and I cook tend to cook by common sense/instinct but if you have any questions, feel free to ask :)


Every Day Is Earth Day

June 2, 2009

This post isn’t quite on topic, in the sense that it doesn’t apply specifically to twentySomethings. But I like to do my part to save the world and its beautiful life, specifically marine life today.

Treehugger has a helpful little slideshow that breaks down eleven species of fish you should not order if you want that species of fish to continue to live.

Another helpful tool I found is a downloadable SeaChoice Alert Card that is meant to be printed and kept in your wallet. That is if you really want to make sure you’re ordering sustainable seafood from restaurants. While I normally consider the sustainability of my food more in Western restaurants, I try to remind myself that it applies for sushi/sashimi joints too. And I’ll be honest, even I’m not going to carry that guy around, but I’ll keep the list in the back of my head. At least now I know, much to my dismay, not to order unagi.

So there’s my environmental saving note of the day!


Would You Feed Your Dog A $40 Steak?

May 17, 2009

Foie Gras

Despite the fact that so many people love going out to fancy dinners at fine dining restaurants that can cost you over $30 or $40 a head (or a whole lot more), I genuinely wonder if this is an effective use of their money. Let me explain: I am extremely skeptical of the abilities of the average person’s palate. Can you taste the difference between a $40 steak from Ruth’s Chris and, say, a $20 steak from Outback Steakhouse? If you like steak I’m sure your immediate thought is “of course I can!” So my next question is: can you tell me what makes one steak cost $20 more than another, only in terms of flavor and maybe appearance?

Let me also say I completely understand that a trip to any of these very expensive restaurants is considered more than just a meal – it’s an experience. There is no way I can valuate the “experience” of these restaurants, and I know this. My point here is to get you to ask yourself if it’s worth it to splurge so viciously on expensive dinners if you really just want great food.

I bring this up because the good folks over at Freakonomics have pointed out a new book by Robin Goldstein in which he poses taste tests to see if people can discern a great wine from an average one. (read: expensive vs. cheap) In fact, Steven D. Levitt actually conducted his own taste test on the hoity-toity poseurs known as the Harvard Society of Fellows. Guess what happened. Of course, one is not exactly a large sample size, so here is another example of a taste test by Dan Ariely, this time for those beer lovers out there.

Not one to discriminate against food, let’s take foie gras as an example. It is painfully expensive, but oh-so delicious. It’s pretty much the best form of meat pate/mousse. But while I, and many, many other people think its flavor is mouth-wateringly delectable, I doubt I can even distinguish everything that’s great about a good piece of foie. Knowing good from bad is one thing, but to actually have a flavor palate that can discern flavors is rare, I would argue. Maybe so would some economists at The American Association of Wine Economists who decided to play the same game as the aforementioned wine and beer folks, and then they decided to prove it. It might not be delicious, but odds are you have no idea what dog food tastes like.

So next time you treat yourself and your wife/girlfriend/hot date to a fancypants dinner, just remember that most of the value you get out of it is as much from the experience as it is from the food.

– RT

Being “Green” Earns You My Business

May 10, 2009

Sea Rocket Bistro is a restaurant here in SD that is what is so trendily called “green.” But they’re legit. The difference between them and the other green contenders is that when Sea Rocket says they care about the environment, they can tell you each and every way they’re saving the planet for your grandkids. The food waste they create gets turned into composting for local schools. They even went out of their way to get bio-degradable trash bags that cost more money than regular trash bags just to be eco-friendly, if not business savvy. Guess who will be getting my business soon? Talk is cheap, and these guys back their sh*t up.

Side Note: Being environmentally friendly is a lifestyle choice, not a one day feel-good-about-yourself-athon. This isn’t a zero-sum game, so just because you do something good one day doesn’t mean you’re given a free pass the next. Although a recent study found in Psychological Science suggests that quite a few people do in fact act that way.

From Our Kitchen: Creamy Vodka Pasta

May 9, 2009

With Mother’s day around the corner, perhaps you’re thinking about cooking something for your mother.  Or maybe the contagious “Spring fever” has got to you and you’re finding yourself wanting to cook up a great meal to impress a cute date.  Either way, this is one of my favorite “looks harder and more expensive than it really is” meals.  Hope you try it out and enjoy!

Vodka Cream Sauce with Gnocchi

Vodka Cream Sauce with Gnocchi

1 lb pasta (penne usually works well)
Olive Oil
Garlic (as much as you like – I usually go with about 3-4 cloves)
Crushed Red Pepper (as much as you like, usually about 1/2 tsp.  Omit if no spicyness is desired)
One 28lb can tomatoes
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup Vodka (what roaring20something doesn’t have vodka on hand? ;) )
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Italian Seasoning/Herbs

1.  Cook pasta al dente, drain, and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil on medium high heat.  Add garlic and red pepper.  Stir for a few moments until the garlic starts to brown a little.
3.  Add Vodka and reduce by about half.
4.  Add tomatoes and salt.  Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
5.  Add cream.  Bring it to a boil again and then let it simmer until the sauce is at its desired thickness.  Toss in pasta and Italian Seasoning.
6.  Serve!

1. Onions taste really good with this too.. add it during step 2 with the garlic and pepper.
2. Meat tastes really good with this too… bacon comes highly recommended here.  In that case it would be really tasty to cook up the bacon separately first and then use the bacon fat (yum!) to cook this sauce.  Add the bacon back in at the very end.  Any other meat, cook it in step 2.
3.  I’ve made this without the vodka before.  I’ve also made this using a lot less vodka (2 tbsp or so) – in this case, I just add the vodka in step 5 with the cream.
4.  I’ve also made this with half and half to cut some of the fat out.. and it worked just fine for me.

Cream Sauce with bacon, onions, and fresh herbs

Cream Sauce with bacon, onions, and fresh herbs