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

Ingredients:
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)
Rosemary
1 tsp of salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Potatoes  (I used about 4 medium sized potatoes)
Butter
Water

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 :)

-Debs

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CA Fights Against Poor Health and Bulging Waistlines

July 15, 2009

As results of America’s Fattest Cities are being released, California is taking action to fight against climbing to the top spot.  It’s being reported that an alarming 44.4% of children in Mississippi, America’s “fattest state” are obese.  When I read that, I wondered how such a shocking statistic was possible for a single state.  I suppose CA leaders asked themselves the same thing too, because as of July 1, three new diet laws are in effect in California.

Starting July 1, all restaurants will be required disclose nutritional information in either indoor or outdoor menus, or in the form of a brochure that will be offered to customers.  In 2011, restaurants will be required to disclose nutritional information in all three forms.

Starting July 1, the current ban on trans fat has been extended to include food offered in school vending machines and by vendors on school.  Trans fat has already been banned in school cafeterias.

Lastly, while soda has already been banned at elementary and junior high schools, the new legislation also includes a soda ban on high schools.  The new restriction on drinks also restricts schools from selling drinks with added sweeteners, and whole milk.  This will hopefully encourage students to gravitate towards healthier choices and live an overall healthier life.

Whether or not this new legislation will make a true difference is still up for debate.  In some ways, I think those who make poor diet choices may still continue the same lifestyle, and students can still easily access their favorite trans-fat laced snacks and unhealthy drinks outside of school.  However, there are also plenty others who will think twice when the nutritional information is laid out in front of them, and students who have become used to drinking and eating healthier due to restrictions on campus will naturally carry the same healthier habits outside of school.  In any case, it is important to make sure that California stays away from becoming one of America’s “fattest states” and hopefully this legislation helps the cause.

-debs


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

Ingredients:
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!

Notes/Suggestions:
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

-debs


Further Enrich Your Life Through Podcasts

April 17, 2009

It is pretty common these days for people to try and broaden their knowledge in different topics through Googling, looking at Youtube how-to videos, Wikipedia, blogs, etc.  But another resource I’ve tapped into is subscribing to podcasts.  It is amazing how many people regularly podcast content for free for your listening pleasure.  And there are a lot of really good ones that are guaranteed to enlighten you in any topic you may be interested in.  Here are a few thoughts on how to get started and how to make subscribing to podcasts useful for you.

First, some of you may still be asking, what’s a podcast? According to wikipedia, a Podcast is “series of digital media files, usually digital audio or video, that is made available for download via Web syndication.”  Someone who runs a podcast will typically record and broadcast an episode regularly, and thanks to many free programs out there these days, these episodes can be made available to us as soon as they are broadcasted.  It is common for people to download these podcasts, load them into a media player (such as an iPod) so they can conveniently listen to these podcasts anywhere.

There are many ways that people manage and discover podcasts.  There are different “podcast catchers” out there, as well as websites with lists of different podcasts to subscribe to.  Usually these podcasts are in the form of an “.xml” feed.. it works similarly to an RSS feed.  The address for that feed is what you want to enter when asked what feed you would like to subscribe to.  When a new episode is available, the podcast catcher will see it in the Podcast feed and download it.  I personally manage my podcasts through iTunes because I find it very easy to search for podcasts in the iTunes store, subscribe to them right away inside iTunes, and then listen to them.  Another customizable setting that is worth noting is the “auto delete” setting.  By default, a podcast program will usually auto-delete podcasts after a certain number of days, or after they are played.  I like to have control over which podcasts I keep and which podcasts I delete, so I usually select whatever option it is that never deletes podcasts episodes.

Whatever you’re interested in, there is probably a podcast for you to subscribe to.  For me, I’ve listened to and watched podcasts about topics ranging from personal finance, the stock market, the economy… to food, fitness, health… to discussions about the environment and living an eco-friendly lifestyle, to free music lesson series, free “personal trainer,” workout music… I even subscribe to my favorite morning show so I don’t miss out on the fun topics they discuss at 6am when I’m still sleeping.  The possibilities are endless.  Just search for a topic you’re interested in and start subscribing!

-debs.