Archive for the 'veg' Category

Broccoli & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes 2 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

People often ask why we spend so much time in Tofino. It’s a good question – besides the fact that it’s stunningly beautiful, and totally zen, and has some of the best food (and drinks!) and beaches and rainforests in Canada, my parents were nice enough to build a house there. So really it’s like a second home – with a kitchen that’s far nicer than mine and looks out over the ocean. So far I haven’t managed to figure out how to live there – except maybe to just go out and not come back, and claim that possession is nine tenths of the law?

Tofino collage 1 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

So it’s easy(ish) to settle in and stay for a few extra days when the rest of Canada is being pummeled with snow. And when it’s time to pack up and go, I rummage through the kitchen and use up whatever’s left – this time it meant finally doing something with that broccoli that seemed like a good idea when I saw it on sale on the day we were driving in, and a couple wrinkled potatoes that appeared to be forgotten about at the bottom of a drawer.

surfboard potato Collage Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

It’s hard not to just go for more fish & chips or burritos.

Tofino collage 2 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

This not a recipe post so much as a reminder of what you can do if you have a couple wrinkled potatoes and some cheese. Beyond that, there’s most likely something in your kitchen that tastes good with potatoes. Bacon? Cold roasted veg? Mushrooms? Sausage? Onions to caramelize? Brussels sprout slaw? A half a container of leftover butter chicken? Chop it + mash it + stuff it.

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What I love – and keep forgetting – about twice baked potatoes is that they can take on bits of anything, and are particularly good at rejuvenating those bits that otherwise wouldn’t amount to much of a meal. But a stuffed potato is a meal in itself; when I was in high school, my mom went to art college. My dad worked long hours, and with three teenagers with homework and boyfriends and drama (and only one phone!), my mom’s go-to meal was a round of baked potatoes picked up at the Wendy’s drive-thru on the way home. Remember when they were a thing? You could get them plain, doused in chili or with broccoli and neon cheese sauce, which when you’re a teenager is practically required eating.

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I don’t think I’ve had the broccoli-cheese potato combo since – until this week. So what you do is you bake your potato (I always give them a head start for 5 minutes in the microwave first, to get them going on the insides while the oven heats up) and then scoop out the innards and mash them with all the things that make mashed potatoes delicious – butter, salt, pepper, cream. And then whatever else you like – the previous day I roasted my bunch of broccoli with olive oil and Parmesan, but we didn’t eat it all, so I hacked a bunch up and grated in some cheese. No measuring. This is a good, inexpensive thing to teach kids (teenagers!) how to make, I think. They can experiment and use their intuition rather than follow a recipe – and a twice-baked potato makes a fine meal whether you live alone or with roommates, especially when you don’t have a massive grocery budget. (Who does?)

Twice baked potatoes 5 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

Scoop your embellished potatoes back into their shells, add some extra cheese for good measure and slide them back into the oven, cranking it up a bit (to 400F or so) until the cheese melts and the potatoes heat through. No particular timing required.

Twice baked potatoes 1 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

Curl up on the couch with a stuffed potato and a fork and dream of spring.

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March 31 2014 | veg and vegetarian | 7 Comments »

Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

Steak with gremolata 3 585x814 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

If you live somewhere where there are actually things growing out of the ground already, lucky you. Here in Calgary, there are still small glaciers on most streets and in yards, but this weekend the temperature finally crept up past zero. Way up past ten, even! Hello, barbecue. It’s been awhile.

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Last week I had lunch with a local rancher (one who supplies our Calgary Co-op stores with beef that’s born and bred in Alberta), and was given a gorgeous T-bone steak to take home, which we used as an excuse to fire up the grill (which since October has been subbing as an outdoor freezer). When you get a taste of spring, even when there’s still snow on the ground, you gotta jump on it.

Gremolata steak Collage 1 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

Christoph the rancher says that when you have a steak like this, it doesn’t need anything but salt. I tend to agree. But I had a jar of gremolata in the fridge – a gift from Earl’s Tin Palace to celebrate their post-flood re-opening just last week – which being a mixture of garlic, lemon, parsley and olive oil, is the perfect accessory for a simply grilled steak. (I may not know how to dress myself, but I have an idea of how to accessorize food.) In fact, you can make a pretty fab potato salad by dousing warm potatoes with gremolata, then a big glob of mayo; the gremolata brightens it, adds that hit of acidity that’s usually obtained with pickle brine, and decorates it with bits of green. Springy!

Steak with gremolata 1 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

As for the steak, you don’t need a recipe so much as basic instructions on how to cook one. Once you’ve selected your steak and have decided it’s destined for dinner, pull it out of the fridge so that it can start cooking from room temperature. If it appears wet, pat it dry with a paper towel, and shower it generously with salt – I add freshly ground pepper, too. I like to cook ours in a cast iron skillet or on the barbecue – either way, get it smoking hot before you put the steak on, then leave it for 3-4 minutes – don’t fiddle with it or move it or (gasp!) squish it – until it develops a nice bottom crust. Flip it over and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side, then set it on a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes. This will make an inch-thick steak medium-rare; you can adjust your cooking time accordingly.

Steak with gremolata 6 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

For the potato salad, I cut russets – only because russets were what I had, but I don’t mind them in a potato salad – into big chunks, covered them with water and brought them to a simmer. (This was faster than baking them, which would have been pretty divine too.) Once they were tender I drained them and tossed them, still steaming, with a generous pour of gremolata and a fairly enormous spoonful of mayo. Salt and pepper, if it needs it, and bingo – potato salad that I like even better served warm, especially alongside a steak.

To make your own gremolata, all you need is lemon, garlic, parsley and olive oil, and a means to mash it all together. The stuff is brilliant to have a jar of in the fridge, and once you get hooked on it, you’ll find plenty of uses for it – anything from steak to fish, drizzled on fresh bread, you get the idea.

Gremolata

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, roughly or finely chopped
a glug or two of good olive oil

Stir, whiz (in the bowl of a food processor) or mash everything together with a mortar and pestle, adding enough olive oil to create a loose sauce; store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. (The gremolata will improve in flavour after a day or two.)

pixel Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad
button print gry20 Grilled Steak with Gremolata and Warm Potato Salad

March 10 2014 | beef and preserves and veg | 10 Comments »

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