Tag Archives: Smitten Kitchen

Home Fries

28 Jul

My friend and her family generously gave me some of their surplus potatoes and home-grown herbs and onions a few days ago. When I got home, I set to work steeping an ample bunch of lemon balm leaves with lemon verbena tea bags to make a pitcher of iced tea. Then, I graced my kitchen with cilantro-studded home fries.

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When I lived in the Bay Area, I used to be okay with battling the crowds and going out for a big weekend brunch complete with eggs, home fries, maybe a muffin, and always coffee.

Oh, New York. Why does it seem like every brunch place here serves french fries with eggs? There is the occasional potato pancake or limp hash-brown, but rarely, if ever, a home fry. Maybe I just live in the wrong part of town for home fries? If anyone out there has a good spot for New York City breakfast potatoes, let me know. Until then, you can find me in my kitchen on weekend mornings, creating what I feel is a proper weekend breakfast.

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The trick to making these home fries at home is to use the microwave (if you do not have a microwave, you can boil your potatoes first). Wash the potatoes, chop the potatoes, and place the potatoes covered in the microwave. This gets them par-cooked before they hit the pan to get crispy outside and remain soft inside.

The second trick is to cook the onion separately from the potatoes and to add the onion back in at the end. Since the potatoes cook much longer than the onion, taking the onion out and then adding the onion back at the end prevents the pieces from charring.

Naturally, home fries are excellent with eggs. If the season is right, I recommend slicing some baby tomatoes in half, salting them, and mixing them in with the eggs. I scrambled my eggs, but a poached or a flipped egg  with the runny yolk seeping into the potatoes is another option. If you are not into eggs, home fries + beans or home fries + fish or home fries + sausage or home fries + salad are a few of many ideas.

Sprinkle with a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Hot sauce optional.

Home Fries

recipe from the always reliable and lovely Smitten Kitchen

makes about 4 servings

You can use all butter, or you can use a mix of canola oil and butter. I dialed down the butter slightly compared to the original recipe. Like me, start with less, and add more if you like. 

1 1/2 pounds potatoes

1 onion, chopped

3 tablespoons butter, divided (or a mix of butter and canola oil)

salt and pepper, to taste

optional: fresh cilantro

Arrange potatoes in large microwave-safe bowl or large plate, top with 1/2 tablespoon butter, and cover with another plate. Microwave on high until edges of potatoes begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes, shaking (without removing the cover plate) to redistribute potatoes halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in large skillet (I used non-stick) over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter (or do half butter half canola oil) in the now empty skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and pack down with spatula. Cook, without moving, until underside of potatoes is brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn potatoes, pack down again, and continue to cook until well browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring potatoes every few minutes, until crusty and golden on all sides, 9 to 12 minutes (at this point, if you are making eggs to go with your potatoes, start them now). Stir in onion and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cilantro, if using.

Whole Wheat “Mac” and Cheese Bake with Bread Cube Topping

5 Apr

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What to do when you have a nearly full jug of milk in the fridge and you have to use it before it goes bad? Mac and cheese.

I tried to balance the heaviness of a dish like mac and cheese by using whole wheat pasta and 1% low fat milk instead of whole milk. Serve with lots of colorful veggies to further balance out the full-fat creamy delicious cheeses, butter pats, and bread cube topping.

I roasted carrots and parsnips in the oven (cover them for the first 15 minute so they get nice and tender and glazed). For the broccoli, I rinsed it, and with the water still clinging, placed it on a plate , covered it with another plate, and steamed it in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes. And for fun, I sliced a few quick-pickled kirby cucumbers. Veggie Love!

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Not pictured, but leftovers reheat well with a little hot sauce dabbed on top!

Whole Wheat “Mac” and Cheese Bake with Bread Cube Topping

adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Originally from Martha Stewart

Serves 5-6

1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons), divided

3 thick slices bread (I used sourdough), crusts removed (I like to nibble on the crusts later, so I save them!), cut into bite-sized cubes

2 3/4 cups milk (I used 1% low fat milk)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon course salt

pinch of each: ground black pepper, fresh grated nutmeg, old bay

roughly 3 cups shredded cheese: I used a mix of Gruyere cheese and a fancy smoked Gouda (cheddar is more classic mac and cheese)

1/2 pound whole wheat pasta (I used fusilli)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a pie dish or 8 in x 8 in pan; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the bread cubes aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, old bay, 2 1/2 cups  of the cheeses. Set the sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta until the outside is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pasta to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the pasta into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining  1/2 cup cheese and the bread cubes over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (or until browned). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Roasted Eggplants with Ground Lamb and Yogurt Tahini Sauce

8 Oct

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Eggplant season is still here, and I’ve seen loads of eggplant-related recipes featured on the NYTimes lately, like Martha Rose Shulman’s Lasagna with Tomato Sauce and Roasted Eggplant, Melissa Clark’s Eggplant Dip for non-eggplant eaters, and the awesome Eggplant Marinana Sandwich from Frankies Spuntino Restaurant in Brooklyn. Inspiration central.

It just so happens that while I was ‘fondling’ the beautiful eggplants at the market the other day, my eye flecked over to the Brooklyn Cured meat booth, and they had lamb sausages on special–with Greek yogurt, lemon, and parsley. Suddenly my brain switched from craving a hearty winter pasta to Mediterranean mezze. The weather has been so lovely lately, so I figured I could spare a hearty pasta for a few more weeks. And then I remembered Deb’s recipe for Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Cumin-Crisped Chickpeas from her cookbook!

Since I found this amazing lamb, I swapped my usual chickpea preference for ground lamb. With a few heaps of roasted cauliflower (I didn’t use harissa this time but if I had it around I might have…) and warm whole wheat pita, I felt very proud of my meal.

The smaller eggplants are great for roasting in larger hunks (oxymoron?!). I quartered mine because I like a greater surface area for browning on the edges but still being soft on the inside.

As you can see, I smothered my meal in the yogurt-tahini sauce. I ended up making a second batch of the sauce the next day because it was just so good for dipping and spreading. Threw some fresh mint into the mix, but you could use whatever herbs you like, or nix the herbs and go garlic and paprika! This may be my new hummus. And all you have to do is whisk.

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Roasted Eggplant + Ground Lamb

From the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

2-3 small eggplants

olive oil 

salt

1/2 onion, chopped fine

1 lb. of ground lamb or ground lamb sausage

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the tops off the eggplants, and either half them or quarter them. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil, place the eggplant pieces cut side up and brush the exposed sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, flip, and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the skin is dimpled and the interior glazed and golden.

About 10 minutes before the eggplants are finished roasting, heat a (cast-iron if you have one) skillet. Add a touch of olive oil and saute the onion until starting to brown. Add in the lamb and cook for about 5 minutes, until no longer pink inside. Drain the fat.

Serve the lamb with the roasted eggplant (you can roast cauliflower, too!), the yogurt tahini sauce, and some warm (whole wheat) pita bread.

Yogurt Tahini Sauce

2/3 cup plain yogurt (I used Stonyfield low-fat yogurt)

1/3 cup tahini

1 garlic clove, minced

pinch of salt

lemon juice, to taste (about 1-3 Tablespoons)

fresh herbs, chopped (I used fresh mint)

Whisk everything together. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Give it a sprinkle of paprika for a pop of color!

Summer Squash Fritters

9 Jul

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Holy smokes, I’ve fallen head over heels for fritters!

Maybe the fact that the word “fritter” implies fried, I have steered clear of anything fritter-related in my kitchen. Until NOW.

…and I’ve had my share of deep fried apple fritter mania in the past (Gosh, I was so young here. This was an event at the restaurant I used to work at where I had to make tons of apple fritters, I was scooping batter out of buckets!).

pizzaiolo fritters

I shall steer clear no more…these Summer Squash Fritters are lightly pan-fried on a cast-iron skillet, and they totally bust my fears of frittering at home. They are like potato latkes, but a bit healthier and more colorful.

I’ve been making so many quick pasta dinners and taco/quesadilla/migas dinners these days, and tonight I was looking to do something out of my usual throw-together repertoire. Alas, Deb from the Smitten Kitchen has saved dinner once again.

These lil guys hit the spot. With a fried egg on top and a shake or two of hot sauce, I was dancin’ in my dinner seat! You just can’t beat the golden brown crisp exterior of these fritters, oozing supple and sweet summer squash in every bite.

The summer squash are lookin’ mighty fine at the New York City farmer’s markets right now. Vibrant, plump, and simply aching to be eaten.

And if summer squash is not your thing, how about Broccoli Parmesan Fritters? (also in season right now in NYC). Deb has quite an extensive fritter library, so go check it out here if zucchini is not your thing.

These fritters would be an excellent for brunch, too.

Now go fight your fritter fears and experience the goodness.

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Summer Squash Fritters

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen 

I got about 6 fritters out of this batch (serves 2 people as a main dish)

1 large zucchini + 2 small and thin yellow summer squash

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus extra to taste

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (I used a spicy chipotle cheddar. zing!)

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

olive oil or canola oil, for frying

Trim the ends off of the zucchini/summer squash and grate the squash on the large holes of a box grater.

Place a colander over a large bowl. Add the grated squash to the colander with 1 teaspoon of salt and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, press the squash against the holes of the colander and drain as much excess water as you can. You will probably get a lot of liquid out of the squash! This reduces the likelihood of soggy fritters.

Dump the liquid down the sink, rinse the large bowl, and add the pressed grated squash to the bowl. Stir in the garlic, lightly beaten egg, cheddar, and black pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet (cast iron is indeed dreamy here), heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches (I used a 1/4 cup measure) of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time (I did 3 fritters at a time) so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more (if you are making a bigger batch, you can keep finished fritters in a 200 degree F oven to stay warm).

Enjoy with a poached or fried egg on top and a few good shakes of hot sauce, so the yolk runs down and around the fritters (I wish I took a picture of this but I chose to shove the goodness in my face instead!).

**Deb says: These fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week and or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you’re ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they’re hot and crisp again.

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Peas and Shells Alfredo

9 May

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Springtime comfort food at it’s finest. Whole wheat pasta shells with spring peas, soakin’ it up in a rich, creamy sauce.

I found the finest asparagus at the farmer’s market to pair with this saucy pasta. Thin asparagus is the name of the game; if you can get your hands on some, it’s a whole new experience than the regular fatties we are so used to seeing.

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The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is packed with outstanding, fool-proof recipes that are actually quite simple and definitely doable in a small NYC kitchen. So far I’ve made her Cranberry Crumb Bars, Spatchcocked Flat-Roasted Chicken, Turkey Meatballs, and Deep-Dish Apple Pie…

This pasta is a one-pot recipe with just a few ingredients that come together quickly for a weeknight meal.

Did I mention this is HOMEMADE ALFREDO PASTA?! And heck is it better than than the Alfredo I remember as a kid (psst…for the vegans, check out this recipe for vegan fettuccine Alfredo made with a cashew cream).

While I omitted adding chopped herbs to the shells, I certainly wish I had some on hand. The one ingredient that I think is not to be skipped under any circumstances is the lemon zest. The citrus zing balances out the creamy, cheesy sauce and keeps everything nice and bright.

Peas and Shells Alfredo

recipe from Shutterbean, originally from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

1/2 lb of dried small pasta shells (I used whole wheat)

1 cup organic sweet peas (I used frozen ones…no fresh ones at the market yet…)

1 cup heavy cream

2-3 tablespoons butter (depending on how rich you want the sauce to be)

zest from 1 medium size lemon

1 cup grated Parmesan

fresh ground black pepper and salt, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to package instructions. Add peas to cook during the last minute of pasta cooking time. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, set aside. Drain the pasta and the peas.

Dry out the pasta pot, and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper, add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest. Add 3/4 cup Parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth; then toss in the drained pasta & peas. Cook the pasta in the sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen up the sauce.

Divide the pasta among bowls. Garnish with remaining Parmesan, a touch of salt, and a squeeze of lemon.