Thin-sliced potatoes, 3 ways

Potatoes with rosemary, sage & smoked paprika

This is my 300th post! Considering I post a recipe almost every time, and sometimes more than one per post, that’s gotta be nearly 300 recipes. Phew. I’m simultaneously giving myself a little pat on the back and wondering why I spend so much time on this! For my 300th post, I’ll talk about something simple and enduringly good. Potatoes. I love potatoes. I don’t remember always loving them, but in the last few years, I feel like I want to eat them every night! They’re so comforting, and versatile, and they have a wonderful, subtle flavor all their own, but they’re so generously accommodating to other flavors. I like them roasted – any size. Cut into large chunks and tossed with rosemary; cut into nice thin roasted slices; cut into tinsy pieces, and then roasted till they’re little crispy nuggets. I love them mashed. Mashed potatoes are as fun to play with as they are to eat. You can make mountains and moats and volcanoes, with little pools and rivulets of melted butter. I’m something of a mashed potato purist, (butter, salt, pepper) but tarragon-roasted garlic mashed potatoes are very nice, too. I crave french fries, sometimes. I don’t drink beer, very often, but sometimes I like the idea of going to a bar in the afternoon and having a big plate of french fries and a pint of beer. David and I have a small tradition of going into New York and finding a place to have french fries, hummus, and a glass of red wine. There’s nothing better after a day of walking and looking. I don’t have a deep fryer, but I oven-roast french fries from time to time. I like them with a savory vanilla sauce. It’s my tribute to fries and a vanilla milkshake.

One of my favorite ways to eat potatoes is to slice them quite thin (1/4 inch-ish) parboil them, and then layer them in a dish with herbs, herb-infused milk, or butter, and bake them till they’re crispy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside. In this scenario, the possibilities are endless. You can use any herbs or spices that you like. You can always add cheese, if you’re in the mood. One elaborate version is this with sofrito and fennel. I’m going to suggest a few versions here, but your imagination and your taste are the limit.

I’ve never heard this song before! Bob Marley sings Milkshake and Potato Chips!! How wonderful!
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Kale, carrots, couscous…

Braised carrots and kale

My nine-year-old son talks in his sleep. (Sometimes he even walks in his sleep, which scares the heck out of me.) He always says the sleepiest, sweetest, most nonsensical things. The other night, he called me, I went into his room, he said, “mommy, how do you cook dinner so fast?” and then he lay back down, asleep. He had no memory of it the next day.

By the harsh light of day, the truth is that I don’t always cook dinner so fast. Sometimes I make dinners that take all day, on and off. But, as it happens, some of the best dinners are dinners that take no time at all. This doesn’t mean they’re dull, it just means that we’re vegetarians, and the best vegetables are frequently lightly cooked vegetables. So, here’s a good meal for a night that you want something quick and tasty. Kale and carrots braised in white wine with thyme and caraway seeds, served with israeli couscous made into a sort of pilaf with apricots and pistachios and goat cheese. Simple.

Israeli couscous with apricots and pistachios

Here’s the Budos Band’s version of Sing a Simple Song, to listen to while you make this simple dinner.
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Cauliflower steaks roasted with brown butter, caraway seeds and rosemary

Usually when I roast cauliflower I cut the florets into small pieces, so that everything gets crispy and brown. Sometimes, however, it’s nice to leave them thick and steak-y. The outside gets caramelized and the inside stays tender and juicy. They can take the center of attention on your plate, like a real steak, but they’re equally comfortable sitting off to the side as well. I drizzled them with brown butter, which I’d mixed with fresh rosemary and chopped caraway seeds. Fast and delicious!

Here’s Mr Brown, by Bob Marley, one of my favorite songs ever!
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Roasted Root veg and walnut bisque

roasted root veg soup

I like the idea of walnuts and root vegetables combined in a soup – all this earthy nutty sweetness called to mind a meal you could make after foraging for nuts and roots on an autumn day. I could imagine Peter Rabbit’s mother making this soup, or maybe Mole of Mole end.

This is a smooth, tawny soup. It’s flavored with caraway seeds and thyme, which is a delicious and mysterious combination – they combine to make something quite different from their familiar, individual tastes. I made a rich flavorful broth, with french lentils, mushrooms, tomato paste, tamari and marmite, but you could use any vegetable broth you like. And the same goes for the root vegetables…I used quite a variety – turnips, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots… but you could narrow it down to a few favorites if you like.

Serve with shavings of good sharp cheddar, which goes well with caraway seeds and walnuts, and contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the vegetables.

Here’s Jimmy Smith’s killer Root Down (and get it). Guess who sampled this?
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