The seemingly endless stream of kale has tapered off lately, and I instead find myself looking for drawers and shelves and nooks in which to store the backlog of potatoes that has been building, insidiously and inexorably, over the last few weeks. I really didn’t notice it happening and then suddenly I was thinking of taking a few handfuls of purple fingerling potatoes to give my friend’s wife when we all met up at a bar to celebrate her birthday. Because nothing says, “30 is the new 20” like a bunch of multi-colored potatoes. Alternatively, I was considering hooking them all up with copper wires and using them as a power source to light my house in case of electrical outages.
Seriously, look at the link. It’s possible. Everybody knows that kid who won the science fair with the potato battery.
Potato batteries feel a little survivalist though, and the point of this project is to cook things, not live off the grid in a sod house where all the furniture is made of surplus World War II K-Rations to save space.
Not easy to construct a bed frame out of these babies.
So, right. It may be short-sighted folly, but I think I’ll trust the lovely folks who administer Boston’s electrical distribution system to keep things up and running, and go ahead and use my potatoes for culinary purposes. Won’t my face be red when the zombie apocalypse comes and I’m left with candles. Obviously I’ll keep a few russets around to load my potato cannon when the first wave of free-range undead comes, but beyond that we’re going to go ahead and cook the vast majority of the available potatoes. Continue reading
*Or: “The transformative effects of five pounds of butter on a bunch of kale”
I was talking with an Irish friend recently and lamenting the embarrassment of kale I’ve been dealing with, and he asked me if I’d made colcannon yet.
To which I replied, “What in the world is colcannon?”
“So you’re saying you haven’t made it.”
“Yes JP, that’s what I’m saying.”
“Got it. What is it.”
“Look it up and call me when you’ve got a pot of it.”
Well I did and I do and JP doesn’t get any because he was a smart-ass about it. Okay maybe some leftovers since he did point me in this direction, because it’s good. It’s tasty, it’s buttery, it’s hearty, and it would make a nice alternative side dish if you’re a little tired of standard mashed potatoes. Or if you’re me it makes a nice main course. One of the perks of being single is that you can go ahead and have a bunch of colcannon-or chips n’ salsa, or marshmallows- for dinner and nobody cares.
Anyway, I have seen some recipes that add bacon, which would be delicious, but I didn’t have any. I’m not terribly concerned with making “authentic” colcannon here, but apparently there was no bacon in it when Irish peasants were originally whipping this up. There also seems to be some disagreement on if it includes kale or cabbage, but I ate all my cabbage, and I still have plenty of kale (and a few russet potatoes that came in the Box a few weeks back), so I’m coming down on the side of the kale supporters. Continue reading
*Or: “Getting fancy with roots and tubers”
Okay this title may be a tad ironic. There is nothing fancy about this dish, it just sounds special because it’s in French. I remember I used to have a cookbook that included a recipe along these lines, which is basically wafered potatoes (I may have made that term up) baked in chicken broth with sautéed onions and thyme. All the variations I have seen while in research mode used beef broth though I think chicken broth would taste better (to me anyway), and we are also going to run The Dreaded Rutabaga through my Trusty Roommate Chad’s mandolin and add it to the more traditional potatoes.
Now about that name: Pommes de terre a la boulangere is descriptive of the origin of the dish. “Pomme de terre” is the French word for potato, and “boulangere” means baker. So, “Baker’s Potatoes”. The story I’ve read goes that back (way back) when not everyone had an oven in their homes, wives would throw these items in a baking dish and drop it off at the boulangerie (bakery) on the way to church. The baker would put the dish in the still-warm bread oven to bake, and the wives would pick up the finished product on the way home.
I remember it being described as a “gratin”, and mentioned it to Trusty Roommate Chad, who then asked the valid question, “Isn’t there cheese in a gratin? Is it still a gratin?” I was on his side, to be honest, but we looked it up in and it turns out that the term gratin refers not to an ingredient, but rather a cooking method. And though cheese can and often does figure into a gratin, it is not a necessary component. Continue reading