Tag Archives: side dishes

Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes

I’ve been trying to make more interesting side dishes to accompany my entrees.  While I will spend hours perfecting the perfect main course, by the time I get to the side dishes, I seem to run out of momentum.  This recipe for a ridiculously easy potato dish is courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine.  With only three ingredients and a little prior planning this dish comes together quickly.  (Plus smashing the potatoes is a lot of fun!). I served the potatoes with sour cream and chives to go along with grilled chicken.  I’m now thinking that I could easily dress the potatoes up for a more formal dinner or even serve them with a dipping sauce as a part of a buffet table.  Regardless of how I make them in the future, this dish is a keeper.

CRISPY SMASHED ROASTED POTATOES
 
 
12 to 15 baby red potatoes
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Boil the potatoes:
  • Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with at least one inch of water.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are completely tender and can easily be pierced with a skewer.  Make sure they are cooked through but don’t over cook.  The total cooking time will be 30-35 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, set up a double layer of clean dish towels on the counter top.  As the potatoes finish cooking, remove them individually from the water, and let them drain and sit for just a minute or two on the dishtowels.
Flatten and cool the potatoes:
 
  • Fold another dishtowel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it a thickness of about 1/2 inch.  Repeat with all of the potatoes. Don’t worry if some break apart a bit; you can still use them.
  • Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; place a piece of parchment on top of the foil.  Transfer the flattened potatoes to the baking sheet and let them cool completely to room temperature.
Roast the potatoes:
 
  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and pour the olive oil over them.  Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of the oil goes underneath them and they are well coated on both sides.  Roast the potatoes until they are crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning over once gently with a spatula half way through cooking.
  • Serve hot.

Wine Sautéed Baby Artichokes

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Fresh artichokes are probably one of my favorite vegetables and baby artichokes are even better than the larger version of this funny looking vegetable. Tender and mild with a slightly nutty flavor, you can eat them whole without having to worry the prickly choke in their center. And fresh artichokes are nothing like the canned or pickled ones most people are more familiar with.

There are so many ways you can use fresh baby artichokes but my favorite way is a simple preparation with a few herbs, some lemon juice and a bit of white wine. This recipe is a classic that I adapted from Gourmet Magazine and it really doesn’t get much simpler than this. For the best flavor, choose fresh, firm and brightly colored artichokes. You can use whatever dried herbs you have on hand. The most important thing, however, is to go light on the herbs since you want to be able to enjoy the taste of the artichokes.

WINE SAUTEED BABY ARTICHOKES

8 baby artichokes

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup dry white wine

1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

  • Bend the outer leaves of the artichokes back until they snap off close to the base and remove several more layers of leaves in the same manner until the white inner leaves are reached. Trim the tips and quarter the artichokes.
  • In a small bowl toss the artichokes with the flour and salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet set over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking
  • Add the garlic and cook until it has softened.
  • Add the artichokes and sauté them over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes.
  • Stir in the oregano, basil and the lemon juice and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Add the wine and the red pepper flake and simmer the mixture, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the artichokes are very tender.
  • Uncover and boil over high heat for 1 minute or until it is thickened slightly.

Serves 4

Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Squash and sage are a perfect flavor combination.  When cut into small pieces, the squash cooks quickly and you can even reduce the preparation time if you buy pre-cut squash from your grocer’s fresh food case.  If you can’t find butternut squash you can easily substitute any firm fleshed winter squash or even pumpkin.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & SAGE RISOTTO

1 cup butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch dice

3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, minced

1 ½ cups risotto rice

½ cup grated Asiago cheese

2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

  • Place the squash in a small saucepan adding enough water to just barely cover the squash.  Bring to a boil and steam until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat the vegetable broth and white wine in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium-high heat.  Adjust the heat to keep the broth mixture at a low simmer.
  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, approximately 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the rice to the onions and stir to combine.  Add one ladle of the broth to the pot and stir well.  Stirring occasionally, continue cooking the rice until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding additional broth.
  • Repeat this process until the rice is al dente.  You may not need to use all of the broth.
  • Add the reserved squash and gently fold to incorporate.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated Asiago cheese and minced sage.  Serve immediately.

Serves:  4 as an entree or 6 as a side dish

Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes

I’ve been trying to make more interesting side dishes to accompany my entrees.  While I will spend hours perfecting the perfect main course, by the time I get to the side dishes, I seem to run out of momentum.  This recipe for a ridiculously easy potato dish is courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine.  With only three ingredients and a little prior planning this dish comes together quickly.  (Plus smashing the potatoes is a lot of fun!). I served the potatoes with sour cream and chives to go along with grilled chicken.  I’m now thinking that I could easily dress the potatoes up for a more formal dinner or even serve them with a dipping sauce as a part of a buffet table.  Regardless of how I make them in the future, this dish is a keeper.

CRISPY SMASHED ROASTED POTATOES
 
 
12 to 15 baby red potatoes
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Boil the potatoes:
 
  •  Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with at least one inch of water.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water.
  • Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are completely tender and can easily be pierced with a skewer.  Make sure they are cooked through but don’t over cook.  The total cooking time will be 30-35 minutes.
  •  While the potatoes are cooking, set up a double layer of clean dish towels on the counter top.
  •  As the potatoes finish cooking, remove them individually from the water, and let them drain and sit for just a minute or two on the dishtowels.
Flatten and cool the potatoes:
 
  •   Fold another dishtowel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it a thickness of about 1/2 inch.  Repeat with all of the potatoes. Don’t worry if some break apart a bit; you can still use them.
  •  Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; place a piece of parchment on top of the foil.  Transfer the flattened potatoes to the baking sheet and let them cool completely to room temperature.
Roast the potatoes:
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and pour the olive oil over them.  Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of the oil goes underneath them and they are well coated on both sides.
  • Roast the potatoes until they are crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning over once gently with a spatula half way through cooking.

Serves 4

Bacon & Sage Yorkshire Pudding

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Yorkshire pudding is essentially a giant popover that can turn even the simplest of meals into something special.  The ingredients are quite simple–flour, milk, and eggs–but the results are impressive.  And this version from Epicurious includes bacon and sage which makes it especially decadent.  So go ahead and impress your guests, or yourself, and make this tonight.  I’ve served it alongside everything from a herb crusted prime rib to simple grilled steaks.  Either way, the old adage of everything being better with bacon is true; you just can’t go wrong with this dish.

BACON & SAGE YORKSHIRE PUDDING

6 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons fresh minced sage, divided

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 eggs

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Saute the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  • Pour the bacon drippings and the butter into a 12 x 9 x 2 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.  Place the dish in the oven for 10 minutes in order to heat the drippings.
  • Whisk together the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sage, and the salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Whisk together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl then add the flour mixture.  Whisk until the batter is smooth.
  • Whisk in 2/3 of the bacon.
  • Remove the hot baking dish from the oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot dish.
  • Return the dish to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 12 minutes or until the pudding is puffed and golden.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining bacon and sage.

Serves 8

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pears

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, I’m showcasing some of my favorite holiday recipes this month.  Some of them are family recipes while others are my own creations but each of them always has a place on my dining room table.  This fall I had the opportunity to be profiled by Albanian Living magazine as a part of their “traditional American Thanksgiving” article.  All of the recipes I’m sharing were a part of that Thanksgiving table.

For me, sweet potatoes are a classic fall dish and are a must for any Thanksgiving dinner table.  Much to my horror fresh sweet potatoes were impossible to find in Albania when we first moved here two plus years ago.  (In my opinion, canned ones are simply not an acceptable substitute).  A trip to the U.S. Navy commissary in Naples, Italy solved my problem but two overnight ferries make for an inconvenient shopping trip.  Fortunately times have changed here and although expensive, sweet potatoes are now readily available in the larger grocery stores in Tirana.

This roasted dish is a sophisticated take on the classic sweet potato casserole that is ubiquitous with so many Thanksgiving dinners.  Pears add a sweet surprise while sage adds a savory touch.  The potatoes are good hot from the oven but taste even better when served at room temperature which makes this the perfect dish for those of us trying to make too many dishes with limited oven space.

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES & PEARS

1 pound sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 shallot, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoons fresh minced sage

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the potatoes,pears, and shallot in a large bowl.
  • Drizzle with the olive oil then add the sage, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat.
  • Pour the mixture into a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes stirring the mixture once or twice.  Roast until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Serves 4

Grilled Tomatoes

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Sometimes you need to take your veggies to a whole new level and this is the way to do it.  Tomatoes are coming into season here in Albania and there is nothing better than fresh ripe tomatoes.  I can eat them as is but sometimes it is nice to dress them up a bit to make them a more complete side dish.  These tomatoes can be prepared in a matter of minutes and make a nice accompaniment to grilled steak or chicken.  If you don’t have a grill you can cook the tomatoes under a broiler in your oven.

GRILLED TOMATOES

4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar (optional)

  • Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
  • Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place the tomatoes on the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes per side.  Cook until they are hot.
  • Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if desired.
  • Serve immediately.

Cherry Pecan Quinoa Pilaf

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I’m continually on the lookout for new side dishes.  On a weekly basis my old standbys of potatoes, pasta and rice get boring.  I’m also acutely aware of the overflowing shelves that characterize my pantry.  I have enough food in there to feed a small country and with a move on the horizon I really need to start “cooking down” my supply.  When I came across a bag of red quinoa that my mom had sent me I decided to try my hand at this new-to-me grain.

After researching how to cook these tiny red pellets I headed into the kitchen to experiment and I think my results were pretty tasty.  Much to my surprise quinoa cooks up quickly making it a perfect accompaniment to just about any dinner.  I served it alongside a maple and soy glazed salmon as a Fast Friday meal.  Glenn even thinks the  dish is dinner worthy for guests so I guess that says it all.

CHERRY PECAN QUINOA PILAF

1/4 cup whole pecans

1 cup red quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

juice of one orange

3/4 cup fresh cherries

  • Toast the pecans in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until brown and crunchy.  Allow to cool.  Once cool, coarsely chop the pecans.
  • Rinse the quinoa in cool water and thoroughly drain.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot add the minced garlic and stir for one minute.
  • Add the quinoa and allow to cook until the grains are dry and most of them have opened; about 5 minutes.
  • Add the water and salt to the pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover.  Continue to simmer until the grains are fully cooked, 18-20 minutes.
  • Add the orange juice and cherries and stir until combined.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the toasted pecans, and serve immediately.

Brown Butter Sage Risotto

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion.  If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries and allow you to put a real meal on the table in less than half an hour.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

From basic to fancy, I love risotto.  I can eat it as a meal unto itself and often do.  This dish came together as a last-minute side to accompany grilled chicken after I had neglected to grocery shop all week.  Much to any worth while cook’s horror, I was out of my usual risotto starter of fresh onions. I did have a bag of fresh sage on hand so decided to use that as an aromatic for the rice.  Browned butter adds a nuttiness while addition of half wine into the broth provides flavor and depth to the dish without adding the additional sodium that accompanies most chicken broths.

Do not overcook the rice or it will be mushy.  I prefer my risotto to be on the looser side so usually use the full four cups of liquid when cooking.  You can use less depending upon your personal preference but remember that an additional small amount of liquid will be absorbed as the rice sits.

BROWN BUTTER SAGE RISOTTO

1/3 cup unsalted butter

6 fresh sage leaves

1 1/2 cup risotto rice

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups dry white wine

2 Tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

  • Melt the butter in a large-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat.  
  • When the butter has completely melted, add the whole sage leaves, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the leaves are fragrant and the butter has browned.  Watch carefully so the butter does not burn.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan bring the chicken broth and wine to a simmer.  Reduced the temperature to low to keep the broth mixture warm.
  • Remove the sage leaves from the butter and set aside on paper towels to drain.
  • Add the rice to the melted butter and stir to combine.  Continue cooking over medium heat.
  • Add the broth-wine mixture one ladle at a time.  Slowly stir the rice after each addition and keep stirring until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding more.
  • Continue adding the broth until the rice is cooked through but not mushy. The entire process should take approximately 20 minutes.
  • Off the heat; stir in the minced sage and Parmesan cheese.  
  • Garnish with the reserved crispy sage leaves if desired.
  • For best results, serve immediately.

Braised Red Cabbage

And of course I served it from a Polish pottery bowl

And of course I served it from a Polish pottery bowl

I’ve been wanting to make my own braised red cabbage since we visited Prague, Czech Republic last fall.  On our first evening in the city we ate at a restaurant where I ordered the local speciality of roasted duck.  Much to my delight it was served with a side of braised red cabbage.  I had forgotten that I actually liked red cabbage and from my first bite of the sweet and savory vegetable I was reminded of childhood meals cooked by my Polish Nana.  I was immediately inspired to make this recipe at home.  However, my family is not a fan of cabbage so I put off making the dish but when I spotted the pile of bright purple cabbages at the local market this past weekend, I was inspired me to try my hand at this traditional Eastern European dish.

Much to my surprise, my one Polish cookbook did not include a recipe for any form of red cabbage.  Really? Growing up I was taught that cabbage was a staple of all Polish (and Eastern European) cooking.  I did find a recipe on the William Sonoma website which sounded like the dish I remembered from childhood.  The following recipe is adapted from the original one I found and the resulting dish tastes just like the one I ate in Prague and the one I remember from my childhood.  Although hands on time is minimal, the cabbage needs to cook for over an hour before it reaches the correct tenderness so be sure to plan accordingly!  To complete the Eastern European theme, I served the cabbage alongside some grilled Albanian-style kielbasa (which was surprisingly authentic in both taste and texture) and some potato and cheese pierogi.  My Polish ancestors would be so proud!

BRAISED RED CABBAGE

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons honey

1 red apple, thinly sliced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/4 cups dry red wine

3/4 cup water

1 red cabbage, cored and sliced into shreds

Zest of 1 orange

 

  • In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the honey and cook for 1 minute more. 
  • Add the apple slices and vinegar, raise the heat to medium-high and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add the wine and water. Season with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid begins to reduce, about 10 minutes. 
  • Add the cabbage and, using tongs, toss well to coat with the liquid in the pan. Cover the pan and cook the cabbage, stirring occasionally, until it begins to wilt, 25 to 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until the cabbage is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 25 to 30 minutes more. 
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove the pan from the heat and finely grate the zest from the orange over the cabbage (reserve the fruit for another use). Stir well to evenly distribute the zest, then transfer the cabbage to a warmed bowl and serve immediately.

SERVES:  4 to 6.

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