Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Non Succedat Omnia: Preparing Potatoes for the Plate (Part 2)

Over the past week, I’ve planted, sliced, mandolined, tossed, cooked, and finally baked more potato variants than I ever thought possible! And, throughout this week’s celebration of the lowly, yet ever-so-versatile spud, not all of my efforts have ended well. As the title of this post so cryptically suggests, “not everything succeeds;” a maxim that is frequently (and disappointingly) true in the time-intensive labors of gardening and cooking. In the garden, I was revolted to find that a whole batch of seed potatoes had melted into a fuzzy white paste, and in the kitchen, I tried to make baked sweet potato chips.

My first foray into baking potato slices began with what is, I still firmly believe, a fantastic recipe for chipotle baked sweet potato chips (which you can find {here}). Honestly, the chipotle and

brown sugar glaze that so delicately clung to each perfectly formed slice of golden veg smelled

(and tasted) like a gift from Ah Mun himself. However, due in part to our finicky, ancestral

Perfect slices of sweet potato, so full of hope.

Perfect slices of sweet potato, so full of hope.

oven which tends to burn hotter on the right than the left (or hotter on the left, if the weather’s just right); our slightly rickety baking trays that transmit heat faster than a Phoenix sidewalk; and my continual inability to remember the issues our oven and baking trays tend to have, every batch of sweet potato chips emerged from the oven coated in an undoubtedly carcinogenic blackness that could turn even the brightest of tuberous dreams to ash.

However, despite my continual failure in the area of sweet potatoes, I thought I’d forego the fancily enticing spices and return to the plain old potato for one final attempt at baking an edible chip. Thankfully, this is one story that did not end in failure.

Baked Potato Chips: Ingredients

Russet Potatoes

Olive oil or cooking spray

Sea Salt

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 475º F (245º C)

2. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer, thinly slice your potatoes as evenly as possible (slices of varying thicknesses will require increased vigilance on your part as they cook)

Papery Potatoes

Papery Potatoes

3. Pat the slices with a paper towel to dry off the potatoes as much as possible

4. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray, and arrange your dry potato slices in a single layer on the tray

5. Coat the slices with a thin layer of olive oil or cooking spray, and cook in your preheated oven until brown and crispy (typically between 6 – 10 minutes). I found that flipping the slices every three minutes prevented them from burning, and allowed me to check their level of crisp.

6. When your chips have finished baking, place on a paper towel and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

Crispy, flavorful, potato chips that are baked, not fried!

Crispy, flavorful, potato chips that are baked, not fried!

My only word of warning with these potato chips is that once they’re ready to eat, you’ll find them quickly disappearing (the batch I made only two hours ago is already long gone)!

Needless to say, I’m quite thankful to be able to present a modicum of success after my initial potato-based disappointment. Hopefully now you will learn from my mistakes, take the plunge, and bake your own (addictive) potato chips as well!

That’s all I have on potatoes for now, but I hope you’ll stop in next week for a simple tutorial on herbal tincturing!

Until next time, happy gardening, cooking, and doing anything else that brings you joy!

Nate

Solum, Nocte, et Farinæ: Preparing Potatoes for the Plate (Part 1)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my brief lifetime in Central Pennsylvania, it’s that one must be willing to be versatile in order to fully enjoy this part of the world. When a single week in May can contain below-freezing temperatures on Tuesday,  top out at 82 degrees on Thursday, and all the while be intermingled with menacing storms and revitalizing Spring breezes, it’s clear that versatility is the key to contentment around these parts. So, with versatility in mind, I thought I’d make (and present) one of my favorite, flexible recipes that uses the potato, which might just be the most adaptably simple, yet continually rewarding ingredient I’ve yet found.

This Swedish style of potato prep is known as “Hasselback,” which simply describes the accordion-

Sliced potatoes ready for accenting!

Sliced potatoes ready for accenting!

esque manner of slicing your tubers before baking. As an inherent lover of all things different, I greatly appreciate the innovation this style of cooking brings to the time-worn baked potato, a culinary staple which has, I must admit, been boring me for years. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a simple variation of seasaltwithfood’s original design, and is meant to be easy to alter to fit your favorite potato toppings!

Garlic Hasselback Potatoes: Ingredients

6 medium potatoes

4 – 5 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter (you may choose to use more or less, depending on your preference)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 425˚ F (220˚ C)

2. Place your potatoes on a cutting board so that they do not roll, and cut deep slits (almost to the base) into each potato, about an inch (3 mm) apart. I find that using a serrated blade gives you the most control for this step, which can help you avoid slicing straight through the potato.

I prefer a hefty amount of garlic with my potatoes, but you may certainly choose to use less (or more!).

3. Place your sliced potatoes on an ungreased baking tray, and insert the garlic into the slits.

4. Top each potato with an equal amount of butter and olive oil, and sprinkle each tuber with salt and pepper.

5. Pop the potatoes into your preheated oven, and bake for at least 40 minutes, or until the outer flesh of the potato is lightly brown and crispy, while the inside of the potato is soft and tender. Depending on your oven and potatoes, this step could take longer than 40 minutes (I usually need to leave my spuds in the cooker for at least an hour before they’re ready).

When your potatoes are out of the oven and on the table, your options for further garnishing

A cooked hasselback, just begging for some sour cream and fresh-from-the-garden spring onions!

A cooked hasselback, just begging for some sour cream and fresh-from-the-garden spring onions!

are only limited by your imagination! But, if you’re like me and would prefer some inspiration, here’s a link to a wide array of creative (and undoubtedly delicious) hasselback variations for you to try: Foodgawker’s Hasselback Offerings.

For part two of our foray into potato recipes, I’ll be giving baked potato chips a go (with hopefully successful results)! So stay tuned for (I promise!), the last potato post of this week!

Until next time, happy gardening, cooking, and doing whatever else brings you joy!
Nate

A Little Egg with Your Tea

With winter finally baring its frigid fangs here in central PA, even I, a lifelong proponent of colder temperatures, have taken to wishing for warmer climes. But, with schoolwork and student teaching compelling me to weather at least one more icy winter here, I’ve resorted to finding (typically culinary) ways  to keep the brumal blues at bay! Lately, my quest for cold-dispelling recipes has led me to finally trying dishes that I’d favorited and bookmarked over the years, but had never actually attempted. First on this list of “eventual eats” was a recipe for Chinese Tea Eggs that I discovered here nearly a year ago. Captivated by the incredible look and purported flavor of these eggs, I knew I had to give ’em a go!

While the tea eggs are extremely easy to make, do ensure that you have enough time to allow the eggs to fully absorb the color/flavor of the tea! I made the mistake of starting my batch rather late at night, so the eggs I ended up with were a tad lighter than the traditional tea egg. However, even though the coloring was a bit pale, the flavor of the eggs was powerful and peculiarly delicious! Plus, as an added bonus, the tea and spices infused the kitchen with an incredible chai-like aroma while the eggs were steeping!

Chinese Tea EggsTea Eggs!
Cooking time: Approximately 2 hours

Ingredients

6 eggs
4 black tea bags, or 2 tablespoons of loose black tea leaves
2 teaspoons of Chinese five spice
1 tablespoon coarse salt
(Optional) Toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

1. Place eggs in a large pot and fill with enough cold water to cover the eggs. Cracked Eggs
2. Bring water to a boil over medium heat and let simmer for 12 minutes.
3. Remove the eggs from the water, and with a spoon, tap the eggs until the shells are covered with cracks.
4. Return the eggs to the pot of water and gently stir in the tea, Chinese five spice, and salt.
5. Cover the pot, heat gently, and let simmer for one hour.
6. Remove the pot from the heat and leave the eggs to cool in the liquid for 30 minutes.
7. Take one egg from the liquid, and peel to determine whether your eggs are dark enough, or if they need to remain in the liquid longer.
Marbled Eggs8. When you’re satisfied with the color of your eggs, remove the whole batch from the water and allow to cool fully.
9. With your eggs completely cooled, peel each egg (taking time to admire the fascinating coloration of the shells), and enjoy! You may also wish to garnish your eggs with toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Without a doubt, the process of creating a clutch of Chinese Tea Eggs wholly served to keep my mind off of the near sub-zero temperatures outside! I can only hope that they’ll do the same for you!

Until next time, happy cooking, gardening, and doing whatever else brings you joy!

Nate

Sowing the Seeds

The Scholar’s Garden: |ðə ˈskälər’s ˈgärdn|
Noun.
1 Denotes a piece of land owned or operated by a specialist in a particular field, usually the humanities, used for growing flowers, fruits, or vegetables.
2 May also refer to the Chinese Classical Garden, designed for the contemplation of nature.

Hi! I’m Nathan (or Nate, either way is fine), a second-year English major at Penn State University. To be 100% honest,  I’m not exactly a scholar (yet), and I have yet to put together an actual “garden,” and I don’t live in China; so, if you’re offended by the  slight misdirection in the title of this blog, it’s ok if you stop reading. Really, I won’t be offended at all.

If you’re still reading this, I’d like to welcome you to the chronicle of my adventure into the world of gardening, cooking, beekeeping, and whatever else this year might bring! I have little to no experience in any of these activities, so as I find helpful resources, I’ll be passing them along to you!
I’ve run out of time for now, but I’ll leave you with a great, simple guide for starting a summer garden: “Your Complete Guide to Summer Vegetable Gardening.”

Hope to see you back here soon, but until then, happy gardening!

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