Roasted German Potato Salad

german potato salad dressing

Roasted German Potato Salad

I am good at some things and real lousy at others. One of the things I am lousy at is making potato salad. I am talking about the classic American Potato Salad with gobs of mayonnaise and hard-boiled eggs. When it comes to what goes in the salad I’m fine; where I fail is in the cooking of the potatoes. I screw it up every time so somewhere along the line I just gave up. Apparently the potato-boiling gene must have skipped a generation. I always ended up with either crunchy potatoes (yuk) or mashed potato salad (even worse). This is the real reason why I became the master of macaroni salad. Then one day a little oven light went on in my head…why not roast them? Just like that ‘Roasted German Potato Salad’ was born. For me roasting potatoes is much more forgiving than boiling. Not only are the results consistent every time, but I prefer the flavor, texture and color of roasted potatoes over their boiled counterparts. As an added bonus, it is also easier to prepare and I just love the crisp browned edges. Preparing them in this manner also means you can leave the skin on which is always my favorite part of the potato anyway. Roasting also results in a drier potato allowing them to really soak up the dressing making for a very tasty salad. As it turns out, this is a perfect technique for preparing German Potato Salad.

I didn’t grow up eating German Potato Salad, but I have really grown to love it. In addition to just enjoying it, it also has about half the calories of classic American Potato Salad. You can take the calorie count down even further by using Canadian bacon or ham instead of regular bacon. I prefer using applewood-smoked bacon myself. This salad is best when it is just made and still hot. It’s also wonderful after sitting for a while or even cold. I even like it leftover, heated up in the morning with eggs. Enjoy!

Roasted German Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Yukon potatoes, cubed (do not peel)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

Instructions

Toss the cubed potatoes lightly with olive oil and roast in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 min or until lightly browned and cooked all the way through. For more even browning, roast them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and toss slightly about halfway through the cooking time (make sure not to overcrowd them). While the potatoes are roasting, fry the bacon in a medium-sized skillet until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Drain all but about a tablespoon of drippings from the pan and sauté the onion in the same pan until it is browned. Lower the heat and add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper and stir to dissolve the sugar and heat throughout. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley. When the potatoes are done, transfer them to a large mixing bowl along with the cooked and crumbled bacon. Pour the warm dressing over the potatoes and toss well. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more salt, pepper or vinegar as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

german potato salad dressing

Brownies with Ricotta and White Chocolate Raspberry Filling

brownies

Brownies with Ricotta and White Chocolate Raspberry Filling

I love the power of the Internet. Last month I came a cross a recipe by way of an American in Paris who was vacationing in Sicily. There he met a woman from Estonia, who baked a cheesecake she had learned to make on a previous trip to Tuscany. The cake in question was an Italian Ricotta Cheesecake or ‘Torta Della Noona’. It sounded delicious and it was as you can see by the final results here. The original recipe was on a blog called Nami-Nami. I thought about writing a post about it but there was really no need to. It was perfect just the way it was written. The recipe called for sheep’s milk ricotta, which isn’t exactly on every grocery store shelf. Bellwether Farms in Sonoma however makes a delightful sheep milk ricotta that you can find at Cowgirl Creamery or Whole Foods. It was this leftover cheese from the Torta Della Noona that inspired me to make some brownies. There was no way I was going to waste the 6 ounces of sheep’s milk ricotta I had left over from the torta.

Brownies are about my favorite sweet treat. I like them moist and chewy. I have made them before with a cream cheese filling, but never ricotta. I am not really sure what inspired me to add the raspberry filling but I really liked it in there. As you can see by the picture below, it starts out looking like a mess but ends up very appealing in the end. I have made them again since with cows milk ricotta and they are just as good. I really enjoyed this recipe. I am sure it is going to be in my regular rotation from now on.

Brownies with Ricotta and White Chocolate Raspberry Filling

Ready for the oven

 

Brownies with Ricotta and White Chocolate Raspberry Filling

Brownies with Ricotta and White Chocolate Raspberry Filling

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Filling
  • 6 oz. fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam

Instructions

Combine butter and sugar together in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. Mix all the dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture a little at a time while mixing at a low speed. Blend together thoroughly and set aside.

Prepare the filling by placing the cheese in a small mixing bowl. Melt the butter and white chocolate chip together is a bowl inside the microwave for about 40 seconds. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add this mixture to the cheese, along with the sugar, eggs, flour, and vanilla and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Microwave the raspberry jelly for about 30 seconds.

Pour half of the brownie mixture into a lightly oiled 8 x 8 pan and spread evenly. Pour the filling mixture over the brownie mixture. It should not be even, you want it to be in ‘globs’. Pour the heated jam over the filling in a random pattern. Spoon the rest of the brownie mixture over the top. At this point it is going to look like quite a mess, but that is ok. Drag a knife though to incorporate the filling slightly and smooth the top a bit. Do not over do it, you don't want to mix all the ingredients together. Bake in a 350 oven for 35-40 minutes. When it is done a wooden pic will come out clean when inserted into the middle. Cool on a rack before cutting and removing from the pan.

Enjoy!

CUESA Summer Celebration 2014

IMG_0116

CUESA Summer Celebration 2014

Last weekend CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) held their annual ‘Summer Celebration’ at the San Francisco Ferry Building. As usual it was a party like no other. If you love food and drink and dining out this was the party to attend. Star chefs and bartenders from some of the best restaurants in town were on hand to support a great cause (and spoil everyone present in the process). If you are not familiar with CUESA and all the great work they do you can find out more about them here. I strongly recommend following this great organization and subscribing to their newsletters. I could go on about all the great food and drinks but I am just going to share some of the pictures from the celebration instead. Enjoy!

Honeydew Melon with Thai Beef & Pumpkin Seed from Paula Leduc Fine Catering

Honeydew Melon with Thai Beef & Pumpkin Seed from Paula Leduc Fine Catering

starbelly

Smoked Stone Fruit with Buratta and Ham Crumbs from Starbelly

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

isaac miller maven

Isaac Miller from Maven preparing Summer Squash with Cocoa Mole & Spiced Pepitas

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

With over 45 restaurants contributing to the evening, you can bet that I was only able to scratch the surface here. I hope I have convinced you to check out next years CUESA’s ‘Summer Celebration’. See you at the Farmers Market. Have a great summer!

Check out some more pictures on my photography site:  http://www.shyimage.com/galleries-2/cuesa-summer-celebration/ IMG_0142a

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Cocktails from Suzanne Long and Erik Mariscal of Longitude Oakland

Cocktails from Suzanne Long and Erik Mariscal of Longitude Oakland

Tom Ka Gai

tom ka gai

Tom Ka Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

Back in September of 2012 I hosted a dinner party and thought it would be a good idea to post some of the recipes from the party on my blog. They are some of my favorite recipes. If you missed that party you can find that post here. Unfortunately, because they are buried somewhere in the middle of that post no one ever sees them. I am going to repost each one in a separate post because every good recipe deserves a post of its own. Here is my version of Tom Ka Gai, AKA Thai Chicken Coconut Soup. I really love this soup. I love this soup so much it makes my eyes roll back in my head. This fun effect is just one of the reasons I choose to make it for dinner parties. The other reason is that it is easy to prepare and you can make it ahead of time. The hardest part of this recipe is gathering all the ingredients. I often find them in the high-end supermarkets, but you can’t always count on it.  A trip to the Asian market is usually in order. Before I get to the soup, I am going to go over each one of the main ingredients. If you are already familiar with them feel free to skip this part. I don’t want you to get bored. tom ka gai galangal lemon grass kaffir lime Galangal Root Galangal root is the ‘ka’ in Tom Ka Gai. It is also sometimes called ‘Laos root’. I sometimes find this at Whole Foods, but usually end up getting it at the Asian Market. It is a rhizome not unlike ginger in appearance, but it is much larger and very woody. So woody in fact that it can be a little difficult to slice. You can also find it frozen (not bad) or dried either whole or in powdered form (forget about it). You only need a little and it usually comes in a big piece. If you have any leftover I advise you to cut it up into a few chunks and freeze it for later.

imageKaffir Lime Leaves Here is another item that you can sometimes find in the large upscale markets. They are also known as ‘bai magrood’ or ‘kieffer’. Like galangal, it is ok frozen, but terrible dried. Sometimes these are even hard to find in the Asian markets. I solved this problem a few years ago when I found a kaffir lime tree at Orchard Supply Hardware of all places. It’s doing very well in a pot on my balcony and supplies me with more leaves than I could ever use. Another source for these trees is Four Winds Growers (they sell trees online and deliver). The fragrance of these leaves is incredible. They bear very small fruit that have little or no juice but have great rind for zest. If you like limes you will find other uses for this wonderful tree. Infused kaffir lime vodka anyone?

Lemon Grass Lemon grass has gone very mainstream, so it is pretty easy to find. It is also relatively easy to grow if you are so inclined. If you want to try growing your own, get a couple of stalks with some nice woody ends and put it in water until it sprouts roots; then plant it in some soil.

Thai Chilies These are pretty easy to find and/or grow. They also freeze very well. I always have a bag in my freezer. They are very hot so you need to be careful when you are cutting and chopping them. Like all chilies, seeding them will tame the heat a bit.

One of the other things to note about this recipe is that the ingredients that flavor it are not really edible. The galangal, lemon grass, and kaffir leaves are too intense, tough or woody to eat. You have two options. One is to just make an announcement at dinner instructing your guests (that don’t know better) to avoid eating the lemon grass and galangal. Option two is to simmer the soup with the flavoring ingredients, then strain them out before adding the chicken and mushrooms. It is not quite as authentic that way, but there are no 911 calls to worry about. Either way you decide to prepare it, I hope you enjoy it. tom ka gai 

Tom Ka Gai

Tom Ka Gai

Ingredients

  • 2 13.5 oz. cans coconut milk
  • 6 thin slices of galangal root, lightly crushed
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, lower 1/2 only, trimmed into 1 inch pieces, slightly crushed
  • 5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
  • 1 whole chicken breast, boned, skinned and sliced into bite size pieces
  • 4-5 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon, red curry paste
  • 2 green Thai chilies, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Instructions

Combine one can of coconut milk with the galangal, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. * Add chicken, fish sauce and sugar and cook (stirring occasionally) until chicken is cooked throughout. Stir in the other can of coconut milk and curry paste and heat until boiling. Remove from heat, and add lime juice and chilies a little at a time, tasting it as you go. You don’t want it too spicy or too sour. Adjust seasoning, adding more sugar or fish sauce, to get that perfect balance of salt, sweet, hot and sour. You can heat this before serving and plate it individually or in a tureen or soup pot. Garnish with the cilantro leaves just before serving.

*If you are going to strain the soup add both cans of the coconut milk and simmer gently for about 20 minutes before straining and adding the remaining ingredients.

kaffir lime

Kaffir lime tree

Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

shaking beef bo luc lac

Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

OK, here’s the deal. We are having a potluck party for 14 people and we are doing the hosting. The theme is ‘Asian’ and most of the people coming can’t even boil water (sounds a little sassy to say, but they would be the first ones to admit it). What is a host to do? Well, fortunately one of my guests, Ann, is an accomplished cook and Burmese cuisine is one of her specialties (you guessed it, she is the one who decided on the theme).  Ann is planning on bringing a Burmese Salad. The recipe calls for special fermented tea leaves that are ‘kinda sorta’ a black market item that she buys in some dark alley somewhere (I’m sure there is a story in there somewhere).  The rest of the menu is up to me to either delegate or cook myself. To give the guests that can’t cook something to bring, I have assigned a sushi platter, chow mien, egg rolls, and some Thai prawns…all certified crowd pleasers. The rest is up to me. Because it is a celebration to honor my friend Sue who just retired, it has to be special  (I might add that Sue is a chef and the party will be attended by yet another chef, so I really have to be on my toes). I decided to make some Thai Chicken Curry (one of my old standbys) and a Vietnamese dish called Shaking Beef or Bo Luc Lac.

Shaking Beef or ‘Bo Luc Lac’ is one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. I am using the recipe from The Slanted Door that was published in Charles Phan’s book, “Vietnamese Home Cooking”. We had a look at the book when it came out in 2012 here. The dish consists of seared morsels of filet mignon on a bed of watercress. It’s not just one of my favorites, it is also one of the most popular dishes served at The Slanted Door. I think it will be a perfect main dish for our potluck. There is just one problem…cooking this dish for 14 people would require a lot of time doing last minute work and I didn’t want to miss the party slaving over a hot stove. The recipe from the book calls for one and a half pounds of meat that is cooked in two batches. Even with all the BTU’s I can manage at home, the meat has to be cooked in small batches to get the correct sear (beautifully browned on the outside and perfectly rare on the inside). I figure I will need at least 4-5 pound of meat…are you getting the picture? In addition to that, I would need to clean and pick numerous bunches of watercress.  If I really wanted to serve this dish and still have time to socialize with my guests I was going to have to ‘bastardize’ one of the most popular dishes from the 2014 James Beard “Best Restaurant in America”. I am already feeling ashamed of myself.

I am a purist by nature so normally I detest tinkering with a classic. However, I had to come up with a plan to cook all that meat in a single large batch. To solve my dilemma I am going to grill the beef on skewers so that it can be cooked to perfection and all at the same time. The dressing can easily be made ahead of time. The red onion will be roasted in a hot oven until they are browned on the edges, but still crisp. Instead of watercress I am planning on using wild Arugula. The taste is different of course, but it is pre-washed for ease of use and delicious with beef. Paul and Sam will be in charge of BBQ-ing and I will prepare everything ahead of time. When it comes time to serve, all I will have to do is point and direct. Perfect!

As it turns out, the party was a huge hit.  As with most pot lucks the people bringing the appetizers were late (but everyone had a drink or two so no one cared). As usual, I made the rice ahead of time so the house would smell like jasmine rice when everyone arrived. The bar was set up in the living room so every one could steer clear of the kitchen. The egg rolls, shrimp and sushi arrived resulting in more standing and pointing from me (I love that part). When it came time to eat, the curry that I made earlier was an easy reheat and Paul and Sam did a great job with timing/barbecuing the beef to perfection. In the end the final preparation turned out to be quick and easy. The party and the meal were a huge success, and yes, The Shaking Beef was a hit!

I should probably come up with another name for the Shaking beef after all the liberties I took with it. However, I think preparing it this way still maintained the character of the dish and I was really pleased with how it came out.  I liked it so much that I doubt I will prepare it any other way. Regardless of whether you stir fry or grill it, I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

(adapted from Charles Phan’s “Vietnamese Home Cooking”, and bastardized for the American home kitchen by Tim Gast)

Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb. beef filet, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3-4 handfulls wild arugula
  • 1 lime, freshly squeezed
  • Salt and Pepper to finish

Instructions

Trim the fillet of any excess fat and sinew, cut into 1 inch cubes and place into a non metal bowl. Add the chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoons fresh black pepper and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix well and marinate for at least 2 hours. Prepare the dressing by combining 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 cup mirin, 5 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and 2 tablespoons melted butter (the dressing can be made ahead of time; just warm slightly before serving). Slice the onion into strips, toss with a little vegetable oil and roast in 450° oven for 8 minutes, set aside. Thread the beef onto skewers and grill over a hot fire until seared on the outside and rare on the inside. Do not overcook! When the meat is cooked allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the skewers and toss with the roasted red onions, green onions and dressing. Make a bed of arugula on the serving plate and spoon the meat over the arugula along with the dressing. Squeeze a fresh lime over the top to taste, and season with a little more salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

 

shaking beef bo luc lac