Crouton's Smashing Potatoes (served with roasted pork tenderloin and peas)
There are plenty of smashed potato recipes on the net. Here’s how we make them in Crouton’s kitchen:
- 6 small to medium red potatoes
- 1 head garlic
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
First, the big picture: the potatoes cook twice. You boil them before smashing them, then, to add insult to injury, you roast ‘em. But don’t worry, it’s no effort at all, and you can do everything but the final roasting well ahead of time.
Smashing the potatoes (garlic/olive oil mixture in bowl to the right)
Start with the garlic. Peel a head of garlic (you should try this technique … it really works) and chop finely. Place in a shallow bowl of olive oil (about 1/4 cup), add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit so that the flavors get into the olive oil.
Boil the potatoes in salted water for 30 minutes. Place potatoes in cold water afterward until they’re cool enough to handle. One at a time, place potatoes on waxed paper on a hard surface, then press down on them with your hand (you can put a folded dishcloth between your hand and the potato, as shown in the photo). You want to smash them just a little, so that the skin breaks and a few cracks form in the potato … that way the flavored olive oil will get into the cracks.
Turn each smashed potato over with a spatula and brush the top side with the olive oil/garlic mixture. Then, with the spatula, transfer each potato to a baking tray lined with aluminum foil, turning them over again so that the brushed side is down. Spoon more of the olive oil/garlic mixture over the top of each potato.
Ready to roast
Roast potatoes in a preheated oven: 400°F for 30 minutes convection or 450°F for 30-35 minutes conventional. Take them out when they start to turn golden and crispy.
Our son Baguette, daughter-in-law Truffle, and grandson Pesce are here for the week, along with our daughter Escargot and her boyfriend. We celebrated with a few favorite recipes, and I couldn’t resist taking photos. Here are the most appetizing ones IMHO:
Dry-rubbed beef brisket on the smoker
Smoked dry-rubbed beef brisket
Truffle’s pork tenderlion with spätzle
Grilled ribeyes & artichokes
Ditalini’s Mandarin orange salad
The deMenthes & guest
Some of these recipes are already on the blog:
The rest I’ll get to soon: Ditalini’s Swiss chard with bacon and feta cheese (shown with the smoked brisket, above), Truffle’s pork tenderlion and home-made spätzle, and Ditalini’s Mardarin orange salad.
By the way, the object under the beef brisket in the first photo is a pig’s ear. We got it for Baguette’s dog at a butcher shop but it was so gross-looking we decided to smoke it. Once smoked, it was so gorgeous we were tempted to eat it ourselves … the dog thought so too, and devoured it in minutes.
I smoked the brisket on Tuesday, July 2nd; Ditalini was in charge of the Swiss chard, corn, and beans. Truffle cooked pork tenderloin and home-made spätzle on the 3rd. Baguette and I boiled, seasoned, and grilled artichokes the night of the 4th, along with those beautiful ribeye steaks. This morning, the 5th, Ditalini baked a Dutch Baby.
If eating well is a form of patriotism, we’re practically up there with the Founding Fathers!
Later this morning I’m going to photoblog the deMenthe family’s 4th of July feasts. That, along with this entry, will (I hope) signal an end to my long absence from Crouton’s Kitchen.
A long time back I promised to post Ditalini’s Dutch Baby recipe. Dutch Baby is a form of pfannekuchen or pancake, but this recipe is, I believe, simplified and Americanized. Ditalini would like me to note that she learned this recipe from a friend, Melanie Martin.
With this recipe I’m adding a breakfast category to the recipe index. In time I’ll add more breakfast recipes. But enough about that. Let’s get to the Dutch Baby!
Dutch Baby fresh from the oven
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup butter
Preheat oven to 450°F. Put butter in a 9″ by 12″ casserole, briefly place casserole in oven to melt the butter, remove from oven. Using a blender, mix the flour, milk, and eggs. Pour batter on top of the melted butter in the casserole (do not stir). Put it back in the oven for 25 minutes. The finished Dutch Baby should be golden brown and lumpy.
Serve with anything you’d normally put on pancakes: powdered sugar, syrup, butter, fruit, etc. You can also mix blueberries or apple slices into the batter before baking.
It’s time to address comfort food, and what could be more comforting than meatloaf?
Neufchatel’s meatloaf with broccolini
My mother used to make a simple, basic meatloaf. We all loved it. Ditalini makes meatloaf too, but hers is fancier: she puts a roll of mozzarella cheese wrapped in sliced ham into the center of hers, and I’ll post that recipe one of these days. I’ve been craving basic comfort lately, so I started making my own meatloaf using a simple recipe taken off the web. Then, last week, my youngest sister (née Neufchâtel deMenthe) sent me a meatloaf recipe that reminds me of our mother’s, and that’s the one I’m going to share here. Her recipe is sized for a big family, but if you’re cooking for two it’s a simple matter to cut the ingredients in half.
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp prepared mustard
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 cup crushed cornflakes
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- ¼ cup green pepper (chopped)
Make a sauce by mixing the following ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil: ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, and nutmeg.
Combine meat with the remaining ingredients plus half the sauce in a large bowl and mix well.
Shape meat mixture into a loaf and bake at 350°F for 40 minutes. Pour the remaining sauce over the loaf and bake an additional 20 minutes.
I cut the ingredients in half to make a smaller loaf and substituted the following: a cup of breadcrumbs for the corn flakes and Grey Poupon for the prepared mustard. I served it with broccolini, lightly steamed then sautéed with butter, squeezing a little lemon over the top just before serving.
Yesterday I posted a short entry about holiday gluttony, along with a photo of our Christmas Eve seafood feast. It occurred to me you might want to know how we prepared it. My recipe for shrimp boil is already in the index; below you’ll find our recipes for steamed mussels and boiled lobster claws.
Steamed mussels, lobster claws, shrimp
Ditalini’s Steamed Mussels
- 3 lbs mussels
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup onions, chopped finely
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- pepper to taste
Scrub the mussels under running water with a stiff brush. Melt butter in a medium to large stock pot; add the onion and sauté until clear. Pour in the wine and add the mussels. Raise heat to medium or high, cover the pot, and steam the mussels for about 5 minutes or until their shells open. Use a large slotted spoon to remove the mussels and place them in a serving bowl. Grind some pepper into the wine broth in the pot, then pour it over the mussels. Sprinkle the mussels with parsley. Serve in individual bowls with wine broth and crusty bread.
When Ditalini went shopping for shrimp at Costco, she also found a bag of lobster claws in the shell. After I boiled the shrimp (per this recipe) I simply dumped the lobster claws into the same pot of boiling liquid, put a cover on it, and boiled them for 5 minutes. We didn’t even serve the claws with butter—they were delicious right out of the shell.
Ditalini and I drove to Las Vegas with our daughter Escargot and doggies Mortadella & Ubracio to spend Christmas with our son Baguette, daughter in law Truffle, granddaughter Biscotto, and grandson Pesce. All the deMenthes together again!
Of course the holidays are all about eating. Baguette activated Fortress of Smoke™ Las Vegas, and when we arrived on Sunday we feasted on hickory smoked pork shoulder and hot links. On Monday, Christmas Eve, Ditalini and I prepared our traditional seafood feast. Christmas day, Baguette prepared our traditional family clam chowder with a baked ham on the side.
Have just been informed our Tucson friends, upset over missing the Christmas Eve seafood feast we normally serve in Tucson, demand we produce another seafood feast at our house on New Year’s Eve. Can we possibly eat more seafood? Oh, we’ll manage to choke it down somehow.
Baguette manning Fortress of Smoke™ Las Vegas
Wow, 13-15 count tiger prawns … livin’ large!
Steamed mussels with shrimp & lobster boil
Biscotto, Pesce, Truffle, Baguette, Escargot, Ditalini (I think one of her mussels just winked at her)
Crouton and Ditalini hope your holidays were bountiful and blessed. See you in 2013!
Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, smoked brisket, turkey & gravy (cranberry sauce, alas, forgotten), Mandarin orange salad
And I’m not even going to mention the deserts: Truffle’s lovely cheesecake, pumpkin pie, apple pie. Nor the appetizers: beer-boiled shrimp, cheese, olives, crackers, homemade giardiniera relish (thanks again to Truffle). Let’s just say we gave thanks for country, company, friends, and family in the grand tradition.
Who came to Crouton & Ditalini’s house? Number one daughter Escargot, of course. Number one son Baguette drove down from Las Vegas with our daughter-in-law Truffle and grandson Pesce (granddaughter Biscotto is away in college, so we were missing one deMenthe). In keeping with tradition, we invited a single friend to share the bounty: Grissini Asperagi.
More photos? Sure, why not?
Crouton and the Fortress of Smoke™
Brisket on the smoker
Sampling the brisket (yes, it was as good as it looked)
Truffle (w/Ubriaco), Baguette, guest Grissini, Ditalini (w/Mortadella), Escargot, Pesce
Let me just say, right off the bat, that this was an experiment based on a popular Southern dish, shrimp & cheese grits. Next time I’ll add a green vegetable on the side for color, and perhaps substitute chicken breast meat for the chicken Italian sausage, because the strong fennel taste of the sausage fought with the taste of the Sriracha sauce. It will still be a robust and somewhat fiery dinner, only with fewer competing flavors.
- 2-3 links chicken Italian sausage, sliced
- 2 doz large (21-25 count) cooked & peeled shrimp
- 2 doz pearl onions, peeled
- 1 cup yellow polenta meal
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- cooking oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups white wine or chicken broth
- 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
First, bring water to boil in a sauce pot, adding a little salt. Slowly pour in the polenta meal, stir thoroughly, and reduce heat to low. Periodically stir the polenta as it cooks. It will probably take at least half an hour. If it gets too thick, add more water … it should come out slightly less runny than grits.
While the polenta is cooking, make a roux by heating a little cooking oil in a shallow frying pan and whisking in the flour. Keep whisking it as it cooks and thickens, then slowly add wine (or chicken broth if desired) to make a nice smooth base for the sauce. Keep this on low, whisking occasionally.
Starting the roux
Stirring the polenta
Sausage, shrimp, pearl onions
Cook your chicken Italian sausage in another frying pan. When the sausage is done, add the shrimp and pearl onions and cook on low a few more minutes.
Add the Sriracha sauce and Old Bay seasoning to the roux and whisk again until blended and smooth. Add the shredded cheddar to the polenta and stir it in well so that it melts inside the polenta … you’re going for something like cheese grits, only better.
Spoon the polenta onto a plate. Spoon a little Sriracha sauce over the polenta, then top with sausage and shrimp. Spoon some Sriracha sauce onto the empty part of the plate, then top with pearl onions, as shown.