Even though summer has officially ended, we are still in that transitory phase where it’s warm and yes, still pleasant. I actually prefer this phase because grilling is much more fun. So, a few weekends ago, we invited a few of our close friends over for dinner. There was champagne, there was wine, there were lots of fresh tomatoes from my garden and there were grilled lamb chops from American Lamb Board.Read More
The last post of November should be pumpkin or squash related so I can make room for all the wonderful winter treats that are going to come my way. I started my Christmas music radio station two weeks before Thanksgiving but I haven't decorated the house yet. M and I plan to do that this weekend. Have you got your tree already?Read More
An olive can be many things and this is true. If you taste it fresh of a branch, it can taste rather horrid. But once it sits in brine, the flesh becomes a marvelous treat or if you extract the fruit, you will be rewarded with an oil, rich with flavor and potential. But how the oil is obtained has always been a bit of a mystery to me. But I recently got an opportunity to watch the oil being made as it makes it way from fruit to bottle.
I went up to Sacramento and got a tour of the California Olive Ranch facilities several weeks ago to learn about the process by which olives are harvest for oil and what makes it taste so good. It turns out that olive harvesting happens just for a few weeks each year in Fall when the fruit is ready to be picked. Instead of collecting the olive fruit by hands, the fruit is picked by special machines which literally shake the fruit off the trees and they jump onto a conveyor belt into large container that transports them to the facility. Here the fruit is washed and then ground in its entirety from which the oil is collected. Fresh olive oil has a strong peppery taste which comes from the high content of phenols, a group of compounds that react with oxygen in the air to give that spicy taste. This flavor will mellow as time progresses. The Arbequina, Arbosona and the Koroneki are the three main types of olive oil from which various blends and varieties are created.
There were many other things that I picked up on this trip. I learned to roll my tongue and pull air in to my mouth when I tasted the olive oil. The more air that oxidizes the oil, the spicier the taste. Slices of crunchy and tart Granny smith apples are the palette cleanser of choice when it comes to an olive oil tasting.
I put some of what I learned on this trip in the recipe for these hasselback potatoes. The potatoes are sliced like a fish's gill to form a fan/accordion and then seasoned with olive oil, Maldon salt flakes and garam masala before they get stuck into the oven. You'll end up with a very flavorful set of potatoes that go well with any meal and the best part, they're easy to make!
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these potatoes;
- Use Yukon Golds (somewhere in between starchy and waxy)when it comes to the potatoes in this dish otherwise my second choice would be a Norland Red (more waxy).
- You can use paneer but I prefer the taste and texture of cojita in this recipe.
- If you want to get fancy, drizzle some Arbequina olive oil (from California Olive Ranch) right before you serve the potatoes. It's fruity flavor is an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
hasselback potatoes with garam masala and cojita
yields: 6 servings
6 large potatoes (Yukon Gold preferably)
1/2 cup California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon Maldon Salt flakes
1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro leaves
1. Place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Rinse the potatoes well under cold tap water and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Using a sharp paring knife slice the potatoes perpendicular to the length keeping the cuts about 1/8th inch apart (it should like a fish gill or a fan). Make sure the cuts do not reach the bottom of the potato so the slices stay connected to the potato.
3. Place the potatoes in a baking dish. Brush the potatoes all over with the olive oil. Season them with the garam masala and salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
4. After 30 minutes, drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and return them to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the potatoes with the cotija. Bake for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and garnish the potatoes with the chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by California Olive Ranch. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
This week has been busy, we've been trying to get contractors lined up for all the different projects for our new house. Apparently, all contractors in the Bay are busy until next year so there's that but we finally managed to rope a few people in after a lot of googling, yelp research and asking people. With all the chaos that is to ensue, I'm super excited about the prospect of all the fun aspects of working on a home and making it my own.
My first cover in print just came out last week. Every issue of the Edible Silicon Valley magazine features the work of one local artist (from the food industry) and this time the lovely folks at Edible SV did a little feature on my work and also asked me to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. You can find this issue at most stores in the San Francisco Bay Area and also online at their website.
A lot can be said about a sandwich, in many ways I think of it as a gateway to my heart because a good sandwich can take me to my happy place. I like mine toasted and grilled, stuffed pretty full, yet pressed down and to compact and hold everything inside together. Most of the time, my sandwiches have cheese and if there's cheese, there'd better be some amount of heat involved to melt it.
These sandwiches have two stages of grilling. The first is when big, fat thick slices of garam masala seasoned sweet potatoes go on the grates and the second time it's the panini stuffed with kale leaves,cheese and crispy bacon. And along with this panini there's a hot and spicy Sriracha flavored mayo to dip and enjoy every bite! I also like to top each sandwich off with a fresh fried egg which also works perfect for a weekend brunch item.
Disclaimer: Thank you to West Elm for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.