mango-spiced baby potatoes with buttermilk sauce

Mango-spiced baby potatoes with buttermilk sauce

The weather here in Washington D.C. is cooling off pretty quickly though the days are sunny and bright. The leaves have changed their color and leaves are falling everywhere and my seasonal allergies are kicking in. One would think that the cooler weather would keep people in but here in D.C. we tend to celebrate fall and winter quite a bit! For one, most D.C. based food bloggers are probably thrilled and excited about the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show that is coming up in a few weeks. It features a line of celebrity chefs (from Bravo, the Cooking Channel, and the Food Network) and an amazing array of food related products and ingredients from various vendors. All in all, I hope to find some new fun ingredients and a little bit of inspiration from this event. There is also an upcoming Fall Fest event hosted by my friends which I anticipate will be a fun-filled food and drink celebration interspersed with quite a bit of chatter. Then there are a few costume-themed races in the upcoming weeks which I hope to see, including the Annual High Heel Race Event. Unfortunately, the hosts of the chili cook-off that I visited last year, have decided to skip this year and move it to 2013.But I think I should be good with all the various fun things to do in the next few weeks. With everything being so colorful and costume oriented at this time of the year, I think these spiced baby purple potatoes fit right in with the season.

Baby Purple Potatoes

The potatoes in this recipe are first seared till they are almost cooked tender. Then towards the end of the cooking, the potatoes are seasoned with garlic and mango to prevent them from burning while still flavoring the potatoes. Mangoes can pack heat! I remember my mother telling me to avoid eating one too many mangoes during summer because they can overheat the body. So we'd soak the ripe mangoes in cold water to cool them a little before eating (I am still not sure if this helps or its just a myth). Dried mango powder is obtained from raw green mangoes and it still carries a spicy hot edge with an acidic note. This makes mango powder an excellent source of heat for many dishes and you will find it used in several Indian recipes. 

This light buttermilk sauce that accompanies the potatoes is refreshing. Who says hot and cold can't go together? Buttermilk and yogurt with a little bit of fresh lemon zest add a bit of a coolness to these hot and spicy purple potatoes. This entire dish is packed with delicious rich and bold flavors and not to mention some fun colors. 

Dried Mango PowderPurple as can beSea-Salt

mango-spiced baby potatoes with buttermilk sauce


3 cups baby purple potatoes or fingerling potatoes 

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 teaspoon plain non-fat yogurt

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

1 teaspoon dried mango powder (Amchur)

1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder or dried chili flakes

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped scallions (for garnish)

salt and pepper to season the buttermilk sauce

1. Wash the potatoes under cold water and wipe them dry with a clean towel. Slice each potato in half across its length.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on a medium flame. Add the potatoes and salt. Cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes till the potatoes are golden brown on the outside but soft and tender inside. Stir the potatoes occasionally during the cooking.

3. Reduce the flame and add the chili, garlic, pepper, and mango powder. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.

4. Lightly whisk the lemon zest, buttermilk, and yogurt in a separate bowl. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Remember that the potatoes are already salted, so season accordingly.

5. Pour the buttermilk sauce over the warm potatoes just before serving. Garnish with the scallions.

panna cotta with poached fig sauce

Another fig recipe so soon, I know, I know. I've been pretty fortunate for the past few weeks to get fresh ripe figs on a weekly basis. They are perfect! Figs are ripe and ready to eat when they feel like soft swollen balloons that are almost ready to burst. Sometimes when entertaining, I like to serve up simple desserts. The ones that are no fuss and easy to make. You dump everything together and literally forget about them till you are ready to eat. You let the ingredients do all the work and talking for you. This is one such dessert to woo your guests over in a single delicious bite.

Of all the puddings that I have tried, panna cotta is probably one of the most delicate and yet so simplistically elegant desserts. In my mind it invokes all sorts of culinary praise. You scoop a little pudding and once it enters your mouth it melts. The cool buttermilk and vanilla pervade your taste buds and delight them in every possible way. This how I feel about my panna cotta consumption experience. 

The fig sauce compliments the panna cotta not only visually but also provides a surprising burst of complex fruity flavors. The fig sauce can be served with almost any other dessert as a topping. It makes a delicious accompaniment to bread pudding, ice creams, cakes, etc. You can also serve the fig sauce by itself with a little bit of whipped creme fraiche or mascarpone. I adapted these recipes from one of my favorite dessert chefs Alice Medrich from her Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts Cookbook.

panna cotta


1/4 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups 1% or skim buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1. Lightly spray six individual dessert dishes with a neutral and flavorless vegetable oil spray.
2.  Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on the surface. Set aside, without stirring. The gelatin will absorb water and begin to swell.
3. Heat the cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over a medium flame. Stir continuously till the sugar is dissolved. Do not bring to a boil. 
4. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the vanilla and water-gelatin mixture. Stir well at this stage with a whisk to disperse the gelatin. Cool the mixture till lukewarm. 
5. Gently whisk in the buttermilk and stir thoroughly. Let this custard sit for about 10 minutes. It will begin to thicken as it keeps cooling down. Keep mixing it every 2 minutes or so with a rubber spatula. This will ensure a tender panna cotta. 
6. Once the mixture is cool to touch and thickens, divide and pour equally into the dessert dishes. Cover each with a piece of cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight to set.
7. The pudding is ready when the surface is firm to finger touch. You can serve them in the dessert dishes or remove them from the dishes onto a dessert plate using a sharp paring knife to loosen them from the sides of the dish. Top the surface of the dish with a dessert plate and invert the dish to release the panna cotta. 

poached fig sauce


2 cups of strong coffee 
1 cup sugar (you can add a little more if you want it sweeter)
1 vanilla bean pod 
2 pounds ripe fresh brown turkey figs
1 cup red wine (I used a Shiraz)

1. Chop the figs in half. You can keep the stems if you want or trim them off.
2. Slice the vanilla bean in half across its length. Remove the seeds with the knife. Combine the vanilla bean, the seeds with the rest of the ingredients in the saucepan. Do not add the figs yet. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium flame. Reduce the flame and continue to cook the sauce to a gentle simmer till the volume reduces to half. 
3. Add the sliced figs and cook them for further 10 minutes. Stir gently. 
4. Remove the sauce from the stove and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 to 4 hours before using. 

Note: If the sauce is warm or too hot it will melt the panna cotta. Gelatin gelled food begin to melt at higher temperatures. 

homemade creme fraiche

I started the weekend with an unexpected random trip to West Virginia where we stopped by Harper's Ferry to stretch our feet a little and walked around the old historical town. We strolled around the area and then walked across the train tracks while the dog pulled his leash to sniff everything in sight. I was fascinated to learn how many times and how high the tide waters have risen and flooded the surrounding area. There's a a bit of wildlife too, we saw a couple of large turtles, ducks and deer. I was hoping that it would be a bit greener but it looks like the South in our area is having a slower start to spring.

Our finale to the weekend ended a little more energetically with a half-marathon for St. Patrick's Day. However, all the energy spent at our side involved waking up early and cheering and yelling to support our three friends that ran in it. Though our days are sunny and warm, the early mornings and late evenings are still a bit cool to be in shorts. We celebrated their marathon completion with a big brunch and a few mimosas. Somehow the combination of mimosas and running several miles just do not sound right but does flow well.

Preparing homemade creme fraiche is easy and the store bought varieties can be expensive. So why not make it at home? Made the night before, this cream will last good in the refrigerator for at least a week. Use it in cakes or over fresh fruit mixed in with a little sugar or honey and it will always succeed in delighting your taste buds.

creme fraiche


1 cup whipping cream
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh low fat buttermilk

With a fork whisk the whipping cream and buttermilk together for about 1 minute. Pour the contents into a glass bottle and cover the top with cling film. Leave overnight (maximum 8hours) at room temperature. The creme fraiche will be thick and creamy in consistency. Cover the bottle with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

cinnamon raspberry buttermilk shake

Random things are reminding me of the holidays, some more so than others. Beyond the decorated stores, the T.V. commercials and the fact that the advent of December is only a few days away, random things  around D.C. remind me that the holidays are here. Do you feel the same way ?

I find December to be the best part of the beginning of winter, after that it all appears depressing until Spring. Needless to say, Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. If Christmas could be legally extended for a lengthy period of time, I would be thrilled. However, I doubt this dream will be fulfilled in this lifetime. Though, this does make me appreciate and long for the holidays a little more eagerly. I realize that this makes me sound a little crazy.

With finals coming up and the school semester ending, I have another reason to look forward to December. The good news is that my thesis is coming together and I have a complete data set with some good preliminary results. A month of no number crunching and regression analysis looks like a nice break right now.

I don't know if a shake is the appropriate recipe for the holidays but I am throwing tradition out of the window with this recipe. In my mind it has all the essential components except for the cold buttermilk and ice cream components but the red raspberries and cinnamon with a shot of the elderberry liquor,St.Germain bring this drink together.

I used less ice cream because I did not want the ice cream to dominate and overpower the taste of this shake but feel free to add some if you wish. Serve this ice-cold of course and if you keep it standing for too long as with all milk based drinks especially those that contain acidic components like buttermilk or yogurt, it can separate, so you might need to shake it a little before you drink it.

cinnamon raspberry buttermilk shake


3 cups low fat buttermilk (1%)
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup low fat vanilla ice cream
5 tablespoon St. Germain
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
Extra raspberries and cinnamon sticks for garnishing

Blend all the ingredients together in a mixer till smooth. Pour into chilled glasses. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh whole raspberries and a stick of cinnamon in each glass.