Monday, July 5, 2010

Red Potatoes & Green Bean Salad and Fingerling Potato Chips

Hands down, the most exciting part of this post is that it involved making aioli - which is really just mayonnaise (which was a challenge for me previously), but with garlic oil rather than vegetable oil. And I'll go ahead and let the cat out of the bag - I succeeded this time. And on the very first try. Yay, me!

Okay - moving on. Jeremy and I hosted a Father's Day gathering on Sunday and since I had to make three tons of food, I threw a few Ad Hoc recipes in the mix. I made Glazed and Rubbed Pork Spareribs again, and got a ton of compliments on them. I think I've found my permament ribs recipe - as a matter of fact, Jeremy wants to experiment with making pork steaks the same way. I'll let you all know how that works out. Jeremy and his dad went boar hunting in Texas last February, so half of the ribs I made were from that hunting trip (the other half from Dierbergs) - nice Father's Day tie-in, huh?

The new recipes for this week were Red Potato and Green Bean Salad (with Creamy Pepper Dressing) and Fingerling Potato Chips. The Red Potato and Green Bean Salad recipe included two other Ad Hoc recipes - Aioli and Creamy Pepper Dressing. So I really knocked four recipes out this week.

We'll start with the Red Potato and Green Bean Salad. I needed to make the Creamy Pepper Dressing ahead of time - and it included aioli. So I gave myself PLENTY of time to mess it up and do it over and curse and throw things and to go get stitches if they were required after the inevitably violent temper tantrum. I hauled my way too expensive mayonnaise/aioli-making-machine out of the pantry, took a deep breath, burned some sage all around the kitchen and offered up a small prayer. Threw in the egg yolks... and started the slow stream of garlic oil (which was left from the garlic confit that I made for the Smashed Marble Potatoes).
I was honestly amazed when I was able to get all of the garlic oil to emulsify without the whole batch breaking even once.
There was much celebrating in the kitchen - it may or may not have involved dancing a jig and saying things like "Yes! I am the *#!$^* master! I rock!" So there ya go - I have now used my way-too-expensive-mayonnaise-making machcine TWICE. Turns out I didn't need all that extra time after all.

So the next day I tackled the rest of the recipe. The potatoes needed to be boiled along with a sachet. So I smooshed a clove of garlic and put it on a square of cheesecloth, along with a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme and black peppercorns, then wrapped them all up. Easiest recipe yet.

Next up, the creamy pepper dressing. This is what I made the aioli for the previous night. I got my mise en place together...
And then remembered that I had to crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. So I did it - but then I didn't take the mise en place picture again. Whatever. Semantics. You get the idea. It's not easy to take five bajillion pictures while cooking all this stuff, ya know.
Okay, so my peppercorns are crushed and my aioli is ready to go. The peppercorns went into a small saucepan along with a little Banyuls vinegar and honey. After simmering for a while, there was some foam to be skimmed and discarded. I let it simmer until there was a 1/4 of reduction in the saucepan. In a separate bowl I whisked together the aioli, a bit of buttermilk and crème fraîche. Then added the still warm reduction to the mixture along with a little salt and pepper.
Another recipe down! Creamy pepper dressing - and it's yummy! Jeremy loves pepper, so I think I'll be making this for him quite a bit.

So anyway - back to the whole point, Red Potato and Green Bean Salad. My mise en place:
I threw the sachet into a large saucepot of water along with a couple of pounds of red potatoes and salt to boil.
While the potatoes were boiling, I blanched a pound of hariacots verts (skinny green beans) for a few minutes and then threw them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. This keeps them nice and bright green, but cooks them just enough to be delicious!

After chiffonading a couple of heads of Bibb lettuce, I tossed the lettuce, potatoes, and beans with a few diced shallots and chives. I poured in most of the dressing and tossed it together.
Honestly, it may not look like all that much, but it was delicious. Since everything is tossed together at the last minute, the lettuce, shallots and green beans were nice and crunch. The potatoes are soft and creamy - and with the dressing all over everything it was delicious. This could be a main dish on it's own. One of my favorite things is a baked potato with sour cream, butter and a little too much salt and pepper - this is what that tasted like, but a LOT better.  Everyone really enjoyed it and Mary Beth specifically asked to take the leftovers home. I think this one will go into the regular rotation as well.

I wanted to knock another recipe out and though homemade potato chips would be a hit with the kids. So I also made Fingerling Potato Chips. This one's mise en place was super easy: potatoes, salt and oil.
And... I got to use my way-too-expensive-mayonnaise-making-machine AGAIN! I used it to thinkly slice my fingerling potatoes. Dude, seriously, my cost per use here is plummeting!
But here's where things get a little less super easy. All I had to do was heat the oil to 350 degrees, fry the potatoes and voila... Yeah. Right. Voila. So if the oil isn't quite 350 degrees because your candy thermometer isn't meant to attach to the side of a cast iron skillet full of oil and because it keeps touching the cast iron itself it's measuring the temp of the cast iron and not the skillet but you don't notice that because you're busy doing a hundred other things like preparing a Father's Day feast for twelve people and seriously it's not my fault, OKAY??? Soggy chips. That's what you get, soggy chips. If the oil isn't quite 350 degrees and you fry the potatoes in said oil - it's soggy chips. Stupid soggy chips. The small ones were crispy and delicious - you know when you go to a restaurant that makes their own chips and they're always so much better than bag chips? Well that's what the small ones were like - yummy. The rest of them were more like... um... soggy potatoes.

But they looked pretty!

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