On the side: Potatoes & Bacon

I know. Not a novel combination, but sure it is a winning one! This is a pretty universal dish, I guess. I can’t claim as Latin cuisine, but it is something I grew up eating. My mom would often make this and add beaten eggs just before they were done. The result was a sorta scrambled Spanish tortilla.

This is another no-recipe side dish, just an idea to think of next time you’re serving potatoes.

Bacon Potatoes

Potatoes, peeled & cubed
Bacon, chopped
Green onions, chopped
Butter (optional)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

After cubing the peeled potatoes, toss them in a pot filled with cool water and salted. Bring them to a boil and cook until tender, but not completely soft–they will finish cooking later. Drain the water and set the potatoes aside.

While the potatoes boil, heat a skillet (large enough to hold the potatoes) and render the fat from the bacon. Cook the bacon until it begins to turn golden but before it is completely crisp. Add the green onions and stir to make sure they don’t brown too much.

Add the potatoes to the bacon & onion mixture, tossing the potatoes to coat in the bacon fat. If the potatoes seem too dry, add a bit of butter to fully coat them. Season with salt & pepper and serve!

The Hubbz and BBoy, being men and lovers of excess, decided that these were just a step away from being baked potatoes. So they topped them with crema fresca (creme fraiche or you could use sour cream) and shredded cheese. And you know what? They DID taste just like a baked potato and it was soooo good! Also, any leftovers are awesome for tacos, whether you add eggs or beans or neither. YUM!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Potato & Chive Tart-ish thing

You know what’s funny? Calling something by the wrong name. It’s not like I don’t have the whole world just a few fingertips away. Nonetheless, for the 24, 24, 24¬†meal I called this a Potato & Chive¬†Galette. Turns out, galettes are supposed to have a crust, which this definitely doesn’t. I don’t know what it is, because a tart should probably have a crust too.

What I do know, is that this was off the chains good! It allowed me to use my mandolin, and you know how much I love that. Layering the paper thin¬†slices of potato and then¬†pan frying them to make a crust, turned out something simply delicious. I wish you could’ve tasted them. Oh wait, you can! This was served with Vodka Roasted Beef Filets…oh my!

Potato & Chive Tart-thing
Serves 8

6-8 medium potatoes, peeled, preferably Yukon Gold
1/2 cp chives, cut to 1/2 inch pieces
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Melted butter, about 1-1/2 sticks

Preheat oven to 375¬į. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by generously covering the bottom and sides with softened butter.

Using a mandolin on the thinnest setting, slice the potatoes into paper-thin slices. I sliced about 2 at a time, this allowed me to layer them before they turned color. Under different circumstances, I would suggest slicing all them and putting them in cool water until ready to use. But for this I wanted to keep as much moisture out as possible. So working in batches was a better method.

Place the first layer of potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish making sure to cover the entire surface and overlap them slightly. Next, using a brush, dab with melted butter. Now sprinkle some chives, salt & pepper. Begin a new layer.

I layered potatoes 3 or 4 times, repeating the steps above every time except for the top layer. Do not sprinkle chives on the top, just finish with butter, then salt & pepper. Once you have layered all the potatoes, put it in the oven until the potatoes soften, about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced.

Now. You have 2 options here. You can stop at this point, just slice the tart-thing and serve. Or, if you like the balance of crisp and soft like I do, you can crisp it up a bit. uh huh.

Invert the tart-thing and slice into even squares. Heat a skillet, add some olive oil and butter and brown the squares on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve. That night we browned them in the same skillet we cooked the filets, it had bacon fat. HELLO!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Potato, Potahto

Not really a vegetable, more of a root or tuber, but definitely a great ingredient for side dishes. I love to combine them with bacon of course, onions and butter. In no particular order.

This is one of my favorite ways to put them together. Quick, easy and delicious.

Onion Potato Casserole

5 medium potatoes, peeled
1/2 large sweet onion (a 1015 or similar)
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Slice the potatoes into very thin slices. If you have a mandolin, use the #2 setting. While you work on the onions, submerge the potatoes in cool water to avoid oxidation.

Do the same with the onions, slice them into very thin slices. Separate the onion rings and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375¬į. Generously butter an ovenproof dish, I used a pie pan. Make sure the butter covers the bottom and sides of the dish. Begin layering the potatoes and onions. First, a single a layer of potatoes, try not to overlap them too much.

Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper, then add another layer of potatoes and onions, finishing with potatoes.

On the last layer, top with salt & pepper, then drizzle the olive oil evenly.

Cover with foil paper and bake it for 20 minutes. A the end of that time, remove the foil, raise the oven’s temperature to 400¬į¬†and bake for another 15 minutes.

Check out the pretty colors.

Foodie Joust: Bacalao Casserole

Jen, from The Leftover Queen, has a monthly contest featuring 3 predetermined ingredients. She calls it the Royal Foodie Joust. For February, the ingredients are fish, coconut milk and nutmeg. I simply had to enter. Those are 3 of my favorite ingredients.

Coconut milk is ever present in Panamanian & Caribbean cuisine, besides that, I LOVE the flavor it imparts to food.
Fish–well, I come from a country which name means ‘abundance of fish’. Need I say more?

Nutmeg. I love its smoky, sweet aroma and taste.

There’s a dish my mom prepares, a casserole of sorts. She recently reminded me of it and I’ve had it on my to do list for a few months. Turns out, I’ll be using my mom’s basic dish, then tweaking it to fit the joust.

Her dish calls for bacalao¬†(salted dry cod), potatoes and a b√©chamel sauce. Can you guess? Instead of b√©chamel, I’m using coconut milk, yeah baby, yeah! So, without further, you know, babbling, here’s the recipe.

Bacalao Casserole

1 lb bacalao (dry salt cod)
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, chopped
3 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp habanero sauce (optional)
1/4 cp white wine
1 cp coconut milk
1 cp water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, approx
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cp panko crumbs
1/2 cp bread crumbs

First you need to reconstitute the bacalao. Reconstitute is a fancy way of saying hydrate. Put the cod in a bowl and add boiling water, let it seep for about 15 minutes. Drain water and repeat the process once more or until the fish feels pliable. Drain and shred the fish. Set aside.

I weighed the contents of a 1lb container, it only weighed 12ozs

In a medium skillet, fry the bacon over medium-high heat just enough to render the fat and give it a bit of color. Add the onion and cook until translucent, then add the red pepper. Cook until softened. Add the bacalao, garlic and habanero sauce, stir until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Add the wine and cook it down until evaporated, this will only take a minute or two since the pan is quite hot. Once the wine has evaporated, add the coconut milk, water and nutmeg. Stir and bring it to a boil, then turn down the temperature to a simmer and cook covered for about 20 minutes. The flavor of the coconut milk intensifies overnight, so I did this part of the recipe the day before I served the dish.

Preheat oven to 375¬į.
Lightly brown the bacon in a skillet, remove and drain. You want your potatoes cubed pretty small. Add enough oil to the skillet to be able to brown the potatoes. Fry the potatoes in 2 batches. Once you have browned the first batch, transfer them to an ovenproof dish. Finish the rest of the potatoes, then mix in the bacon right into the baking dish.

In the same skillet, melt the butter and add the breadcrumbs, stir them frequently until lightly browned. Set aside.

Add the bacalao mixture over the potatoes, then top the potatoes with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving. This would go beautifully with tajadas.

By the way, come check out the other entries and vote for me!!! Rock the Vote!

That’s it. Enjoy!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

PSP: Potato Salad Perfection

Yes, I’m going to be¬†obnoxiously¬†braggy about this one. I’m sorry, but I can’t help it. Well, I could help myself, but I don’t really want to. I love my potato salad. I just do. I try other potato salads, but I always come back to mine.

I object to the mustard base potato salad so popular here in Houston. I don’t really care to have bits of onions in it, because it reminds me of salads gone wrong after a day of hanging out by the beach. Don’t bother trying to make it healthy for me with bunches of carrots or celery. And please don’t be stingy with the eggs OR the mayo.

My salad is a combination of¬†my mom’s and one of her best friend’s recipes. After my sis-n-law brought me Piment d’Espellete, I’ve incorporated it into my recipe, but it isn’t necessary. It’s creamy. It’s eggy. It showcases the potato’s sweetness. It’s just good. Grab some potatoes and go to work. You’ll see what I mean.

Mi Ensalada de Papas
Yield: approx 6 cups
5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 medium carrot, halved
1 tbsp sea salt
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 cp mayo (use the real thing)
2 tsp Dijon or Creole mustard
1-1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream or milk
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Piment d’Espellete or Smoked Paprika
Sea salt, if necessary

After you’ve peeled the potatoes, cut them into quarters. The cubes should be as uniform as possible, that way they all cook at the same rate. However, don’t cut them too small or the potato will just break apart. Place the cubed potatoes in a medium pan with the carrot and fill with enough¬†water to¬†pass the potatoes by about 1-2 inches. Add the salt and bring to a medium boil, cooking the potatoes for about 12 minutes or until fork tender. Drain completely and allow it to cool.

While the¬†potatoes cook, boil¬†the eggs.¬†Put the eggs in a small saucepan¬†and fill with¬†water. Allow the water¬†to¬†boil for about¬†3 minutes, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for another few minutes (about 8 minutes). Drain the water and fill the pot with cold water, let them sit in the cold water for about 2-3 minutes. You’ll end up with perfect, beautiful eggs. Peel and chop the eggs, set aside.

Combine the mayo, mustard, sugar, cream, piment/paprika, black pepper in the bowl you’ll mix the salad. Make sure you mix all the ingredients very well. I usually break a piece of one of the potatoes and put a little dab of the mayo mixture on it to taste the flavors. I then adjust the salt as necessary. Set this aside.

Chop the potatoes and carrot¬†into bite-size pieces and add them to the bowl with the mayo. Add the eggs and mix in all the ingredients, making sure the mayo is well distributed. If it seems a bit dry, mix another couple of tablespoons of mayo with cream, pepper and a pinch of sugar. That’s it.

You now have a perfect batch of potato salad. Enjoy!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris