Potatoes and Shallots

Taters and shallots are like Starsky and Hutch or peanut butter and jelly.  They go together really well.  Inseparable.  Anyway, this has long been a favorite campfire meal side dish that I began doing ritualistically almost 10 years ago.  Campfire or not, throw some potatoes and shallots together with a little fat and it will come out great. 

Cut the shallots into big chunks after peeling them as shown in the photo.  Cut potatoes into large chunks as well.  Toss with a little salt and spice and a squirt of olive oil to get them all lightly coated and you’re ready to seal them up into an aluminum foil pouch.  Holy Schnikies!   

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Yam Gratin in Traditional Cook Stoneware

In this post I’m killing two birds with one Stoneware.  First up, I was notified that Canadian Thanksgiving was soon approaching, and I wanted to become the first American ever to acknowledge Canada’s existence by cooking up my holiday favorite in preparation for Canadian Thanksgiving next week.  Hope this one becomes a Canadian tradition.  I leave it up to the dozen or so Canadians that will read this post to make this a viral holiday treat. 

Secondly, a big 180 follower and fan – and also a long-time Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter leader Maria Atwood of www.traditionalcook.com sent me a free piece of her amazing Stoneware.  This stuff is awesome.  I didn’t know what to expect, but the stoneware exceeded all my expectations.  This is far superior to any type of baking material I’ve ever used before, and there’s no way I’ll use glass Pyrex or Aluminum pans for baking ever again. 

The Stoneware is very heavy, which creates perfectly-even heating.  It also has a rough, sandpapery surface that keeps food like this gratin from sticking to the pan while giving it a crisper crust all in one shot.  Ooh, it came out so nice.  I highly recommend Maria’s stoneware, which is totally affordable and ships within just a few days.  CLICK HERE to view all the different stoneware pieces Maria has for sale and get yours before she runs out of her holiday inventory.   

Anyway, here is the video for my favorite starchy, seasonal holiday side dish – a savory, rather than marshmallowy and sweetened “sweet tater” dish that many of us fear having to eat at those holiday occasions.  Seasoned with cayenne, lots of salt, garlic, and ideally tarragon (damn you grocery store!), this does not have the grotesque sweetness of any yam/sweet potato dish you’ve been served in the past. 

Ingredients:

  • 5 yams or sweet potatoes, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 bunch chopped tarragon
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • Lots of cayenne pepper and lots of salt (more than you would think)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Make the “sauce” by whisking the cream, half and half, garlic, and seasonings all together in a large bowl.  Add enough salt to where the cream mixture has a noticeably-salty flavor.
  2. Mix the cream mixture with the sliced yams/sweet potatoes until each slice is somewhat coated.
  3. Grease a Stoneware rectangle pan with butter.
  4. Pour in the sliced yams and cream, spread evenly throughout the pan, and pack down tightly.
  5. Add a little additional half and half if yams are not at least half submerged. 
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and poke a few holes in it before placing in the oven at 425 degrees F. 
  7. Bake for at least 45 minutes then reduce heat to 375 and bake for an additional 15 minutes or so, or until yams are fully softened. 
  8. Remove aluminum foil and pack the yams down again with the back of a large spoon or spatula.  Add chopped pecans and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until pecans are crispy.
  9. Remove from oven and let it cool and settle for at least 20 minutes before slicing into squares and serving. 

This goes great with just about anything, and is certainly not something I serve only on holidays.  In fact, having a baking dish full of nice squares of starch portions makes for very convenient meals throughout the week or on the go for work. 

Big thanks to Maria Atwood for this awesome baking dish!  www.traditionalcook.com

You can read more about why Maria is so into her Stoneware baking dishes at http://traditionalcook.com/Stoneware-Article.pdf

And about the virtues of Stoneware for baking here:  http://traditionalcook.com/more-stoneware-popup.shtml

Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Broth

Back again with another very simple recipe.  I’ve been making this almost daily of late.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it tastes a lot better than you can imagine.  This is a great staple dish for those of you with strong metabolisms that are ready to part with a little body fat, and is one of the several recipes included in the new 180 Degree Metabolism

Ingredients:

  • 10 frozen shrimp
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • Splash of water
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • Salt
  • 1-2T butter

Directions… Throw it all in a pot and cook it until it’s done – except for the butter that is. Stir that in at the very end.  Takes 5-7 minutes. 

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 9:20 am  Comments (10)  
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Potachos

In March I went super gourmet on ya.  This month, and probably for several months, it’s time to simplify.  Many want to know how to make healthy eating practical – and while I maintain my belief that your homemade food must be really good and satisfying to keep you eating clean homemade meals, it need NOT be difficult or complicated.

Enter “potachos,” my super ghetto potato with a nacho theme – one of my favorite quick lunches over the last month as I busily slaved over the new version of 180 Degree Metabolism

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yukon gold potato, boiled and lightly-mashed
  • Salsa
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Sour cream

Directions:

  • Mash the potato (make sure it is warm to begin with)
  • Season with salt or a seasoning blend
  • Cover with salsa and shredded cheese
  • Broil in the oven until cheese is melted
  • Top with sour cream
  • Add additional condiments, such as fresh cilantro, black olives, or whatever ya like
Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 9:19 am  Comments (12)  
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Blackened Filet Mignon

The Mignon Man March is going strong.  Here’s the next installment – quick and easy (and smoky) blackened beef tenderloin.  This one combines several prior episodes of 180 Kitchen, as I dust the tenderloin with the seasoning blend from the last post, and serve it with parmesan polenta (a former post) and wilted spinach (the first 180 Kitchen post). 

Directions:

1) Coat top and bottom of the tenderloin with blackening spice.

2) Sear on high heat until a nice crust forms on both the top and the bottom.

3) Lightly sear the remaining sides.

4) Place in oven at 350 degrees F until cooked to your liking. If rare, you can skip the oven step.

5) Slice in the middle and serve with some yummy starch and a side of vegetables for a perfect meal.

Next in the Mignon line up is tartare!  Stay tuned!

Parmigiano Polenta 101

This is an old peasant favorite.  Cooking doesn’t get more simple and easy than this. 

First off, this is the first of several announcements that there will be a big kickoff to the 180 Kitchen blog in March – a month with several posts and videos dedicated to one beautiful topic – Filet Mignon.  It will be dubbed, “Mignon March.” 

The videos are currently being recorded, and one such dish with Filet Mignon that I whipped up last night was served over the ever-versatile, satisfying, and simple quick polenta with white cornmeal.  I’ve made this so many times in my life that I wouldn’t even dream of taking the time to measure anything.  I understand many people get frustrated with my lack of reliable measurements, but I continue to uphold my belief that technique, intuition, flexibility, and focus on the food is the primary means of becoming a great chef – not stubborn adherence to stiff measurements.  And this site and my cooking eBook is not dedicated to your success with dinner tonight, but in your success in developing the skills and tools needed to make EVERY dinner (and lunch and breakfast) a great success. 

General directions are:

1) Bring a half-water to half-cream pot of water to boil (whole milk or half n’ half can be used with no additional water as well if you prefer, and make a sweeter finished product).

2) Whisk in white cornmeal, yellow cornmeal, or grits until you feel a slight thickness developing.

3) Reduce heat and cook covered for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times – the coarser the cornmeal or grits the more liquid it will need and the longer you will need to cook it to keep it from being “grainy” and “gritty.”

4) Finish with a hearty chunk of butter (whisked in immediately to avoid separation) and plenty of real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

The finished product should be almost as smooth as mashed potatoes with a similar consistency.  It should not be stiff nor should it be so runny that it oozes across the plate.  The biggest mistake made with polenta is adding too much cornmeal.  When the ratio of cornmeal to liquid is too small, it won’t get soft and creamy no matter how long you cook it. 

You can also spread the polenta out on a sheet tray, let it cool in the refrigerator, and then cut it into slices for frying or grilling on a barbecue grill as well.

At the end of the video you will see I included a brief clip from one of my Filet Mignon videos to show you the consistency and look of the finished product once it has cooked for several minutes and received a 180 shot of butter and Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Published in: on February 19, 2010 at 11:17 am  Comments (18)  
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White Truffle Fries

Wow you guys.  I’ve been putting down pound after pound of truffled fries cooked in expeller-pressed “refined” coconut oil.  They are simply incredible when you get them right.  Just make sure if you are dropping ’em in the oven like I do in this video, that the heat is cranked up pretty high.  425 degrees F is a minimum if you want them crispy and downright amazing.  This is seriously one of the best things I’ve made and eaten in my home kitchen in the last year.   Make this for yourself, your significant other, or for a small group of friends and they will have a whole new level of respect for your culinary studliness.  Note: the truffle oil, although amazing, is totally not necessary.  Even without it, a perfectly-cooked homemade Yukon Gold french fry that is properly seasoned is a force to be reckoned with.  Enjoy!