Smash Roasted New Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter Sauce

Smash Roasted Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter Sauce | Dinner Is ServedI grew up in what I like to refer to as the “Tang era.”   That powdery orange drink was all the rage in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It went to the moon so what’s not to love about it, right?  Unfortunately, Tang was the tip of the convenience food iceberg that consisted of over processed, industrialized food with colors not found in nature. Why enjoy freshly squeezed orange juice when you could be drinking….Tang!

Convenience food was IN, but on the whole, the food landscape during my childhood was pretty bleak.

Those dark days of cooking were eventually salvaged by the likes of Julia Child and Alice Waters who taught us that cooking could not only be fun, but cooking with natural/real ingredients and a handful of solid techniques could be even better.  Thank heavens my mom (who of course gave in to our constant clamoring for Pop Tarts, Snack Pack Pudding and the “Holy Grail” of convenience food: Swanson’s Frozen TV Dinners), regularly prepared dishes from scratch. And her buttery, new potatoes with dill were one of my absolute favorites.New Potatoes

In praise of mom’s Dill Potatoes, I’ve created my own *updated* version here using my latest most favorite smashed and roasted technique for the potatoes and finished with a lemony fresh sauce with honest to goodness real fresh dill and also some chives.  Actually the roasted potatoes are outstanding all on their own.  Just parboiled for about 20 minutes, then gently pressed (perhaps “smashed” is too violent a term here?), brushed with a little olive oil and finished in a 425° oven for about 30 more minutes:

Smash Roasted New Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Tempted as I was to just stop with the plain roasted potatoes, I felt the need to take it to the next level with some of the herbs that were popping up in my spring garden.

Smash Roasted New Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter | Dinner Is Served

With some butter of course, and fresh lemon, all gently melted together just to blend

Lemony Herb Butter Sauce | Dinner Is Served

This simple little sauce can be used on just about anything:  Vegetables, chicken, fish, grilled shrimp and pasta.  You can also vary the herbs based on what you have available.  Any delicate herb, like parsley, basil, tarragon, chervil, etc will add a uniqueness to the sauce.

As the French say “master a good butter sauce and you’ve conquered the culinary world.”

Well ok actually the French may not have said exactly that but the point remains that fresh is always best and my mom’s dill potatoes ruled the day.  In total gratitude, I salute you:Smash Roasted Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter Sauce |  Dinner Is Served

Smash Roasted New Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter Sauce

  • 2 # red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and left whole
  • 1/8 cup + 1 TBS olive oil
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • Chopped fresh dill and chives (about 1/4 cup in total)
  • 1/4 tsp. flour ** (for Gluten Free – substitute rice flour)
  • 3 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°

Place potatoes in a large saucepan with cold water to cover and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Drain well.

Spray a sheet pan with non-stick spray or line with non-stick foil.  Place potatoes onto pan and using a glass or jar gently press down on each potato so it is slightly flattened and a little cracked. Using the 1/8 cup olive oil, lightly brush the tops of the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, melt the butter with the remaining 1 TBS olive in a skillet over very low heat until just melted.  Add remaining ingredients until just blended then take off heat.

Spoon sauce over roasted potatoes and sprinkle with some additional fresh herbs just before serving.

Serves 4-6

Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives

Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedFor me, Spring does not officially start until the chives appear in my little backyard garden. I can’t even remember how long ago I planted them, but it has to be at least 15 years ago by now. Through every harsh winter, rain soaking spring and blistering hot summer, they not only survive, they flourish.  Some years they flourish too much, and I find myself late summer, yanking rogue plants that pop up everywhere, while uttering some choice words.

But for now, they’re precious and welcome. As is this dish, which celebrates the best of spring with new potatoes, crispy green sugar snap peas, a touch of bright lemon and of course chives.

Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedIn fact, these sugar snap peas are so beautiful, I think they deserve a moment all to themselvesSugar Snap PeasPreparation is fast and incredibly simple. Just simmer some new potatoes in lightly salted waterSauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas and Chives| Dinner Is ServedA last minute saute brings everything togetherSauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedCan you imagine this served with your Easter ham? It’s also the perfect accompaniment to my Sautéed Lemony Pepper Chicken.  Or if you’re in a seafood state of mind, try it alongside my Broiled Scotch Salmon.

Spring has officially sprung here in Chicagoland my friends, and I am looking forward to many months of grilling, farmers markets and sunshine.  And a final word of advice on the chives: seriously, snip off those purple flowers and add them to your salads. They’re beautiful AND you won’t have 10,000 seedlings to pull in August.

Cheers!

Sautéed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives

1 1/2 # red new potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed

10 oz. fresh sugar snap peas

2 TBS olive oil

1/4 cup fresh chopped chives

1 tsp lemon zest

Fresh coarse ground pepper and Kosher salt

  • Cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium pan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat slightly and simmer for about 15 minutes or until just barely tender. Drain and set aside.
  • While potatoes are cooking, remove strings from sugar snap peas (if necessary).
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet for about 1 minutes over medium heat. Add olive oil and sugar snap peas. Add a pinch or two of salt and saute over medium heat until just crisp tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Add potatoes to skillet and saute until just heated through, about 1 minute longer.
  • Season to taste with additional Kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon zest.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette | Dinner Is ServedI appear to have a complete obsession with potatoes lately.  For the life of me, I can’t tell  you why they have been popping up here on my blog page with such regularity other than the fact that I have always loved potatoes and keep coming up with new and different ways to enjoy them!  I also love grilling summer vegetables, so it just seemed natural to bring these two together with some fresh herbs and a tangy mustard vinaigrette dressing.   I also wised up and FINALLY (after, what, 20+ years of serious cooking), purchased a gorgeous, stainless steel Weber® grill pan.  I can already tell we’re going to be best friends for life:

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette | Dinner Is Served

I also made a decent sized batch of my favorite Mustard Vinaigrette dressing using a nearly empty jar of TJ’s Dijon mustard.  Just add the ingredients to the jar (minus the mustard of course because it’s already in the jar) and give it a few good shakes.  This vinaigrette will keep for a good two weeks in the fridge and is perfect not only for salads, but grilled vegetables and as a marinade.

Food prep here is quick and silly simple.  Just par boil some potatoes for about 15 minutes

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Drain and while the potatoes are cooling, cut up some fresh summer zucchini, or any other kind of squash of your preference.  Toss with some olive oil, garlic salt and pepper:

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Cut up the cooled potatoes and repeat with the garlic salt, pepper and olive oil.  Then onto the grill it goes, until lightly charred.  Toss with just enough of the dressing to flavor the salad and serve immediately warm, or you can also serve at room temperature.

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Served this last night with a fabulous Red Wine & Coffee Marinated Sirloin Steak from Fine Cooking Magazine and a nice Cotes du Rhone from Trader Joes (2013 Laurent DuBlanc).  All in all, one fine meal.   I love you, potatoes and new grill pan.  BFF’s 4EVER ♥

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:

1 TBS Dijon mustard

3 TBS white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

1 medium garlic clove, crushed

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste

For the salad:

1 3/4 pounds of new potatoes, scrubbed

2 medium zucchini squash

Fresh herbs (basil, thyme, tarragon or parsley)

Garlic salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra Virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a glass jar.  Cover and shake until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes in a sauce pan with cold water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until just barely tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cool water.  Set aside to cool.

While potatoes are cooling, slice zucchini crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces, then cut each piece in half.  Toss with some olive oil,  garlic salt and pepper.

Cut small potatoes in half or quarter if large.  In a separate bowl, toss with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill pan for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat.  When hot, add zucchini and potatoes.  Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 10 minutes.

Remove from grill and place in a serving bowl.  Toss with a few TBS of the vinaigrette and some fresh herbs.  Season with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.  Or, cover loosely and serve at room temperature.

 

Serves 6

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Gardens are funny things.  You check in on them every day (as you should), making note of what needs to be pruned, fertilized, or various weeds that threaten to take over.  And then one day out of nowhere, you’ll notice that HOLY COW…you suddenly have an abundance of something and you need to use it immediately!  Anyone who has grown cherry tomatoes or zucchini know this phenomenon well.

Such was the case with my sweet basil this year.  It took off in the blink of an eye.  Mind you, I am not complaining one bit.

Sweet Baril

The obvious comes to mind of course: pesto.  But  I’ve already give you: Ultimate Basil Pesto.  I’ve also done a very awesome Grilled Pesto Chicken and Tomatoes.   Are you tired of pesto yet?  Yep, I thought not.  So let’s go another round, this time with roasted potatoes.  Specifically, some very fun and colorful ones like this:

Fingerling Potatoes

Roasted initially with a little olive oil, salt and pepper:

Roasted FIngerling Potatoes with Pesto | Dinner Is ServedWhile the potatoes are roasting, just throw together a very simple pesto sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, shallots and olive oil (no pricey $$$ pine nuts in this recipe):

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Which, when combined, look like this:

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Can we pause a minute to admire the glory that is basil pesto? ——– Ahhhh.   So anyway, after an initial roasting, the potatoes are tossed with this piquant mixture then roasted a bit more.  Your kitchen will smell like heaven on earth at this point.  Just sayin.   Then just before serving, the final touch of awesomeness: some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano:

Pesto Roasted FIngerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served.

 If you’re wondering whether you have to use multi-colored fingerling potatoes for this recipe, the answer is a resounding “no”!  You can use anything you have or like, although I do happen to think that thin-skinned potatoes are the real ticket to success with this kind of roasting.  As for things to serve with this dish, the possibilities are endless.  Basically whatever comes off your grill this summer (steaks, beer can chicken, sausages, ribs…) will go will be happy sharing a plate with these savory spuds.

One final note before I get to the recipe, which I promise I will do.  Try making them ahead of time, reserving a little of the pesto.  Just before serving, toss with the reserved pesto and parmesan cheese.  So simple and delicious!

PESTO ROASTED FINGERLING POTATOES

5 TBS olive oil

2/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 large or 2 medium shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 large or 3  medium garlic cloves, peeled

Nonstick vegetable oil spray or nonstick aluminum foil

2 1/2 # fingerling potatoes, scrubbed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Blend 2 1/2 TBS olive oil, basil, shallots, and garlic in a food processor until smooth.  Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper (can be made up to a day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate).

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with nonstick foil.  Toss the potatoes with remaining 2 1/2 TBS olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl to coat.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.  Roast potatoes until almost tender, about 35 minutes.  Pour pesto over potatoes and toss to coat.  Continue roasting potatoes until golden brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes longer.

Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl.  Add cheese and toss.

Serves 6

Potatoes Baked in Salt, with Garlic & Rosemary Butter

Potatoes Baked in Salt with Garlic & Rosemary | Dinner Is Served

This past month my paying job and social calendar have prevented me from cooking creatively and posting on my blog.  Not to complain about the paying job or social life, mind you!  I actually enjoy what I do five days a week and am blessed to work with some of the best co-workers on the planet.  However it’s busy season in the field of graduate medical education so my days are long and the weekends have been booked, and I’m tired.  The most I have been able to do is throw some steaks on the grill and bake some potatoes last weekend for Father’s Day.

Ok so they weren’t your average “throw them in a 400° oven for an hour” baked potatoes, let me just say.  They were fan-flipping fantastic, blog worthy baked potatoes, they were.

The credit for these best ever baked potatoes ever goes to Chicago Tribune columnist, John Kass, who took a break from Chicago politics and wrote a column on this unique baking method in November, 2012.  In turn, Kass credits America’s Test Kitchen‘s Julia Collin Davison, who he refers to as the “Goddess of Baked Potatoes.”  John made some changes to the ATK recipe.  As he states in his column “…every cook futzes with another’s recipe.”   And I, in turn, futzed around with Mr. Kass’s recipe.  The true magic here lies in not the measurements but the technique itself.

Potatoes Baked in Salt with Garlic &amp Rosemary Butter |  Dinn

They are indeed as the title indicates, russet potatoes baked on a bed of Kosher salt with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and whole garlic.  Finished with a heavenly roasted garlic, rosemary butter, which I kicked up with a little truffle salt.

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Butter

There is a science behind why this method works so well.  Why the outside stays crisp and the inside melts in your mouth.  I’m sure America’s Test Kitchen tested a thousand different methods before coming up with this one, singularly perfect way to bake a potato.  Thank god for food nerds.

If you’re concerned that these potatoes will turn out “salty,” let me assure you that if you just brush off the bit of salt that sticks to the bottom of the potatoes, they are not salty at all.  If you’re like me and think the best part of a baked potato is the skin, you’re in for a treat.  My only reservation about this method was that it seemed like a waste of perfectly good Kosher salt (I am solidly in the “no food shall go to waste” camp).  Then I remembered that I like to clean my cast iron pans with a little Kosher salt, and the leftover salt from the potatoes is perfect for this application.

Many thanks to Mr. Kass and the Goddess of Baked Potatoes for sharing this method and for elevating the humble baked potato to blog-worthy status.

Potatoes Baked in Salt, with Garlic & Rosemary Butter*

4 baking potatoes (see Note>), scrubbed and dried

2 1/2 to 3 cups Kosher salt

3 large sprigs fresh rosemary

2 heads of fresh garlic

Olive oil

4 TBS unsalted butter, softened

Truffle salt and black pepper (optional)

Equipment needed:

1 baking pan (ideally 9×13)

Aluminum Foil

Preheat oven to 450°.  Spread salt in an even layer in pan and lightly place the 4 potatoes atop the salt.  Important -> do not pierce the potatoes!  Add two sprigs of rosemary along the sides of the pan.  Cut a section off the top of each head of garlic and place at opposite corners of the pan.  Cover the entire pan with foil, crimping the edges to ensure a tight seal.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and raise the oven temp to 500°.  Remove rosemary sprigs and discard.  Remove garlic heads and reserve.  Lightly brush the tops of the potatoes with olive oil (do not move the potatoes).  Return pan, uncovered, to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile strip the leaves from the remaining sprig of fresh rosemary and finely chop (I usually end up with about 1 tsp).  In a bowl, combine chopped rosemary and softened butter.  Squeeze some of the garlic from the reserved heads of baked garlic and add to butter.  How much garlic and fresh rosemary you add is up to you (this is where the “futzing” comes into play).  Throw in a dash of truffle salt if desired and a grind or two of black pepper.  Mix well.

Remove potatoes from oven and pick each one up with a towel, gently scraping salt off the bottom of each.  Discard salt or save for another use.  Place each potato on a plate and break open the top with a fork.  Place a spoonful or two of the butter and serve.

Serves 4

Note> Brown skinned Idaho russet potatoes work best for this recipe.

* Recipe from Chicago Tribune’s John Kass and America’s Test Kitchen

Sauteed New Potatoes with Rosemary & Olives

Sauteed New Potatoes with Rosemary & Olives | Dinner Is ServedI may have just had these for breakfast.

Ok so I really did have these for breakfast this morning.  And also for dinner the other evening.  You see, these three ingredients (potatoes, rosemary, and olives) make me go weak in the knees.  Combine them all into one and resistance is futile.

Not to disparage classic roasted potatoes, but these are even better.  The potatoes remain perfectly tender and just slightly crispy on the outside.  And the rosemary stays fresh and bright.  The olives…oh my.  The icing on this cake, I tell you.

Speaking of rosemary, this poor plant of mine is currently sitting in a sunny window in my living room, looking pretty frazzled and definitely nowhere near as robust as when this photo was taken last summer. #iamsodonewithwinter2013-01-28 08.59.03A final few notes about this dish.  Feel free to jazz it up with a little crumbed feta cheese.  Serve it alongside almost anything (sauteed fish, chicken, lamb chops, steak..)  It can also be held at room temperature for a bit, making it a nice “make ahead” side dish.

And as previously mentioned, served cold for breakfast is pretty darned good as well.  Enjoy!

Sauteed New Potatoes with Rosemary & Olives| Dinner Is Served

Sauteed New Potatoes with Rosemary & Olives

  • 4 medium sized red potatoes (about 3/4 lb.) slices 1/4-inch-thick
  • 1 1/2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (each about 3-inches-long)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 3 TBS roughly chopped parsley
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the potatoes to a boil in enough salted water to cover them by 1-inch.  Reduce the heat to a brisk simmer and cook until tender, but not falling apart, about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels to remove excess moisture.

In a heavy, medium skillet, heat up the olive oil until shimmering.  Add the potatoes and rosemary and cook, flipping occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and browned, about 4 minutes.  Add the olives, parsley, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Gently stir to combine and warm.  Serve immediately or hold at room temperature for up to an hour.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes on the Lighter Side

Yesterday, I more or less had dinner done at 8:30 in the morning.   With my favorite slow cooker pot roast simmering away, I was able to turn my attention to the long list of things to do on my day off.  The savory aromas of the pot roast, a welcome reminder of the dinner that would be on the table at 5:30pm.

But then there was the matter of the potatoes.  My daughter just had to have cheesy potatoes.  Which presented a problem, because I had no clue what she meant by cheesy potatoes.   Did I make them in a previous life?  Did a friend’s parents make them for her at some point and not give me the recipe?  Was this an entire fabrication?

Moments like this are when a well stocked pantry and the internet come in handy.  I had potatoes and a block of cheddar cheese and a gallon of milk.  I also had a recipe from one of my favorite food contributors, Ellie Krieger, from Food Network, that I was able to rework for the ingredients I had on hand.  And the best part?  Ellie was able to work her magic by making a light version of scalloped potatoes with NO BUTTER and 1% milk (are you listening Paula Deen?)

Enthusiastic thumbs up from all family members and didn’t put me over my calorie count for the day.  Cheesy potatoes?  Oh yeah, I got that one down now!

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes on the Lighter Side

Ingredients

  • Olive oil spray
  • 3 pounds yellow potatoes, like Yukon gold, unpeeled, sliced into 1/4-inch slices OR 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cups cold milk (1 percent low-fat)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small sprigs thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese + 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, combined (or you may substitute 1 3/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese)
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • Dash hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt + 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 TBS chopped flat leaf parsley

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 2 quart, shallow baking dish with olive oil spray.

Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

Put the milk and flour into a large saucepan and whisk until the flour is dissolved. Add the garlic and thyme and heat over a medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the thyme sprig, and stir in the salt, white pepper, a dusting of nutmeg and a few dashes of hot sauce.  Add 1 cup of the cheese and stir until melted.  Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Arrange half of the potatoes in the baking dish. Pour over half of the cheese sauce. Add the remaining potatoes and top with rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  If desired, add a few more sprinkles of Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling. Put under the broiler and broil on high until the top is browned, about 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serving size: about 1 cup

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Well now isn’t this silly.  The one photo I chose above all to represent my food blog, was the pic of my roasted sweet potatoes.  I love the color, the contrast, the simplicity.  I should also mention that sweet potatoes happen to be one of my most very favorite things to eat on this planet.  You would think that surely I posted the actual recipe on my blog, wouldn’t you?

Negative.  Not a sweet potato recipe to be found.  Until now.

So here it is, in all its simplistic splendor. Exotic spices play off the sweet and tender potatoes.  A sight to behold, so feel free to present them at Thanksgiving or pair them with beef tenderloin for New Years Eve.  And yet they’re equally at home as a part of a weeknight family supper.  Kid tested and approved.  Healthy.

They’re at the top of my list.  And of course, will remain at the top of my food blog page.  Sweet.

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes

1 tsp. coriander seeds

½ tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp Kosher salt

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled

3 TBS vegetable oil

Put rack in middle of oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Coarsely grind coriander, fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes in coffee/spice grinder or in mortar with pestle.  Stir together spices and salt.  Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch-thick wedges.  Toss with oil and spices in a roasting pan and spread over one layer.  Roast for 20 minutes.

Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Serves 4 – 6

Wicked Easy Oven Fries

I suppose I could have just called these “Easy Oven Fries,” but that’s so bland and generic and easily passed over.  But throw in the word “Wicked,” and I may just grab some more attention!   Of course they’re not wicked in the “Wicked Witch of the West” sense.  But rather wicked good and easy to prepare.  The secret is par-cooking the potato wedges in the microwave for 10 minutes.   They crisp up in the oven in about half an hour, without drying out.  For some extra indulgence, toss them with a little truffle oil before serving or a few pinches of fresh herbs.  Or, if you’re like my children…just dunk them in a mound of ketchup.  Now THAT is wicked good eating!
Wicked Easy Oven Fries

1 ½ pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into wedges
3 TBS vegetable oil or olive oil
½ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450º. Place potatoes in a microwave-safe rectangular pan (ideally potatoes should fit in one layer) and cover with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in the plastic. Cook in microwave on high for 10 minutes. Carefully remove plastic wrap (there will be a good deal of steam and the potatoes will be very hot!). Drain potatoes briefly on some paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

Line a jelly roll pan with non-stick foil (or alternatively, spray with non-stick spray). Transfer potatoes to pan. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Bake in oven until crispy golden, turning occasionally, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Serves: 4

TIME SAVING TIPS:

Fries can be fully cooked and refrigerated ahead of time. Reheat in microwave or in a 325º oven for about 30 minutes, loosely covered with foil.

Upper Crust Potatoes

3 pounds Idaho potatoes (about 6)

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves

3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup milk

1/2 paprika

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup dried bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Oil the bottom of a shallow 2 quart baking dish.

2. Peel and very thinly slice the potatoes. Place them in a mixing bowl and add 3/4 cup of the cream. Toss to mix. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a skillet, and add the shallots and garlic. Saute over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes; do not brown.

4. Add the bay leaves and rosemary to the skillet. Whisk in the cream cheese, milk, and remaining 3/4 cup cream. Simmer, whisking constantly, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add paprika, salt, and pepper. Discard the bay leaves and pour the mixture of the potatoes; toss gently.

5. Arrange potato mixture in a baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle it first with the Parmesan, and then with the bread crumbs.

6. Bake until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown and bubbly, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

From The New Basics Cookbook by Rosso & Lukins