Potatoes a smashing success

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Smashed potatoes have been on my radar for a while. I’ve come across recipes for them several times online, in magazines, and in cookbooks, and have always been interested, but never took the time to make them.

I decided to make my first roasted chicken yesterday, and when deciding what to make alongside it, I remembered the smashed potatoes. They were fantastic. Though they take longer than just boiling or baking, the combination made for these tender potatoes with a slightly crisp exterior. The salt was enough seasoning on them, too. I topped mine with a bit of sour cream, which is also what I do with baked potatoes. They were so good. I’ll definitely be making them again.

Ingredients
15-20 small red potatoes
Olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Sour cream
Green onions, chopped

Boil the red potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place potatoes an inch or two apart on the baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment paper or foil on top of the potatoes. Smash them by placing another baking sheet on top and pressing down until you feel the potatoes give. If you don’t have another similar baking sheet or other flat surface to use, you can smash the potatoes with the base of your palm.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of each potato. Sprinkle potatoes with salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until potatoes are slightly browned around the edges. Serve with sour cream.

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Surprisingly delicous sweet-and-sour meatballs

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When I went to movie night at my friend’s place a couple weeks ago, one of the things I took was Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs. I got the recipe from AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch’s cookbook “High Flavor, Low Labor.” Though I’ve had the cookbook for a few years, I had never made these before, but I had tried his hummus meatballs and they were pretty good.

These were great right out of the oven. However, by the time I reheated them at my friend’s place, I found myself wanting some kind of dipping sauce for them. I’d recommend making or buying a teriyaki or sweet-and-sour sauce to go with these.

Ingredients
1/2 small yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons jarred jalapeño slices
1/2 cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup panko
1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil, then spritz them with cooking spray.

In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, and peppers. Process until finely diced, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the apple jelly, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and ginger. Pulse until well mixed, then transfer to a large bowl.

Add the breadcrumbs and ground beef, then use your hands to mix them thoroughly with the onion and apple jelly mixture.

Form the mixture into about 30 meatballs, arranging them on the prepared baking sheets. Spritz the meatballs with cooking spray, then bake for 20 minutes.

Appetizer as easy as 1-2-3

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I don’t often have an excuse to make appetizers. I don’t entertain, and usually when I contribute to a potluck or other event, I bake.

A couple of my friends and I got together for a movie night. We each agreed ahead of time to bring a couple food contributions. I made stuffed grapes, meatballs, and strawberry shortcake—because dessert is what I’m good at.

The stuffed grapes are something I learned to assemble last year as an easy appetizer. And really, when I say easy, I mean it. It requires three ingredients and a bit of patience. The funny thing is that, of the three things I took for movie night, these were the favorite. Sometimes simple really is best.

Ingredients
1 bunch red grapes
7-ounce log of goat cheese
1/3 cup pistachios, finely chopped

Remove grapes from stems. Cut the curved edge off the bottom of the grape so it can sit up when placed on a plate. Carve a cone-shaped space into the top. Repeat this step with all grapes.

Take a pinch of goat cheese and stuff it into each grape. Top with chopped pistachios.

Salmon makes a summery sandwich

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I haven’t done much cooking lately. I’ve been looking through my new cookbooks—Curtis Stone’s “Good Food, Good Life” and the Smitten Kitchen cookbook—and have been dining out a lot because it’s Dine Around Seattle month, and when I’m home I’ve been eating a lot of tacos and other homemade concoctions that I haven’t felt were exciting enough to share.

Yesterday I found myself with a couple hours at home, so I wanted to cook so I’d have something to blog about. Especially since I failed to post something last week. I pulled my Barefoot Contessa “Foolproof” cookbook off the shelf and found a recipe for a Salmon and Guacamole sandwich. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to put this together with a bit of improvisation. The original makes four sandwiches, but the one below makes one.

Ciabatta has been on my list of recipes to try for quite a while now. In lieu of having made any, I decided to just use some multigrain bread I had on hand. But I did get some ciabatta started. Hopefully I’ll have that to share next week.

Since I’m not a big fan of guacamole, I didn’t put all the usual stuff in it. I really like the flavor of fresh avocados on their own, and I’ve always felt the pepper and other additions just detract from that. For this recipe, I kept it simple.

Ingredients
2-3 slices of uncured turkey bacon, baked until crisp
1 4-ounce salmon filet, baked
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 avocado
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon La Victoria jalapeño sauce
Pinch of salt
4 leaves of fresh spinach
2 slices of multigrain bread, or a ciabatta roll

If you haven’t baked the bacon or the salmon, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the bacon on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place salmon in a baking dish and squeeze lemon juice on it. Once the timer goes off, place the salmon in the oven with the bacon and bake for 15 more minutes, or until salmon is cooked all the way through and the bacon is crisp.

Scoop the avocado into a small bowl and mash with a spoon. Add green onion, jalapeño sauce, and salt and stir until combined. Spread mixture onto one slice of bread. Place the salmon on top. Add bacon and spinach and top with other slice. Serve.

Seattle products make a pizza that’s hard to top

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I’ve been attending a lecture series on animals by Seattle Arts and Lectures. During one of the lectures, the speaker discussed the farming industry and mentioned that the rate at which humans consume meat simply isn’t sustainable as the population continues to grow. He mentioned finding alternate products, such as items made by Field Roast, a Seattle-based company that makes meat-like products out of grains and vegetables as a protein alternative. On my next trip to the store, I spotted some Field Roast sausage on the shelf, so I picked it up to try it. I’ve never liked regular sausage—mostly because of the texture—but this appeared to be a little different. I broke one of the links up and added it to a scramble the next day. It was really good.

I still had a link left when I got a craving for pizza last night. I didn’t want to wait too long for pizza dough to rise properly, so I opened up my Smitten Kitchen cookbook to the recipe for Rushed Pizza Dough and got to work.

As the dough was rising, I looked through my fridge for more toppings and found some locally made goat cheese and some Beecher’s Smoked Flagship cheese. I thought they’d help tone down the spiciness of the sausage a bit. I also had some fresh pesto and dill on hand to round out the flavors. It was definitely the best pizza I’ve made in recent memory, and a combination I plan on recreating.

Rushed Pizza Dough
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
Olive oil, for coating bowl

Preheat oven to warm (200-225 degrees F) for 5 minutes; then turn it off.

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let it stand for 5 minutes. Add the flour, then salt, and mix with a wooden spoon until a rough, craggy mass forms. Turn dough and any loose bits out onto lightly floured counter, and knead for 5 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms.

Coat inside of mixing bowl with olive oil, place dough back in bowl, then cover with plastic wrap. Place in previously warmed oven, and let it sit for 30 minutes, or until doubled. Remove dough from oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Using your hands, shape the dough into a circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Toppings
4 tablespoons pesto
1 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage
3 ounces goat cheese
3 ounces Beecher’s Smoked Flagship cheese
1 sprig of fresh dill, torn into small pieces

Spread the pesto around the shaped dough, leaving about a half inch of space between the sauce and the edges. Break apart the sausage and sprinkle onto the pizza. Do the same with the goat cheese. Grate the goat cheese over the top, and sprinkle the dill on. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Cut and serve.