Friday, February 11, 2011

Episode 6: Giada’s Yummy Fried Smashed Potatoes

Well, my version of Giada's Fried Smashed Potatoes with Lemons. Her recipe makes twice as much. Mine only serves 2. Also, I didn't have lemon in the house, so I went with orange. Of course, I added bacon (3 strips, diced & fried til crisp) cuz I'm like that. And I added hot pepper flakes, cuz I'm like that too. Giada, being Giada, uses fresh herbs. I've got dried herbs from Penzey's in the house right now, so that's what I used. Conversion for fresh herbs to dried is to use one third the amount called for when using dried – so, switch the tablespoons to teaspoons. So, Giada's 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley became 2 teaspoons of dried parsley. I'll definitely make these again. And I may not bother switching to lemon.


  • 1 pound baby or fingerling potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra if needed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & halved

Put the potatoes in a pot with enough cold water to cover by 2 inches, at least. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook about 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain and allow to dry for 5 minutes. Gently press the potatoes until lightly smashed. (Giada uses her palm; I used my stainless steel bench scraper.) In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic & cook until fragrant and lightly brown, about 1 minute. Remove the garlic & discard. In batches, add the potatoes and cook, without disturbing them, until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Gently turn the potatoes over, drizzle with olive oil, if necessary, and cook until golden brown on the other side, another 5 to 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 ½ tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Spoon the dressing over the potatoes (and bacon, if using) and toss gently until coated. Adjust salt & pepper, if necessary

Episode 5: The Adventure of the Pineapple Pig

First up, regarding the Moo Shu pork – it was tasty enough but I'm tweaking it before I post it so it'll be awhile. If you really want the recipe before that, just email me and let me know. I'll send you the original recipe, what I did and what I'd change. I am definitely looking forward to trying it again. Thinking it will totally rock with shrimp or beef too! Oh…and I'll also be finding a recipe for moo shu pancakes. There was something just a little too weird about eating Chinese food out of tortillas. Not bad in a pinch, I guess. I've never had them but I'm figuring this moo shu pancake thing must pretty much just be a Chinese crepe. How hard can that possibly be? Updates will follow as they become available.

Anyway…so here in the lovely state of New Hampshire, we are pretty much up to our butts in snow with plenty more on the way. Don't get me wrong – I'm good with that. This is New Hampshire & it's the middle of winter…it's SUPPOSED to snow. But it's been a long winter already & I'm definitely antsy for spring. I know spring will come. Eventually. I mean, it kind of has to, right? Until then, I'm responsible for creating my own private Margaritaville. And while I love finding it in the bottom of a glass like any good parrothead, sometimes it's fun to play culinary Jedi mind tricks on myself and toss the tropical flavors around. And when I ran across a recipe for pineapple-ginger glazed pork chops that I clipped from…I'll guess Family Circle…I knew I had to try it.

I changed it. Of course. They used 4 bone-in pork chops about 1" thick. I used boneless ones about the same size. And since the idea of sliced red peppers spending 3 hours getting mushy in the crock pot made me queasy, I decided to marinate the pork chops, broil them (since I don't have a grill) and then glaze them. What "they" call a glaze, by the way, I call BBQ sauce, but whatever. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. I also took it a step further and made a recipe for pineapple salsa that I had clipped…perhaps even from the same magazine. (The magazine served it with pork tacos, which I'm also going to try at some point.) And since it's my blog & I make the rules around here, the salsa counts as my side for the week. To be fair, there was a big enough pile of it on my plate to count as a side dish. LOL

The first thing I did was marinate the pork chops in:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon each: red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder& ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

I let the chops soak for about 24 hours. Flipped them once about halfway through. Ended up using the same kind of marinade a few days later for chicken and it rocked.

Meanwhile, I made my Pineapple-Mango Salsa…

  • 2 cups pineapple chunks, diced
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced (remove the seeds & the ribs if you don't want the heat, keep 'em if you do)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I actually grate it now…way faster…unless you're Jacques Pépin LOL)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Mixed it all…tossed it in the fridge.

Like I said, this salsa recipe came from a recipe for pork tacos. They made the salsa with the pineapple, garlic, jalapeño and 2 plum tomatoes. I only had one plum tomato in the house so I went with that. I also decided it'd be way more tropical with a mango tossed in there. Next time, I'd throw…I don't know…maybe a kiwi and/or some pomegranate seeds or something in there to give it a little pop of color. For the salsa dressing, they mixed: ¼ cup lime juice, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. I think cilantro is a love it or hate it thing. Personally, I hate it…makes me think of what I imagine dirty dish water tastes like… so I went with the dried parsley I had in the house. They used 2 tablespoons of that mixture for the salsa and marinated the pork for their tacos in the rest.

So the next day I made the BBQ sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste. I kinda like the heat)
  • ¾ cup pineapple juice (they used 1/3 cup crushed pineapple for their "glaze")
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons honey (they used 1 tablespoon light brown sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon each garlic powder & onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

I warmed the olive oil up, tossed the red pepper flakes in for a few seconds to let them "bloom" and flavor the olive oil. Added the rest of the ingredients, mixed it well and simmered it until it reduced by half.

I broiled the pork chops for about 4 minutes, added some BBQ sauce and let it go about 3 more minutes to caramelize. Flipped it and did the same thing to the other side. Let it rest about 10 minutes before you eat. The cooking time is estimated. For years, we've been told to cook pork to death (170°F) because of trichinosis. Trichinae parasites are killed at 137°F. From what I've read on the Food Network's website, advances in pork production have virtually eliminated trichinosis in the US. The few cases that have been reported in recent years have been traced to privately raised pigs or wild game (bears!!). And don't forget, the meat will cook another 5-10 degrees while it's resting. I usually pull it out of the broiler when it reaches 155°F or so.

I gotta say…it was a great idea. 3 recipes…and all 3 are keepers. Love it when that happens!!

Wow…is this entry *finally* done?? I think it is! Hurray!!!

Episode 4: White Chocolate-Cranberry Cheesecake

Part of my Christmas gift from Michael was a recipe box from Philadelphia Cream Cheese. As anyone who really knows me probably suspects…yes, I blew right past the appetizers section and went straight for the cheesecake recipes. I decided to start with the White Chocolate-Cranberry because I've always loved the flavor combination. The recipe was quick & easy…no fuss, no muss, which I like sometimes. I think the crust could have been thicker. I mean, it's Oreos…can you really have too much?? Also, while I liked the flavors, I can't say I was jazzed about the raisin-like texture of the dried cranberries in a cheesecake.

Anyone who has seen my Facebook status at all this week is probably saying "She was bitching about not being able to focus on THIS blog entry?? Really??" But no, this isn't the one. That one is next. Just figured I'd get the fast & easy one out of the way.


White Chocolate-Cranberry Cheesecake


  • 1 ¼ cups Oreo crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest


Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F if using a dark nonstick pan). Mix the cookie crumbs & melted butter and press firmly into the bottom of a 9"-springform pan.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese & the sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix until just blended after each addition. Stir in the white chocolate, cranberries & zest. Pour into crust.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.