Julienne Vegetables

This is a classic that we make quite often when the weather is cool. It was born of a microwave cookbook recipe that my dad used to make. The julienne slicing and paprika helped the vegetables cook a little better in the microwave. We make it in the oven but preserve the fun of eating identically cut vegetables. It still makes them cook faster than big chunks, and you get more caramelized brown area to enjoy on them. The original microwave recipe had a Cornish hen or two on top of the vegetables, but we have it alone or serve the vegetables on egg noodles to help make up on protein. This is another flexible recipe for which quantities are difficult to give – and you can add or subtract vegetables as you prefer – a parsnip or two or a celery root are fine additions.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Prepare:
Potatoes, scrubbed and sliced and cut into rough julienne, a pile at least twice as much as the volume of your other largest vegetable pile
Carrots, scrubbed or peeled, rough julienne
Celery, rough julienne
Onions, roughly slivered

Butter or olive oil
Paprika
Salt and pepper

Place the whole mess on a large baking sheet or gratin dish in a single layer – otherwise the veggies will steam rather than roast. Chunk up a bit of butter and scatter it among the vegetables, or drizzle with a little olive oil. Season generously with paprika, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes to an hour, based on the thickness of your cuts.

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Almond Potatoes

Hey, don’t scroll past this because it sounds weird, okay? It’s my most reliable quick potato recipe & always gets demolished. Yeah, you don’t think of almonds as one of those things that go with potatoes, do you? It was a bit of a happy accident, this one. It was originally a Madhur Jaffrey recipe that called for sesame seeds, not almonds, but one evening I found myself without sesame seeds halfway through the recipe, and so grabbed the only other seedlike thing in the house. It was a very pleasant surprise. Honestly, having made it both ways, it’s better with almonds than sesame seeds.

2 lbs. potatoes (I usually use russet-types but they all will work fine)
2 t. whole cumin seeds
1/4 t. whole fenugreek seeds
2 t. black mustard seeds
6 T. vegetable oil (this is the original amount called for – you can go easy on this if you want – I do)
1/8 t. asafetida
red pepper flakes
2 T. sliced almonds, chopped (or not, if you’re lazy or in the middle of three other recipes)
1/4 t. ground turmeric
salt & pepper
1/2 t. amchoor (ground dried mango powder. What, you don’t have it?!? Okay, a sprinkle of lemon juice will about get you there.)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro

Boil potatoes, whole or in chunks, according to size, in heavily salted water. Drain well and allow to cool a bit. Dice if necessary. Measure out all the spices. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking and put the spices in in this order: cumin, fenugreek and mustard first. Allow them to cook until the cumin seeds change color and the mustard seeds pop & turn gray. Add asafetida, chili flakes and almonds, quickly & fry briefly, then add turmeric & diced potatoes. Turn the heat to medium-high. Stir & fry the potatoes for 5-10 minutes, until they start to pick up brown spots. Add the salt, pepper, & amchoor. Stir & fry for another 5 minutes, until there are definite brown spots on them. Sprinkle cilantro over & serve.

Mashed Potatoes

First, of all, I’m the worst at giving proportions in a mashed potato recipe. I’ve never measured anything when I make them, ever.

Scrub baking potatoes, cut into large even chunks. Or peel, according to your whim. I’ll just tell you that the nutrients are mostly in the peel & you can have that on your conscience. Put into water and bring to a boil. Boil until cooked but not crumbling. Drain well in a colander AND SAVE THE COOKING WATER – let potatoes sit until they are getting that white starchy look a bit. This is very important & solves most cases of poor mashed potatoes.

Turn potatoes back into the pan. Add:

Butter (2 T. for a 5 qt. pot of potatoes.)
Salt (you need more than you think)
Pepper (you need more than you think)
Milk 1/2 c. to start (too much gives them an unpleasant sweet-milky flavor)

Mash or put through a ricer. Once you’ve started to get somewhere, add potato water a little at a time as you mash to get to the right texture. If you’ve riced your potatoes, mash in any later additions of seasoning – stirring mashed potatoes makes them gluey.