Category: potatoes


In those menus where “vegetable plate” is included in the title, it’s pretty much just that–a plate of vegetables. But it is anything but haphazard in design. I strive to achieve an interesting balance of tastes and textures on the plate that appeals from a gustatory as well as visual perspective. And I like to try new and interesting combinations.

The highlight of tonight’s menu is a bean and tomato dish that I created simply because I thought the flavors would be nice together. And they were! A few thin slices of onion and a peeled and chopped yellow tomato went into a skillet with a bit of olive oil and stewed together over low heat until the tomatoes were saucy but still chunky. Meanwhile, sliced Romano beans were blanched briefly in boiling water until just crisp tender. At that point the beans are drained and added to the skillet with the tomato mixture and everything is heated together for just a minute or two before serving. A bit of sea salt and a grinding of fresh pepper was all that was needed to finish the dish. Superb if I do say so myself!

July 24th Vegetable Plate

Oven-roasted new potatoes split and topped with a dollop of sour cream
Romano beans and tomatoes Chez Edouard
Fried okra breaded with Southwestern-spiced cornmeal
Yeast rolls

Peach and blueberry cobbler with whipped cream

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Bread and Butter Pickles Chez Edouard

Bread and Butter Pickles Chez Edouard

So what does this photo have to do with tonight’s menu? Nothing really. But yesterday I made these jars of bread and butter pickles and this morning I felt inclined to take a photo. Next fall and winter, I’ll be enjoying these as well as the dill pickles that I have been preserving along the course of the summer thus far. I’m anxious to make relish next weekend.

But on to tonight’s menu. On a hot summer day, a soup is probably the last thing most folks would think of cooking for dinner, but the abundance of fresh produce makes this a particularly wonderful time to combine the vegetables on hand with some fresh water, simmer until the flavors marry, and serve with a cornmeal muffin and a side salad. Simple, direct, and of the moment.

Summer vegetable soup of tomatoes, squash, onions, garlic, corn, new potatoes, and green beans garnished with finely diced banana peppers
Cornbread muffins
Garden salad with creamy dill dressing

A perfect peach

The main course for this menu is an adaptation of a James Beard dish presented in his book Beard on Pasta.* I have often remembered his introduction to the recipe: “I first had this at a dreary hotel in Genoa that was tolerable only because the kitchen knew how to do a few brilliant dishes. The tiny waxy new potatoes bathed in basil kept me there long after the beds and plumbing should have driven me away.”

The recipe originally intrigued me because it involved the combination of two starchy ingredients, pasta and potatoes, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two worked quite well together. But as is my usual practice, I have made changes to suit my own tastes. I like pesto as a “hint” in cooking, but I’m not overly fond of the sauce bathing a dish. And it’s rare that I have enough basil on hand to create it in the traditional way. So my rendition involves what I call deconstructed pesto. The pasta and potatoes are tossed with just enough extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic to achieve a light coating and then the dish is garnished with toasted pine nuts, a light chiffonade of basil leaves, and some grated Parmigiano Reggiano. I have omitted the cream that Beard calls for in the dish, preferring instead to dress the salad with a creamy buttermilk dressing.

Housemade fettuccine with roasted new potato wedges and deconstructed pesto
Salad of baby lettuces from the garden with green beans and buttermilk dressing
Yeast roll Chez Edouard

Housemade peach ice cream with pecan crisps

*Beard, James. Beard on Pasta. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1983.

Yesterday, the local farmers’ market was brimming with the first harvest of early summer vegetables. Among them: cucumbers, summer squash, tender green beans, new potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and sugar snap peas. Tonight I used several of those offerings for this week’s vegetable plate.

The green bean and potato dish is quite different from that of my southern upbringing (in which the beans were cooked until mushy and the potatoes were added during the last 20 minutes of cooking). Instead, I reverse the order by cooking the tiny new potatoes first until almost fork tender and then the tender young green beans are added for the last few minutes of cooking with a knob of butter to season the dish. The beans retain their crisp, succulent nature and provide a wonderful, crunchy foil to the soft texture of the potatoes.

Roly-Poly summer squash benefit from a quick dunk in buttermilk before being breaded in seasoned cornmeal and oven-fried while the bread bakes. The cucumbers were transformed into bread-and-butter pickles yesterday and although they will improve with more aging, they were more than acceptable tonight. The addition of freshly-made coleslaw completed the main course.

A deviled egg
Green beans and new potatoes with a butter glaze
Oven-fried Roly-Poly squash
Coleslaw and bread-and-butter pickles
Spoonbread

Baked peach crisp with a drizzle of heavy cream

This week’s trip to the farmers’ market resulted in finding beautiful baby turnips with their greens still attached and equally enticing small carrots. Meanwhile, my sister’s garden is yielding the first ripe cherry tomatoes, and my father allowed me to once again scratch in his garden to find the tiny new potatoes that I love so much. (Speaking of baby potatoes, have you seen how much the grocery stores charge for the small baskets of these, marketing them as “gourmet”? I have to laugh.) I garnished them with a dollop of sour cream and a light sprinkle of bacon bits, but if you wish to have a truly vegetarian menu, omit the bacon.

The ice cream recipe is my secret. I made it for our Father’s Day feast yesterday and the entire family praised it as the best butter pecan ice cream they had ever eaten.

June 17, 2013

Steamed baby turnips with their greens
Tiny carrot coins glazed with maple syrup and butter
Sea Island red peas from Anson Mills
Boiled new potatoes with sour cream and bacon bits
Sliced cherry tomatoes with crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Cornbread muffins

Eddie’s housemade butter pecan ice cream with brown sugar pound cake

A Southern Menu

Inspired by a roadtrip to Charleston and Savannah several years ago, tonight’s menu features a different treatment of traditional meatloaf. While the basic recipe is essentially the same as most others, the difference relies on the fact that the loaf must be made in advance and chilled overnight until firm. Then, thick slices are heated and charred on an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan. (If possible, I recommend the outdoor grill which helps impart a more smoky flavor and adds another layer of depth to the dish.) At the restaurant the slices were served with the standard gravy. In my variation, I have used a basting of barbeque sauce instead. The accompanying corn and asparagus salad is a staple at The Lady and Sons–Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah. And once again, while the meatloaf and salad take a bit of prep time, the beauty is that both MUST be made ahead of time, (ditto the dessert tartlets)–so there is little to do right before the meal.

Char-grilled meatloaf slices basted with barbeque sauce
Chilled corn and asparagus salad
Garlic mashed potatoes
Southern biscuit muffins

Lemon curd tartlet in a cookie crumb shell with a dollop of whipped cream

Tonight’s menu celebrates the transition from spring to summer. When I produce a vegetable plate I usually like to include a variety of tastes, textures, cooking methods, and (in warm weather) a combination of hot and cold offerings. And while that approach does involve a bit of extra time and effort, I try to streamline the prep by creating as many components as possible ahead of time. In this instance, the beets were made over the weekend and the lentil salad and muffins were produced earlier in the day, leaving only the potatoes and squash to deal with at the last moment.

Vegetable Plate for June 11, 2013
Chilled lentil salad served over baby spinach leaves
Marinated baby beets from Clay Family Produce next door
Boiled new potatoes from my father’s garden
Breaded and oven-fried summer squash from the farmers’ market
Cornbread muffins

Fresh strawberries and cookies

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