Coriander Potatoes

18 Oct


I am very sorry to have to tell you this, but I have been holding out on you. For a few months now, I have been in possession of the simplest, most delicious side dish known to all of humankind, and I have not, as yet, shared it with you. There is no excuse for this, particularly when this recipe takes under 20 minutes to prepare, contains only a few simple ingredients, and is, I have delightfully discovered, so popular with those pickiest of eaters—children—that is disappears almost as quickly as a slice of chocolate cake. Almost. Not quite. This is a potato dish, mind you, not a plate of miracles.



Inspired by my son’s favorite side dish at a nearby Lebanese restaurant, the potatoes are perfectly warm with coriander, spiked with a bit of fresh chiles, and tinged with just enough garlic to make them interesting, but not dangerous. I can’t recommend enough that you make this side dish a last-minute staple at your house, as it has become at ours.


Last Year: Cheddar, Apple, and Poppy Seed Scones and Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Coriander Potatoes

1 ½ pounds potatoes (I use Russet, but I imagine a waxier potato would work just fine here as well), peeled and diced into ½-inch chunks

¼ cup olive oil, or a mixture of 2 tablespoons of olive oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of ghee

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 small chile (a Serrano works well here), sliced into thin strips or rings (seeds and ribs removed if you desire less heat)

salt to taste

sprinkling of chopped fresh Italian parsley

Heat olive oil (or olive oil and ghee mixture) in a large pan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the coriander and allow it to sizzle and brown for 10 seconds. Add the potatoes, stir to combine with coriander and oil, then cover, lower heat to medium, and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until potatoes have just begun to soften. Add the minced garlic on top of the potatoes, but don’t stir to combine. Place lid back over potatoes, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add sliced chile, stir to combine, and cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add salt to taste, then sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6 to 8 people as a generous side dish.

Lemon Chèvre and Fresh Fig Galette

10 Oct


Depending on where you live, this galette may serve to be either a blessing or a curse to you. If you are in a part of the world where there are aggressively defined seasons, the figs needed to make this galette will most likely be out of your reach until the arrival of next year’s summer. Here in the Pacific Northwest, where we can sometimes harvest tomatoes and beans into October, but oftentimes not taste fresh local corn until the summer is nearly over, you will still be able to find fresh figs. You may have to hunt a bit, and you may be straddling the point in a fig’s life that separates it from being perfectly ripe and perfectly rotten, but figs can still be found.



These figs arrived at our front door, via a neighbor’s backyard tree. Remember when I spoke of how much I cherish the pawning off of bushels of backyard zucchini? Well, I feel exactly the same way about being given excess figs. To be perfectly candid, I feel this way about being given excess anything that hails from a nearby garden—vegetables, fruit, compost, you name it. I am not picky when it comes to this particular arena.



I made this tart as a way to say thank you to the people to gifted me the figs. It seemed only fitting to turn around and share the figs in return, albeit in different form. As a lover of all things tart-and-galette, I felt like the only way to truly make these figs into a personalized gift was to fold them into a familiar form. My all-time favorite flakey crust (a must have for dishes both savory and sweet) serves as a base for rich, lemony chèvre that has been touched with just the slightest bit of honey. The figs, being incredibly ripe, need no doctoring whatsoever. Baked together in a slow oven, the figs release their juice, bubbling together with the softened goat cheese and perfect crust. You can serve this galette as a simple dessert, adorned with just a spoonful of honey sweetened cream, or as a main course, accompanied by a salad and perhaps a bit of salume and a slip of bread. I’ll be honest: I ate in while standing in my kitchen, swiping crumbs off of a table, and I enjoyed it immensely.



Last Year: Classic Bialys, Escarole, Leek, and White Bean Panzanella, and Sky-High Apple Pie 

Lemon Chèvre and Fresh Fig Galette

1 pastry crust for a single layer pie (this is my all-time favorite crust, courtesy of Tartine)

4 ounces chèvre, at room temperature

finely grated zest of 1 small lemon, about ½ teaspoon total

2 teaspoons honey

pinch of salt

6 large fresh figs, each fig cut into quarters or sixths

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out crust into a roughly 13-inch circle.

In a small bowl combine chèvre, lemon zest, honey, and pinch of salt. Mix together, then use a spoon to spread the mixture onto the rolled out pastry crust, leaving clear a 2-inch border at the edges. Place sliced figs, cut side up, in a single layer over the chèvre, arranging in somewhat of a concentric circle. Gently fold in the edges of the pastry towards the center, overlapping the folds where necessary.

Place the galette onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the figs are bubbly and the pastry crust is golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8 people.

Green Tomato Pakoras

30 Sep


Well, it happened. I’ve been wearing boots for the past week—a very rainy week, I might add—which can only signal that summer is officially over, and it’s time to buckle down and prepare our nests for the long, grey days of autumn and winter. And spring. And part of summer. But who’s counting?


In anticipation of our summer plans that would keep us away from home for most of July and August, we planted a rather modest vegetable garden this year. Our main garden component was tomatoes, and we were able to harvest a really nice crop after our return, which made for a lovely welcome back home. The tomato plants were still going strong as of about a week and a half ago, but with the cold weather sitting on top of us, it is obvious that the plump green tomatoes holding onto each vine have absolutely no chance of ever ripening. This, of course, is not a bad thing, particularly if you are as big of a fan of green tomatoes as I am.


I wanted to experiment with more ways to enjoy green tomatoes (aside from the ubiquitous—and delicious—fried green tomatoes), so, as I am wont to do when faced with a challenge, I turned to my Indian roots in the name of experimentation. It took me about five seconds to realize that my crop of green tomatoes was practically begging to be drenched in a spicy besan batter and pan fried into golden and crisp green tomato pakoras. I’ve made a few types of pakoras over the years, and I have to admit, I think these right here are my hands down favorites. In addition to using besan (chickpea flour) in the pakora batter, I added a bit of rice flour for an added lightness and crispness, and, in the interest of pumping up the mild flavor of the green tomatoes, I added a finely diced chile to the batter. The end result is nothing short of dreamy. With a stash of green tomatoes to keep me company, it almost makes me not so sad that summer has come to a close.


Last Year: Homemade Multigrain CrackersCheddar Apple Cornmeal Bread, and Apple and Toasted Oat Cookies with Penuche Frosting –is anyone else noticing that all of these recipes practically scream “AUTUMN!”?

Green Tomato Pakoras

¾ cup besan (garbanzo bean flour, also called gram flour)

½ cup rice flour

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 small chile, finely minced, seeds removed if you are concerned about spiciness

3 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

¾ to 1 cup water

3 to 4 large to medium-sized green tomatoes, sliced into rounds

vegetable oil

ghee (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together besan, rice flour, dried spices, chile, cilantro, and salt. Stir the grated ginger into ¾ of a cup of water, then slowly whisk the water into the besan mixture. You want your pakora batter to be thicker than pancake batter, but not so stiff that it clumps over the tomato slices. If your batter seems to thick, slowly whisk in the remaining ¼ cup of water until the batter lightens up a bit.

In a large, heavy skillet (cast iron works very well here) set over medium high heat, pour in about ¼ inch of vegetable oil, or a mixture of vegetable oil and ghee. Heat the oil until a pinch of batter dropped into it immediately begins to sizzle.

Using your fingers (seriously, don’t even bother with tongs or a fork here—fingers just work so much better), coat three or four tomato slices at a time in the besan batter. Gently place the tomato slices in the hot oil. They should sizzle and bubble immediately. Cook the tomato pakoras for about 3 minutes on each side, give or take, until the batter is deep golden brown and quite crisp. Remove tomato pakoras to a wire rack lined with a double layer of paper towels.

Serve pakoras warm or hot, with chutney or raita.

Serves 4 to 6 people as an appetizer.

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