Friday, January 27, 2023

Stanley Tucci's English Roast Potatoes

I've been a big fan of Stanley Tucci since the first time I saw "Big Night," the 1996 film about two brothers opening a restaurant, in which he co-starred and co-wrote. I also looked forward every week to watching his TV series "Searching For Italy," where he traveled to a different region of Italy, explaining the local food specialties. When his memoir  "Taste" was published a couple of years ago, I devoured the stories about his upbringing, identifying with so many of the vignettes. Tucci is married to an English woman, Felicity Blunt, whom he credits with this recipe. My own British relative -- my son-in-law -- tells me that his mother makes potatoes in a similar way, although she coats them in flour before roasting in the oven. I tried making them both ways, but decided the flour coating wasn't really necessary. What I love about these potatoes is not only the taste -- they're crunchy on the outside and creamy inside -- but the fact that much of the work can be done ahead of time. First you boil the potatoes for a few minutes -- they shouldn't get fully cooked. Then drain them and give them a good shake in the pot to "rough them up."  Place the potatoes on a rack to dry for at least 15 minutes. You can do this hours ahead of time and just let them sit on the kitchen counter on the rack until you're ready to finish the potatoes. When you're ready to roast the potatoes, heat some olive oil in a baking sheet at high temperature until the oil is smoking hot.

Then dump the potatoes into the hot oil (careful not to burn yourself), lower the temperature and roast until golden brown, turning once or twice. This could take anywhere from a half hour to 60 minutes.

Turn them onto a serving platter and sprinkle with salt and if desired, some minced rosemary. These are a perfect accompaniment to steaks, chops and roasted meats.

English Roast Potatoes

  • 3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled cut into 1 1/2-2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons salt to put into the water
  • abundant boiling water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt to season the potatoes
  • minced rosemary, to season the potatoes
  1. Add salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the peeled potato chunks to the boiling water and lower to a simmer for 8 minutes.
  3. They won’t (and shouldn’t) be fully cooked.
  4. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot, shaking the pot to “rough up” the potatoes,”
  5. Place the drained potatoes on a rack for at least 15 minutes to dry.
  6. You can make the recipe up to this step even hours ahead of time.
  7. When ready to roast, place the olive oil in a baking sheet and put into an oven that’s been preheated to 425 degrees.
  8. Keep the baking sheet in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until it’s smoking hot.
  9. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the potato chunks into the hot oil, being careful not to burn yourself.
  10. Toss them to coat in the oil.
  11. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast the potatoes for 45-60 minutes, flipping them once or twice to make sure they brown evenly.
  12. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and finely minced rosemary (or parsley if that’s your preference.


Saturday, January 14, 2023

Marinated Olives, Feta and Lemon

I ate this marinated feta, olives and lemon appetizer at a party recently and loved it so much I had to move myself away from the dish. A quick search online turned up this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine and it was even better than what I remembered eating at the party. That might be because rather than use regular lemons, I used a preserved lemon that I had made from my meager harvest of lemons from the indoor lemon tree I have nurtured for years (they were huge though). If you've never made preserved lemons, they're a cinch to make with just kosher salt and lemons. The flavor is so much better than regular lemons, for recipes like this one. I'm looking forward to using them in more savory and even sweet dishes. You should give it a try. They keep forever in the fridge once they're "cured." There are many recipes online, but I used this recipe from Serious Eats, that also adds a bit of sugar.

But even if you don't have preserved lemons (they're also available to purchase online and in some specialty stores), you can use regular lemons from the store. The recipe comes together in a snap. Just heat the olives, garlic, lemon peel and hot pepper flakes in olive oil for about five minutes and pour over some crumbled feta cheese.

The recipe from Bon Appetit called for heating the bread in the oven for a bit, but I found that it's much better just to use fresh bread, untoasted. It will be much easier to soak up the juices and to pick up the olives and feta when the bread is soft, rather than toasted and hard. Dig in and you may find yourself doubling the recipe the next time you're invited to bring an appetizer somewhere.

Marinated Olives, Feta and Lemon

printable recipe here


5 ounces drained Castelvetrano, Cerignola, or other unpitted green olives

3 garlic cloves

1 preserved lemon, use only the peel, not the flesh (A regular lemon is fine)

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

7 ounces feta

Crusty bread (for serving)

Crush the olives and garlic partially on a board, using your palm or the flat end of a knife.
Place the olive oil in a pan and add the olives, garlic cloves, lemon peel and red pepper flakes.
Cook on low heat for about five minutes until the garlic starts to brown a bit.
Remove from heat and extract the gaarlic from the pan.
Let it cool slightly.
Crumble the feta into a serving bowl.
Pour the olive oil mixture over the olive mixture and stir to combine.
Serve with torn pieces of bread.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Plin - meat filled pasta from Piedmont

These enticing little bundles of goodness are plin, sometimes called agnolotti del plin — a filled pasta from the Piedmont region of Italy that I ate plenty of when I visited there this fall. It’s pronounced “pleen” and the name originates from the Piemontese dialect word for “pinch,” which is what you need to do to shape this pasta. There are many variations for the filling, but the traditional ones contain a variety of ground meats, cabbage and parmesan cheese. I wasn’t so ambitious to start cooking two or three roasts from scratch, but after making chicken soup, I froze some of the leftover meat, waiting until I cooked a pot roast to have two different meats to combine. You don’t need much of either meat (you could also add pork, or rabbit) and I can’t say for certain how much I used, but this is the kind of dish where you don’t really need a recipe. Just a little of this and a little of that will do. I also had leftover roasted cabbage and saved one wedge in order to add that the mixture. You can use spinach or swiss chard if you prefer instead of the cabbage. I put the meats, the cabbage, a little grated parmesan cheese, and a little bit of chicken broth in a food processor to blend it until smooth. All together, I ended up with about two cups of filling, enough to fill a couple hundred of these plin.

Don’t be intimidated by the shape. They’re easy and fun to do, assuming you know how to make homemade pasta. If not, click on this post. However, instead of using semolina and unbleached white flour, for this recipe I used only OO flour from Italy, which is easy to obtain where I live.

Click on this video to see how I shaped and cut the plin:

Boil the pasta until cooked through. This should take only about five minutes if the pasta is cooked when fresh. You can freeze them too for cooking later on. In that case, they’ll need a little more time to cook. To freeze them, lay them out uncooked on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for an hour or so. When they’re hard and frozen, you can gather them and place them in a plastic bag for whenever you need some. Don’t thaw them before cooking. Just dump them into the boiling water from the freezer.

Plin are typically dressed lightly in a meat sauce or dressed with butter, sage and parmesan cheese. I had a little of the sauce left over from the pot roast with bits of meat and herbs in it. I just put it in the blender and homogenized it, and used that as the sauce for the plin. Though not typically served in a broth, these would be delicious in a chicken soup too.

But for our Christmas Day first course, I swished them around in the leftover pot roast sauce for a couple of minutes until they were coated.

Sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese, and you’ll be in heaven.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Plin – meat filled pasta from Piedmont
  • leftover pieces chicken meat, beef stew, pork roast or rabbit
  • (enough to make about two cups when finely ground)
  • 1 wedge leftover roasted cabbage
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, or more if necessary
  • 2 cups OO flour
  • 4 eggs plus one egg yolk
  2. Place the flour and the eggs in a food processor and blend until homogenized.
  3. If it’s too sticky, add more flour until it comes together in a ball.
  4. Knead on a board until it’s smooth.
  5. Let it rest, covered, for at least 20 minutes before rolling out.
  6. Follow the video for directions on stuffing and cutting into the plin shape.
  8. Place all the stuffing ingredients in the food processor except parmesan cheese.
  9. Add the chicken broth a little at a time until the consistency is like a soft cheese.
  10. You may not need it all, or you may need more, depending on how much meat you used.
  11. After you’ve made the plin, boil in salted water, drain and toss with a light meat sauce and parmesan cheese, or serve with melted butter, sage and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.