Monthly Archives: September 2015

Potato Bites—Get Your Tail (gate) in Gear

Score! A sackful of potatoes turns into road ready snacks.

    Score! A sackful of potatoes turns into road ready snacks.

It’s tailgate season. This is no time to mess around with overly fancy, delicate or time-sensitive creations. This is the time to bust out your EZ Foil pans with their plastic lids and put together bombproof snacks that can withstand half a day on a table (like the fine one below made in an afternoon by local boy Charlie), or many too many hours in a battered crock-pot. We’re talking about snacks that can be eaten standing up. Plates—and utensils beyond toothpicks—are a bonus but not a requirement. Think Peoples Choice Cornbread, game day pulled pork, buffalo meatballs, bruschetta galore, nootch popcorn, nuts, bars etc etc etc…tailgate2

If all that sounds a little unhealthy, it’s because it usually is. But it is totally possible and appreciated to throw together healthy fare that is more creative than hummus and carrots. Case in point: The roasted Brussels sprouts (intended for dinner) I brought to a recent tailgate was happily gobbled up. So were these hastily conceived baked potato bites, born out of desperation and a glut of purple potatoes grown by my neighbor.

They were inspired by the sweet potato recipe (below), and the basic concept of using potatoes—vs bread slices, chips or crackers—as the snack canvas. They can be doctored up with condiments and whatever fancy dips, sauces, garnishes or spreads are on hand. And of course bacon.

Some of you will be open to the daring weirdness of sweet potatoes. You will have miso in your fridge and procure black sesame seeds (rather than burning white ones and calling it good). Others of you will look in your potato drawer, breathe a sigh of relief and proceed. You all know who you are. I love you on both sides of the divide.

This first offering is more method than recipe, so we can work on relaxing our need for perfection and control WHILE making a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Win Win! The second recipe comes from the Kitch’n, so it is actually precise, though I suggest taking license with toppings. Just make sure you have some savory going on so you don’t double down on sweet. Bacon would be awesome here as well, or Hail Mary Coconut as a sassy Vegan stand-in. So here’s your two-fer, and here’s to happy tailgating.

Straight-up Baked Potato Bites


  • Purple, red or yellow potatoes, peeled if desired (or excessively earthy)
  • Olive oil to coat
  • Kosher salt
  • Sour cream
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Toppings of choice… Corn salsa? Guac? Have I mentioned bacon?


Preheat over to 375 (fudge on this if you are baking the sweet potatoes at the same time)

Cut potatoes into ½” thick (or less) rounds. Toss them with oil and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. (Rogues may prefer to do this straight on the baking sheet). Arrange potato slices in one layer on a baking sheet.

Bake potatoes for 25 minutes or so. Turn them over and bake another 10 minutes. Use your judgment here—you know how you like your taters. Remove potatoes to paper towel lined plate and let cool a bit. Arrange on serving dish and top with a small dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of green onions.

Bringing it:

Load them onto a covered travel platter (or foil pan) and position them next to fancy condiments and salsas so people can create their own potato masterpiece.

Miso Sweet Potato Bites

From the Kitchn. Makes approximately 30 rounds depending on potato shape


  • 2 pounds unpeeled sweet potatoes (for the most attractive presentation, select sweet potatoes that are fairly uniform in diameter and shape)
  • Oil for baking sheet
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (the vegan kind if that matters to you) 
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • Small pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (preferably black for contrast) 


Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly oil a baking sheet. Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and place in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are brown on the bottom and tender but not mushy. 

To make the spread, whisk together the mayonnaise, miso, tahini, lemon juice, ginger, and cayenne. Taste and adjust any ingredients as desired. 

To serve, spread the miso mixture on top of warm (not hot) or room temperature sweet potato rounds. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

Bringing it:

Same as above, but move them closer to the vegetarians.


Pa Amb Oli (Bread with Oil)

Great bakery in town with Pa Amb Oli if you are ready for savory. Otherwise, go for the chocolate croissant.

Great bakery in town with Pa Amb Oli if you are ready for savory. Otherwise, go for the chocolate croissant.

I just got back from a great trip to Mallorca, Spain. I was biking for a week with 4 amazing, funny, strong, and interesting women.  I had not heard of this biking mecca until I asked a friend where she goes on biking trips.  She said without taking a breath, “go to Mallorca”.  Well, she was right!  It is an island off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean.  The roads are in great shape, the entire island is bike-able, and what’s not to like about biking along the Mediterranean coast!  We rode everywhere, and in between rides, we feasted at the cafes, restaurants, and farmer’s markets along the way (good thing for all the biking because the eating was constant). We tried to pick favorites in different categories like…. what was our favorite ride (Sa Colabra), what was our favorite village (Bunlyola), what was our favorite bakery (Fornalutx – see photo above).   But when it came to the food, hands down the Pa Amb Oli won across the board. It is a must do when on the island of Mallorca and it will be a must bring on our list of Bring It recipes. Plus, it really doesn’t get any easier than this. It’s just bread with oil after all! .


Brown country bread that you can find in local bakeries
Extra virgin olive oil
4 beefsteak tomatoes
Optional: Cheese, processed meat, olives, sautéed vegetables


Cut bread into slices (not to thin) and place on a plate. Rub the tomatoes into the bread to remove the pulp and skin, leaving a sort of mashed tomato on the bread. Add salt to taste and olive oil, which will help the salt and tomato to penetrate into the bread. Add cheese, meat, vegetables, olives or whatever toppings you choose. Place in 350 degree oven to heat for 10 minutes.

If it’s hard to imagine what this is, Google Pa Amb Oli and you will see a plethora of ideas for this “bread with oil” treat.  Here is a link for your optional research.

Triple Crunch Sesame Peanut Coconut Snack Bars

Sweet, salty, crunchy goodness to ease you into fall. No bridge tolls or taxi rides needed.

Sweet, salty, crunchy goodness to ease you into fall. No bridge tolls or taxi rides needed.

Boom! And just like that it’s fall. A week ago we were in oppressive humidity, and now we’re looking for anything orange to wear. Not blaze orange just yet, but something subtler to ease our transition and go with all the pumpkin ale and pumpkin lattes they’ve been forcing on us since mid August. We’re supposed to be putting away the linen, and the white, but let’s do that slowly to ease the pain. How do we ease out foodwise?

First of all, we eat up all that watermelon in the fridge. If you need ideas, how about one more batch of watermelon lemonade, one ingredient watermelon sorbet , watermelon gazpacho or Joy the Baker’s groovy, spicy watermelon wedge salad that uses watermelon as the plate (it’s really good, but it was too much of a leap for my people).

What else? Keep eating corn like it’s your job. If you haven’t made the Colorado corn souper chowder please do so before I have to have a word with you in private. Charred and raw corn salad is also a good call as is this super quick and easy raw corn and radish salad from Food and Wine . And beets! We’ll be dealing much more with those soon, but in the meantime don’t forget this awesome beet salad. What else? Take that John Boy Peach Crostata recipe and substitute pears and walnuts for peaches and pecans. Transition, done!

If all that clicking and looking tired you out, you may need a salty, sweet, satisfying, easy-to-make snack that will hang out and wait patiently for your eventual cravings. Look no further. These sesame peanut bars (from Bon Appetit), remind me of the ones by the cash register at virtually every Korean deli in New York City…the same ones that taunted and tempted me at every transaction. These bars are softer (and easier on your dental work), healthier (they have coconut fergawdsakes), and do not require a trip to New York City, though that is another darned good thing to do in the fall.

One final note…ok three: I used maple syrup instead of honey for local flavor. An 8” pan makes thicker bars than what you’ll see at the deli counter. You may want to try adjusting pan size and reducing baking time for thinner bars. I haven’t tried it. Do use parchment paper like the recipe says. It may work without it but that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.


Servings: Makes about 16

  • Unsalted butter (for pan)
  • 1¼ cups white and/or black sesame seeds (slackers be assured, all white is fine)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup honey (or maple syrup or a mix of both. c’mon New England…show your stuff!)
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8×8″ glass baking dish (or larger you want thinner, crunchier bars); line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang (I mean it) on all sides. Mix sesame seeds, coconut, peanuts, and salt in a large bowl. Mix honey, peanut butter, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add to sesame seed mixture and mix well.

Scrape mixture into prepared baking dish; press firmly into an even layer. Use that generous overhang of parchment paper to really tamp down on the mix so it’s good and dense and holds together. Bake until golden brown around the edges, 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until firm, 30–40 minutes. Lift out of baking dish (if it starts to crumble, let cool longer) and cut into 16 bars. Let cool completely.

Bringing it: Bars can be made 3 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature. They do just fine in the fridge too (and last longer).


John Boy’s Rustic Peach Crostata


Just peachy. And rusticy. And easy. Oooh la la!

I am chomping at the bit for apple season. And yet, there are still watermelons and peaches and fresh corn to be had, not to mention the low maintenance fish tacos (coming soon) that can be the dinner anchor for all that fresh fruit. So back off, fall. Today we’re all about peaches.

So good, so luscious, so hard to bake them in to anything before eating them all fresh. BUT here is your best chance of that. I started summer by making a rustic blueberry crostata with a homemade crust. The crust had some whole wheat goodness and toasted pecans mixed in. It was indeed really good. But it involved crust making, which takes time and actual care. Let’s be honest. Homemade crust can be a dealbreaker. This recipe is built on a premade roll out crust, which I believe is one of the most life-enhancing low-tech inventions of the late 20th century. It brings pie and crostata making within reach of everyone who can cut a piece of fruit.

I was introduced to this by my sister who was introduced to it by our brother-in-law. As far as I am concerned, a man who makes crostata (and he made his own crust by the way) gets all the credit for its invention. Hence the name. The “Boy” is added in a nod to those pie-making Waltons of yore. I added the slacker reliance on premade dough, the optional rustic tweak of pecans and cornmeal to the crust, and the suggestion of yogurt whipped cream.

With that I give you a taste of late summer, and a solid stand against the inevitable onslaught of apples and pumpkins.

John Boy Rustic Peach Crostata

Makes 6 servings


  • Prepared pastry dough (uncooked), enough for a 9-inch pie pan
  • 1 Tbsp or so cornmeal (optional)
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)
  • 4 large peaches, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon or more cinnamon if that’s your thing (totally optional and awesome)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • Ice cream, whipped cream or whipped yogurt cream (recipe below) for serving


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. (A large rimmed baking sheet is best, as long as you can fit the dough into it. If using an un-rimmed baking sheet put another pan underneath to catch the drippings.) Sprinkle cornmeal (is using) on parchment paper and set the uncooked pie dough onto the baking sheet.

Sprinkle the dough with pecans, if using. Roll dough lightly with a rolling pin to smoosh them in.

In a bowl, gently mix peaches, sugar, flour (and cinnamon if using) together. Pour fruit mixture into the center of the pastry round, leaving about 2 1/2 inches around the edge. Fold up the edge of the pastry dough over the filling to make a rim. Fan the edge as you go around folding the dough.

Brush pastry with the beaten egg (milk and a sprinkle of sugar works too) and place the pat of butter on top of the fruit mixture. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Cool the crostata on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature  with your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.

Yogurt Whipped Cream

Courtesy of Food52 and Saveur and dairy farmers everywhere

Makes about 3 cups of whipped cream


  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, Greek or otherwise, full-fat or otherwise, chilled (I used nonfat Greek)


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, or with a hand mixer or whisking by hand like Grandma Walton, beat heavy cream and yogurt on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Taste and add more yogurt or cream to taste and whisk again to soft peaks.

Bringing it:

Don’t try to transfer this off the parchment paper…even if you really want to get a nice picture for a blog. High chance of failure, and possibly tears. Transport it on the baking sheet and rewarm it in the over, or put the crostata, parchment and all, onto a platter and serve it up at room temperature.