Raclette Potatoes

Raclette is a Swiss and French cheese whose name comes from the French word, “racler”, which means “to scrape”. The traditional way of serving raclette is to set a hunk of the cheese before an open fire and scrape the melted cheese onto dark break or boiled potato slices. This version is less rustic, more urban. Potatoes are boiled, then sliced into thick slabs or rounds, topped with cheese and broiled for a few minutes. Still good. Try to use large or largish potatoes for this. They slice up thick better. Good substitutes for raclette: gruyère, emmental, jarlsberg, fontina, oak, cheddar.

1 1/2 lbs (baking) potatoes
8 oz or so raclette cheese
pepper, to taste
paprika, to taste
pickles, for serving, optional (but very French)

1. Put potatoes into a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by an inch. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. Drain.

2. Preheat the broiler. Set an oven rack about 6″ away, not too close to the heating element. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel if you like. Cut into thick rounds or long, thick slices. Arrange on a cookie sheet.

3. Cut cheese so it will fit the potato shapes. You can use more than one slice of cheese per potato
potatoes if you like. It all melts. Arrange on potatoes. Sprinkle with pepper and paprika.

4. Put potatoes under the broiler until the cheese is browned and bubbly, about 4 – 5 minutes. Watch that they don’t burn. Serve with pickles, if you like.

Turnip ‘Ghanoush’

This is a riff on baba ghanoush, the Middle Eastern dip made with eggplant. Turnips, cooked to a melting softness, give this dip an earthy, sweetly pungent flavor. This recipe is adaptable to other roots, celeriac, kohlrabi, beets, alone or in combination. I haven’t tried this with daikon, but cooking does mellow out radish, and it would make for a interesting global fusion dish.

1 lb or so turnips
1/2 c yogurt, Greek or regular
1/3 c tahini
2 T lemon juice
1 – 2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper, to taste
1 T (or more) agave, maple syrup or honey, optional
fresh chopped parsley or other fresh herb, for garnish, optional

1. Roast or steam turnips, skin on, until very tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Peel, then chunk and put into a food processor. Add the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Purée to a smooth consistency, or really, a consistency you like. Taste and add more of any of the ingredients you think necessary. If the dip is a bit too pungent for you, a tablespoon of sweetener can balance it out. If adding sweetener, add in small amounts.

2. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with pita bread, tortilla chips, crudités…

Baked Kohlrabi (Root) Chips

These baked kohlrabi or other root chips are pretty irresistible. I ate two baking traysful in one sitting. Although baked root chips will never attain the chip perfection that comes from deep frying, these are a close approximation, and without all the hoopla that must attend the deep fry method. Two key elements here: thin slices and low temperature. A mandoline or other slicing utensil is best here, unless your knife is very sharp and your slicing skills are keen.

1 or 2 kohlrabis or other round roots
vegetable oil, as needed
salt and pepper, to taste
any dried herb or spice mixture, such as curry powder, optional

1. Preheat oven to 250ºF. Position two racks in an upper and lower position in the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.

2. Peel the kohlrabi(s). Put into a bowl. Add oil to lightly coat. Add in some salt, and if you like, pepper, as well as some dried herb or perhaps curry powder. Toss well, making sure that all the slices are coated with the oil and seasonings.

3. Distribute slices on baking sheets each in a single, non-touching layer. Put a tray on the bottom rack and the other on the top. Bake for 30 minutes, then switch trays. Also, if you like, rotate trays from back to front. Bake for another 30 minutes or even longer, checking frequently for doneness. As the slices become mostly golden brown, remove them and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate or surface. Allow to cool, they’ll crisp up as they cool. Then dive in!

Potato Hummus

Snack time will never be the same once you’ve tasted, and served, potato hummus! It’s awesome as a dip for chopped veggies (think root vegetables) as well as corn chips. (I’ve even dipped potato chips in the mix for a potato-on-potato experience.) Depending on the consistency you make, you can also use this as a sauce for cooked vegetables and even over grains or pasta (remember this when next you’re carb-loading for a marathon). The hummus will tighten up when refrigerated, so heat it up some when next serving. You may need some additional potato cooking liquid to get it to a dipping consistency.

3 – 4 c (peeled) chopped potatoes
3 – 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1/3 c (roasted) tahini
1/4 c (fresh) lemon juice
2 – 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t ground cumin, or to taste
1/4 t ground cayenne, or to taste
salt and (white) pepper, to taste
reserved potato cooking liquid, as needed
chopped, fresh parsley or other herb, for garnish, optional, but adds needed color

1. Boil potatoes and garlic in (salted) water until the potatoes are tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

2. Transfer potatoes and garlic to a bowl and mash. Or, pass through a ricer or food mill into the bowl. (Don’t use a food processor, the blade creates a gluey glompy mess.) Add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings, combining well.

3. Start adding the reserved potato water, stirring, until you get a good consistency. I found that 3/4 c was a good amount for my purposes. It’s always good to have a carrot stick or corn chip on hand to test for dip-ability. Taste, and add more of any of the ingredients, such as tahini or seasonings, if you think necessary. Garnish with fresh, chopped herb and serve.

Roasted Edamame

The traditional method of eating edamame as a snack is to boil the pods for a few minutes, drain them, salt them (or not) and put them out in a bowl. Terrific! Here’s another method. Not quite as simple–the beans must be shelled first, but the payoff is a richer, deeper flavor. Depending on how many beans you have, you may want to make this in a toaster oven (a standard baking sheet holds about 2 1/2 c beans). If you have more than 1 c of beans, increase the oil and salt accordingly. These are best eaten warm or at room temperature.

1 c shelled edamame
1 t vegetable oil
1/2 t salt
black pepper, to taste
any spices you may like, to taste,optional

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss all ingredients and spread on a suitably sized baking sheet or pie pan. Roast until well browned in spots and crispy, 12 – 15 minutes. Let cool a bit before transferring to a bowl and serving.

Indian-spiced Eggplant

Good eating here. A fine side dish for any table, omnivorous or vegetarian. It’s also good as a dip for corn chips or as an omelet or crepe filling. A schmear on a sandwich is amazing. This seems like a lot of ingredients but if you have everything at the ready, mise-en-place, the dish comes together quickly.

1 large eggplant
2 – 3 T vegetable oil
2 – 3 t peeled, chopped fresh ginger, minced or grated
3/4 c chopped scallion or onion
1/2 t salt, or to taste
2 peeled garlic cloves, minced, or, preferably, grated
1 t unsweetened shredded coconut, optional
1 T ground coriander
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t garam masala
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 T water or stock
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 – 3 t fresh seeded, chopped jalapeño pepper, or other green chile pepper
2 – 3 T chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 T lemon juice, or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Make a few cuts into the flesh of the whole eggplant, put it on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until the skin is blackened and the eggplant is collapsing. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Cut off stem, them remove as much of the skin as you can. Put the eggplant into a bowl and mash.

2. Heat the frying pan for a minute on medium heat, then add the oil. When the oil is hot add the ginger and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the scallion along with the salt and sauté for a few minutes just until the edges start to brown. If using onion instead of scallion, this will take longer. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, no more than a minute. Stir in the spices and cook, stirring, another minute. Add the water and cook another minute.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. Then stir in the mashed eggplant. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the jalapeño and 1 T of the cilantro. Stir to combine and cook another minute.

4. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove from heat. Taste for seasonings, especially salt, and add more if you like. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining cilantro.