A Great American Vinegar – and a Great Mint Sauce

June 19, 2013

I've just fallen in love with an American vinegar, and I'm starting to put it into everything I cook. Shelburne Apple Company Cider vinegar makes just about everything taste better. I love it in salad dressings, where it's full, gentle flavor enhances every leaf of lettuce. But yesterday, as I was standing in the outdoor shower, where the fresh mint has taken over, I wondered what the vinegar would do to mint sauce. It was wonderful: served with lamb, it made the meat sing. 

Fresh Mint Sauce

Gather a cup of mint leaves, wash them and chop them coarsely, enjoying the lovely scent.  Toss the mint with a couple tablespoons of sugar and pour a half cup of boiling water over them.  Mix in a half cup of good cider vinegar and let it stand for a couple of hours to allow  the flavors to develop.

This will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. But in my house it doesn’t last that long. The leftovers makes great drinking vinegar; simply stir a couple of tablespoons into a glass of soda water for an incredibly refreshing drink.  

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Are French Fries Old Hat?

June 16, 2013

Had dinner at Michael White’s new steakhouse, Costata the other night. The food was astonishingly good: lots of raw seafood to start (I was especially taken with the sardines), a revelatory spaghetti con vongole, and a gorgeously marbled rib eye with the longest bone I’ve ever seen.  

But what really blew me away were the potatoes: small whole ones that were smashed and then fried, making the whole notion of traditional French fries seem utterly old-fashioned. Crisp on the outside, they were creamy inside, with the wonderful tang of lemon.  I loved them. And today, to celebrate Father’s Day, I'm going to do my best to recreate them. Here's what I'm planning.

Crisp, Lemony Baby Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400. 

Put two pounds of baby potatoes (they use Red Bliss, but I used Yukon Golds) in a skillet or a pot, add three cups of chicken stock that contains the zest of one lemon and a couple cloves of garlic. (The stock may not cover the potatoes.) Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 8 minutes.  

Drain, reserving lemon zest.  

Put them on a sheet pan that is liberally covered with olive oil. Gently flatten each potato, using the back of a chef’s knife, a rolling pin or a small skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and the zest from the chicken stock  and roast for about forty minutes, until the potatoes are so crisp they crackle when you take a bite.

Sprinkle with sea salt, and if you really want to gild the lily, shower them with grated Parmesan cheese. 

Serves 4.


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