Sunday, February 26, 2017

Two-Potato Hash with Poblano and Bacon (Or, Yummy Things in a Skillet)

Have you ever made a breakfast hash that seemed so promising, only to be disappointed when the potatoes seem nicely cooked on the outside but are still crunchy on the inside? Me too! Thankfully, I recently learned a few tips from a gloriously nerdy article on Serious Eats. My three takeaways: 1) boil the potatoes first, 2) add a bit of vinegar to the potatoes' cooking water, which helps them hold their shape when you saute them later, and 3) fry your hash ingredients in smaller batches so that everything can brown nicely instead of steam evenly and brown unevenly.

Two Potato Hash with Poblano and Bacon
Yield: 4-6 servings if this is the main thing you're eating, or 6-8 servings if it's part of a larger spread
Inspired by Serious Eats

2 medium-large sweet potatoes
1 russet potato
1-2 Tbsp. white vinegar
4-6 strips center cut bacon
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
Spices to taste - I used salt, pepper, cumin, and a bit of dried thyme and smoked paprika

Wash the potatoes (no need to peel) and cut into bite-sized pieces. Put them in a pot and cover with water. Add some vinegar--1 Tbsp. for every quart of water. Bring water to a boil, then boil for just 4-5 minutes, until the potatoes are softened but by no means fully cooked. Drain them well.

Meanwhile, cook the strips of bacon in a large skillet according to package directions. Remove cooked bacon to a plate to cool. Leave the bacon grease in the skillet. :)

When the potatoes are drained, return your skillet to high or medium-high heat. Add about half of the potatoes to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until they're nicely browned. While they're cooking, sprinkle in some spices. Mine took maybe 10 minutes, but I probably should have let them go longer. Transfer sauteed potatoes to a heat-resistant bowl and toss the rest of the boiled potatoes into the skillet. Again, cook until they're nicely browned, adding spices and stirring occasionally. Add these potatoes to your other sauteed potatoes.

While potatoes are cooking, crumble the cooked bacon and cut your poblano if you haven't already.

Return skillet to the stovetop; add the poblano. If needed, add a splash of oil. Cook until they're starting to soften and brown. Add the corn (straight from the freezer is fine, if using frozen) and continue to cook until the veggies are softened and browned. If you get some charred bits, that'll add a lovely extra layer of flavor!

Now, add your cooked potatoes and crumbled bacon back into the skillet, and saute for a few more minutes to get the potatoes nice and hot again and to let all the flavors get to know each other. Serve straight from the skillet or from the heat-resistant bowl you used earlier.

  • Onion or bell pepper(s) - saute with the poblano.
  • Green onion - add to the skillet with the corn.
  • Garlic or fresh herbs  - add to the skillet at the very end, right before adding the bacon and cooked potatoes back into the pan. Or reserve the herbs to sprinkle on top to serve.
  • Cheese - stir in at the end or sprinkle on top.
  • Eggs - fry or scramble separately, or crack them into the hash and bake them, as in this recipe.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Orange Blossom Iced Tea

I'd like to introduce you to my new friend Orange Blossom Water. She's dainty yet mighty, mysterious and strong.

Throughout the Honey and Co. cookbook, I kept noticing recipes that called for orange blossom water, and I kept feeling disappointed because I doubted I'd be able to find it in any stores here. Happily, there's this thing called Amazon, and they sell basically everything, including orange blossom water.

This tea tastes like something Lady Galadriel would sip on a hot summer day.

Orange Blossom Iced Tea
From Honey and Co.: The Cookbook
Yield: 1/2 gallon

6 cups water
2 Earl Gray tea bags
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. honey
2-3 tsp. orange blossom water
1 orange, sliced
4 sprigs fresh mint
Additional mint and orange slices for garnish (optional)

Bring 6 cups water to a boil. Remove from heat, add tea bags, and steep for 15 minutes. This seemed like waaay too long, but I trusted the recipe, and it turned out beautifully.

While the tea steeps, make a simple syrup: Combine sugar, 1 cup water, and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes, until sugar and honey are fully dissolved. You will now have about 1-1/2 cups of simple syrup, and you'll need only 1 to 1-1/4 cups of it for this recipe.

When the tea is done steeping, discard the tea bags. Pour the tea into a heat-resistant jug or jar, such as a 1/2-gallon mason jar. Add 1 to 1-1/4 cups simple syrup (see notes), orange blossom water, orange slices, and mint sprigs. Cover and refrigerate until fully chilled.

Serve over ice, with additional mint and orange slices if desired.

  • I used 1-1/4 cup simple syrup, which is what the recipe called for. The resulting tea was very sweet, though not unpleasantly so, especially if you like sweet tea. Next time I'll probably scale back to just 1 cup of simple syrup.
  • If this tea sounds yummy but it's not feasible for you to get orange blossom water, don't let that stop you from making it! I imagine this would still be lovely and refreshing without the orange blossom water. Steeping some culinary lavender buds with the tea could be an interesting way to add a floral element.