Friday, July 23, 2010

glazed Gourmet potatoes and a terrible disappointment

When Gourmet Magazine folded last year, it was almost as if a little part of me died. Growing up, I think I thought Gourmet was just another picture book. My Aunt Cathy had a subscription, and I used to make her read me recipes like they were stories when I came to visit. I still can't believe that it's no longer in existence. A damn shame. Anyway, the good thing is that plenty of the magazine's recipes are available online, from one source or another. Today, I'd like to talk about a wonderful potato recipe that I made last week.

olive oil glazed potatoes with fresh parsley

The original recipe was entitled Fingerling Potatoes with Chives and Parsley, but I didn't have fingerlings, so I just used some regular ones at it worked out fine. (Actually the bag says "Golden Potatoes," if you really want to know.) I just had to slice them into long cross sections.

These potatoes literally couldn't be easier. You simply peel them, place them in the skillet and cover them with water, a couple tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Then, you bring it to a boil, and then cover and simmer for ten minutes stirring occasionally. At that point, you take off the lid and let it cook for five more minutes, so that the olive oil sort of glazes over the potatoes. Add freshly chopped herbs, like basil and parsley, and eat immediately. I only had parsley on hand when I made it.

simple and delicious

It was delicious. Absolutely delicious. I will definitely be making this again. Normally I'll just make a baked potato if I'm having them for dinner, but this is so much faster and just plain old better. Good old Gourmet. Still coming through with amazing, fantastic food, even after being cruelly shut down.

I was lucky that those delicious potatoes turned out to be so delicious, because I majorly screwed up the main component of that meal, which was supposed to be a delightfully sweet and summery corn chowder. I was really excited about it too. I had gotten corn from the food co-op, and it was just the sweetest most delicious corn I had even tasted. I cut all the kernels off the cob and set them aside while I made a stock to base the soup on, and let me tell you, I couldn't stop nibbling. It was like candy.

I opened up The Flavor Bible to the corn entry, and in addition to learning that corn goes nicely from everything from crab to maple syrup, I was excited by the suggestions of a chef from Oregon named Vitaly Paley. He had two ideas that really spoke to me, which I will quote:

"We used the husks, which produce a juice, to make a stock for the soup... We made a stock using the corn hucks cooked with a little onion, water, and salt, and let it cook for about 45 minutes. What came out was the most amazing sweet broth. We added the corn, pureed it, and served it chilled. It was so sweet and full of corn flavor you would have sorn there were cream and sugar in it. We now make a corn husk broth to add to a corn, chanterelle, and Dungeness carb risotto with a touch of pesto. Basil pesto and corn really speaks to me. It is a wonderful combination."

You always hear that the best way to make a really sweet and delicious soup infused with bright corn flavor is to boil the cobs first, so I figured I would use the husks as well. I was convinced that this was going to be the most delicious, most flavorful, most corn-like corn soup ever. Liquid gold, if you will. I also was going to add porcini mushrooms and swirl in some of my homemade pesto. I was really excited.

What went wrong? I got the proportion of husk/cob stock to actual kernels completely wrong. Wayyyy too much water and not nearly enough corn. It was totally diluted. I tried adding some cream to thicken it up, but that didn't do much to help. It didn't taste bad, but it was just so bland compared to the glorious soup I envisioned, and the sugary sweet and farm fresh corn I had to work with. When I told Nathan, he employed one of his favorite phrases: casting your pearls before swine. It was a damn shame.

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