Grilled Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

by Anne Maxfield on August 14, 2014

Accidental Locavore Pork Chops and PotatoesMaybe it’s my New England upbringing, but the Accidental Locavore loves vinegar on fries and potato chips! If you took a look at some of my recipe files, or Pinterest “Things to Try” board, you’d find a bunch of recipes for salt and vinegar potatoes-none of them road tested until recently. I had a bunch of potatoes from my CSA and a couple of nice pork chops from Second Chance Farm, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Serves 2.

  • 1 pound potatoes, cut lengthwise in ¼” thick slices
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt (more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Put potatoes and vinegar in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let them cool in the vinegar for 30 minutes. Drain. In a bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill them until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes per side. Sprinkle with more salt to taste, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Grilled PotatoesMy verdict: Should have tried these a long time ago! Delicious, nice and tangy. If you’re not a vinegar fan, use half vinegar and half water, or a mix of white vinegar and malt vinegar. Even if you cooked the potatoes in water, then tossed them in the oil and grilled them, they’d be great! Of course, it helps to have good potatoes, fresh from the farm. I used a mix of purple and white (small russets) just for fun. If you don’t have a grill, a grill pan or broiler would work as well. It probably would have been a good idea to use the veggie pan on the grill, but I wanted to give them as much grilled surface as possible and there were only a couple of slices that fell into the fire. I may try this on my guests this weekend, but I’ll let the potatoes sit under a roasting chicken. What do you think?

 

 

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Lunch Chez Claudette

by Anne Maxfield on August 11, 2014

Accidental Locavore Claudette InteriorThere is a rumor floating around Manhattan that the space at 24 Fifth Avenue is cursed for restaurants. It’s too expensive a piece of real estate, in the heart of Greenwich Village, to be taking a chance on survival. The Accidental Locavore had lunch at the most recent incarnation, Claudette, a Provençal spot that opened recently.

It’s a very pleasant room, airy, whitewashed, full of hard surfaces and totally unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Provence (but, hey, there’s a lot of Provence, I’ve yet to visit). The staff is young, attractive and attentive. The menu, while concise, is physically large, with two of them fighting for space, on a table for two.

Accidental Locavore Lamb SaladI had the lamb salad – listed as an hors d’oeuvre, but which, with frites, made for an ample lunch. My friend had the Provençal chicken salad and helped with the fries.

The lamb was interesting – think of pulled pork but substitute lamb (my guess would be a shank), nicely flavored, and tossed with a minimum of frisse, a few chickpeas (literally three) and slices of the majority of an apricot, although the menu listed asparagus. The sherry vinaigrette could have used some more acid to balance out the richness of the lamb and I thought the salad was over-dressed (so not French!). Usually, I’m not a fan of fruit in a salad, however the apricots were beautiful and tasted great, so I’m allowed to make exceptions, right?

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Carrot SaladMy friend’s salad was chunks of white-meat chicken on a bed of greens, with ribbons of carrots (lots of them) and almost a crumble of ground pistachios and bulgur. The dressing was an orange vinaigrette with a lot of cumin. Cumin played a surprisingly large role in all of the dishes we had; it was in my lamb, her chicken (a lot!) and even in the fries.

Accidental Locavore Claudette FritesWe make a lot of assumptions about French food, one of them being that if someone is trying hard to replicate France in New York (or anyplace else), they’re going to have good frites. These looked good, in a paper cone, but were not hot, crispy, or salty enough. They were tossed in ras el hanout, a Moroccan blend of warm spices. Sounds good on paper, but fries with even a tinge of cinnamon are definitely weird. That plus the omnipresent cumin pretty much ruined the fries.

We split a piece of cheese for dessert that the waitress forgot to tell us was a blue cheese, but it was fine and came with some nice crusty bread and a fig compote. This lunch for two, with two glasses of rosé and a coffee was about $100, but could easily have been higher – remember you are on Fifth Avenue.

If you didn’t expect Claudette to be French, and more specifically Provençal, you would probably enjoy it. It leans more towards Morocco, with the use of spices, a lot of the dishes, the tiled walls and the tajines on display. This is not a bad thing, just not as marketable (or mark-upable) as France, I guess.

 

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Zucchini With Mint and Pine Nuts

by Anne Maxfield on August 7, 2014

Accidental Locavore Sauteed ZucchiniYou know what it’s like in the summer — friends and neighbors looking to unload whatever bumper crops they have (and why is it never tomatoes?). One of the Accidental Locavore’s neighbors dropped off a bunch of cucumbers and a nice looking zucchini the other day and I thought it was time to pull out Deborah Madison’s beautiful Vegetable Literacy  and put it to use. This comes together quickly and is adapted from her book:

  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2″ coins
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 10 mint leaves, chopped
  • 5 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mint and basil leaves, slivered for garnish

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini and sauté, flipping it, until both sides are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix the chopped garlic, mint, basil and capers together. Toast the pine nuts and set aside.

When the zucchini is cooked, remove from the heat, add the herb-garlic mix and the red wine vinegar and toss until everything is well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Finish with the pine nuts and slivered herbs, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: With garlic, mint, pine nuts and capers, what’s not to like? This was easy and delicious. The only problem? It doesn’t use enough zucchini! You could probably add some coarsely chopped black olives and/or sprinkle a little feta cheese on top. Melting a couple of anchovies in the oil before you add the zucchini could also give it that Mediterranean punch, and if your zucchini “coins” weren’t too large, tossing the whole thing into some linguini would give you a great meatless dinner!

 

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2 Great Uses for Leftover Bread

by Anne Maxfield on August 4, 2014

Accidental Locavore Bread for CroutonsOne of the things the Accidental Locavore has always appreciated about France is the ability to get a demi-baguette at almost every boulangerie. Since baguettes are meant to be eaten immediately, or certainly by the end of the day, their shelf life is in measured in hours (not weeks, like some of our breads). While American baguettes have a slightly longer shelf life, you’re usually required to buy a whole one (and of course, ours are bigger…), so we generally have most of one lying around getting stale. If I remember to catch them before they’re so stale you could use them to hit a hardball, I chop them up and make breadcrumbs. All you do is cut (or rip) the bread into ½” slices, cut those in half and pop them in a food processor. Process until the crumbs are a size that you like. I keep mine in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, ready for action.Accidental Locavore Breadcrumbs

This morning, I started working on our leftover baguette from the great cheese and charcuterie board Frank put together for le 14 juillet. I had cut it into such perfect slices that it occurred to me that croutons might be a better use for this than the usual breadcrumbs. Here’s how they came together:

  • 2/3 of a baguette, cut into ¾” slices and then quarter the slices
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, put thorough a press (optional)
  • Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Accidental Locavore CroutonsPreheat the oven to 450°. Put the melted butter, olive oil, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add the bread and toss until well coated. Put on a cookie sheet or hotel pan and cook until golden-brown, about 8 minutes. Put on a wire rack to cool. Store in a Ziploc in the freezer or toss these in soups or salads and enjoy!

My verdict: True confession, when I make Caesar salad, I generally use commercial croutons. Not anymore! These were so easy and delicious, and a look at the ingredients on the back of the crouton bag just made me cringe. I would have liked a bit more salt in them, but I held back. You could also toss them in some Parmesan, herbs (I kept eyeing a big bunch of basil on the counter), whatever strikes your fancy. You can also flavor them to go with what you’re serving. Almost any type of bread will work, although I’m not a big fan of croutons made with soft white breads.

 

 

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