Crushed, Smashed, Squished

by Anne Maxfield on July 3, 2014

Accidental Locavore Smashed PotatoesOr, three ways to take your aggressions out on unsuspecting root vegetables…
Maybe it was the thought of moving, but somehow both the Accidental Locavore and her husband decided it was time to rough-up a few root vegetables. Here are three easy ways to do it, all of them simple enough to add your own touches, and good enough to leave as-is. I used a potato masher to smash and crush, however a pan, bowl or fist will work as well. All serve two generously.

Accidental Locavore Crushed BeetsCrushed Beets
• 1 1/2 pounds beets (about 3), washed and trimmed
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• Mint leaves and dill for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the beets on the foil, drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Seal up the packet and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes until they are very tender. When they’re cool enough to handle, rub the skins off with a paper towel. Crush the beets.
While the beets are roasting make the vinaigrette. Mix the lemon zest, juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil together in a large bowl and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the beets and cook until browned, about 5 minutes a side. Put them in the bowl with the vinaigrette, toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with mint and dill, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Smashed Potatoes With JalapenosSmashed Fingerlings With Jalapeños
• 2 pounds small fingerling potatoes
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• ¼ cup Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
• 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
• 4-8 slices pickled jalapeños, coarsely chopped (depending on your heat tolerance)
• Parsley or cilantro
Preheat oven to 450°. Toss potatoes with ¼ cup oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until golden brown and tender, 30–35 minutes. Let cool slightly, then lightly flatten.
Meanwhile, whisk vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining ¼ cup oil until emulsified; season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes, jalapeño and parsley or cilantro and toss; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature.

Squished Baby Potatoes
• 8-10 small, red new potatoes
• Olive oil
• Salt & pepper
• 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°. Put the potatoes in a pot, with water to cover. Salt the water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain. When cool enough to touch, squish them flat – just flatten until the edges break a bit but they are still in one piece. Toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until crisp outside and soft inside, about 40 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: While we tossed everything in olive oil, I was reading a recipe for potatoes tossed in melted duck fat, so that will probably make an appearance in the next batch. The smashed potatoes were a little tough the next day as potato salad, so probably better to eat them warm or room temp. Grilling any of these would be an interesting idea (and lead to a cooler kitchen). How do you like to abuse root vegetables?



Accidental Locavore 9 Mustards

How many jars of mustard do you have? Do you think having nine is excessive, or about the right number? A while back, the Accidental Locavore decided to clean out and inventory the refrigerator. Besides fourteen different hot sauces, there were four jars of mustard. Recently, that number jumped to nine. Why so many? For a long time I’ve had a quest to find that really strong, classic, Dijon that the French serve with almost anything, so there are always Dijon wannabes I’ve auditioned (and found wanting) in the fridge. There are two artisanal jars from Ameline, a producer in Chicago who is making mustard in Dijon, France in the traditional way that I won. And our friend Zhu Zhu just brought over his favorite to go with the pate I made.

Since these two jars (smooth and whole grain) from Ameline were burning a hole on the kitchen counter (moved from my desk for being too distracting), when the Locavore saw a recipe for leeks in a mustard vinaigrette, I pounced! There were beautiful leeks from the last farm box in the fridge, so I cleaned them up and braised them. When they were done, a quick vinaigrette and voila, braised leeks.Accidental Locavore Braised Leeks

Not contented to just take a spoonful of the Ameline for the leeks, I decided to conduct an informal/impromptu mustard taste test. First the whole grain, since that is what the recipe called for. The Ameline was wonderful, full of flavor, not terribly strong, but with a good well-balanced taste. The other contender: Trader Joe’s. Well, not exactly a contender…it was really harsh and one-note. Hands-down winner: Ameline!

Then on to the smooth Dijons. Here there were more contenders:  Ameline, Grey Poupon, Zhu Zhu’s Edmond Fallot and Beaufor. The Grey Poupon was the clear loser here, decent, but not terribly interesting. The other three were awfully close [to one another]. The Edmund Fallot and Ameline were both really smooth, well-balanced with good flavor, but not overwhelming sharpness. My personal favorite was the Beaufor, probably because it’s an extra strong Dijon and was the closest to fulfilling my quest. If you’ve got any other suggestions for a strong, classic Dijon I’d love to hear them

My verdict? The Locavore thinks every refrigerator should have at least three mustards, a coarse Dijon, a quality smooth one, and an everyday one. I use the everyday one for cooking and the good Dijons for salad dressing, smearing on pâte and other things French. Zhu Zhu says he just eats it out of the jar.  What about you?

If you’re interested: Ameline is available at the Amish markets in NYC or e-mail for stores near you. The Beaufor came from Murray’s Cheese and the Edmond Fallet from Fairway (in a cute silver bucket).


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Local Wax Beans and Cauliflower: Farmbasket Week 4

by Anne Maxfield on June 21, 2010

Accidental Locavore Wax Beans

This week’s basket had some new members, wax beans (one of my husband’s favorites, who knew?), cauliflower, broccoli, more rainbow chard, radishes, peas, mesclun.  

The Accidental Locavore has been on a big salad making spree, so yesterday for lunch I took some local chicken that I’d grilled and put it on top of a big salad for two. We had the mesclun, some of the snow peas, radishes, the wax beans which I steamed until just crisp-tender, and then shocked (ice and water) to stop the cooking, local bacon, herbs from the garden, a little Roquefort (definitely not local, but one of these days…and if I had some I could have used some Berkshire Blue, local and delicious) and a vinaigrette with lemon juice, mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Delicious and just the thing for a 90 degree Sunday. 

We’ve got a lot of peas, who has a great ideafor them? Bill Telepan told me to just shuck them and freeze them, so I had a big pea shucking afternoon, and am stockpiling them for the winter.



This is about being incredible and fresh but hardly local. Too bad artichokes aren’t native to New York, but that doesn’t stop the Accidental Locavore from loving them! Wandering through Whole Foods is an interesting experience on any day. Last week they had magnificent giant “long stem” artichokes. I was walking around holding a pair of them, which turned out to be a good way of making new friends.

  • One man told me he wished he lived in New York so he could have some of those artichokes. He said he eats his dipped in blue cheese dressing, which was an interesting idea.
  • The woman in front of me in the very, very, long line, had a single artichoke, and we started talking about how we cook them. People are always surprised when they hear that I steam them in the microwave.

To do that, cut off the stem at the base of the artichoke. If, like these, there is a long stem, you can peel it and steam it too, just be careful to peel it down to the core, or it will be bitter. Rinse them.

Now here’s the not very green part…I wrap them in Saran Wrap, but you can wrap them in parchment paper if cooking in plastic makes you squeamish. Depending on the size of the artichokes, and the strength of your microwave, cook them for 5-10 minutes. You can check to see if they’re cooked, by pressing on the base of the stem, it should give when they are fully cooked.

If I’m eating them hot, I’ll just melt some butter, and add a squirt of lemon juice. Sometimes I let them cool down, and make a vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper. You can add some Dijon mustard, a minced shallot, or some crushed or finely minced garlic too.

  • What are some of your favorite things to dip artichokes in?

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