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Archive | January 17th, 2010

Potatoes, Olives and Capers With Anchovy Vinaigrette

Potatoes, Olives and Capers With Anchovy Vinaigrette

“Don’t crowd the pan, or the potatoes will steam instead of browning,” Michael Psilakis writes in “How to Roast a Lamb.” “To avoid this, use a 12-inch sauté pan, wok, Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, and cook in batches.” To make this a vegetarian dish, use a different vinaigrette.

Potatoes, Olives and Capers With Anchovy Vinaigrette

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cup small sprigs parsley
1/2 cup small sprigs dill
18 whole caperberries
1/2 cup capers
18 mixed green and black olives, pitted and split
12 whole scallions, thickly sliced
1/2 recipe White Anchovy Vinaigrette (recipe follows) or other vinaigrette of your choice

White Anchovy Vinaigrette:
4 white anchovies
4 shallots, thickly sliced
1 tablespoon small sprigs dill
1 tablespoon small sprigs parsley
8 leaves fresh mint
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper to taste

Put the potatoes in a large pot of generously salted cold water and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently until just crisp-tender, about 7 to 9 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread out on a plate. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Cut into rustic, bite-size chunks and season with kosher salt and pepper.

In a very large skillet, sauté pan or pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the potatoes (no crowding!). Roast the potatoes, shaking the pan, for several minutes, until most pieces turn a golden color. Add the herbs, caperberries, capers, olives and scallions, and shake the pan for 1 minute more; just to wilt the herbs and scallions. Add the White Anchovy Vinaigrette and warm through; transfer to serving platter and serve immediately.

For the White Anchovy Vinaigrette: In a small food processor, combine the anchovies, shallots, dill, parsley and mint. Pulse until finely chopped, but not puréed. Transfer for a bowl.

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Add the mustard, oregano and vinegar. Whisk together and, whisking all the time, drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Since this is a broke vinaigrette, it will separate quickly. Whisk again to bring it together just before serving.

Variations:

  • Add some crumbled feta to the last batch of potatoes just before they’re done, then fold all together.
  • If you have leftover fish, fold chunks of fish into this dish and serve at room temperature.

Makes about 15 servings as a side dish.

From “How to Roast a Lamb” by Michael Psilakis

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LongHorn Ready to Charge into San Antonio Market

LongHorn Ready to Charge into San Antonio Market

LongHorn Steakhouse will open its first Texas location on Monday with a store at 5803 N. Loop 1604 W.

Two others in the city will follow this spring and summer.

The chain, owned by Darden Restaurants, offers steaks as well as chicken, seafood and ribs in a full-service yet casual setting.

“We think LongHorn is a perfect fit for Texas,” said president Dave George at a preview party. “And we’re pleased to be launching it in San Antonio. It’s a great state, and we know Texas loves beef.”

The chain, which also operates Red Lobster and Olive Garden, has plans for up to 30 LongHorns across the state, including up to six in the San Antonio market, George said.

The second location, at I-35 and Zarzamora, will open in May, while a store at Loop 1604 and Culebra should open in July.

George attributed the success of steakhouse, which started 25 years ago in Atlanta, to the freshness of ingredients. “Our steaks are fresh, never frozen. Our salmon is fresh, never frozen,” he said. “High-quality, fresh ingredients are integral to our success.”

George also said the appeal was the development of special seasonings designed to complement the various cuts of meat. “We have found the perfect blend of flavors for the right cut of meat,” he said.

LongHorn will be open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For a copy of the menu, click here.

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Warm Feta With Tomato, Olive and Pepper Salad

Warm Feta With Tomato, Olive and Pepper Salad

“This super-easy and fast dish is a play on saganaki, a typical tavern dish where you melt cheese by grilling, broiling or pan-frying,” says Michael Psilakis in “How to Roast a Lamb: New Classic Greek Cooking.” Omit the optional sardines and it’s purely vegetarian.

Warm Feta With Tomato, Olive and Pepper Salad

1 small Spanish or sweet onion, thickly sliced
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
9 caperberries, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons capers
9 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
9 cracked green olives, pitted and torn
9 Kalamata olives, pitted and torn
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
2 fire-roasted red bell peppers, home-roasted or store-bought, roughly chopped
9 Greek sardines or white anchovies, diced (optional)
9 small, picked sprigs dill
9 small, picked sprigs parsley
9 leaves fresh basil
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
12 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3 warmed or toasted pita breads, cut into wedges

Brush the onion slices with a little olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper. On a hot grill pan or in a cast-iron skillet, grill the onion until tender and slightly char-marked. Separate into rings.

In a large bowl, combine the grilled onion, caperberries, capers, tomatoes, olives, red onion, roasted peppers, sardines or anchovies (if using), dill, parsley and basil. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice, season with kosher salt and pepper, sprinkle with oregano and toss the salad until evenly coated.

[amazon-product]0316041211[/amazon-product]Scatter the feta evently over the base of an ovenproof baking dish or gratin. Warm the feta until slightly softened, 30 seconds in a microwave or under a broiler for 3 minutes. Top with the salad and serve with pita wedges. Scoop feta and salad onto a wedge with a knife and eat out of hand.

Variations:

  • Grill a couple of sirloin steaks and after resting, scatter with some crumbled feta. Then make the salad as above and pile it on top of the steak.
  • Grill a pounded, seasoned chicken breast and top it with feta, broil to soften – but not melt – the feta, and top with this salad.

Makes 10 to 12 servings as a meze, or appetizer.

Adapted from “How to Roast a Lamb: New Classic Greek Cooking,” by Michael Psilakis

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My Big, Fat Greek Cookbook

My Big, Fat Greek Cookbook

Several years back, the movie “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding” proved a crowd-pleaser with its humorous Cinderella tale of a young Greek woman for finds romance.

Now comes “How to Roast a Lamb” (Little, Brown and Company, $35) from chef Michael Psilakis of New York’s Anthos and other restaurants, a big, fat Greek cookbook that should romance you into trying an ethnic cuisine that many of us eat but not as many of us cook.

Why is that? I can hear a few people say that they don’t have a spit in their front yard for roasting the lamb, as they did in the movie. That’s true; but jokes aside, the real reason stems more from our unwillingness to spend money on an ingredient like lamb or seafood and possibly not serve it to its best potential.

We’re scared of the waste. We’re scared our families may not like it. We’re scared of the time involved.

That’s where Psilakis wants to help. He fills his book with stories of his childhood, his business life, how he became a cook, and the passion that drives his cooking. He does it in such straightforward style that you get swept up in it. He doesn’t sugar-coat matters, though he romanticizes them a bit, which is true to his Greek character. He remembers, for example, being a rebellious teen fighting with his mother and even wanting to ruin the surprise birthday party she had worked so hard to give him.

But he gets carried away by fast Cretan dance for the men that his godfather has decided to turn into a group strip-tease, to the delight of the women around them. “We danced at a feverish pitch,” he writes. “As I looked around the room, for a moment I stepped outside myself. I could see the sheer joy, delight and reckless abandon on the faces of everyone around me. These were the people I shared my life with and the people who loved me. These are the moments in life that are frozen in my mind forever — and they are priceless.”

Psilakis goes on to write that “when I look back on my life to the snapshots that populate my memory, many of my fondest memories are of events that happened at the parties we hosted at our house when I was growing up. Entertaining, however, and especially throwing big parties, can seem like a daunting proposition. But a good party doesn’t have to be a huge party. Gather together any number of people you want — 30, 20 or 15 of your close friends and family. With a couple of days’ advance planning, a little organization and the help of your friends, you can create memories of your own to last a lifetime.”

Makes me want to start planning now. And I just might add Psilakis’ Warm Feta With Tomato, Olive and Pepper Salad to the menu. Or his Potatoes, Olives and Capers With Anchovy Vinagrette. Or the Taramosalata, a spread made with carp roe. The list of dishes to try is fairly endless.

[amazon-product]0316041211[/amazon-product]Psilakis explains in extensive detail how to make each dish, so that the directions are simple and easy to follow. He also offers plenty of variations, so you can remake the dish in various ways.

Yet there is a drawback, at least to me. I loathe recipes that send you back and forth to other sections of the cookbook in order to find yet another recipe that you have to make in order to complete the one you want. In other words, the list of ingredients for Shrimp With Orzo and Tomato calls for “1/4 cup Garlic Purée (page 264)” while the Grilled Porgies sends you to page 270 for a mustard sauce called Ladolemono. This might be acceptable if the practice were limited to, say, vinaigrettes. But it seems to be in every third recipe in the book.

That said, in the end, Psilakis has demystified many Greek dishes for non-Greek cooks (with the help of Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton’s rustic photography), broadening our culinary repertoires to include some great new fare.

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