Turmeric and Cumin Crispy Smashed Potatoes

I do enjoy serving a meal of homegrown and freshly harvested food. I swell with pride as I lay a platter down proclaiming all prepared from our garden harvest. ‘So simple and easy’ knowing full well that the ease I feel is from years of; curiously
observing generations of the amazing cooks in my family, of boldly wandering into restaurant kitchens simply asking to see a technique, of sitting with locals at a farm table in the hills of Italy, on the banks of a river in Costa Rica, or roadside in India. I listen of trial and error and of trial and success. I learned of turmeric potatoes in India, brightly colored and deeply spiced. They are a perfect accompaniment to richly stewed meats. The version I present here is a bit more tame; still brightly colored and assertively spiced, but more suited to roasted meats or a vegetarian meal.

Sadly, my potato harvest was a bit of a bust this year…but in a brush of serendipity, I was sent a few pounds of potatoes from Friedas asking if i would like to give them a try. I like the piccolo potatoes for this recipe. Once cooked they have crispy crust, with creamy interior

Turmeric & Cumin Crispy Smashed Potatoes
1 1/2 lbs small potatoes
(i used piccolo from the little potato company, this will work with new, fingerling or any other small potato)
1 Tbs turmeric powder
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 Tbs olive oil
1 generous teaspoon whole cumin seed
1/2 generous teaspoon whole mustard seed

Place whole potatoes in a pot of cool water to cover. Add turmeric and 1 tsp salt and stir. Bring to a boil and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes (until the potatoes are cooked through). Drain and place in a roasting dish in a single layer. Using the back of a fork, press each potato until it is a bit broken and smashed, but not completely flattened. In a skillet, place the olive oil, cumin and mustard seed. Heat on medium until the seeds begin to jump and pop. Immediately pour the hot oil and spices evenly over the smashed potatoes. Place immediately into to 375 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes. Check periodically and stir if needed for even roasting. Remove from oven and taste for salt. Pair with roasted chicken or minted lamb or simply dab a bit of plain greek yogurt mixed with a bit of lemon juice over the top for a warm salad.

Levain Bread

It isn’t true that graduating from le cordon bleu in baking and patisserie makes you a fearless baker. I know. I have a diplome; yet the seemingly innocent combination of yeast, flour, salt and water gives me the shakes. Or, should i say
gave. On a bit of a whim, I signed up for a course at The Institute for Domestic Technology. I came for the goats, but i stayed for the bread.

Levain Bread
recipe from erik knutzen
(full recipe with detailed instructions here)
100 grams starter
250 grams white flour
250 grams whole wheat flour
375 grams filtered water
10 grams sea salt
Stir together the starter and water until dissolved. Mix in the flour until water and flour are incorporated. Do not knead, just get the flour fully combined. cover and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Add the salt and mix together with wet hands. Cover. At the end of the 1st hour turn dough onto a floured surface. Hold one end of the dough and with your other hand, pull the other end to stretch. Fold the stretched end on top of it. Give the dough a half turn and repeat the stretch and fold. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let sit.
At the end of hour 2; repeat the stretch and pull and put back in the bowl. cover. At the end of hour 3 or 3 1/2: turn the dough onto a floured surface. Begin to shape the boule. Take the dough and pull the sides together as if you are making a beggar’s purse, press the edges together and pick up the dough. turn it over in your hands and turn to form a round.
Place the dough, round side down in a heavily floured proofing basket or in a bowl lined with heavily floured baking canvas/or cloth. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 3 1/2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator (preferred)
When ready to bake:
You will be baking this in an dutch oven. Preheat oven and cooking pot to 500 degrees. Turn the bread out of its basket or bowl onto a floured surface. Use a razor blade to score a 4″ square on the top of the bread. Once the oven/pot is up to temperature, plop the bread in the pot, round side up. Cover and let bake for 25 minutes. Remove the top and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. The bread should be nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool for 1 hour before eating

Cornmeal and Fig Financiers

Recently I met a young man. He asked to meet to discuss an idea. An idea born in sharing. I was early for the meeting, mostly because I have yet to shake some of my uptight corporate mores. He was tardy but only by minutes. A delay caused by
a sweet pause to pick gorgeous ripe figs which he then gifted to me. We talked for hours about our love of good food and how we share it with others.

Cornmeal and Fig Financiers

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal *
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
5-6 fresh figs-halved

Measure the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and honey. Add the eggs one by one, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Quickly beat in vanilla and buttermilk. On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients, do not over mix. Scoop into small brioche molds, cupcake tins or other vessel. Fill to about the halfway mark (perhaps just a tad bit more), and then gently push 1/2 fig on top. Bake at 350 for approximately 15-30 minutes. Use the toothpick method to ensure they are baked through.
*i used a medium coarse cornmeal–but you can use anything from fine to coarse…the texture of your cake will reflect whichever you choose to use.