Let's Review Those Salted Potatoes from My Christmas Menu

This Christmas Eve we wanted a very simple dinner and be sure to not spend too much time in the kitchen. 
There were almost 25 people to serve, mostly adults and teens, so quantities needed to be generous. Based on the fun party we had on the 23rd, shopping for this meal didn't start until 8 am on the 24th, and cooking started at 11. We ate at 5:30. Not bad.

One dish that stood out in the menu was the Salt Crusted Baked Potatoes. Baking potatoes would be a "no-labor" proposition, and I could spice up a few toppings. But then I ran across the idea to coat the potatoes in egg white and roll them in Kosher salt, then bake them. I thought it would be a nice touch to add to an ordinary potato. And it was. They were a big hit.

Salted Baked Potatoes
Serves 8

8 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
2 egg whites
1 cup Kosher salt
--- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
--- Pierce each potato in two or three places with a fork.
--- Spread salt over a foil lined rimmed baking sheet.
--- Roll each potato in the egg white, then in the salt.
You can make the coating as thick or as light as you wish. First time out, try a little of each - heavy and light. If the potatoes are heavily coated, people will tend not be be able to eat the entire skin. But since some salt will crumble off in serving, going too light loses the effect too. Find your preference.
--- Place pan in preheated oven. Check potatoes for doneness after 45 minutes. Larger potatoes, approx. 8oz each, will need an hour total.

Potato Toppings - The Usual Suspects
Sour Cream
Green Onion or Chives
Cheddar Cheese

Potato Toppings - Change the Pace
Roasted Garlic
Finely Grated Fresh Parmigianno Reggiano
Carmelized Onions and Fennel, with hot pepper flakes and fennel seed
Mexican Crema
Pancetta Crisps or Strips

2010 Christmas Dinner - Salt Crusted Potatoes / Tenderloin

My Caesar Salad Dressing

This is adapted from the Jamie Oliver Caesar Salad recipe I've mentioned a few times here, which includes a great crouton technique. I dind't publish the details of the salad dressing, respecting copyright.

But he's a little vague on lemon/oil proportions, and I've made some modifications to what he does. So I'm clarifying here with the proportions I've been using the past few months.

Also, he calls for a boatload of anchovies, but not a full tin, so there's wastage. I recommend anchovy paste instead.

Another benefit of anchovy paste - there are only one or two brands widely available. I use Alessi.  However, there are many, many brands of anchovies in tins. Even within the same brand you never know if you'll get whole, firm pieces or unappealing, gooey strands. Anchovy paste will introduce greater consistency in this recipe in multiple ways.

Awesome Fresh Caesar Salad Dressing

2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Fresh ground black pepper
2 ounces high quality parmesan, grated
½ cup olive oil

1.       Combine all ingredients, add oil last.
2.       Season greens with salt and additional pepper. 3. Top with parmesan shavings.

Makes enough for 3 heads of romaine. Use sparingly for better taste.

Awesome Flavors From A Few Simple Ingredients

This is the second, yet more complex menu I did last weekend for a friends holiday party. Most of the recipes are online on one of my sites, so links are included where possible.

Macanese Chicken Wings
-          Coconut Peanut Dipping Sauce

Americanized Gougeres
-          Roasted Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Gougeres

New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp
-          Rustic Bread for Dipping 

Asian Meatballs
-          Lime Dipping Sauce
-          Sichuan dipping Sauce
-          Sweet and Sour Roasted Peppers

Caesar Salad with Crispy Pancetta
- Homemade Rosemary-Chicken Croutons

Andouille, Shrimp and Crab Gumbo

Pork and Alligator Sausage, Shrimp and Crab Gumbo
- Steamed Rice

Coffee Amaretti Ice Cream Cake
-          Dark Chocolate Rum Sauce

In case anyone's keeping score.....

I've got at least one typo per article and I NEVER spell check my blog post titles. Which, if you read the last post earlier today, is quite embarassing.


Grilling in Houston in December - Whole Salmon and Salmon Skin Cracklins

Party for my golf buddies and families. I just did the grilling:
-          Grilled Whole Salmon Fillets stuffed (yes stuffed) with Dill
-          Crispy Salmon Skin Cracklin’s
-          Provencal Butterflied Leg of Lamb
-          Ribs, Ribs, Ribs…..

JV Swim Team Lasagna

Made this last weekend for the KHS JV swim team - about 50 hungry swimmers. We made a little over triple this recipe.
For two 9x13 pans
1.5 packages Barilla Lasagna
-- Cook pasta, drain and toss with olive oil so it won’t stick.

2 large onions, diced
4 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, skin peeled, then peel carrot into strips w/peeler
2 cans imported San Marzano tomatoes (28oz) – in Italian food section
3 sprigs fresh thyme
--Cook onion, garlic and carrot in 4 tablespoons olive oil
--Add tomatoes, thyme and season with kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
½ a large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 large sprigs fresh oregano, (1 tablespoon dried)
3 sprigs fresh thyme (2 teaspoons dried)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
--Separately brown the ground meats and drain almost all the fat
--Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened.
--Finely chop the herbs and add to meat onions. Add meat back to pan to warm.
--Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

8 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup grated parmesan, high quality imported parm, please.  

1.       Oil the bottom and sides of two 9x13 pans.
2.       Spoon a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom of each pan.
3.       Create one layer of lasagna pasta across pan, add a 1 cup mozzarella, 3 tablespoons parmesan, 1 cup of the meat mixture and top with 1-1/2 cups sauce. Repeat twice. Top with additional mozzarella and parmesan.
4.       Drizzle a stream of olive oil randomly over top of lasagna and season with kosher salt fresh ground pepper.
5.       Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Allow to rest 15-20 minutes after removing it from oven.

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries

Amy (age 7): What kind of mammal can you eat? Chocolate Moose.

She made that one up and cracks herself up over it.
This version of chocolate mousse was a special treat on my anniversary a few weeks ago. It's a simple recipe, but good ingredients and technique are required.

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries
4 servings

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces sweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick butter
3 eggs separated
1/4 cup dark rum or amaretto
1/4 cup sugar
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 pint of raspberries
  1. Simmer a saucepan of water; place a metal bowl over top of pan. Add chocolate until it melts.
  2. Add butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until incorporated into chocolate.
  3. Remove bowl and stir in egg yolks one at a time. Add rum or amaretto. Chill bowl while performing next step.
  4. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Add sugar to incorporate.
  5. Gently fold whites into chocolate mixture, starting with a small amount of the whites.
  6. Spoon mousse into ramekins.
  7. Whip cream to stiff peaks. Top ramekins with whipped cream and raspberries.

Shrimp and Lobster Cocktail with Rose Marie Sauce

I read the ingredients for this recipe and thought of the mayo/ketchup salad dressing my Mom made in the '70's. But the addition of lemon juice, Worchestershire sauce and Brandy caught my attention. It was shockingly refreshing.

Shrimp and Lobster Cocktail with Rose Marie Sauce
Serves 8

1.5 pounds medium shrimp, preferably 16-20 or 20-25 count, peeled
2 medium lobsters, approx. 1.25 pounds each
Seasonings: 1 bay leaf, 12 whole peppercorns, 1 lemon, sliced
Butter lettuce
2 tablespoons mayonaisse
2 tablespoons ketchup (really, trust me)
1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brandy
1 small lemon
  1. Prepare an ice bath.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil – add seasonings and simmer about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp, cook for 2 or 3 minutes depending on size of shrimp.  Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and put in the ice bath. Let cool for 2-3 minutes, then drain.
  4. Cook lobsters for 10-12 minutes, one at a time. Plunge into ice bath, or run under cool water until they can be handled.
  5. Combine ketchup, mayo, worchestershire sauce and brandy.  Season with salt and pepper, then squeeze the juice of the lemon into the sauce.
  6. Toss shrimp and lobser pieces in sauce, serve over butter lettuce.
You can make homemade mayo and homemade ketchup if you want to go crazy. That’s actually what I did. J But I made a “regular” from the jar version too, so see if it would work as well, and it does.

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