What an awkward time for me to admit this, as no doubt these will grace some tables this week I’ve been gracefully invited to, but I’m not really into, well, mashed things: potatoes, yams, parsnips, root vegetables and other purees that serve as the piles to sop up everything awesome that runs off our main courses before our forks can catch it. I mean, I won’t pushed mashed potatoes away; it’s not that they actually taste bad. It’s just that I’ve never been convinced that they taste better than the sum of their copious amounts of various combinations of butter, cream, buttermilk, sour cream, crème fraîche, cream and goat cheeses. No, really, I mean copious. Jeffrey Steingarten, a man whose essay collections you should read if you have not already, found that the magic formula that elevated mashed potatoes to, well, the kind you’ll probably gush about on Thursday night fell somewhere between one and four sticks (a pound) of butter for every two pounds (two to three) of potatoes. I know, I know: “Deb, you are such a party pooper.”
Side Dish Archive
Could anything be simpler than creamed onions? I mean, it’s cream, and then it is onions. And you cook them together. The end. Or perhaps the beginning of another piece of evidence that I can take the simplest thing and make it, er, long-winded. First, I involved Thomas Keller, or rather, he beckoned me. I was getting a pedicure a couple weekends ago (figuring I’d put my family and also those other moms at the gym class I took the baby to out of their misery) and on the armrest was that week’s New York Magazine, boasting Thanksgiving recipes from some great New York chefs within. Obviously, I turned there first and though, again, creamed onions are really just cream and onions therefore not inherently interesting, the recipe was from Thomas Keller and he is a master of taking the seemingly simple and making it amazing. I was in.
This is the kind of thing you come up with when you have a one year-old who, like many one year-olds, wishes to eat sweet potatoes with every meal. Sure, the goal is for the kid to eat exactly what the rest of the family is eating for dinner, but there are only so many days in a row we can feign excitement over a side of sweet potatoes and I have only so much heart to deny the kid something he delights in. And so I spent a good part of September and October roasting sweet potatoes, repeating the task enough times that I made two great discoveries.
I feel like I have been sitting on this leek bread pudding recipe forever, though it has technically only been six months — the New York Times ran this recipe from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home last October, when [updated: ahem, I had thought] leeks were decidedly out of season and apparently, I’m really becoming someone who really digs her heels in about these sorts of things. I imagine how much better something will taste in season, how much better it will look, how much more excited I’ll be when I “score” the thing I’ve been longing six months for and say “aargh, fine! I’ll wait.” And wait I did. (Jacob, too, was patient but mostly because he was just a little lump back then.)
My fridge is a mess. I like to fancy myself a focused shopper; I know what I want to cook, I carefully make lists of the ingredients I don’t have yet and I don’t come home until every item is crossed off.
Meet my new favorite potato dish. Oh, those mustard-roasted potatoes were wonderful, weren’t they? And who doesn’t love baked pommes frites? And latkes, they were a force to be reckoned with. But they’re dead to me, or they would be, if in some cruel parallel universe I was to choose only one way to eat potatoes from this day forth.
There are biscuits and there are biscuits. There are biscuits that you serve with chili, with barbecue or alongside some eggs and grits. And there are biscuits that you bring out in a warmed basket with a cloth napkin draped over them at a dinner party, to sop up a braise or slather with honey-butter. These biscuits are of the latter variety but I suspect they will quickly become your one and only biscuit because if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder where they’ve been your whole life.