Tag Archives: Side Dishes

Salt Potatoes–in the Mountains

If you aren’t from–you know, where I’m from (Syracuse, not Long Island), you may not know about salt potatoes.  And if you don’t, I’m really sorry, because they are just so darn delicious.

But before we get into that, let me show you where I am:

Oh, yes.  You’ll see much more of that later.

Plans for tomorrow involve a morning run, hiking (with bear spray), swimming, kayaking, and basically getting as much sun and fresh air as possible with Fritz, who hasn’t really seen the light of day since he started studying for his test. 

But back to the salt potatoes.  This isn’t much of a recipe, but more of an idea.  An inspiration, if you will.

Salt Potatoes

  • Baby potatoes (I’ve used baby red potatoes from my CSA box and white potatoes–both lovely)
  • Salt

Kinda makes sense, when you think about it. 

I’m not giving amounts of either because 1) it doesn’t matter all that much; 2) I probably don’t make them with the right amount of salt anyway since it horrifies me to add so much; and 3) it’s an inspiration, remember?  I’m not here to boss anyone around.

Start off by giving the baby potatoes a hearty scrub with a stiff brush and some water to clean them–no need to peel.  In fact, I’ll be mad if you do.  Maybe I am here to be a little bossy.

Dump in a pile of salt (I used sea salt and I’d estimate I used about 1/3 C to 1/2 C of salt for a few pounds of potatoes) into a pot.  And this is a VAST underestimation of how Syracusians really cook salt potatoes.  Wikipedia just told me to use a pound of salt for every four pounds of potatoes.  Another recipe said one cup of salt for six cups of water.   Add water and potatoes and bring to a rolling boil.

Try it the real way, at least once.  And then make it my way if it scares you to add a pound of salt to anything, even if you end up pouring most of it off.

Boil the potatoes in the salt water until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Last rule is this:  you must serve these potatoes with butter.  And I’m talking real butter.  Don’t show me margarine or vegetable oil based nonsense with these potatoes, please.  Please?  I’m begging you.  Do it right.

Unless you really can’t.  In that case, I still love you.  But dude, I just learned that I am totally bossy.

Apparently what magic happens in the pot is that the salt forms a crust around the potatoes, preventing them from getting watery and instead making them soft and creamy.  And salty.  And delicious.

Fritz and his dad manned the grill, making lamb chops (or tjops, in Afrikaans) and boerewors, which are possibly my absolute two favorite grillable meats in the history of the world since I met and married a South African.

Have you ever seen anything more perfect than this?:

Good night!


Filed under Side Dishes

Spicy Pickled Beets

Sometimes I have moments in which I realize that I am rapidly turning into an 89-year old obstinate Hungarian grandmother.

These moments happen more often than I like to admit.

For instance, I sometimes dream of owning chickens in my own backyard.  This is weird, because we actually had chickens in my backyard when I was a kid, and they are disgusting.  They stink, they peck each other to death, and they lay delicious brown eggs every day.  I want them.

I also sometimes wish I could wrap a giant scarf around my head instead of doing my hair.  Not in the movie star, big sunglasses kind of way, but in the gingham, burlap sack dress, and bare feet kind of way.

The clincher was when I woke up this morning craving pickled beets.  What self-respecting 20-something year old with a closet full of pretty dresses and high heels craves beets, much less of the pickled variety?  My complete transformation appears inevitable.

You can just call me nagyanya (“grandmother” in Hungarian).

Spicy Pickled Beets (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 1/2 lb beets (I actually had just a smidgen over a lb)
  • 1 large onion (though I used 1 large and an old baby one)
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C white vinegar (feel free to experiment with types of vinegar or just use 1/2 C of one variety)
  • 1/4 t black peppercorns
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1 t dill seeds
  • 1 t salt

First, wash and roast the beets.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, wrap the beets tightly in foil, and roast until they are soft (a good test is if they can easily be pierced with a wooden skewer).  This should take about an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the onions (I made half rings, about 1/8-1/4″ thick), and cover with boiling water.  Let it sit for ten minutes, then drain and allow to cool.  This should take out some of the bite of the onions without having to cook the whole mixture together.

Combine 3/4 C boiling water with the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add the vinegars and remaining seasonings: salt, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and dill.  Set aside.

Once the beets are roasted, peel them (an easy trick is to use a dry paper towel to slip the skins off) and slice them.  Layer them with the onions in a large enough jar, and pour the vinegar mixture over the top.

Place the jar in the fridge and allow it to sit for at least a day until eating.

I hate when my pickled beet cravings have to wait a day to be realized.  And no, I’m not pregnant–just weird. 

The original recipe says that this can most likely be stored “forever”, but I wouldn’t try that.  With the sugary, salty brine, though, it’ll probably come pretty close.

I’m excited to try these on sandwiches, in salads, and probably just plain.  Remember?  I’m weird.

Plus, how can you not love the sweet and sour taste of pickled beets?

Pickling things (especially without the trouble of canning them, since I’m just making one jar and keeping it refrigerated) is a perfect way to keep items from my CSA box from going bad.  Expect to see a lot more pickled goodies in the future.  And possibly some jams.  Jellies.  Compotes.


Filed under Side Dishes

Sautéed Zucchini

I’m back!  This week was pretty nuts, but I think that I’m finally getting back into the swing of things.  It’d be nice to have things running smoothly, unlike this morning when Fritz and I realized that we had literally no food in the house that was appropriate for a quick school lunch.  Tomorrow I have the morning off, so I’ll be sure to make some things we can pack quickly.

We also ran out of old-fashioned oats and steel-cut oats in the same week–a travesty!  Luckily, my mom can read my thoughts from 6 1/2 hours away (with no traffic, that is), and told me today that she mailed me three pounds o’ oats in a box today.

What a woman.

I was thinking today that I have been lax in posting side dishes, probably because it’s just more exciting to write about and photograph entrées, and because I also have an affinity for one-pot meals.  However, we do eat a lot of side dishes, especially since I’ve tried to add more vegetables to our diet lately.  Here’s a nice one for ya:

Sautéed Zucchini (courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 or 3 zucchini (or summer squash), cut in half lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 1 small onion (I used half a giant onion), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then toss in the onions and cook until translucent, a few minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the ends off of each zucchini, and slice-‘n’-dice.  Add those into the skillet.  After a few minutes (around eight), they will be tender and beginning to brown.  Make a well in the center and add the garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper, then toss all together.

Enjoy!  I’ve been using jarred garlic in olive oil because I hate having to peel and mince garlic, but when the taste is fairly important (such as this recipe), you can taste a weird, almost chemically aftertaste which is not the best.  However, on the bright side, Fritz never notices when I use garlic anymore.  Mission “Sneak Food Fritz Hates Into Everything He Eats Until He’s Immune” accomplished!

We ate this as a side to baked tilapia with a mustard (me) and chutney (Fritz) bread crumbs topping smothered with roasted tomatoes.  Yum.  So easy and a great way to make frozen fish taste good in a quick and healthy way.  I’ll post the recipe next time I make it!

I rarely eat zucchini (because I’ll almost always choose summer squash over it–I love yellow!) but I enjoyed having a different vegetable in the mix.  Days when I’m good about eating healthily and exercising just make me feel so amazing…and then I can enjoy some guilt-free relaxing time with Henry and Sleepless in Seattle (good recommendation, Mom)!

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian