Sunday, March 29, 2015

Crispy Spanish Potatoes

Pin It

These potatoes were often served at home and I loved them.  They remind me of my mother and my childhood. They are so easy, yet hard to master until you figure out a couple of simple tricks.  I am sure every Spanish cook has his or her way of making it, but this is the way I finally got them to come out the way I remembered.

This is the only time I use small yellow potatoes. Russets or small red potatoes are usually what you will find in my food pantry, but for this recipe, yellow are the only way to go.  I say recipe, but there really is no recipe, just a method.  You can make as many or as few as you like, another advantage. All you need is olive oil, mashed garlic, sea salt and pepper.  Fresh parsley is a bonus; and they take no time, just a little patience.

These are perfect in a pinch, when you need to put together a meal and there is no time to fuss.  We had them the other night with lamb chops, but they go well with just about anything. Add some pimenton for a little heat and spice.


Small yellow potatoes
Olive oil, preferably Spanish
Plenty of mashed garlic (about 4 or 5 big ones)
Sea Salt and Pepper

I find the trick is to parboil them for about twenty minutes.  Remove from the water, drain and let them cool.  Cut in half.   Coat the frying pan generously with olive oil..Heat the oil on medium high. Mince the mashed garlic, 3 or 4 big cloves, and add to the oil.  Cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat until golden, making sure the garlic does not burn.  What you are doing is flavoring the oil.  Remove the garlic from the pan. Add the potatoes, cut side down, and cook on medium heat until golden and crispy on that side.  Leave them alone, don't fiddle with them until ready to turn.  Cook on the other side in the same way.  Add back the garlic and sprinkle some sea salt, pepper and fresh parsley.  Toss a couple of times.

  Remove to paper towels and serve.  You can drizzle a little of the flavored oil over them if you want.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Chicken With Potatoes, Prunes And Pomegranate Molasses

Pin It

You will be knocked off your socks when you find out that there's nothing more to this recipe than throwing a few ingredients into a pot and waiting for it to cook. Two hours later you will be marvelling at the genius of Yotam Ottolenghi. Yes I know, I'm one of his groupies and after this dish I will follow him blindly to the end of the earth!

To begin with, there's no fat.  Take it from me, I read through the ingredients twice, There's no browning of the chicken either.  A few of my regular readers who watch their waistline like a hawk will like that.  What did it for me, though, was the one-pot about minimizing the clean-up!

I really don't know what made me take a plunge and make this recipe.  It must have been the simplicity of it all.  I do try to keep things low key during the week, seeing that my life has so drastically changed in the last few months.  What I never expected was what came out  two hours later.  It was a masterpiece and worthy of serving to your most distinguished guests.  Let's just say that Madame Mere cleaned her plate and she does not go for the exotic at this stage of her life.  

That being said, here are a few steps that I suggest you follow.  First, if you are using a large Le Creuset pot or cocotte, it is easier to work with legs and thighs separately.  They don't need to fit in one layer, but they are easier to maneuver.  Just throw them in and let them fall where they will.  Do not buy skinless.  People! this is the only fat in this dish! you can remove the skin later, if you must, after you have been served.  Without the skin you won't get that color and the chicken pieces may not come out as juicy as they are meant to.

I bought the small lgolden potatoes, called honey potatoes.  I don't think it much matters which ones you get as long as they are small and yellow,  but I would peel them.  I didn't do it thinking the skin was so thin I could get away with it;  but I think the skin prevents them from absorbing some of the flavors.

I obviously could not find pomegranate molasses in my little town in Georgia but I read that it is very similar to balsamic vinegar and that was what I used.  You can find it on Amazon or you can make your own.  I have placed an order and will definitely use it next time as I hear it is fantastic on marinades and sauces.

The top photo of this dish is by Colin Campbell for the Ottolenghi website., The rest are mine.  You know I'm just a cook with a little camera, not a photographer with fancy equipment.  The reason I put his up on top is to show you that, when compared to my results, one gets exact ly as promised.  No fancy camera work in mine, just point and shoot.

Although Ottolenghi suggests crusty bread and a salad to accompany, I couldn't resist the white rice with a simple salad on the side. It's up to you, bread or rice.

For the amount of work involved, the depth of flavor in this recipe is remarkable.  It is the work of a genius. Just take a leap of faith with me and make it, just the way it says.  You will be amazed at the results and may even become an Ottolenghi groupie together with Madame Mere and me! 


 Serves four generously (It really serves 6!)

8 whole chicken legs (ie, each with a drumstick and a thigh; 2kg in all)
16 medium charlotte potatoes, peeled (about 800g net)
3 large onions, peeled and quartered
120g/ 1/2 cup pitted prunes 
30g/ 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
100ml/ 6 TB soy sauce
90ml/ 3 oz pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp maple syrup 
120g/4 oz sweet mango chutney
½ tsp whole black peppercorns
20g oregano sprigs, plus a few picked leaves to garnish


Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, then tip into a large casserole dish. Cover with a lid (or thick foil), and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, and cook for two hours longer, stirring every now and then.

When the time is up, remove the dish from the oven, stir once more, cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes, to rest and allow the flavours to mingle. Garnish with a few oregano leaves, and serve with a sharp green salad and some good bread to mop up the lovely juices.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New Addition to the Staff...

Pin It

 It is with great pleasure that I introduce Madison (Maddie) Macintosh to all our readers.  Madison has joined us as a junior member of the clean up crew under the supervision of Lily the lab and Coco the cat.  Her participation and enthusiasm have been above average and show great promise for a bright future as a senior member of Lindaraxa's staff. We expect her training as Apprentice Sous Chef to begin in the Spring of 2015.  We are all very excited to have Madision as part of our family.

Chef's Note: For those of you not familiar with the West Highland White Terrier (Westie) breed, in time, their bodies catch up to their ears!  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fried Fish, Southern Style

Pin It

Let's face it...nobody fries fish like a Southerner and this recipe is not for for the fainthearted or for those with a cholesterol problem, but boy is it good!  Yes, we have all had fish sticks, particularly Mrs Paul's, remember those? I had my share when we first arrived in this country and my mother discovered her in the frozen food department.  They were a staple at our dinner table on Friday nights when, as good Catholics, we were supposed to abstain from eating meat.  For breakfast or dessert there was always Aunt Jemima or  Sara Lee.  Together with Betty Crocker, those four women kept us alive and well fed while my mother learned to cook.

I haven't had fish sticks or fried fish in years, that is, until I came to the South.  Here I learned about fried oysters and whenever my daughter is out of town, MM and I splurge on a pint.  Last week I had some cod that was kind of blah looking but still quite fresh  and perfect for frying, southern style. I was so right, and it was so good that my daughter didn't even complain about the frying.

This recipe is more about Southern frying than about fish.  In my search for the best and authentic I turned to none other than one of  the greatest American cooks and the doyenne of southern country cooking, Edna Lewis.  Her recipes represent home cooking at its Southern best..  They are a real treasure and if you don't have one of her books, you don't know what you are missing.

Mother was horrified when she saw me taking photos for the blog while the fish sat in paper towels on a plate.  I am in the camp of another great Southern cook, Lee Bailey, who said food should be photographed the way it looks with no fancy embellishments around it.

This is the kind of food you serve right out of the pan via a plate with paper towels..  It is family fare not company food.  No need for silver or fancy plates. Just you and the fish.

Yes, it is a bit messy but it comes off easily with just vinegar and water.

Make the Coconut rice ,but if you really want to be a Southerner, a yellow rice pilaf and a simple tomato salad or coleslaw and ice tea is the way to go.

 Edna Lewis's original recipe calls for freshwater fish, such as catfish, perch or whiting.  I made these with cod and it was excellent.  I bet it would be great with yellow tail !   Do make it with peanut oil which heats to a higher degree than other oils.  It is an integral part of this recipe and of southern frying.  Lastly, I have halved the original recipe so adjust accordingly if you are frying more fish.

Fried Fish Recipe Adapted from A Fish Fry For Porgy, Edna Lewis

4 people


3 Cups Peanut Oil
4 to 8 fish fillets, freshwater or saltwater


1 cup white cornmeal
2 TB all purpose flour
1 TB cornstarch
1 TB sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

lemon wedges to accompany


Mix together all the ingredients for the dredge.  In an iron skillet heat the oil,to 340 degrees F.When it reaches that temperature, quickly dredge the fish fillets in the cornmeal mix shake the excess and slip one at a time into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan.  You will need to cook the fish in batches.  Fry the fish until golden brown and crisp all over, about 5 to 7 minutes.    Remove from the oil and place on crumpled paper towels. Serve immediately!

All photos Lindaraxa

Recipe adapted from Edna Lewis

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Taste Of The South...Coconut Rice

Pin It

If you have ever had fish or shellfish with coconut rice, you know there is no return.  For me it was many moons ago, as part of a lunch on the terrace of a beautiful house by the sea.  The owners are long gone and so is the cook, a wonderful Colombian woman by the name of Albertina who made rice like no one else.  She was from the coast, near the beautiful city of Cartagena.  That was a memorable lunch and it goes to show you that a meal doesn't have to be fancy to stay in your mind forever.

Coconut rice is a dish prepared by soaking white rice in coconut milk or cooking it with coconut flakes.  It is found in many cultures around the world from Southeast Asia to the Caribbean.  It is also found in Southern cooking particularly accompanying dishes typical of the coastal South.

I make many variations of coconut rice, but the other night I came across Edna Lewis' recipe from her book The Gift Of Southern Cooking and it was so simple and sounded so good I decided to try it and serve it with the shrimp I had just bought.  If you have never had coconut rice with shrimp, I urge you to try this recipe.  Suffice it to say, Madame Mere had seconds, of the rice not the shrimp!

Edna Lewis cooks her coconut rice in the oven but I am more familiar with making it on top of the stove. Whichever method you use should render a wonderful dish.

If you want to learn to fry fish like a Southerner, stay tuned, it's coming up next!

Coconut Rice

Serves 4-6


14 oz canned or fresh coconut milk, unsweetened
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 small onion finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 medium fresh tomato, peeled seeded and finely chopped, 2/3 cup
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 kaffir lime leaf (optional)
Cilantro to garnish(optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the coconut milk into a heavy-bottomed pot or casserole.  Bring to a boil and add the rice, onion, tomato and salt.  Cover tightly with a lid or double thickness of foil. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Take out of the oven, test for seasoning, Fluff with two forks and serve.

*I sauteed the onions in a small amount of butter, added the tomatoes and the rice and then the milk, kaffir lime leaf and the salt. Brought to a boil. reduced heat and cooked on top of the stove for about 30 minutes. If you don't have kaffir lime leaves, add a small slice of lime rind.

All photos Lindaraxa
Recipe adapted fronm Edna Lewis   
Pin It button on image hover