Thursday, July 5, 2012

Week 3, Part 1: Spiced Potatoes and Cilantro-Mint Dressing

My daughters are 12 and 14 this summer, and you would think that after 12 years or 14 years of feeding my kids that I would know what they would like to eat. You would think that, but, like me, you would be wrong. Two non-adventurous eaters going for spiced potatoes (and in particular, Indian-food-style spiced potatoes)? Who would have guessed? I'm documenting this surprising event in my blog so I can remember it the next time they are being fickle and contrary over whatever I'm serving. Which will probably be at dinnertime tonight.

The potatoes have an addictive quality to them, and a bit of kick from cayenne pepper. The cilantro-mint dressing somewhat tames them, but has a kick of its own, from jalapeno pepper. I'm finding that all herby, green dressings are somewhat similar -- this one isn't far from chimichurri or cilantro-basil sauce -- but I accomplished my primary goal of the week, which was to use up a bunch of cilantro and work down some mint. If you don't have the herbs on hand, the potatoes are fine without the dressing.

Spiced Potatoes and Cilantro-Mint Dressing
(Adapted from Deborah Geering's recipes for Atlanta Magazine. In addition to vegetables, the cilantro-mint dressing would complement grilled meat or fish.)

For the dressing:
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only (about 2 cups)
2 to 3 sprigs mint, leaves only
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp canola oil, or another flavorless vegetable oil
2 Tbsp water
Juice from 1/2 lime (about 2 Tbsp)

Place the jalapeno, cilantro, mint, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the oil, water, and lime juice and process until smooth, scraping sides if necessary. Makes about 1/2 cup.

For the potatoes:
3 baking potatoes (such as russets), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 to 3 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp cumin seed
1.5 tsp garam masala (see note below)
1.5 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Place the potatoes in a large pot (I used my 5-quart Dutch oven) and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook the potatoes until they can be pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Drain. (Parboiling the potatoes cuts down on the subsequent roasting time. You can skip this step, and roast the potatoes for longer.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pour the oil onto a large rimmed baking sheet (e.g. 10-by-17 inches). Add the potatoes and toss to coat with oil. Mix the spices together and sprinkle them over the potatoes; toss again to coat. Arrange the potatoes so they are in a single layer, and roast until browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes if you parboiled them.

Note: Garam masala is a spice mix available at many grocery stores. One way to make your own is to mix: 

1/4 tsp (or 1 part) ground clove
1/4 tsp (1 part) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 part) ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2 parts) ground cardamon
1/2 tsp (2 parts) ground black pepper
1 tsp (4 parts) ground cumin
1-1/4 tsp (5 parts) ground coriander

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