August 17, 2010

The other night I diced some fresh Kennebecpotatoes from the farmer’s market, tossed into hot olive oil with a bit ofsmoky bacon and garlic, and sautéed, adding salt, fresh oregano, and white winealong the way. The result was probably the best dish I’ve cooked in sixmonths--soft/crisp/luscious potato perfection.

But here’s the unspoken truth about simple cooking: it isn’talways all that easy. Sometimes it's luck. I actually find potatoes tricky--muchmore so than, say, complicated curries or homemade pizza. I am spud-challenged.The small number of ingredients had little to do with the dish’s success;everything rested on cooking time and temperature, until the potatoes reachedthat state in which the pieces came together into a whole mass but also cameapart in soft, starchy bites as you ate; there was a crust, but it wasdelicate. The problem was that I wasn’t really paying much attention while Iwas doing this, and now, having hit a surprise hole in one, I’m trying topicture the exact cooking sequence in my mind, like a golf swing, so I canrepeat it. I’m going to try it againnext weekend.

Meanwhile, I tasted a delightfully simple salad at arestaurant (precise location forgotten) that featured pickled beets and rawradishes, and here is the sort of dish that’s very easy to create at home. Verythinly sliced radishes offer nice pepper-and-crunch texture against sweet-acidpickled beets, and I simply tossed them together and let sit for half an hourin the fridge, then added a drizzle of hazelnut oil and some chopped toastedhazelnuts. Goat cheese would go nicely here, but it’s not necessary: Justsprinkle with a bit of sea salt and dig in.

Check out our collection of simple sides and summer salads for more inspiration.

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