Thursday, February 11, 2010

0 Recipe #63: Lavender-Infused Potatoes with Garlic & Fennel

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I find it comical that most potato-based recipes typically list amounts in pounds.  Example: Such-and-such recipe calls for a pound & a half of potatoes.
It sure sounds like a whole lot of potatoes, doesn't it?!  Makes it sound like one is about to feed an entire army. :)

A pound of potatoes. Hmmm, how many potatoes is that, exactly? I've seen suggested estimates on the web ranging anywhere from 5-6 potatoes to 10-12 potatoes.  Whoa, now that's confusing, eh?!

And c'mon, when we're in throes of cooking, how many of us just so happen to have our food scales handy? Yeah, right. ;)

I don't know about you, but I only have a mini food scale, & there's clearly no way on earth that I can measure a pound of potatoes in that. ;)  (Kitchen space is at a premium, & there's no room for one of those industrial-sized scales you see in the supermarket for weighing fruits & vegetables & such. LOL.)

Why can't they just make it a whole lot easier on all of us & list the required amounts of potatoes in a simplified way?! For example: How about just indicating that the recipe requires "10-12 medium-sized red potatoes," etc., ya know?!  Or, if people want to be really anal-retentive about it, how about listing "10-12 potatoes with the approximate dimensions of 3 x 2 x 1.5"?  Haha.

Of course, I know why they do this.  That is, aside from unintentionally driving the rest of us nuts. :) Not all potatoes are the same size & weight, & the type also can make a big difference in that calculation (i.e., fingerling, red, Idaho, etc.). So, it's next to impossible to know things like "how many potatoes are there in 1 lb."  I might as well ponder the meaning of life, the universe, & everything, while I'm at it. :)

I've also seen estimates like 1 lb. equals 3-4 servings.  However, the next logical question would, of course, be, "How large is a serving exactly?"  Is this particular serving a main course serving or a side-dish serving?  In my food universe, a potato dish isn't normally a main-course dish, but who knows what other people are thinking?! ;)  And what about calculations for people whose eyes are larger than their stomaches or the other way around? I think that might change the answer a bit as well. :)

Also, I'm one of those cooks who doesn't get really that hung up on exact amounts anyways, so for the purposes of preserving the sanity of myself & the readers of this blog, you are never ever going to see me listing potatoes in poundage here.  Nope, sorry. Just not gonna do it. :)  Not if I can help it. I don't care how proper or professional it is.  Thanks, but no thanks. :)

Speaking of which, the below recipe is a "side dish," & feeds 2 people. If you're cooking for 4, then of course, just double the recipe, & so on & so forth. Please note, servings are modest; so don't expect a single serving to equate to a "large heaping pile of potatoes." This dish is not meant to feed a large velociraptor & her 10 babies. :)  Hence, the use of the term, "side dish." :)

Anyhow, enough about potatoes & poundage.  Onto the recipe.....

Lavender-Infused Potatoes with Garlic & Fennel

Ingredients for Lavender-Infused Olive Oil:
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. dried lavender buds

Ingredients for Potato Fennel Dish:
1 Tbsp. lavender-infused olive oil (created from the above concoction)
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 medium-sized red potatoes, sliced into 1/4" rounds, with skins intact
1 small fennel bulb with stalks & fronds intact
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
sea salt, to taste (approximately 1/2 tsp.)
pepper, to taste (approximately 1/8 tsp)
1/2 cup water (optional, add as needed)
1/4 c. fresh Italian parsley (for garnishing)

1. To make the lavender-infused olive oil, put dried lavender buds into a small glass jar & pour olive oil on top.  If necessary, add more olive oil to completely fill the jar to the top. Put lid on jar & tighten.  (If you don't have a lid, tightly stretch plastic wrap over top of jar & then place rubber band around top lip of the jar.) Keep out of direct sunlight, placing jar in a dark place like an unlit cabinet. Please note: Jar must remain in this location for 1 week before using. So you might want to plan to do this step in advance. ;) LOL!
2. After 1 week, remove jar & place contents into a strainer, with a bowl underneath to catch the liquid. Press spoon against strainer to extract excess olive oil.  Pour contents of bowl back into jar & seal.  Place aside.
3. Boil potatoes for 10-15 minutes, then drain & set aside.  Potatoes should still be slightly hard to the touch; they shouldn't be cooked all the way through at this point.
4. While potatoes are cooking, remove fronds & stalks from fennel bulb, separating the fronds & putting them in a small dish.  Reserve stalks & put back into the refrigerator for future use. (Although this recipe doesn't make use of the stalks, they can be incorporated into recipes like fennel bean soup, etc.) Chop fennel bulb into crescent-like slivers & put aside.
5. Pour 1 Tbsp. of the lavender-infused olive oil into a large sauté pan. Seal the jar tightly & return to unlit area. (The remainder of the lavender-infused olive oil can be used for culinary or cosmetic purposes.)
6. Add garlic & cook on medium heat for about a minute or so. Do not brown garlic.
7. Add sliced potatoes & cook until they are just starting to brown.  Then add fennel to pan & cook until tender.  Stir continually & add a dollop of water if necessary, so that ingredients don't stick to bottom of pan &/or burn.
8. Add lemon juice, oregano, & marjoram. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.
9. Cook until all ingredients are soft & tender.  (Watch pan carefully while you cook, so that ingredients aren't accidentally overcooked or burned.)
10. Garnish with parsley & serve.

Serving Suggestions: This would be an ideal recipe for an intimate, candle-lit, Valentine's day dinner chez vous; just add the Lavender & Peppercorn Crusted Steak, a small side salad, & you've got dinner.

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