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Ingredient of the Week: Kale

Ingredient Of The Week: Kale (c)2011

The ingredient of the week is inspired by cooler temperatures and the first frosts of autumn. Here in Colorado, it grows happily in our climate of dry, sunny days and chilly nights. Everywhere you look, in farmers markets and grocery stores, you’ll find this large, leafy green. This week at La Domestique is devoted to kale.

My love for kale was immediate and completely caught me off guard. This vegetable has depth and complexity of flavor while avoiding the pitfalls of other greens which can be bitter or slimy when cooked. Kale leaves are long and resemble the feathers of a grand bird. Like a peacock, its colors are intensely green and blue. In the early morning hours kale appears to glow in the garden, dew drops casting a silver tone to the wrinkled leaves. Kale is truly a beauty amongst the decaying summer flowers and brown, dried out zucchini vines.


This Past Week at La Domestique: Potatoes

Potato (c)2011

This past week at La Domestique we welcomed autumn with the humble potato. Whether roasted, boiled, baked or fried, potatoes are always comforting. The creamy, earthy flavor takes us back to mom’s cooking. Potatoes come in several varieties, and this week week we looked at purple, red, golden, new, russet, and fingerling potatoes. Farmers markets are a great place to find unusual potatoes. I hope you’re inspired to try something new!

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap:

Monday:  Announcing potatoes as the ingredient of the week and some recommended reading.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with potatoes in autumn.

Wednesday:  Check out my column at Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder. I shared a recipe for Potato Galette, a stunning but simple potato cake.


Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shiitake Mushrooms, Leeks & Thyme


The book, One Potato Two Potato is an excellent resource for everything you need to know about potatoes. Reading this book, I learned that a roasting potato should be low in starch and waxy. A few examples include: Yukon Gold, long white, and fingerling potatoes. For this recipe I went with La Ratte Fingerlings I picked up from Cure Organic Farm at the Boulder Farmers Market. No need to peel them, the thin skin adds earthy flavor and rustic texture to the dish. Leeks bring their buttery, mild flavor to the dish and shiitake mushrooms add a smoky meaty character. Thyme is my favorite herb for roasted vegetables. The pungent, savory aroma fills the kitchen as the potatoes cook. Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shiitake Mushrooms, Leeks, & Thyme is a satisfying autumnal dish without being too rich- perfect nourishment for these cool days when our appetites crave something hearty.


Storyboard: Potatoes

Potato Storyboard (c)2011

This quote from The Produce Bible describes the potato perfectly:

“Dependable and adaptable, with the ability to move between dressed-up glamour and simple, satisfying understatement…”

Potatoes are comforting, with their earthy, rich flavor and hearty texture. They are affordable, filling nourishment. The potato is a versatile vegetable that can feed us in endless meal renditions. Rather than mindlessly enjoying the occasional baked or boiled potato, I encourage you to try the different varieties at the farmers market and experiment with new preparations. Maybe this week you’ll try something new? Often times we are intimidated by a new technique, only to find that it’s so easy, we’re kicking ourselves for waiting so long. Even the fanciest potato galette or the precarious Spanish tortilla is surprisingly do-able.


Cook in the Moment: Potato Galette

For my weekly “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” column I’ve written about Pommes Anna, also known as a potato galette. Here is the original article and recipe:

This week I’m welcoming fall with the humble potato. It’s easy to take this tuber for granted, she’s nothing pretty to look at and her flavor is quiet compared to the flashy tomatoes and peppers of summer. The potato has her good qualities, though. At once elegant and rustic, this ugly root transforms, becoming beautifully browned and crisp when cooked with butter. The creamy, earthy flavor of a potato is comforting and deeply satisfying.

My favorite way to prepare potatoes is the impressive but easy Pommes Anna. Though it’s been around for a long time, I first discovered this potato galette in Canal House Cooking, Volume No. 2. Pommes Anna is a simple dish made by layering thinly sliced potato circles into a skillet and sautéing the potato cake in butter until it’s crisp and golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside. The only seasoning needed is salt and freshly ground pepper. Though the dish comes together quickly and with little effort, the final display is truly a thing of beauty.


10 Ways Tuesday: Potatoes

1.  Wrinkled Potatoes, Canary Island Style

If you flip through Made in Spain, by José Andrés, you’ll find a recipe for Wrinkled Potatoes, Canary Island Style that I’ve cooked here. I could go for these instead of french fries any day. The small potatoes (in their skins) are boiled in very salty water. Once tender, pour out most of the water and continue cooking the potatoes until the salt covering them crystallizes. Serve the potatoes with traditional mojo sauce.

2.  Sister Frances’ Potatoes

The Canal House ladies share a recipe for Sister Frances’ Potatoes in Canal House Cooking Volume 2 that involves poaching peeled, cubed russet potatoes in butter and half-and-half. Topped with freshly ground pepper and chives, it looks like the perfect comfort food. They write, “The preparation is simple and the finished dish elegant and delicious.” Remember what Julia Child said, “If you’re afraid of butter, just use cream.”


Ingredient of the Week: Potato

Ingredient Of The Week: Potato (c)2011

Why don’t we welcome fall with the humble potato? I think it’s perfect- satisfying and comforting for cooler days and bigger appetites. The potato is a simple root tuber, not much to look at. Combine it with fat, in the form of cream or lard, and the potato is transformed into something special. Potatoes have an earthy flavor and creamy texture that brings us back to mom’s cooking. Serve them a myriad of ways: boiled, baked, roasted, or fried. This week at La Domestique, we’ll explore the many potato varieties and how cuisines across the world cook with them. Learn new techniques beyond your basic baked potato in 10 Ways Tuesday. I’ll have recipes to share throughout the week. On Thursday, learn the story behind the potato: growing, storing, cooking, and flavor pairing. The farmers markets are still full  of interesting varieties to try. I invite you to cook in the moment with me.


This Past Week: Olives

This past week at La Domestique we wrapped up the summer pantry with olives. It was fun to explore the many different varieties from all over the world. The briny flavor of olives brings complexity and depth to many dishes, like pastas, salads, and stews. Olives combine beautifully with the produce of late summer, such as tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. I hope this week inspired you to try new varieties- we have more choices at the grocery store than ever before!


In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap for you:


I’m honored that was featured on Food52 as “one of the most pleasant and attractive places in the food blogosphere.” Take a look at the write-up by clicking on the icon below.



Monday:  Announcing olives as the ingredient of the week.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with olives.



Pissaladière is a French dish from the Pays Niçoise, an area bordering Italy. It’s easy to see the Italian influence in this flatbread decorated like a pizza. I read in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook that Pissaladière is named for pissalat, which means “salted fish”. It’s a sauceless pizza topped with slow cooked onions, sliced tomato, olives, and anchovy. Niçoise olives grown near the city of Nice in Provence are traditionally used in Pissaladière. These small olives with big pits are harvested fully ripe and have a dark purplish-brown color. Niçoise olives are less salty than others. They have a mellow, nutty flavor that goes well with the onions and anchovies. I just can’t follow one recipe, it’s not in my nature. The Pissaladière I made for today is a marriage of two different recipes: Anne Willan’s from The Country Cooking of France and Martha Stewart’s from her Baking Handbook. I wanted to follow Martha Stewart’s instructions for the dough, and Anne Willan’s suggestions for the toppings (and make my own tweaks, of course).


Storyboard: Olives

Olive StoryBoard (c)2011

Growing & Curing

Olives grow on gnarled, silver-leaved trees. Originally, the olive tree is from the Mediterranean. These days olives are also grown in the United States (California, New Mexico, and Arizona), as well as South America. According to the reference, Starting with Ingredients, olive trees live an average of 300 to 600 years. I learned from Mark Bittman that olives contain a chemical called oleuropin, which has a very bitter flavor. Curing eliminates this problem. The longer an olive is allowed to cure in its brine, the more complex and deep its flavor becomes. An immature olive is green, and darkens as it ripens, eventually turning black. Often, olives are picked green for curing, while the ones meant for olive oil are allowed to ripen fully and turn black.


Here are six varieties that are widely available in the U.S.  I hope this inspires you to explore the many other varieties of olives from all over the world.


About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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