12 febbraio 2013

Potato Rosti with Bacon, Brie, Scallions and a Quick and Easy Brown Butter Applesauce – Plus, Bad Boy First Love, Part Four.

Happy Valentines Day, err, Eve, everyone!  I had this post scheduled to go up at 5pm last night.  Apparently I didn’t use GMT, so it’s now the 15th.  Well, it’s still Valentine’s Day on the West Coast! I hope you all had an amazing day and are now getting your lips kissed off – or eating chocolate.
Since I have Part Four of my Bad Boy First Love written and it’s like a mile long, I’m going to try and keep my Daring Cooks section as short and sweet as I can.  We were asked to make fried patties of some sort, and one of the recipes offered to us was potato rosti, which is sort of a mix between a giant potato latke and hash browns.  I added bacon lardons, scallions and brie to mine.  It was suggested that the use of a cast iron skillet was ideal, and I have three; an 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch, all well-seasoned, or so I thought.

Once the underside of my rosti was cooked, some careful inspection revealed there was no way I was flipping this baby over without it falling apart. SO, I stuck it under the broiler to finish it and brown the top.  We cut slices out of the pan, and it came out well, but it still would have broken into pieces had I tried to flip it.
I topped some slices with a sunny side up egg with roasted red bell pepper hearts (cutting the egg into a heart shape proved a little difficult since the white was so delicate and thin in some areas, but I did my best, and I think it still resembles somewhat of a heart (??).  For the rest of the rosti, I made a super quick brown butter-cinnamon chunky applesauce, which was wonderful with it – recipe following.
The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax (my pal) & Lis (one of my wifeypoos) and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!
Next time I make a potato rosti I will either use a non-stick pan, or make damn sure my cast iron skillet is VERY well seasoned, and I will definitely use an 8-inch pan since I halved the recipe, and 10-inches gave me a rather thin rosti.  I prefer them a little thicker.
Now to Part Four, very apropos for Valentines Day eve, I think..until the twist.  For those reading for the first time, Part One is HERE.  Part Two is HERE . Part Three is HERE.

After drowning out my Mother’s yelling, I fell asleep, getting nudged awake by my friend only hours later so we could go to the beach.  We always started lying out by 10 am at the latest and went all the way until 4-5 pm.  A savage tan was always the goal.  Crazy to even imagine it now – I don’t even entertain the idea of the beach without 1 billion UVB sunblock!  Being super young and feeling immortal is fun while it lasts.  I’m a staunch supporter of the occasional spray tan, nowadays.
On our way out the door, my mother warned me she was going to go to a pay phone and call my father (the cottage had no phone, but when you’re at the beach you really don’t care).
I blew off her threatening words as we pushed the door open and got the hell out of there.
After a breakfast of Orange Julius, we made our way to the most populated area of the beach…the one between the two piers.  We always rented places at the end of the boardwalk near Lavalette and usually used the less crowded beach there, but it really depended on our moods.  On that particular day, we wanted quick access to some clothes and stuff we were eyeing at Sand Tropez, a cool sort of ‘everything’ store on the boardwalk.
I was still walking on air as we trudged down the beach to grab a spot by the ocean.  I knew my friend wanted to talk about everything, but I just couldn’t give it all was so special, so personal (little did I know, many years later, I would be giving every detail to a lot of people I don’t know, on a food blog).
“Yes, we kissed, but I spilled lemonade all over his lap in the middle of it”
We cracked up.
She liked hunky monkey, but it seemed he couldn’t keep his ‘paws’ off of her once they had some time alone.  He didn’t force it, but it left her kind of ‘feh’ on him.  However, she still wanted to see him again, so it apparently hadn’t hit  the ‘NO WAY’ point just yet.
As we played in the ocean, baked in the sun, joked with guys who came armed with bad pick-up lines, and made up ‘pretend’ stories about people lounging around us..I couldn’t help looking over at the pier every so often, butterflies zipping through my digestive system, knowing he’d be there at 4pm, and midnight, we’d meet again.  I kept replaying the night/early morning over and over in my head.  I could still feel him, smell him..especially in the crook of my left arm, which I’d bury my face in when lying on my stomach.

On our way back to the cottage, well-baked, happy, albeit exhausted, we passed the Casino Pier.  She grabbed my arm and pulled..
“Come on, go say hi to him now!”  she said, laughing hysterically.  She knew there was no way I’d show my NOT showered, ocean-haired, greasy, suntan oiled skin, ‘self’ to him.  We pulled back and forth – screaming and laughing even harder.
I bet you can guess what happened.  I turned around and there he was, walking toward us – he’d taken a quick break to buy some sodas.
OH NO. OH NO. OH NO.  Now it was over for sure!  I quickly pulled my sticky, tangled hair out of the pony tail holder and fluffed as best I could.
I started plotting my friend’s demise
“Just get off the beach, silly girls?”  he asked as he approached us.  That smile again…JELL-O legs.
He took my hand and pulled me to him for a kiss, then wrapped his arms around me.  I was so gross!  How could he even look at me, much less touch me!?!
“Mmmm…your skin is so warm – you smell like a pina colada”
I started explaining why I looked so hideous.  He laughed and told me I was adorable and beautiful.  I hadn’t realized he had such bad eyesight.
He lightly rolled a cold soda can down my back..which felt good in the heat.  He asked if all went well when I went inside after he dropped me off.  I told him the truth, leaving out the ‘curfew’ and ‘snuck out’ part, making it as if she was just pissed because she couldn’t sleep when it got really late and I wasn’t home.  He looked concerned..
“Would it be better if we picked you up tonight so you don’t have to walk all the way down the boardwalk that late?  I’ll turn off the engine and coast to the house next door, so we don’t wake her up”

He was too awesome for words.  I wondered how many lives I saved in my previous life.
I looked at my friend, who gave the ‘YES’, look.
“That would be great, you’re so thoughtful..thank you so much”
“You’re so polite, it’s cute” he said..then a long kiss.  DAMN..can spontaneous combustion occur from intense passion for someone?
“I’ll be there about quarter after 12, ok?”
“Yes, perfect!”  *I love you..I know I love you, I can’t explain what else this feeling is, but you saw me looking like this, and still want me – I am definitely in love with you*
Stop by tonight and visit me if you’re around the pier” *Oh, I want to, but I don’t want you to get sick of me so soon – I probably will stop by, regardless, I can’t resist this man*
As we turned and started home, I got a whole bunch of “Are you going to thank me, huh? huh?” from my friend.
Little did she know how close to death she had been if he had walked away in horror at the sight of me.
When we got back to the cottage, we showered then napped for about two hours.  During a quick dinner of chicken salad sandwiches, we devised a plan to sneak out without getting caught now that Mommy Dearest was on to us. We’d stay in tonight..just hang outside with our new local girl friends.  No ‘getting ready’ while my Mother was awake, just a casual night in the neighborhood.  Then we’d ‘get ready’ and stuff clothes and whatever we could find that resembled heads, under our blankets.  An oldie, but goodie.
All was perfect come mother bought our ‘casual night’ at home and conked out around 10:30 pm.  We rushed to get ready..brushing our teeth, flipping and fluffing our hair in unison in front of the mirror, applying lip gloss, covering up the sunburn on our noses from that day.  Earrings in, then a walk through a spritz of our favorite scents.  We were out the door by 10 after midnight.  Within minutes they were coasting up, headlights off.
When I settled into the front seat, he said he had a surprise for me,  He motioned toward a cup holder attached to the door next to me.  I laughed, but almost cried at his gesture.  I wanted to kiss his face all over – but saved that for when we were alone.  No need to disgust the backseat occupants chatting away about movies.

We dropped my friend and hunky monkey off at his place, then he asked if I minded if we stopped at a friend’s place because he had to pick up some CD’s.  Like I said in previous parts of this story, as long as I was with him, I could watch paint dry.  Onward to your friend’s place, Prince Charming – but really…
“Sure, that’s fine” trying to keep my voice from squeaking because I was so overjoyed being in his intoxicating presence.
Then came the face kissing to thank him for the cup holder.  He said he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. *Is it ok for the woman to propose?*
When we got there, his friend was hanging with his girlfriend watching a movie.  Introductions all around.  Dreamboat came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist, kissing my cheek as he and his friend talked.  I loved his affection, it was like being showered in warm, melted chocolate.  We stayed for about a half hour, Dreamboat always near..holding my hand, keeping his arm around me, while I chatted with his friend’s girlfriend.  She told me how many woman were after my bad boy.  I told her I’d seen it with my own eyes.  She laughed and said..
“He’s like a rock star on the pier, does it bother you?”
*A little*  “Noo, not at all, I mean, he doesn’t even seem to notice it, he’s so down to earth and cool about it”
“He’s a really great guy, and he’s really into you - I’ve never seen him like this with anyone”
Apparently I wasn’t the first girl who got a stint at Andy’s.  Didn’t bother me one bit, though..there was no way this guy was dateless and celibate before me.
When we finally left..he told me he’d take me anywhere I wanted to go.  I wanted to go back to ‘our place’, the scene of the lemonade disaster.  He held my hand as he drove, in between switching gears.  The connection between us was crazy intense..just holding his hand sent all kinds of sexy reverberations from my toes to my head.
He kissed my lips off again for the next 2 1/2 to 3 hours, in between a walk along the bay, lots of playfulness and just pure exhileration and connecting.  He almost told me he loved me..but stopped short.  I almost told him I loved him – but stopped short. You just couldn’t say that on a second was impossible – we were feeling the ‘newness’, right?  But I melted nonetheless.  I KNEW I loved him by then.  I don’t care how crazy it sounds, it was there and it wasn’t going away anytime soon.  Thank god I had 8 days left with him.
The next night was much of the same, except we played on the boardwalk a while, then went to a secluded beach in Seaside Park – laying down a blanket and just staring into each other’s eyes in the moonlight, in between major make-out sessions, again.  This little romance was turning into an amalgamation of every early Bruce Springsteen song where he falls in love beneath the stars over the boardwalk and carnival lights, with his ‘Sandy’ or “Jersey Girl’, on the beach, in the car, under the boardwalk..wherever, whatever.  No it was even worse..
Summer Lovin’, had me a blast
Summer Lovin’ happened so fast
I wiped every trace of that one from my brain and continued to drown in his eyes and lips.
We had to pick up my friend and hunky monkey that night, so we said our real goodbye before we went to get them.  He told me he had the coming Sunday off, all day and night  and he’d love to finally be able to take me out at a reasonable hour. *Any hour with you is more than reasonable – I’d go out with you ever night from midnight on, even if you didn’t work that late*
He wanted to take me so many places, I loved it.
“We could drive down to LBI (Long Beach Island). ..there’s a lot of beautiful beaches there, then go out for an early dinner, maybe see a movie…”
I felt like standing up and jumping up and down like a little kid – like the time my father told us we were going to Six Flags Great Adventure the very next day, out of the blue.
I could spend a whole day and evening with him worry free, no sneaking out.
We made our usual plans for the next night – took forever to say goodbye, then drove to pick up the music/movie connoisseurs.


Potato Rosti Napoleon?  I just sandwiched three slices of rosti with some extra brie and put it in the oven for a few minutes. A glorious tasting mess!
We had them drop us off at the corner, not wanting to chance my mother being up and looking out the window.  As we walked up the street, I saw my father in the driveway  packing up the car.  It was 3:30 am!  WTF??  It was also a Thursday night, why was he here??  He wasn’t here at midnight when we snuck out!
I ran with all my might right up to him.
“What are you doing here?  It’s not the weekend, and why are you packing up the car?  That’s one of my suitcases!!”
He ignored me and politely asked my friend to go pack up her stuff.  We were leaving because we kept sneaking out and my mother had called him yet again in distress.  He got in the car at almost 1 am and made the drive to destroy my life forever.
“BUT WE HAVE 8 DAYS LEFT!!  YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE MONEY!” I screamed, trying to sort of reason with him – anything to get him to change his mind.
“I don’t care, enough is enough, you continued to sneak out even when warned, you blew it, not me, not your mother”
I begged I pleaded, I cried – all to no avail.  Then I ran down the street in hopes Dreamboat and hunky monkey hadn’t gotten that far yet.  Maybe they were stuck at a really long red light.  I ran as fast I could..stopping and spinning around at points, looking for that navy blue Beetle.  I had to tell him, we hadn’t exchanged any of the vital info yet, like last names, phone #’s etc.  I could barely catch my breath..I was shaking like a leaf, tears streaming down my face. It was all very The Notebook-y.
He was going to think I just up and left him.  I was going to wither up and die without him.  No Sunday, no more of his kisses, I’d probably never see him again.
I sobbed as I walked back to the cottage.  Of course, as an adult, I would probably do the same if my teenage daughter was sneaking out every night – with boys, but the 15-year old girl in me at that very moment felt it was the most awful thing any parent could do to their child.
The best 3 nights of my entire life, and it was over, just like that.
The car ride back home was NOT pleasant, to say the least.
Part Five coming soon!
If you have a few minutes, please check out some of the unique, creative and delicious patties my fellow Daring Cooks came up with, by clicking on the links to their blogs, HERE.  For a bounty of recipes for all kinds of patties, from the challenge, click HERE.
Rest in Peace Whitney Houston.  The tragic loss of a beautiful woman with the voice of angel.

Potato Rosti with Brie, Bacon and Scallions

Servings: makes two large rosti

Adapted from a family recipe from the Daring Kitchen
2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons feshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cornstarch, or use all-purpose flour
1 lb slab bacon without the rind, or thick cut bacon
7 oz wheel of Brie
! bunch scallions, sliced, dark ends saved for garnish
3 tablespoons oil, for frying

1.  Dice bacon into cubes and fry until fat is rendered and it’s a deep rust color. Strain off bacon grease and save for another use. Set aside on a paper towel in a bowl.
2. Cut white, papery rind off of brie (you can keep it onI prefer it off).  Dice into small cubes, or shred, if brie is cold and firm.
3. Slice white and light green parts on the diagonal.  Save dark green slices, also sliced on the diagonal, for garnish.
4. Grate the peeled potatoes with a box grater or a food processor shredding disk.
5. Wrap the grated potato in a cloth and squeeze dry, you will get a lot of liquid over ½ cup, discard liquid since it is full of potato starch.
Return dried potato to bowl add the egg, brie, bacon, scallions, cornstarch, pepper, and salt. Mix until combined.
6. Preheat a frying pan (a well seasoned cast iron is best,  8 to 10-inch) until medium hot, add 2 teaspoons of oil wait until oil shimmers.
7. Place half of mixture into the pan, flatten with a spoon until you get a smooth flat surface. Lower heat to medium.
8. Fry for 8-10 minutes (check at 6 minutes) the first side, flip by sliding the rösti onto a plate then use another plate invert the rösti then slide it back into the pan, then fry the other side about 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Repeat to make another rosti.

Quick and Easy Brown Butter Cinnamon Apple Sauce

1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick – 4 tablespoons - 2 oz)
4 large Granny Smith (or any tart apples), apples – peeled, cored and chopped into cubes.
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar, entirely depending on how sweet you like it
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 good pinch kosher salt

1.  In a large saute pan, melt the butter on medium low heat.  Raise the heat to medium and cook the butter until the liquid beneath the milk solids that rise to the top is golden brown.
2.  Add chopped apples to browned butter (beurre noisette) and saute until apples start to soften.  Sprinkle in sugar and let the apples caramelize in the sugar.  Stir in the cinnamon and kosher salt and cook until the apples are brown and very soft.
3.  Remove apples to a bowl, scraping out any brown butter, and mash with a fork for chunky, or give it a whirl in the food processor (or use a blender or stick blender) for a smooth apple sauce.  When cool, place in an airtight container in the fridge – it should last about 2 weeks, or serve warm over potato rosti.

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