Almost Roasted Blue Potato Recipe

Blame it on the moon. I had to substitute yellow taters for my almost roasted blue potato recipe, but it’s all good.

My plan was to head to the Blue Danube River, listen to Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz, eat blue potatoes, and see the blue moon, but the stars had another plan. Instead of a blue potato recipe post, using blue potatoes, I’m substituting yellow taters.

Almost Blue Pan Roasted Potatoes
Almost Blue Pan Roasted Potatoes

The problem with being a travel/food blogger is that you can’t always get the picture perfect photo and you can’t always get the ingredients when you need them. The latter is the case with my Almost Roasted Blue Potato recipe. I went to five grocery stores in Germany and couldn’t find a single blue potato. I did find French blue cheese and Persian blue salt though. 🙂

Persian blue salt is a natural mineral rich rock dotted with blue crystals and has a hint of sweetness.
Persian blue salt

Like any good cook, sometimes you just need to substitute ingredients which is what I did and it turned out wonderfully delicious.

Pan Roasted Blue Potatoes with French Blue Cheese and Thyme Recipe

  • 1 pound (500 grams) blue or yellow potatoes
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried thyme (I like Penzey’s)
  • 3-5 cloves fresh purple garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Blue Persian salt or Fleur de sel (more if needed after cooking)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Crumbled blue cheese

Almost Pan Roasted Blue Potato recipe.
Almost Pan Roasted Blue Potato recipe.

Pan Roasted Blue Potato Instructions

  1. Wash the potatoes in cold water only removing the skins if there are imperfections.
  2. If the potatoes are large, quarter them or dice them into 1/2-inch cubes.
  3. Blanch the potatoes and make sure they are completely dry before placing them in hot oil.
  4. Heat the large pan on medium heat, add the olive oil, potatoes and some salt.
    You can always add salt but you can’t take it away.
  5. In the uncovered pan, gently turn the potatoes browning both sides until half done.
  6. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the garlic cloves and thyme. Continue to roast for approximately 10 minutes or until the garlic and potatoes are done (cooking time varies depending on the potato variety).
  7. Add more thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and top with crumbled blue cheese.

When I get my hands on some blue potatoes, I’ll update the post with a picture of blue potatoes.

Enjoy tonight’s blue moon and this recipe!




Once in a Blue Potato Salad

Once in a blue moon you have to do something different and eat blue potato salad

Tomorrow an additional moon or “blue moon” will appear, so I’m celebrating the rare event by making a blue potato salad with roasted garlic, topped with blue cheese and dried rosemary.

The moon was last full on July 2 and will be full again Friday, July 31. The second of two full moons in a calendar month is called a blue moon when a full moon, which doesn’t quite sync with the months in our calendar.

Is the Moon Really Blue?

Just because it’s called a blue moon, doesn’t mean it will take on a bluish hue except under certain atmospheric conditions. When a volcanic eruption or large fire leaves dust particles in the air, this causes the moon to appear slightly blue-colored.

The moon has UV reflectance and it can be recorded using proper equipment which makes that nicely visible
Blue Moon. Copyright photo by Dr. Klaus Schmitt (www.uvir.de)

Are There Really Blue Potatoes?

Yes Virginia, there really are blue or violet-blue-colored potatoes and you can make a delicious blue potato salad with them.

Native to South America, blue potatoes are common near the mountains in Peru and Bolivia where they are often used to make blue potato salad and potato cakes. There are also varieties in France (Vitelotte, also called Vitelotte noir) and the United States (Adirondack Blue).

Pommes de terre (Vitelotte) cuites à l'eau (entières et épluchées).
Violet-blue potatoes. Wiki photo by user Stephane8888

From a nutritional standpoint, blue-hued potatoes have a high concentration of antioxidants, mainly anthocyanin (water-soluble vacuolar pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue depending on the pH). The pretty pigmented potatoes are also high in fiber and potassium and low in cholesterol. No need to get blue eating these taters–they’re a totally heart-healthy treat.

How to Cook Blue Potatoes

You prepare and cook blue potatoes like any other potato. Peel em. Cook em. Prepare em. Don’t eat them immediately because right out of the boiling water blue potatoes are hot as blue blazes.




French Le Puy Green Lentils

French Le Puy Green Lentils

I’m not superstitious. I just do it every year. On New Year’s Day for a year of good health and prosperity, I eat black-eyed peas and some sort of leafy green vegetable like cabbage. The black-eyed peas represent coins and the cabbage represents greenbacks (dollar bills). Then I bake homemade gold-colored cornbread muffins in hopes the proper New Year’s Day meal will bring more fortune in the year to come.

French Le Puy green lentils
French Le Puy green lentils

So every year I head off to the grocery store in my German village in pursuit of black-eyed peas. This year I waited too long and there were no black-eyed peas remaining. None. Nada. In fact, the bean section shelves were empty.

I started to freak out a bit so went home and scoured the kitchen drawers for at least a half bag of black-eyed peas I had brought back from the U.S. I didn’t find a single stinking black-eyed pea but instead, found something even better. A box of caviar, well the caviar of lentils, a box of French Le Puy green lentils.

Show me the Edible Money

I thought I knew my lentils pretty well. I cook with yellow, red, green, and even the fine black beluga caviar lentils. Then I learned about the real-deal; true French Le Puy (pronounced PWEE) green lentils are considered to be the best lentils in the world.

Dark green-grey in color with a blue marbling, French Le Puy green lentils are grown on the rich volcanic soil of a mountain plateau around the French town of Le Puy en Velay in the Haute Loire region. The climate is perfect for lentils with lots of sunshine and less humidity so the lentils dry on the plant. The perfect conditions means cooking French Le Puy will only take about 20 minutes, retain a superior texture, and will reward you with a distinct peppery or nutty flavor.

Look for the AOC Seal of Authenticity

When looking for authentic French Le Puy green lentils you should see an AOC seal on the package, certifying they are true lentilles du Puy. You might be in shock when you see the price (three-four times than normal lentils) and be tempted to buy the cheaper lentil or even an imposter. Don’t hesitate to open the pocketbook a little wider and purchase at least one package of the caviar of lentils, they are so worth it.

French Le Puy Green Lentils
French Le Puy Green Lentils AOC authenticity

So, will eating French Le Puy green lentils bring you a year prosperity? I’m not sure, but I’ll enjoy eating the caviar of lentils anyway.

Every country has their own list of lucky foods. What’s yours?




How to Open Champagne Correctly

How to Open Champagne Correctly

Have you decided on a Champagne or sparkling wine to celebrate? Did you select the right glass? Do you know how to open Champagne correctly? If not, no worries. Here are a few tips on how to prep the glasses, chill, cork, and poor a glass Champagne or sparkling wine.

http://youtu.be/nDBKqoaCTkchttp://

Keep the Glasses

If you invested in expensive Champagne or sparkling wine glasses, you may want to wash them by hand using a very fragrance-free mild detergent. Add a drop of mild detergent to each glass and sponge the soap around to remove all stains or marks. Thoroughly rinse the glasses, ensuring no soap residue is left on your champagne flute as this will interfere with the flavor and affect the carbonation of the champagne.

Carefully dry the glasses (twisting a towel inside to dry puts pressure on the glass and may cause breakage). Store them upright and shelter them from dust use until the next use.

Chill the Bubbly

Bubbly is best at a cool temperature (approximately 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 Celsius)). If your bottle isn’t yet chilled yet and the countdown is near, place the bottle in a bucket with ice, water and salt to quickly chill it.

Don’t leave the bubbly in the freezer. Doing so will disturb the balance of the alcohol and ruin the liquid gold.

Cork and Pour the Bubbly

Old films show people opening bubbly with a loud popping noise of the cork, but the cork should ease out of the bottle with a slight hint of sound. We’re talking Champagne or sparkling wine, not a can of brewski.

French Sparkling Wine Crémant
French Sparkling Wine Crémant

Here’s what you need to do to open Champagne correctly and impress your guests:

  1. First, pull off the foil to reveal the cork (bouchon).
  2. Second, cover the cork with a lovely cloth napkin or your finger and untwist to loosen the wire cage (muselet). There’s 70 pounds behind the cork so you’ll want to be careful not to point towards a person or precious item.
  3. Third, with the base of the bottle pressing you, tilt the top of the bottle away from you (and your guests) at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Fourth, still grasping the cork and wire cage, gently twist the bottle and tilt the cork a bit to allow some gasses to escape. You’ll hear soft pop.
  5. Fifth, pour the Champagne into flute or tulip glasses. If there is any leftover bubbly, use a Champagne stopper to preserve the wine’s sparkle for many hours.

Now that you know how to open Champagne correctly you can finally enjoy your glass of bubbly and move onto kissing and making resolutions.

Happy New Year’s Eve!!




How to Select Champagne and Sparkling Wine

How to Select Champagne and Sparkling Wine

I was switching TV channels when I ran across something that horrified me. Some hoity-toity reality show cast members were in a limo drinking Champagne out of plastic cups. It goes to show you money can buy you good Champagne, but obviously not taste. That led me to want to write a post on how to select Champagne and sparkling wine for New Year’s Eve or any celebration.

French Sparkling Wine Crémant
French Sparkling Wine Crémant

Champagne or Sparkling Wine?

It’s nearly countdown time to popping the cork and celebrating a new season. Before you head to the checkout with bubbly in hand, first decide if you’d like to celebrate with a bottle of Champagne or a bottle of “sparkling wine”.

Here’s the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine. Champagne with a capital “C” can only come from the Champagne region in France located about 90 miles northeast of Paris. No exceptions. This small area produces all of the world’s Champagne which comes with an expensive price tag.

Everything else produced outside of the Champagne region is technically “sparkling wine” and can be just as good and much less expensive than Champagne.

Sparkling wine is made throughout the world under different names. My personal favorite is Crémant (from France in the non-Champagne region). There are a number of other wonderful sparkling wines made in the world such as Sekt (Germany), Cava (Spain), and Prosecco (Italy). With all of these “sparkling wine” types, you’ll get a lot of bubbles and sparkle, just without the hefty Champagne price.

Selecting Champagne and Sparkling Wine

So, now you know how to select Champagne and sparkling wine and decided to go for it and splurge on Champagne. Great! If you see “vintage” printed on the bottle along with the year, it means that particular sparkling wine was made with what the winemaker considered to be exceptional grapes.

For some not only does the price of the Champagne matter, but the size too. The standard sized bottle will yield about 6 glasses of bubbly (125 ml each). For those out to impress, there’s a Magnum (2 bottles), Jeroboam (4 bottles), Rehoboam (6 bottles), Methuselah (8 bottles), Salmanazar (12 bottles), Balthazar (16 bottles) and Nebuchandnezzar (20 bottles). The biblical names make a strong statement about the worth of the bottle of wine.

Champagne bottle sizes and names.
Champagne bottle sizes and names based on Biblical kings and historical figures.

If you’ve opted for a good bottle of “sparkling wine” look for “Methode Traditionelle” on the bottle’s label. This tells you the sparkling wine has been made the same way true Champagne is instead of the time-saving Charmat process involving bulk fermentation in tanks resulting in a lesser quality wine.

For either Champagne or sparkling wine you’ll want to decide on the level of sweetness starting from the driest Extra Brut (pronounced “broot”), Brut, Extra dry, Sec to the sweetest Demi-sec.

Finally, the last decision is how much money you’d like to invest. Luckily there are price points for every budget.

Selecting the Right Glass

You’ve invested in a bottle of Champagne, sparkling wine, or maybe even both. Now it’s time to select the right glass (and not a plastic cup).

Coupe
It’s been said that the coupe, the first Champagne glass shape, was produced in the 18th century and modeled on the French queen Marie Antoinette’s left breast. In actuality, the coupe glass was designed especially for Champagne in England in 1663 as a means to get people to buy new sets of glassware for the ever popular elegant wine Champagne.

Although during that time the shallow coupes were considered elegant, the shape actually dissipates the bubbles. In fact, this is exactly what the sophisticated ladies of the time wanted—to not burp in public. They’d even use a glass stick to break down the bubbles. What a pity because the pearls are a significant part of Champagne enjoyment.

Champagne flute and tulip glasses
Champagne flute and tulip glasses.

Flute or Tulip
Fast forward to today when we want to keep the sparkle in sparkling wine. The flute design is better at preserving bubbles and aromas than the coupe, and comes in various forms—elongated, slightly inwardly curved at the rim, straight-sided, “V” shaped and with a wide mouth.

Flute haters (yes, they do exist) say a flute is too narrow to capture aromas, so an enlarged tulip glass is favored by the wine professionals. Like a flower, some balloon out at the base and turn in at the top; others turn in at the top and then flare out a bit.

Some glasses even have a small dot at the base which is designed to generate a steady stream of bubbles (pearls). After the first pour and sip, notice the beauty of the pearl activity and how Champagne and sparkling wine actually compliments food.

Whether you choose a breast, elongated, or flower-shaped glass, it will be so much better than a plastic cup. Pick a shape you like and then get ready to chill, cork, and pour.