In November I was given some samples of Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes – a potato from Scotland making its debut on some Colorado farms this year. (When I was first contacted, I thought of CU’s beloved physics Professor Emeritus (and my TA one lucky year after he retired) Al Bartlett, and was surprised to hear he grew potatoes as well! But different Bartlett).

Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes (slightly wrinkled and with eyes through no fault of their own!)

Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes (slightly wrinkled and with eyes through no fault of their own!)

The potatoes are being grown in the United States for the first time ever this year, and are available only in Colorado and Georgia Walmarts, as well as some restaurants. (I do not personally shop at Walmart, but for those who do, you definitely should give these a try). They plan to expand production next year to more states. (And Costo has them in Britain, perhaps they will get them here in the coming years??)

I was delighted to see the information on the packaging which told me that they had been grown by Cary Hoffman and Team with Mountain King Potatoes in Monte Vista, CO and packed on November 7th. That’s the kind of local food trail that I love to see.

Albert Bartlett Rooster potatoes are reddish on the outside and yellow in the inside. They have a nice, rich flavor. We tried using them the way that we normally use fingerling potatoes or new potatoes, and they are different enough that we had some trouble with them sticking to the pan since we don’t use much oil. So I think that these are at their best when boiled, or with more oil used for roasting than we use.

It took me quite a while to get around to using them for a formal blog post with the busy holidays, but when I finally did, I was absolutely thrilled with the results. Because of their rich taste, I thought they would be great mashed with some butter. I personally like mashed potatoes with the skin included, so planned to do these ‘rustic’ style. On a whim, I decided I’d add some horseradish and see how that would work (after all wasabi mashed potatoes are a thing). Our horseradish was quite aged and didn’t taste right at all, but we happened to have some Annie’s horseradish mustard, so I gave that a taste, and deemed it to be appropriate to use. I added some buttermilk too, and OH, MY! They were absolutely FANTASTIC!

Horseradish Mustard Mashed Potatoes
makes about 4 cups

1+1/4 lbs potatoes
1+1/2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp horseradish mustard **
3-4 Tbsp lowfat buttermilk
1/2 to 1 tsp salt

*Albert Bartlett Rooster potatoes work great, otherwise use new potatoes
** The Annie’s horseradish mustard I used appears to have mustard as the main ingredient, so if you are going to use separate horseradish and mustard, mix the two together first, and be VERY conservative with the horseradish to start with.

Cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes and boil until tender (either on the stovetop or in the microwave). Mash by hand to get the big pieces broken up. Add the butter, horseradish mustard, buttermilk and salt, and continue mashing until all the ingredients are well mixed.

Horseradish Mustard Mashed Potatoes

Horseradish Mustard Mashed Potatoes

Apparently the slew of holiday cookies we just got rid through a mixture of taking some to work, giving some to friends and family, and over-indulging our(my)selves wasn’t QUITE enough for the season, so when I saw a picture of the gorgeous cookies on Not Without Butter, the matcha and white chocolate cookies caught my eye, and I decided I needed to make a batch. (Matcha is finely milled green tea (and is a bit expensive, so don’t be too surprised). I found mine in the tea section of Whole Foods.)

Matcha Green Tea and Yogurt Chip Cookies

Matcha Green Tea and Yogurt Chip Cookies

Not Without Butter had a link to the recipe on Anh’s Food Blog, where you can find the original recipe. Of course, me being me, I felt compelled to alter it to make it a bit lower in calories and fat. I used a combination of light butter and real butter, powdered sugar and erythritol, and yogurt chips instead of white chocolate chips. I also used King Arthur whole wheat white flour (more fiber) and a whole egg instead of two egg yolks. After doing a little more research on baking with light butter, despite my seemingly innate urge to make things lower fat, I’m kind of thinking that using all real butter would be the way to go with these. There isn’t really enough of a savings if you keep the serving size minimal (1 or 2 cookies at time), and I think the advantage in consistency would probably be worth it. (Although the one I just had to confirm this hypothesis still tastes pretty good).

Matcha Cookie Ingredients

Matcha Cookie Ingredients

Matcha Cookies with Yogurt Chips
adapted from a recipe on Anh’s Food Blog
makes about 4 dozen cookies

10+1/2 Tbsp butter, softened*
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c erythritol (or another 1/3 c powdered sugar)
1/2 oz matcha green tea powder
1 egg
1+2/3 c whole wheat white flour
1/4 c yogurt chips
1 Tbsp skim milk (if needed)

* If you still want to try lower fat, use 6 Tbsp light butter and 4+1/2 Tbsp butter

Cream the butter, powdered sugar, and erythritol together with a mixer. Add the matcha powder and egg, and beat well. Sift the flour into the mixture in a few batches, mixing well with a large spoon until the flour is incorporated. Add the skim milk if the dough is too dry. Mix the yogurt chips in (I used my hands for this part). Form into a log about 16-18 inches long, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 305 degrees. Cut the log into disks about 1/4 inch thick, and place on cookie sheets either lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray. I loved the way these looked before baking:

Matcha Cookies Ready To Bake

Matcha Cookies Ready To Bake

Bake for 20-30 minutes (with light butter it took 30). Remove and place on a cooling rack.

per 1 cookie, with real butter: 47 cals, 3 g fat, 4 g fiber – 1 Weight Watchers point
light butter and real butter combination: 40 cals, 2.3 g fat, 0.4 g fiber – 1 Weight Watchers point

December is always a busy month, and this one seemed particularly so. As a result, I haven’t done a lot of interesting cooking lately (just lots of old, quick standbys!). But I did make holiday cookies and decorate them with a little help. For this batch, I wanted to make sure they tasted top-notch, so I made pretty-much full fat cookies (see Spooky Bats, Grinning Pumpkins and…Weird Looking Ghosts for my earlier adventure in lower-fat sugar cookies). I used my mom’s (mom’s) wonderful almond sugar cookie recipe, which I have loved since childhood.

I planned to use my standard powdered sugar and milk frosting since it makes such a nice shiny surface, but I needed some red and green coloring for it, so I stopped at Michael’s to pick up some gel food coloring. I also planned to get some sanding sugar or something, but ended up going a little overboard and bought gold and silver sugar ‘chunks’, as well as a container of little sugar spheres in six different colors. My black candy caviar from Halloween rounded out the sugary decorations.

After the cookies had cooled, I made up a batch of frosting, then colored one red (well, dark pink), one green, and left one white. And then three of us frosted and decorated. And frosted and decorated. And did some more. (By the time we got done my jeans were glazed with sugar in several spots – don’t ask.) But once we got done we had some great looking cookies! And how much fun are pink holiday bats?

Frosted Holiday Cookies - Closeup I

Frosted Holiday Cookies – Closeup I

The Snowflake Cookie Contingent

The Snowflake Cookie Contingent

Almond Swedish Sugar Cookies
makes 3-4 dozen

1+1/4 cups margarine*
1 cup sugar (I used mostly erythritol)
2 eggs
3+1/4 cups flour (I used whole-wheat white)
1 tsp baking powder
2 teaspoons almond extract

* I actually used 1/2 c light butter, and the rest was margarine. Note that light butter doesn’t cream well AT ALL, so you definitely want to make sure to use some real margarine in it, or just be prepared for it to not quite cream right.

Cream margarine and sugar together.  Add eggs and almond extract, beating well.  Add flour & baking powder.  Cover & refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Roll dough thin on a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Transfer to cookie sheets either lined with parchment paper, or sprayed with cooking spay (I use a solid spatula to transfer them so they don’t fall apart). Bake @ 400 for 8-10 minutes.

Cool completely on a rack, then frost and decorate.

More Holiday Cookies

More Holiday Cookies

Pizza is one of my favorite foods. And what I really like about it is the fact that there are so many different styles of pizza, and endless flavor combinations. Our favorite style tends to be thin-crust, Neapolitan style, but sometimes a good thick-crust pizza is just the thing. (Especially since it allows you to enjoy the crust with honey at the end of the meal (à la Beau Jo’s).) Boulder has a wide variety of wonderful Neapolitan style pizzerias to try. Our favorite is Pizzeria da Lupo, but we also love Proto’s Pizza, and have had great meals at Pizzeria Locale and Pizzeria Basta. (For pizza provided on-site from a mobile pizza oven, check out Crust Mobile.)

On the home front, my husband and I created a favorite pizza years ago, and it’s pretty much the only one we make at home: Tuna pizza with green olives and red onion. Yes, I said tuna. And it’s fantastic. We use sliced green olives with pimento, some red onion slices, and a mix of reduced-fat Havarti (available at the Boulder Whole Foods) and grated pecorino romano cheeses. My husband came up with a great sauce for the pizza using the juice from the drained tuna, garlic, some fish bullion and a bit of corn starch.

For the crust, we use a recipe from my mom which is a modified version of a recipe from my favorite pizza restaurant as a child, Valentino’s. It uses both whole-wheat and white flour, and I use King Arthur whole wheat white flour for the white, so it’s a bit healthier than your average pizza crust. We find a pizza stone to be pretty much essential for making pizza at home, since a home oven isn’t capable of getting as hot as the ovens in pizza joints. And a pizza peel to remove the pizza is also an incredibly handy tool.

Tuna Pizza with Green Olives and Red Onion

makes 1 pizza (16 inch pizza stone)
Pizza Dough
1 package yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup hot water (add more if too dry)
2 tsp olive oil
4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1+1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1+1/2 cup white flour

Sauce
liquid from the drained tuna
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp dried or concentrated fish-flavored bullion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 c water
1 tsp olive oil

Toppings
1 7-oz can high-quality albacore chunk tuna packed in water, drained – save the liquid!
10-12 large pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
2-3 thin slices of red onion, cut into 1+1/2 to 2 inch strips
5 oz reduced-fat (or regular) Havarti cheese, grated
1 oz finely grated pecorino romano (or parmesan) cheese

Make the pizza dough:

Combine yeast, warm water & 1/2 tsp sugar and let sit for 5 minutes. Either put in a bread machine with all other ingredients and use the dough setting OR, mix the yeast with all ingredients through egg whites. Add the flour and mix again. Cover and let rise about 1 hour. (For both methods – check to make sure the amount of liquid is right for the texture of the dough, and adjust with more water or more flour as necessary).

Prepare the toppings:

Before the dough is ready to bake, grate the cheese, and slice the olives and red onion.

Bake the crust:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll dough out to fit your pizza stone. Sprinkle the pizza stone with cornmeal, then place the crust on top. Poke the crust all over (well, within reason, don’t go too overboard!) with a fork to avoid bubbling. Bake 7-10 minutes on the pizza stone, and then remove from the oven with the pizza peel. While the pizza crust is baking, make the sauce. (But don’t forget to check the crust after 7 minutes!)

Make the sauce:

Drain the tuna liquid into a small bowl or mug. In a separate small bowl or mug, add a tsp of the liquid at a time to the cornstarch, and mix until the cornstarch dissolves. Add the mixture back into the liquid from the tuna. Add the fish bullion, crushed garlic, and 1/3 cup of water, and mix well. Microwave on half-power for 45 seconds, then stir. Microwave another 30-45 seconds, until the mixture has thickened a bit.

Assemble the Pizza and bake it:

Spread the sauce on the pizza crust. Then arrange the toppings evenly on top in the following order: tuna, pecorino romano, havarti, olives, red onion. Bake until the cheese is melted and starts to bubble, about 7 minutes. Remove with pizza peel and slice pizza.

Tuna Pizza with Green Olives and Red Onion

Tuna Pizza with Green Olives and Red Onion

My husband and I recently made a trip to Westminster to try Kachina, the new restaurant in the Westin. I had been contacted with an offer to try it to do a review, and we were graciously treated to a full meal. Hotel restaurants are often somewhat tricky, as they have to appeal to a wide range of tastes to cater to travelers as well as locals. But you can find some jewels in hotels, as well – we ate at a great Yemeni restaurant in a hotel in San Francisco a few years ago. In fact, the Westminster Westin previously housed O, which featured Ian Kleinman, a local chef who specializes in molecular gastronomy (we’ve eaten his food twice, and loved it).

So I was quite excited to try Kachina, billed as a Southwestern restaurant (with some Native American inspiration as well). The restaurant space is well-appointed with lots of care to detail. I would describe it as a style that is vibrant, modern, and Southwestern. As we perused the menu, I was very happy to see that they source produce and meat from local farms (there were twelve mentioned on the menu). I always appreciate restaurants who support local farms and local food. The menu itself is a little overwhelming – there were 3 soups, 4 salads, 11 appetizer/small plates, 7 tacos, 20 entrées, and 8 in-house butcher shop specials. Overall it’s not a bad thing to have such a huge selection, but it left us with a slight impression of a lack of focus.

We started off with a gorgeous scallop ceviche with lime, spring onion, candied Fresno chile, heirloom tomato, radish, smoked salt, and olive oil. The scallops had just a hint of fishiness, but overall, I found the dish to have a nice, bright taste, and the candied chiles were a wonderful addition. This was also the only picture I got that truly did justice to how the food looked in person.

Scallop Ceviche - Kachina, Westminster, CO

Scallop Ceviche – Kachina, Westminster, CO

Next was the salad course, which was probably my favorite of the night. The first salad we had was the grilled romaine with a soft poached egg, shaved manchego, smoked trout, and citrus Caesar dressing. I absolutely loved this salad. The romaine could have been grilled a touch more, but I loved how the yolk of the soft poached egg ran to coat the salad when it was broken. The manchego cheese and smoked trout added to the complexity and richness of the salad, but the romaine base and the citrus caesar kept it from feeling too heavy. I was somewhat sad to trade with my husband at the halfway point, I was enjoying it so much.

Grilled Romaine Salad - Kachina, Westminster, CO

Grilled Romaine Salad – Kachina, Westminster, CO

Our other salad was the bright salad, featuring seasonal greens, mint, cilantro, sage, jicama, grapefruit, and red chile, with smoked tomato vinaigrette. This salad was quite good, too. The grapefruit provided just the right amount of bright, citrusy acid, avoiding the harsh contrast you sometimes find with salads that include grapefruit. All of the vegetables were nice and fresh, and the salad was very attractive.

Bright Salad - Kachina, Westminster, CO

Bright Salad – Kachina, Westminster, CO

Our first entrée was pan-seared Colorado striped bass with red chile popcorn crust, poblano pesto, heirloom tomato salad, and braised fennel. The fish itself was very good, and the pesto and heirloom tomato salad went nicely with it. The red chile wasn’t very spicy, however, and the braised fennel didn’t add much of a strong taste to the dish.

Pan-Seared Colorado Striped Bass

Pan-Seared Colorado Striped Bass (oops – I folded over the skin on one piece before taking a picture)

Our next dish, the slow-cooked porchetta, was from the section of the menu titled ‘The Chef and The Butcher’, which was explained as featuring meat purchased locally and butchered in-house. The dish also featured bourbon raisin-apple slaw, and mashed potatoes. The bourbon raisin-apple slaw was nice and fresh, but I couldn’t easily discern the bourbon component. While the porchetta was perfectly acceptable, I didn’t feel that it was really allowed to shine, as the potatoes kind of outweighed it on the dish. (My husband didn’t think the potatoes were particularly exceptional, but I found them to be a pretty solid, creamy version).

Slow-Cooked Porchetta - Kachina, Westminster, CO

Slow-Cooked Porchetta – Kachina, Westminster, CO

We also ordered a side of calabacitas, which were great (read ‘addictive’). I loved the touch (or maybe more than touch) of cheese in it – YUM! The picture I took – not so good, so we’ll just bypass that part.

We finished the meal with the chocolate chile beignets with cajeta dipping sauce (sweetened caramelized milk thickened into a syrup). We both thought that the beignets were good, but perhaps didn’t need the cinnamon sugar, chocolate filling AND the cajeta sauce. They also weren’t very spicy. What we really wondered at this point was, why the French term? Why not buñuelos, donas, or churros?

The waitstaff was very friendly, but at times our waiter seemed to be using buzz words without really thinking about what he was saying. (He was telling us about one of the chef and the butcher items, saying grass fed beef is really healthy, and then announcing in the next breath how it was topped with foie gras. That just struck us as kind of funny.) We also felt like the service was a bit too attentive, checking in with us extensively during the meal.

If you’re in the area, I think Kachina is worth checking out. I’d like to try the tacos, and I’d definitely go back for the grilled romaine salad. There’s a lot of potential there, and with some tweaking, I think it could be a solid choice.

1/12/13 Update: We returned with some friends for a second meal, and I’ve got a few more dishes to recommend. (First, I can confirm that the grilled romaine is indeed the salad you want to have – it was just as good the second time). The traditional pork posole rojo was outstanding, the Gaucho taco (lamb) was great, and the chocolate cola cake and the cookies and cream were terrific desserts.  (I only tried a churro from the latter dessert, but it was so good I’m recommending it.)

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