True Confessions of a Mid-Life Cook

There's a definite correlation between my profound love of music and how and what I've taught myself to cook. My favorite music to listen to and to perform is soulful, sensual, sometimes funky and always bluesy in nature . . . and that's exactly how I cook. I like to get my hands in the food. I chop, I knead, I stir with my hands. Sometimes I wear my big rimmed cowboy hat, nightie and Old Gringo boots in kitchen, sometimes a coonskin cap when the mood strikes and sometimes just an apron and a smile. Using the freshest of ingredients, I love to bringing a new spirit to old favorites. I am so to drawn dishes seeping in both Texas and Southern tradition,with a special affinity for those authentic old jewels found in South Louisiana.
Because they, too, are so powerfully soulful?

I've discovered being a good cook is a journey and not a destination. (Yes, I stole an over-used corporate slogan and made it my own--but it's still the truth) Every time we screw up, we learn. And in part, that's what this blog is about. Cooking fearlessly. With heart, with soul -- and with some damn good music to inspire. (If your three layer chocolate cake ends up looking like a Jerry Springer rerun or you cut the tip of your thumb off while making New Year's Day gumbo, WHO CARES?Proclaim Francine Reed's "I'm a Handful" your theme song. She would like that.)
We cook because we find ourselves kinda empty if we don't.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bock Beer 'Smashed' Potatoes

 Singing perfect harmony with the 'Rib-Eye to Die For,' 'Bock Beer Smashed Potatoes' are really the best kept secret on the food planet. With the smoky taste of ancho chiles, the delightful combination of Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes, and the malty flavor of beer, this relatively unknown side-dish will soon be one of your favorites.  My kids love them -- and trust me, they're a very finicky lot.

5 ancho chili peppers, pureed
2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 lb. sweet poatoes
1/2 lb. butter, cubed
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 bottle Shiner Bock or Zeigenbock or any malty beer  (NO LITE!!)
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Soak chiles in water to cover until soft. Remove stems, ribs and seeds. Puree with 1/2 cup water in blender or food processor. It should yield about 1/2 cup ancho puree.

Peel, dice and boil potatoes until tender - what, about 20 minutes or so?  Drain.
Warm the beer, the heavy cream and the butter to slightly above room temp.  Cold cream and butter do strange things with the potato starch. Don't ask me what, I am no Alton Brown.

Whip the cooked potatoes together with an electric mixer. Add cream, butter cubes one at a time, ancho puree, beer and salt & pepper.

If I'm feeling a little artsy, and I can get my hands on it quickly,  I'll squeeze the potatoes out onto the plate from my icing tube with a large star lid.  But usually I just slap 'em into a bowl.  Either way, they won't last long.
Suggested listening:  "Beer Bottle Boogie" by Koko Taylor
(see link directly above)

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