About Pea-Whipped Potatoes

Confession: I have a love-hate relationship with Michael Chiarello. Seriously, I have no idea if I love the guy or I hate him and his oh-isn't-Napa-just-the-end shut-the-fuck-up-already lifestyle. But then I saw him make pea-whipped potatoes on his television program, and I think perhaps beneath his is-he-or-isn't-he? exterior, we might just be kindred spirits. Because I love mashed potatoes. And I love mushy peas*. But to mix mashed potatoes with mushy peas? BRILLIANT!

* We'll actually be doing a mushy pea recipe that is slightly different than what you will be seeing here. Sometime. In the future. Promise.

So here's what we need:
  • 1 Idaho russet potato
  • a little warm milk or cream
  • a little melted butter
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • maybe a bit of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Yeah, now I guess you know what I mean when I say "all measurements are approximate," because I have no idea how much of anything this is going to take. It's all a matter of preference. So just go with it, okay?


First, peel and dice your potato into about 1-inch cubes.

Next put your potatoes in a pot and cover them with cold water. Add salt. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a gentle rolling boil and let that roll along gently until your potatoes are soft enough to stick a fork in them. But not so soft they are falling apart, because then you'll have some problems with the next part, which is draining the potatoes in a colander. So drain your potatoes in a colander, and if you have a ricer or masher now's the time to get it out.

Hopefully while your potatoes were rolling gently you got yourself a bowl and added a little milk and/or cream and/or butter to the bowl. (Start with about 1/4 cup of milk and a tablespoon of butter.) And hopefully you heated that bowl up in the microwave or something until everything got warm. Because you need that now for your potatoes.

So get your potatoes in the bowl, and mix/mash that all up until it's creamy, and if it's too dry add A LITTLE more milk or cream at a time until you get it to the right consistency. And when I say "little," I MEAN little, because you can always add more if you need it BUT YOU CAN'T TAKE IT BACK OUT AGAIN IF YOU ADD TOO MUCH. The importance of this should be evident by the caps lock, but just in case it isn't, I have added this sentence. To point out the importance of that stuff up there written in all-caps.

Add a little salt and pepper to this and, hey! Look! You made mashed potatoes!


Rinse out the pot you just used to boil up your potatoes in and add your frozen peas. Maybe a little olive oil for extra flavor if you like. Put the lid on that baby and let everything steam over medium-high heat until the peas are tender.

Now put those peas in a food processor with a pat of butter and blend it all up until it's smooth. (A stick blender also works well for this, but I broke mine sometime after my iPod died but before my camera, DVR, and laptop hard drive bit the big one. Apparently there was a month in there when I did nothing but give off electronic-destroying EM radiation. I could have been one of the Watchmen!)

Here's where things get tricky: dump the pea puree into the mashed potatoes and stir it all up until combined.

Give it a taste. If it needs more butter, add more butter. If it needs more salt and pepper (which it probably will), add more salt and pepper. Then, serve. And think about Michael Chiarello. Or, you know, don't. I can't help it. I AM OBSESSED.


About Roasted Fennel

Way back when we roasted a whole chicken with root vegetables we threw some fennel in there because (a) I told you to, and (b) fennel is DELICIOUS. But what if you want some delicious fennel but you're not roasting a whole chicken? Like, what if you're grilling up a steak or something and you're thinking to yourself, "Man, some roasted fennel would be SO DELICIOUS with this?" Well fear not, because roasted fennel all by itself is a thing. And I'm gonna show you how it's thung.

For two servings you'll need:
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
First off preheat your oven to 400 F.

Now to trim and slice your fennel. Normally when you bring fennel home it looks like this:

Fennel fronds are great. I like to make a bouquet garni with them whenever I make fish soup. They're great in salads. They are not great roasted. So cut off the stalks and trim a bit off the root-end of your bulb.

Next cut the bulb in half. You'll notice the core coming up through the bulb from the root, and while the core keeps your layers of fennel together, it's not exactly edible. I mean, it's not poisonous or nothing, it's just really tough and stringy and NOT delicious. So cut your halves in to quarters, and again into eighths, and then trim out most of the core of each slice with the tip of your knife, leaving just enough to keep your fennel layers together. Like this:

Thankfully, the hard part is over, because all you have to do now is throw those pieces into a bowl, then add a couple glugs of olive oil and balsamic and some salt and pepper.

Coat each piece evenly and lay them out in a single layer on a half-sheet pan.

Stick the pan on the middle rack of your pre-heated oven and let it roast for 20 minutes. When it's done, you're done!


About Roasted Cauliflower

Cooking for boys who claim to hate vegetables is SO WORST. It's like, give me a freaking BREAK already, I'm trying to do something good for your freaking colon so just eat the goddamned cauliflower, you know? But that's the thing about boys; they make no sense.

That's why I hereby give all y'all permission to be SNEAKY.

And that's exactly what roasted cauliflower is. Sneaky. One could even call it CRAFTY. Because roasted cauliflower tastes nothing like cauliflower. It tastes like french fries. But BETTER. Better, better french fries. I LOVE BETTER FRENCH FRIES.


Your shopping list for two is pretty simple. and pretty much consists of the following:
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • A couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
That's it.

Now go and preheat your oven to 425 F. Now unwrap your head of cauliflower and remove any outer leaves, and trim the bottom off the stem to discard any brownish/blackish spots. As soon as you're done with that set your head of cauliflower stem-side down on a cutting board, and marvel at how freakishly brain-like that freaky-deaky vegetable looks. Then pull out your chef's knife and prepare to audition for Shaun of the Dead 2: Cooking Boogaloo.

Slice your brain--I mean cauliflower--into approximately 1/4-inch sections.

Remove these to a large bowl and dump a couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil over them. Then add a few pinches of salt and pepper, and gently toss the slices so they are completely coated but still (for the most part) intact. Spread the cauliflower into a single layer on a half-sheet pan.

Once the oven has preheated, stick the tray in and let it roast for about 20 minutes. Barring any major catastrophes (they have been known to happen) it should look about like this:

Use a spatula to flip the pieces over, then stick them back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes, until they look like this:

(That would be golden, brown, and delicious.) Now pile those on a plate with, what is that? Barbecued chicken and macaroni and cheese?