A harvest of good eating in fall colors
By CLAYTON RYE
HANLONTOWN – About a year ago, when my wife Suzzanne and I were having a meal at one of her favorite places to eat, we were served purple potatoes with dipping sauce as part of the meal.
I didn’t know there was such as a thing as purple potatoes. I suggested we plant purple potatoes for fun.
We have grown potatoes in our small garden for almost as many years as we have been married. Tomatoes and peppers are planted as well, plus Suzzanne has an herb garden.
Late summer and fall is a special time when we have meals using ingredients that only minutes earlier were residing where they had spent the spring and summer. Now, that’s fresh.
The potatoes are the centerpiece of our produce. Last spring we planted five different varieties of potatoes; Red Pontiac, Kennebec, Russets, Yukon Gold and Purple Majesty, for a total of 175 hills. This was a first for the Purple Majesty potatoes so we weren’t sure what to expect.
A few weeks ago, I dug up the first of the Yukon Gold and Purple Majesty potatoes.
Suzzanne grew up in Minnesota in a family of sports fans. The colors of the Vikings football team are purple and gold, so in honor of the Vikings, French fries were made using the potatoes in the team colors.
They were good, and fun to look at. That gave us confidence to take the purple and gold potatoes to the next level – lefse.
On the Friday and Saturday before Labor Day, we prepared the potatoes, turned on the lefse griddle and made lefse in two colors for the coffee crowd that meets in the church basement just before the Sunday service. And it was a reward for those people who didn’t skip church on a holiday weekend.
Those Norwegian Lutherans were going to be a jury giving their verdict on a plate of lefse that had two non-traditional colors. The jury gave its approval; we brought home an empty plate.
Two years ago we planted butternut squash in the garden and it was a great year for butternut squash. We harvested many large butternut squash and had to figure out what to do with them.
At Thanksgiving, our family was served a butternut squash pie which was similar to a pumpkin pie, only milder.
We have butternut squash this year but it hasn’t been as good growing conditions as two years ago. I am hoping for a repeat of the pie. Suzzanne’s butternut squash recipe here is a favorite of hers.
Not only are these recipes good to eat, they make a colorful plate. Colorful enough you will want to pause to admire before digging in. So will your guests.
Smitten kitchen easiest French fries
2 1/2 pounds of potatoes, Yukon Gold, Purple Majesty, or mixed
6 cups peanut oil
Scrub and dry potatoes, then cut into 1/4 inch-wide batons. Place potatoes into a large, deep frying pan or Dutch oven and cover with the oil. Turn burner to high and bring oil to a boil, which will take about 5 minutes.
Cook another 15 minutes without stirring, turning the heat down to medium high. At this point, use a tongs to gently stir and cook another 5 minutes until as brown and crisp as you like.
Lift from oil with tongs or slotted spoon and spread on baking sheet covered with paper towels. Immediately toss with salt and serve.
Purple American fries
Salt and pepper or Za’tar
Peel and cook potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain and cool in refrigerator overnight. Cut potatoes into chunks.
Using the oil still in the skillet from the above recipe, bring oil to 350 degrees. Gently lower potatoes into oil and fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove and toss with Za’tar or salt and pepper. Serve with aioli for dipping.
Alternative method: heat 1/4 inch of oil in heavy skillet. Add potatoes and cook without stirring until brown underneath. Stir, add seasonings and cook a minute more.
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Use garlic of your choice. I finely grate 1 clove fresh garlic, or you could use 1 teaspoon garlic powder or salt, to taste.
Stir garlic and lemon juice into the mayonnaise. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.
3 1/2 cups cooked, mashed potatoes
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup half and half
1 cup flour
For best results, we have traditionally used Russet potatoes.
Cook potatoes until just done. Drain, then mash potatoes before putting them through a potato ricer.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the flour. Refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, mix in the flour. Form the dough into a log, and cut into 12 pieces. Work one piece of dough at a time, working in a little flour and form into a smooth ball.
Roll lefse on a well-floured pastry cloth. Bake on lefse grill. Makes 12 rounds of lefse.
Roasted butternut squash with sage
1 butternut squash
Salt and pepper
2 bunches fresh sage
1/4 cup butter
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Peel the squash and cut into 1 inch chunks. Place squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and add salt and pepper.
Toss until coated with oil, then spread evenly on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes.
Stir, and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until tender and a few browned edges. In the meantime, heat butter in small skillet.
Add sage leaves and cook over medium high heat until butter starts to brown and sage leaves are crispy. Watch carefully.
Put roasted squash into a bowl, then pour sage butter over. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
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