November 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
You might check in with me again in a few months. Maybe I’ll be biting at my nails, crazed in the eyes as I plead desperately with the sun to come out, come out, or… or else. But I’m going to say that so far, I don’t mind Seattle’s gray, or the drizzly afternoons, or the winds that make our little cabin roof twitch and creak. It’s partly because our view, for the time being, is onto Lake Washington, and, as our house faces south, Mt. Rainier fills up our breakfast window on a clear morning, so that we can eat muesli with our mouths hanging open, which, if you’re wondering, is charming. But it’s also because those crazy winds, high enough last week that the 520 bridge into Seattle closed, give the lake a look of the ocean, waves crashing into the dock and gulls dashing the foam—and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I secretly want to live on the beach one day. It also helps that it smells like a Christmas tree everywhere, one of which I have also, at times, wanted to live inside. And because when the sun comes out for even 20 minutes, it feels like a little whispered bit of grace. Besides, when it all comes down to it, gloom is a reason to stay inside and read, or cook, or do other understated things, and I am most often glad for an excuse to be quiet. Maybe it’ll get old; maybe the clouds will bear down and the reminders grow thin and we’ll start losing our wits. I don’t know. I’ve got good feelings, but you know what they say. We have a little waiting and seeing, T. and me.
In the meantime: holy moly, I am glad to be in the kitchen again. I’m not going to go wild about Seattle’s farmers markets yet, because I’m still missing my favorites in D.C., like wonderful Tree & Leaf and Next Step Produce, and there’s plenty of time for that. But I wanted to mention a little dish I made for myself a couple of nights ago. It’s a simple thing, little potatoes split and roasted with olive oil, pepper, salt, and a little caraway. But it’s the caraway that takes these potatoes out of the ordinary. I wouldn’t think of adding anything else, lest it get in the way of its complexity—earthy, with herbal notes of resin, and a woodsy, floral character that is pure seduction with buttery fingerling potatoes. My friend Rachel, a wonderful caterer and cook, taught me the dish, and though she covers them a bit longer in oven so that they steam a bit more than roast, I think they’re lovely either way.
Tim was away on a business adventure, so I held little back in filling out my plate: with a celery root-parsnip remoulade bound by creme fraiche and liberally accented with parsley, twigs of mildly funked Comte cheese, and ribbons of lacinato kale, braised to a silken heap with onions and olive oil. It worked out.
Caraway roasted potatoes
3/4 pound fingerling potatoes
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 1/2 T. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400. Scrub your potatoes clean, and dry them. Cut them into halves, and toss them with olive oil, caraway seeds, and salt and coarse black pepper to taste. Lay them out in a shallow roasting pan (I like an aluminum jelly roll pan best), cover them with foil, and roast for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the foil and roast for another 15-20 minutes or so, or until the potatoes are tender and beginning to crisp around the edges and take on a little color. You can also leave the foil on longer, which gives the potatoes a more buttery taste but less crisp exteriors. I’ve tried to compromise with half and half, but there’s no right way about it. Just be cautious of leaving the foil off too long and burning the caraway, which would be a shame.
Serve rather immediately; you should have enough for two.