Twice Baked Potato: Why I Love Crispy Prosciutto

20141114-twice-baked-potato
I’m very particular about my twice baked potatoes. I guess I’m that way about a lot of things in the kitchen. The other day Gar was grilling steak and I kept hovering and staring until he said, “What?” and I said (mildly accusingly), “How many times have you flipped that?” he said “once” and I said “good.” Back to the potatoes, once they are baked I like to make a couple slits, open them, and let them cool slightly before scooping out as much of the potato as possible. A handful of pulses in a food processor works great to mix all of your ingredients. The potato you see in the picture was 369 calories (including the prosciutto) and very filling. I combined my potato with 2 tbsp. of fat free half and half, 1/8 cup of 2% shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 3/4 of a cup of broccoli, a few mushrooms that I sautéed with a little margarine (I had some mushrooms I needed to use), salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Once everything was combined I stuffed the mixture back into the potato, topped it with just under 1/4 cup of the cheddar, and baked it in a 425 degree oven for another 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, I put some left over prosciutto in the toaster oven at 400 degrees and cooked it for about 10 minutes on each side until it was dried out and crumbly and used it as the final topping on my potato.

Now, let’s talk about crispy prosciutto for a moment. I bought some prosciutto for a chicken saltimboca recipe I wanted to try out from my new Batali cookbook. I wasn’t too impressed with the recipe (I’ll post about it next week) but I had a decent amount of prosciutto left over that I needed to use.  Topping things with dried, crispy prosciutto is a great way to use leftovers. It is so easy to make and it provides the great smoky pork flavor without bringing along the grease that bacon usually does. Finally, it is so incredibly crispy without tasting burnt or being difficult to chew. I highly recommend using prosciutto in this way. On this potato, small paper thin crispy pieces of yummy flavorful pork permeated every bite, I was loving it.

Lamb Marinade

20140627-lamb-marinade
Do not, I repeat, do NOT be afraid of lamb. Yes, some lamb can be a little gamey but if you get a small rack and treat it nicely, a frenched chop can be just as good as any cut of beef. Here is a marinade that is simple, herby, and great with a lamb rack.

For the small rack I was working with I combined ¼ cup of good, flavorful olive oil with 2 tbsp. garlic oil (most food specialty stores would have this or you can just add more garlic in another form), ¼ cup of fresh rosemary off of the stem, ¼ cup of fresh thyme off of the stem, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 and ½ tbsp. kosher salt, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tbsp. onion powder, and 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper.

I let my lamb get acquainted with everything in the fridge for about 12 hours. I grilled the rack until the internal temperature was 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare. Finally, I let the rack rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting it. These little lambsicles were so tender and flavorful and not at all gamey. Also, the lamb was so juicy and perfect I didn’t even make a sauce for it and I really didn’t miss any kind of sauce. We munched on some arugula salad before, finally, eating the lamb with some locally grown potatoes with an insane amount of butter and cream in them. What can I say, I like a little bit of potato with my butter and cream.

Ojai Farmer’s Market

20140324-ojai-farmers-market
I had a great time going to the farmer’s market. When I go to a farmer’s market, I like to do a complete walk-through before going up to any stand or trying anything. This allows me to strategize. I figure out what things I want most and what my budget will be. First, I stopped by a Rivendell Aromatherapy stand. I wanted to buy something just because of the name of this company alone. I ended up getting body wash, leave-in conditioner, pet shampoo, and scented greeting cards. Next, I tasted about 5 different olive oils and picked a nice one to use for Julie’s Pasta Sauce. Then Gar and I took a break and ate a couple of really good tamales.

What excites me most about any farmer’s market is the produce. More than anything, I look forward to being inspired to cook something featuring whatever produce looks and sounds good to me that day. This time some giant leeks that caught my eye. I also saw some organic potatoes and my mind was made up, I wanted to make potato leek soup.

I was also ecstatic when I found out that one of the cheese stands had cheese curds. Cheese curds are basically the building block of all cheeses; they are very mild and extremely tasty. My favorite thing to do with cheese curds is make poutine. Poutine is so good and generally consists of french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. I’m hoping to write a post about that soon.

I just love cooking on Sundays, especially after hitting up a farmer’s market in the morning.