Change is good

Welcome to January, or as it’s called at my house, National Carrot Sticks Month. Now is when we feel we should pay for the indulgences of December, but I don’t think that means we should suffer.

In Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, the always interesting Mark Bittman proposes having a vegan day each week. Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far, but his recipes intrigue me. They are far more interesting than the usual roots and berries I see in vegan cookbooks. See what you think here.

I’ve been looking at vegan options due to The Hub’s dairy allergy. And, no, it doesn’t mean he can’t eat eggs, as countless people have asked me. The last time I checked, eggs didn’t come from cows. This Christmas, I began to miss the creamy mashed potatoes I used to make with our standing rib roast. In a new cookbook, I found an alternative. Barbara Kafka’s “The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food Without Gluten and Lactose” (Artisan, 2011) includes a number of interesting options, such as risotto, which is usually packed with butter and cheese. But she doesn’t expect you to look for vegan cheese and such. I’ve had very back luck with faux cheese and would rather just avoid it. I was also interested in the book because Kafka’s books are excellent – I’ve used her “Soup: A Way of Life” for years.

I tried Kafka’s recipe for mashed potatoes using olive oil, and it was great. She advises starting with potatoes that don’t have too much starch, such as red or fingerling potatoes and avoiding the traditional high-starch mashing potatoes, such as russets and Idahos. I think pressing the potatoes through the food mill helped with the texture. I did not make the garlic oil because one of my guests was sensitive to garlic, but it could only make them better (I added the olive oil straight to the potatoes). They were even pretty good the next day.

Garlic-Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes from Barbara Kafka

12 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices

1/2 cup olive oil

2 pounds red or fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 4 cups)

Kosher salt

Place the garlic and oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add the potatoes and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the tip of a sharp knife easily pierces a potato. Drain. Place the potatoes back in the pot to dry out for 2 minutes. Pass the potatoes thorugh a food mill fitted with the fine disc into a large bowl. Strain the garlic oil into the potatoes. mix with a whisk and season with salt to taste.

Serves 4 to 6


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