Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Night Cloudgazing--At Least We Brought Food!

This past weekend marked one of the best light shows of the year, the Perseid Meteor Shower. My roommate and I baked some cupcakes and savory nibblies, then we headed out to a friend's house in E-town to see this spectacular show without all that pesky light pollution. You know what we saw instead? Cloud pollution! The whole sky was full of fluffy cloud cover that completely blocked the sky from view. Apparently, that night hosted 40 visible meteors per hour with the best viewing between midnight and 4AM. With my trusty new iPhone I was able to tap into the NASA official viewing center and I saw those little beams of light streaking across the sky. Not really the same thing...

I sent my wishes up anyway! Clouds are just a bit of water after all.

The bright side of this event was that we chatted and enjoyed a nice sit-down snack, then we hopped in the pool for a nighttime dip. I prepared a potato salad from a recipe I learned from my days in Austria, and I made some cracker snacks out of sun-dried tomato cheese spread, roasted beets, and oven-crisped kale. I'm planning on getting my roommate to do a guest-post on her beautiful cupcakes with edible flowers (I'm going to give you all a sneak peek because they're just so darn pretty), that will be coming soon. I liked this little meal because it was a semi-late night snack, and was just the right amount for the three of us.

My Austrian Potato Salad recipe has a special ingredient that you can probably find at Rainbow Blossom or Whole Foods: Pumpkin Seed Oil (Kürbiskernöl)--I swear it has mystical properties. I lived in "das grüne Herz des Österreichs" or the "Green Heart of Austria" in Graz, Austria. It was seriously green, and the pumpkin seed oil flowed abundantly. It is an emerald green color and tastes great on anything, even vanilla ice cream! It imparts its nutty beauty upon everything it touches, especially this potato salad. I would recommend adding this to your condiments and using it often.

I also used blue potatoes that I picked up at the farmer's market. I love blue potatoes! I also love red, yellow, and all other potatoes! They are so great, and they add a wonderful aesthetic dimension to any dish. The opportunity to buy some blue potatoes was one of my favorite parts of the day, so I seized it. The blue potatoes are not a necessary part of this dish, but if you have red potatoes, I prefer those over any other for their texture in this salad. I mixed red and blue.

Now for the recipes!

Austrian Potato Salad
6-8 Potatoes (red and blue), boiled
1/4 Onion, grated
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Mustard (good German mustard or Dijon if you like that)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Black Pepper

Cut the boiled potatoes into half-inch cubes and reserve them in a bowl. Then make up your dressing, which consists of the remaining ingredients on the list. Let the dressing sit for 10 minutes to let the flavors marry. Then you pour all that deliciousness on top of the potatoes and toss them until coated. You can serve this warm, room temperature, or cold. It also keeps well for a few days. 

Roasted Beets and Crispy Kale Crackers
4-5 Beets of roughly the same size
Kale, enough to cover a large oven pan
Olive oil
Sea salt
Sundried tomato cheese spread
Hearty Crackers

To roast beets you should coat them in olive oil and a little salt then wrap them loosely in foil. Bake them in a 350º oven for about 25-30 minutes or until you can pierce them with a fork. When you take them out, let them cool down completely. The next part is really fun! The skins of the beets come off so smoothly it is amazing. You can rub a little part and then peel off the rest. Then your beets are ready to cut into discs and reserve for use.

The kale should be trimmed and cut into smaller pieces. Spread them out evenly on an oven pan and drizzle liberally with olive oil, use your fingers to coat the kale well and salt to taste. Then you can cook them in the oven on 375º for about 10 minutes and lower the temperature to 325º for the last 5-10 minutes. They will come out as the most incredible chip you have ever put in your mouth. I eat them like popcorn (very healthy popcorn) and the crisp is just the most rewarding feeling. I love it. They are super quick and they taste great. I'm pairing them here with beets, but they easily mix with eggs, on their own, with macaroni and cheese, basically anything where you need a good green, and if you prepare them in this way you will have a light crisp to add as a texture--a texture that you can't find in many other places!

Now take your favorite cracker and smear some of that sun-dried tomato cheese spread (goat cheese spread would be lovely too...ooh, that just made my mouth water) and top with the beets and kale. Then, go to town on that crispity, crunchity cheesy happiness!

Now for the beauty pageant portion of this post: Happy Cupcakes with Edible Flowers!

Bon appétit!

1 comment:

  1. This was the perfect late evening meal. Full of flavors and textures. Extremely satisfying.
    The cupcakes were a great end to it, and an even better late morning snack the next day. Unlike most cupcakes, they make you feel lighter than you did before you ate them.
    A+ ladies! Looking forward to more amazingness.