Savory and sweet things share Italian connnection
Things Italian are coming out of the kitchen this week.
First, reader Glenn Jeffries of Sullivan’s Island recently was in contact about the smashed potato at Wild Olive restaurant on Johns Island. He is “wild” about it and asked if we could get the recipe.
Sometimes it’s difficult to extract a restaurant recipe, but the Wild Olive folks came through promptly.
Headed by executive chef Jacques Larson, the 4-year-old restaurant and bar on Maybank Highway is a linchpin in the Johns Island dining scene. (Yes, there is a now a “scene.”)
It’s a popular spot, due both to its Italian fare and its unique space, a one-time house that was transformed into three warmly appointed dining rooms. The trees outside add to the ambiance, a large live oak and even olive trees.
Smashed and Fried Potato Recipe
Serves 4 to 6
For the garlic aioli:
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil blend
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
Water (if needed to thin out)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine egg yolks, minced garlic and lemon juice in a food processor. With food processor running, slowly add in the vegetable oil and the white truffle oil. If the mixture appears too thick (similar to a mayonnaise), add a tablespoon of water at a time to thin out. Add salt and pepper as needed for seasoning. Place in a container and refrigerate.
For the potatoes:
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 pound kosher salt
½ cup garlic aioli
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin (green tops only)
½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 quarts peanut oil
Wash the potatoes with cool water and a vegetable brush, making sure to remove all dirt. Place wet potatoes on a cookie sheet and encase in coarse kosher salt. Bake potatoes at 350 degrees for an hour, or until an inserted knife comes out easily. Cool and remove from the salt.
On countertop, smash potato with palm of hand and set aside.
In a large 8-quart sauce pot, heat the peanut oil to 375 degrees. Fry potatoes until dark golden brown (about 6 to 7 minutes). Place the potatoes on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
Put potatoes in a large mixing bowl, add ½ cup of aioli, scallions, shaved Parmesan cheese, and pinches of salt and pepper to taste. Toss the potatoes until well-mixed, taking care not to break up the potatoes. Serve immediately to ensure crispiness.
Another request related to “Lo Stivale” (The Boot) came from Gennie Segal of Mount Pleasant. She was looking for a recipe for an Italian cookie “that is just as wonderful” as biscotti, but not biscotti.
She hoped someone would come forth with a family recipe.
Fran Zeski of Summerville responded with a recipe she’s made many times. It’s not a family recipe (we would still be open if one showed up) but it is old, appearing in the 1972 edition of “The Italian Cookbook” by the Culinary Arts Institute in Chicago. The first printing of the book was in 1954.
Fran says she likes these because they offer a touch of sweetness similar to a biscotti but have more of a cookie texture.
Queen’s Biscuit (Biscotti di Regina)
Makes about 6 dozen cookies
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 pound sesame seeds (2/3 to ¾ cup)
Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets. In a bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until the pieces are the size of small peas.
Stir in the eggs, and the milk (1 tablespoon at a time) to make a soft dough. Mix together thoroughly.
Break off dough into small pieces and roll them in the palm of your hands to form balls about 11/2 inches in length. Flatten slightly and roll in the sesame seeds.
Place on cookie sheet about ¾ inch apart. Bake at 375 degrees 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.
For good measure, I poked around cookbooks in the office and found this recipe in “Recipes and Dreams From an Italian Life” by Tessa Kiros (Andrews McMeel, 2013)
Brutti Ma Buoni
Makes about 28
“Ugly but good, as the name says. These are often served with coffee but can be served on their own. I love them with coffee and cinnamon ice cream.” — Tessa Kiros
31/2 ounces blanched almonds
1 egg, separated
2/3 scant cup sugar
61/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with waxed paper. Grind the almonds coarsely so you have a few bits in your cookies. Use electric beaters to whip the egg white and half the sugar to soft peaks in a small bowl first, so you don’t have to wash the beaters. Keep aside or in the fridge but don’t leave it too long or it will deflate.
Use the electric beaters to whip the butter and the rest of the sugar together until creamy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, then add the flour, cinnamon, almonds and pinch of salt and mix in with a wooden spoon. Fold in the beaten egg white.
Grab chunks of dough small than an apricot and rest them on the prepared sheets in rows. Bake for about 12 minutes until pale golden and firm. Let cool on the sheets and store in a pretty container.
Who’s got the recipe?
Still looking: Co-workers are seeking slow-cooker recipes with chicken or beef that are good for summer eating.
Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Reach Features Editor Teresa Taylor at email@example.com or 937-4886.