Easy fix: Bay-smoked potatoes
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Cookbook author Rozanne Gold flies a bit under the wire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mentioned her cookbooks, especially her first one, ‘Cooking 1-2-3: 500 Fabulous Three-Ingredient Recipes,’ to be met with a blank stare. Her recipes are simple but sophisticated. That first book is designed for people who like to cook but may not have time to drive all over town searching out a kazillion ingredients.
Her latest is “Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors With Breathtaking Ease” (Rodale, 339 pps., $35.) It borrows just one recipe from her earlier tome, namely bay-smoked potatoes, which I’ve been making for years now.
Handy that I happen to have a big bay tree in a pot outside the kitchen door. I realize, though, that I’ve been making it all this time with bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), instead of California bay, which is more aromatic. And that she uses dried leaves rather than fresh (probably because it’s unlikely anybody can find fresh leaves on the East Coast, where she lives).
It works either way, with the bay giving the new potatoes a haunting smoky, herbal perfume. The texture is creamy, no further garnish needed. Just stick the pan in the oven an hour or so before you want to eat.
Here’s Gold’s recipe, reworded slightly to save space.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and scrub 1½ pounds very small white new potatoes; dry well. Do not peel. Toss with 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Distribute the bay leaves in a heavy ovenproof covered sauté pan. Arrange the potatoes on top of the bay leaves in a single layer. Cover tightly with foil or a cover. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the potatoes are soft and wrinkled. Transfer the potatoes and bay leaves to a platter. Serves 4.
-- S. Irene Virbila