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These Potato Puns are...

Pomme de Terrible!

You Say Potato...

I Say - What A Slow Start For A Cash Crop.

We all know that potatoes are indigenous to the Andes Region of South America - more specifically Peru and date back to 7000-8000 BC. But did you know that it was not until the late 1500's that the rest of the world would be introduced to this starchy tuber? Want to know some WHY's?

To tell you some why's, I have to give you some back story. Grab another cup of coffee before turning the page.

Hear Ye Hear Ye - Bring out your Grains! Ancient civilizations - going all the way back to Mesopotamia (5000 BC), relied on the cultivation of cereal grains - which were widely successful due to the development of irrigation. The benefit of grain in ancient history times (in a nutshell) is multi-faceted.

1) Grain can be dried and stored, provide lasting nutrition over a longer period of time.

2) More food = more people have happy tummies - happy tummies provide stronger people to work.

3) Civilizations that had more food, in turn, had more people, which develops a more complex society.

4) (People have been a slave to the gov't forever) With people being able to dry and store their grain, this allowed the tax man to come by and tell you that you either had to pay the heirarchy taxes or give some of your bounty away.

So, things just kind-of go along this way for a while and some more while - until all of sudden in the late 1400's, this crazy Italian comes along with this hair-brained idea that the world wasn't flat. He takes his idea to the Monarchy of Spain and we all know what happens next. ... An armada of 3. I'll leave out the whole conquistador part of the story - but the take away is that a conspiracy theory is born... how did the potato show up in Europe? Sir Walter Raleigh? Sir Francis Drake? or was it the conquistadors who brought them back after all of the pillaging in Central America in the mid 1500's? I'll let you decide. But anyway - am I going to wrap this up anytime soon???

Do you remember how I was talking about the grain taxation above? The potato - due to its high water content (around 80%), breaks down quickly, therefore not making it a good crop for storing. Potatoes way way back were usually pulled from the ground and eaten right away. This isn't good for the tax man.

Well - the Inca's figured out a way to freeze-dry the potato at high altitudes - this technology allowed them to use the potato as a grain - non perishable, portable, taxable. Tax Man likes this. Also - the nutritional value (depending on climate and conditions) has the same if not more nutritional benefits than grain, and the potato grows in harsher climates and conditions - allowing it to feed more people in areas where grain production lacks. All of these benefits from the potato led to the rise and spread of the tuber throughout Europe.. and really took hold in poor Ireland, which struggled with its food production. The humble potato really stimulated a population boom because it vastly improved the general health of the public. It also helped the economy of Ireland, because it freed up a lot of grain for export. Until the potato famine - and I think I just talked myself into a corner.

But don't get out the masher just yet!! The positive news is that the potato is the 4th largest produced crop worldwide after: Wheat, Corn, and Rice. Today, potatoes are grown in all 50 states, and in 125 countries worldwide. Oh, and by the way, yes, potatoes are vegetables. Starchy, Delicious, Vegetables.

Boardwalk Fries with Tarragon Malt Vinegar Mignonette

A Mignonette is a classic sauce served with oysters.  Traditionally it is made with vinegar, shallot, and cracked peppercorn.  In this version, we use malt vinegar and add tarragon.

For the Fries -

• 4 large potatoes, cut into frites (French fry size)

• Oil to fry

For the Mignonette -

• 1 C. malt vinegar

• 1.5 T. peppercorns, cracked but not ground

• 1 shallot, finely sliced

• 3 T. tarragon, chopped

1. In a large dutch oven or fryer, preheat the oil to 300 degrees. Blanch the potatoes in the oil for 3-4 minutes. Remove and let sit on a baking rack for 2 hours to develop a crust.

2. Meanwhile, while the fries are resting, mix all of the ingredients for the mignonette together in a bowl and set aside.

3. After the potatoes have rested for 2 hours, heat the oil in the same dutch oven or fryer to 360 degrees.  Fry the parcooked potatoes in the oil until golden brown and crispy. Remove from oil and salt immediately. Dip the fries in the mignonette.

Potatoes Al Forno

• 1 T. olive oil

• 1.5 T. anchovy paste

• 6 garlic cloves, smashed

• 2 C. heavy cream

• 2 T. parsley, chopped

• 2.5 oz. pecorino romano, grated

• 1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, sliced

• 1 onion, julienne

• 1 fennel bulb, shaved

• 2 oz. panko

• Salt and Pepper

• Mace, to taste

1. In a saucepan, add the oil and heat over medium heat. Add the anchovy paste, and garlic cloves, season with pepper, and saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Then add the cream and bring to a scald. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Next add the pecorino, in 2 batches, making sure all is incorporated before the second addition. Season with salt and pepper and mace, to your taste – a little goes a long way.

2. Combine the potato, onion, and fennel in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place the seasoned vegetables in a baking pan and then pour over the cream mixture. Then sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven covered in foil for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake 30 more minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted and the vegetables are cooked.

Sauteed Fingerling Potatoes with Oyster Mushrooms, Pancetta, Arugula Pesto

For the Potatoes -

• 8 oz fingerling potatoes, cut in half

• 2 oz pancetta, finely diced

• 6 oz mushrooms, quartered

• 3 garlic cloves, smashed

• 3 T. chicken stock

• 2 oz butter, separated 1 oz/1oz

For the Arugula Pesto -

• 1 C. packed arugula

• 2 T. miso – mixed with 1 T. water

• 1 garlic clove

• ¼ C. toasted walnut

• ¼ C. hemp seed

• 1 tsp. tarragon, chopped

• 1/3 C. olive oil

• ¼ tsp. sugar

• ½ lemon, zested

For the Potatoes -

1. Place the fingerling potatoes in a pot of cold water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are 2/3 the way cooked through. (20 minutes or so). Remove from water and set aside.

2. In a large saute pan, add 1 T. oil and 1 oz butter, when the butter has melted, add the garlic and pancetta and crisp up over medium heat. When crispy, add the mushrooms and saute until golden.

3. Then add the potatoes, turn the heat to high and add the chicken stock and other 1 oz butter. Cook for 2 minutes, season with pepper, and serve topped with the arugula pesto.

For the Arugula Pesto -

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Because of the miso - check for seasonings before adding any more salt.