I've got a new book to introduce you to. I really think you're going to like this one for a couple of reasons (I'll let you know right now that I was sent a review copy, just so we're on the same page). First, if you read Cooking Books, you probably like to make things from scratch, or at least imagine yourself making things from scratch (the latter is one of my personal favorite pass-times). You probably like experimenting with ingredients to a point, but also go in for the idea of kitchen projects that either produce a unique result or allow you to make things that you might otherwise just buy.
(Central Park at the End of the Summer)
So if I had to describe Yvette Van Boven's new book Home Made, I'd say it's project-oriented. I think she could use that phrase on the book's resume, it always impresses. Let's start by talking about how the book is laid out. The chapters are arranged chronologically in the sense that it starts with breakfast, moves through lunch, on to tea, then to chapters focused on techniques like preserving, making pasta, smoking (did you know you can build your own smoker right in your kitchen for smoking fish?), and roasting. Finally, the book ends with chapters on cheese, ice cream (you're making all of this yourself, remember), desserts with eggs, desserts with chocolate, a chapter on after-party food for the inevitable (but we hope occasional!) hangover. There's even a chapter on making treats for a person's best friend (your dog, if that was unclear).
(View from the Upper West Side of NYC)
For my first foray into the book, I made Van Boven's Rösti Fritters with Rosemary. If you're worried that my characterization of this book as project-oriented meant that every recipe is an undertaking, this one should prove the opposite. It does everything a good potato side-dish should do. Stands up on its own, but doesn't overpower the main course. Is amenable to helping soak up juices or gravies from the center of the plate, but doesn't rely on them.
Akin to a classic Jewish potato latka, these röstis are a bit less cake-like, in that they don't include the eggs and flower that make a potato pancake, well, a potato pancake. Instead, they're the Swiss version of a hash brown, grated potatoes seasoned with rosemary and salt, and pan-fried to crispy perfection. I find that red potatoes are a good choice, as the recipe calls for a waxy potato that can hold its shape during cooking.
Rösti Fritters with Rosemary
Excerpted (with permission) from Yvette Van Boven's Home Made (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; September 2011)
6 waxy medium potatoes
leaves of 6 twigs rosemary
some light oil for frying
Cut the potatoes into a very fine julienne (very thin strips) in the food processor or use a good mandoline, or grater. Thoroughly pat them dry. Add the rosemary and a little salt to the grated potatoes. Heat a thin coat of oil in a skillet and fry 3 heaps of potato mixture in the oil at a time. Do not stir or touch! When the edges turn golden yellow, turn and fry on the other side. Allow to drain on paper towels. Can be easily made in advance: Heat the fritters for 6 minutes prior to serving in an oven preheated to 350F/Gas 4.