Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Memorial Day Meal: Part Deux

Here is the promised second half of my Memorial Day feast... the side dishes.

Spicy Potato Wedges

Russet potatoes (1- however many you want, but 1 potato per person is a good idea)
Olive oil
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut potatoes into wedges.  I'd recommend cutting into 6-8 wedges per potato depending on their size.
3. Toss the wedges in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, add a sprinkling of the salt and the other spices, and mix together to coat the potatoes.  I didn't measure these, and it's really up to your individual taste- like them spicy?  Add more cayenne.  Like them garlicky?  Add more garlic powder!  For a rough guide, I'd say for 4 potatoes you can use about 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
4. Place potatoes on a baking pan, in a single layer.
5. Cook about 40 minutes, flipping the wedges once.

Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (quartered if cherry, halved if grape)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch chunks
1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1. In a medium bowl, toss together tomatoes, salt and sugar.  Let sit for about 30 minutes.  Put the tomatoes in a salad spinner, and spin for about 1 minute, to remove seeds and juice.  Stir the tomatoes around several times while spinning.  If you don't have a salad spinner, place the tomatoes in a bowl, cover securely with plastic wrap, and shake gently to loosen seeds, and release liquid.  Strain the liquid from the tomatoes through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup.
2. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the reserved tomato liquid, garlic, oregano, shallot, and red wine vinegar, and heat on medium.  Simmer about 6-8 minutes, until the mixture is reduced.  Remove from the heat, pour into a small bowl, and let cook to room temperature.  When cooled, whisk in the olive oil, and season to taste with the black pepper.
3. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, feta, parsley and dressing in a medium bowl.  Toss to combine.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from Cook's Illustrated


  • I used grape tomatoes in my salad, halving them.  It may take a bit of extra work to get the liquid and seeds to release from these, so you may have to toss the tomatoes around a bit more and squeeze them gently to release their seeds and a little more liquid.  I actually only got about 1/4 cup of tomato liquid for my dressing, but it still turned out perfectly fine, so don't fret if the same happens to you.

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits
Makes about 8 biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, placing over rack in upper middle position.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in cheese.  Pour 1 1/4 cup of the cream in, and stir together for about 30 seconds, or until it forms into dough.
4. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface.  Leave behind any dry pieces of flour in the bowl.  If there is extra flour in the bowl, combine with the remaining 1/4 cup of cream, in tbsp increments, until moistened.  When moistened, add them to the rest of the dough.  Knead for about 30 seconds, by hand, until the dough is smooth.
5. To make biscuit rounds, flatten the dough into a 1-inch thick circle.  Use a round biscuit cutter to make bisuits, and place them on baking sheet.  Reform circle with leftover dough, and cut more biscuits.  This will make about 8 biscuits.  You can also make biscuit wedges by placing the dough in an 8 inch cake pan, and flattening evenly.  Remove dough and place on lightly floured surface, and cut into 8 wedges.
6. Bake biscuits for 15-18 minutes.

Source:, originally adapted from Baking Illustrated

  • When making my biscuits, I didn't have any remaining flour in my bowl, so I ended up only using 1 1/4 cups of cream, so you may not need to do this step either. 
  • I ended up doing wedges because I realized as I was making these that I don't have a biscuit cutter.  I'm sure I could have used something else to make a circle shape, but wedges are cool, so that's what I went with.  I loved the cake pan trick, because it made a perfect circle with no effort, and so it was super easy to make equal sized wedges.
  • You can make these into regular biscuits by just omitting the cheddar cheese, the amount of the other ingredients remains the same- but why wouldn't you want cheese?!?!?!?  I also think that adding bacon or scallions would be awesome in these biscuits.
  • Using diced cheese, rather than grated cheese, was an awesome idea- it gives you these little pockets of wonderful cheesy goodness.  I have to say these are the best biscuits I have ever made- although I still have yet to try duplicating Red Lobster's biscuits...

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