Monday Mélange: Tastes of Home

I’m convinced that I have heightened senses. Walking down the streets of Paris, I always knew when a bakery was nearby due to the indescribably intoxicating smell of butter. Smells bring back memories for me; whether it’s the chalky smell of fresh paint that reminds me of the number of apartments my family moved to in Manhattan or the sweet musky smell of the Redwoods we would visit in San Francisco, smells bring me right back to places and moments.

I surprised my family this past weekend for Easter. My mom made all of my favorites (some of which I shamefully requested). These tastes – along with many others – bring me right back to being a carefree kid again, something that grows more and more comforting as I grow up.

P.S. PLEASE excuse the poor photo quality. I barely had time to pull out my iPhone for these photos before I dug in!

1. Tiramisu – Ahhhh. Little pillows of lady fingers that have absorbed coffee liqueur. Clouds of mascarpone and whipped cream. Chunks of chocolate on top. Bliss? Bliss.

Tiramisu | netflix & nutella

2. My Mom’s Hash Browns – I added these to my blog about a year ago, but nothing can compare to the ones made by the creator herself. They’re slightly crispy, still tender, oniony, paprika-y…you get the picture. They’re delish.

Hash browns | netflix & nutella

3. Cheese Soufflé – Cheese. Goat, cheddar, brie, Boursin, parmesan. If it’s cheese, it makes me happy. That’s all there is to it.

Cheese soufflé | netflix & nutella

4. Anything from Corner BakeryThis spot has been a favorite of ours since the beginning of time. The chocolate chip scones and brioche are to die for (as is the raspberry almond bar below). So is the corn and barley salad I get every time I come home. It has a little bit of a bite to it and has a scallion vinaigrette that’s so light and perfect for summery days.

Corner Bakery | netflix & nutella     Corn and barley salad | netflix & nutella

5. Gigi Salad – This delicious mix of shrimp, onion, string beans, bacon and roasted red pepper brings joy to my mouth in every bite. The name maybe reminds you of the Leslie Caron character, but to me, it’s the salad my mom makes every spring and summer that I can’t get enough of.

Gigi Salad | netflix & nutella

*The blood in my veins: My Mom’s Tomato Sauce. Something that – if there’s any justice in the world – should be jarred and on shelves one day. (I’ll work on it.) Since I was driving and not flying this time, she gave me a vat to bring home. I (not so willingly) shared with my friends in a first-night-back-chicken parm dinner to show them how spoiled I was growing up.

Chicken parm | netflix and nutella

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Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes

Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes | netflix and nutella

Cafeteria food isn’t always bad, but it certainly gets to be repetitive. Even the dining halls end up serving the same Asian-inspired-beef and homestyle-fried-chicken meals pretty much once a week. So when one of my favorite dining locations switched it up with some balsamic roasted red potatoes, I was intrigued. After we had the delicious potatoes, my friend and I decided to recreate them (in mass quantity, of course), seeing as potatoes are not only inexpensive but the perfect comfort food for these cold North Carolina days.

Balsamic Roasted Potatoes

5 lb. bag red roasted potatoes, cut into wedges
1 yellow onion
1 tablespoon rosemary
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper

I cooked off the wedged potatoes, onion, and oil in a skillet for a few minutes until they were tender (I had to do this in two batches). Then I spread them on two baking sheets sprayed with non-stick spray. I added the rosemary, salt, pepper, and vinegar and gave them a toss.

Roast these at 400 for 30-35 minutes, then give them a toss and let them cook for another 10 minutes or until they are tender and crispy (I even like the almost burnt bits).

Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes | netflix and nutella

My Mom’s Hash Browns

When I was little, we used to go to our country house every weekend. It was something I didn’t appreciate as much until I got older; I would have rather stayed in the city to have play-dates with my friends than go out to Westhampton where the only people I knew were my siblings.

Hash browns

When we’d return to the city on Sunday, my mom would usually resort to breakfast-for-dinner from either a lack of groceries or being tired. Whether it was pancakes or eggs, we almost always had hash browns.

Hash browns

To this day, the smell of these flavors mixing together on the stove brings back the memories of the ever-so-exciting break from well-balanced dinners we used to have. We almost always have potatoes and onions lying around, so they’re easy to whip up without stepping out to the store. The dash of paprika makes them unique, and the mix of butter and olive oil gives them the perfect crispy crust. Trust me, you’ll have a hard time resisting picking these out of the pan.

Hash browns

My Mom’s Hash Browns
5 large potatoes
2 large onions, sliced into half-moons
1/2 stick of butter
1 T olive oil
1 T salt
1 tsp pepper
1 T paprika
1. Boil/ microwave your potatoes until they’re about half-way cooked. Dice them up.
2. Melt together the olive oil and butter. Add the sliced onions.
3. Once the onions have softened, add the potatoes and spices.
4. Mix together all of the ingredients, and make a flat layer of potatoes in the pan to ensure even cooking.
5. Slow cook them on low heat for about an hour or until browned, stirring around every 10-15 minutes.
6. Serve with eggs and/or ketchup, and enjoy!