Savory potato aebelskiver. Hasselback potatoes with cardamom and lemon butter. Lefse and ….well, that would be telling. That particular combination will be revealed this Saturday, November 4 when cookbook author, recipe developer, consultant, and a 2005 finalist for the James Beard Journalism award, Raghavan Iyer, will be at Ingebretsen’s for his cookbook, Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked., and Fried. Too! Raghavan’s previous, award-winning cookbooks, such as 660 Curries and The Turmeric Trail, focused on teaching North American cooks how to make Indian food. In Smashed, Raghavan puts his attention fully on the potato.
When asked what inspired him to devote an entire cookbook to potatoes, Raghavan replied in an email, “It has been a passion of mine since my childhood days – I have never done a single subject book and this seemed like the perfect medium to test the waters and explore the cuisines of the world through the fourth largest crop in the world.” (In case you’re wondering, the top three are corn, wheat, and rice respectively, according to the USDA.)
As part of his research for the book, Raghavan took a lefse class at Ingebretsen’s from Martha and Dave Dobratz. He said of that experience, “I have sampled many lefses through the 30-plus years I have been in Minnesota. Martha and Dave showed me the beauty of an extraordinary lefse. It should taste like potatoes and have the lacy-thin beauty of the flatbread; you should be able to see the light shine through a lefse.”
Smashed takes old favorites, then gives cooks strikingly original variations on those recipes. Raghavan explains his creative process this way:
“Often I will look around and see what are some of the things people are doing with a particular recipe. I then I twist them around dramatically to incorporate flavors and techniques that deliver some amazing results. Sometimes I will throw combinations together based on what I have lying around in my pantry and or fridge. I am all about flavors and so I do incorporate an element of that in all my recipes.”
Raghavan wrote on how to extract 8 unique flavors from a single spice in 660 Curries, so his suggestions on how to get the most out of the already versatile potato will ibe plentiful and will inspire you to experiment.