keito potato

Greek Potatoes Stewed with Kalamata Olives
June 3, 2012, 11:21 am
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , , , ,

When you slowly simmer good olives into a stew, they infuse the stew with a saltiness that is more complex than simple salt.  This dish is simple, delicious, and possibly addictive.  My vegetarian cooking group put together a huge Greek meal last night, and ate a long extended table in the backyard.  This was one of the favorite dishes, and the serving dish was practically licked clean.

The recipe comes from Diane Kochilas’ cookbook The Greek Vegetarian, which has become one of my most favorite and beat-up cookbooks.  Kochilas says that this dish is inspired by a classic dish from Zakintohos.  I’ve made this stew a few times over the years, and I plan to make it several times over the summer before I move to China, since olives will be harder to find there!

photo by Joyce Hiendarto


2  1/2 pounds medium-sized potatoes

1/3 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1  1/2 cups kalamata olives

2-3 cups canned plum tomatoes, with their juices

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Peel and finely chop the garlic.  Peel and wash the potatoes.  Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, and cut each half into four slices, each about 1/2-inch thick.  Drain the olives and pit them.

In a stewing pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes and stir to coat.  Toss in the garlic and stir. Add the olives, and stir and saute for 2-3 minutes.  The olives will break apart a little and the dish will change color and darken.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

To break up the canned tomatoes, grate them with a large-tooth cheese grated.  Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the potatoes for 25-30 minutes, until they are very tender and the sauce is thick.  In my experience, it may take a little longer than this for the potatoes to become completely soft.  Add a little water during cooking if it seems as though the potatoes are in danger of burning.  

Just before removing the pot from the heat, add the oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.  This stew would be good with some feta as a garnish.  Here you can see the potato and kalamata stew served at my vegetarian cooking group alongside a slice of spanakopita, or “Spartacus” as my friends were calling it, as well as an arugula, orange, and wrinkled olive salad.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

May 2012 Nanjing Trip
June 1, 2012, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Food-Focused Travelogues | Tags: , , , , , ,

I will be moving to Nanjing, China in the fall to teach at the national seminary there.  I am thrilled because I previously lived in China a few years.  It’s fantastic to have an opportunity to move back to China, and with a very fitting job.  I just spent two weeks in Nanjing for job training at the seminary.  I learned about my new job, and also spent time getting to know students.  They are extremely friendly and welcoming, and I feel good about moving there.

Since this is a food blog, I’m sharing the food photos from the trip.

This little hole-in-the-wall dumpling place is open 24 hours a day.  Good thing to know about.  They have two kinds of vegetarian dumplings, and this plate includes both kinds, half-and-half.  They make the classic leek and egg dumplings, but my favorite was the carrot, mushroom, and egg ones.  A plate of twelve was about a dollar US.  And the lime green chopsticks are cheerful.

Di san xian literally means “the three fresh things” and it’s a classic dish in Northeastern China.  When I did a study abroad term in Dalian in 1998, I ate this dish quite frequently.  It’s a combination of potatoes, eggplant, and green peppers, all cut in roughly the same size and shape, and served in a garlicky brown sauce.  It’s seriously delicious.  I ate this at a restaurant quite close to the Nanjing seminary campus, so I’m happy to know I can walk over and order a plate any time I need it.

Ganbian sijidou, dry-fried green beans.  This is one of the most famous Sichuan dishes, and this photo is of a great version at a restaurant near the seminary in Nanjing.  You can see it has plenty of whole hua jiao (Sichuan peppercorns) on top.  I don’t know how to say “addicted” in Mandarin, but I got addicted to the numbing sensation of hua jiao when I lived in Sichuan.

Cabbage stir-fried with chilies, garlic, and ginger.  This is fresh and savory.  I absolutely love simple Chinese stir-fried cabbage — I personally think it’s so much more delicious and interested than American raw cabbage coleslaws.  At home I usually stir-fry cabbage with garlic, ginger, and sherry or white wine.  That reminds me — I should post that recipe for you soon!

Morning glory is a classic in China, stir-fried with garlic.  It’s called “kong xin cai,” literally “hollow-heart vegetable” because the stems are hollow.  It’s a tasty and common side dish.

Homestyle tofu is usually sliced thin, fried until crispy on the edges, and then braised in a spicy sauce.  I ordered homestyle tofu with a friend who can’t eat spicy food, so they put together this mild version with black fungus.

Love hot and sour stir-fried potatoes.  Usually they are tossed with lots of chilies and some vinegar, but this version has chile oil instead.  Tasty and bright red.

Some students took me and another teacher out for lunch, and this watermelon drizzled with cream was the appetizer.

Preserved eggs.  This dish is a bit scary for many foreigners, but it’s mild, a few bites are not bad.

Lotus root stuffed with sticky rice.

“Songren yumi,” corn with pine nuts, is a classic combination in China.  In my experience dish usually also includes green chilies.  Thinking about the pairing of jalapenos in savory cornbread, it seems that corn and chilies are a perfect pairing that separate world cuisines discovered.

These tofu noodles are almost like tofu skin, but a little thicker.  They’re paired here bok choi and mushrooms in a satisfying dish.

The students who took us out to lunch also gave us this cake topped with fruit.  The little message on the cake says, “Jesus loves you” which was cute and sweet of them.

Asparagus cut on the diagonal and stir-fried.

Here is another simple and savory version of homestyle tofu.

We were served this vegetable at a special lunch on campus with school administrators.  The vegetable is so rare and special that the cook had to explain it to everyone.  It is similar to a scallion, but is somewhere in between a scallion and a lotus root.  The hue is slightly green, and also slightly grey-lavender.  The cook kept insisting we try it because she said it’s so delicious.  It truly is surprisingly delicious, and extremely flavorful.  I’m sorry that I forgot the name of it !

A simple dish of spongy squash combined with soybeans.

While I ate a few special meals on this trip, most of my meals were with students in the school cafeteria.  The meals were simple and it was great to sit with students and get to know them.  Breakfasts were standard Chinese breakfasts, and it’s a good thing I generally enjoy Chinese breakfasts.  For lunches and dinners, the cafeteria offered about 6 dishes per meal, and usually 2 of the dishes were vegetarian.  The servers behind the counter quickly learned that I am a vegetarian, and would simply put the vegetarian offerings on a metal tray for me.  Since I love cooking, when I move here I will probably prefer cooking for myself in my apartment instead of eating in the cafeteria.  However, because it’s a great place to spend time with students, I will probably still eat there a few meals per week.

Here is a typical breakfast at the student cafeteria.  There were always a few baozi options.  Baozi are the steamed buns that are filled, and then pinched on top.  This one happened to be filled with black sesame, which is delicious and not too sweet.  In my experience, sometimes baozi at breakfast can be dry, but the cafeteria knows how to make them well.  They are fresh and hot.  You can also see a plan steamed mantou bun in the back corner.  There were always hardboiled eggs available, and sometimes they were tea-eggs.  Chinese tea-eggs (cha jidan) are hardboiled eggs steeped in tea, soy sauce, and star anise.  They are richly flavorful and delicious since those strong flavors are infused into the hardboiled egg.  The cafeteria also always offers some sort of porridge.  Sometimes it was plain rice porridge (xifan), but most days on my trip is was this babaozhou, the 8-treasure porridge which includes all sorts of grains including red beans and peanuts.  I think it’s more interesting than plain xifan.

Eating in the cafeteria: here we have morning glory (similar to spinach), a simple and watery cabbage soup, and cold vinegary gluten cubes.  The cold squishy gluten is common in Sichuan, so I learned to enjoy it sometimes.  I once heard that while Americans are usually fond of crispy and crunchy textures, the Chinese are equally passionate about rubbery textures in their food.  So you’ll find lots of rubbery and glutenous items on Chinese menus.

Eating in the cafeteria: fensi noodles with cabbage.  This was tasty.  The dish in the back corner was potatoes with eggplant.

Eating in the cafeteria: simple morning glory in the back corner, and classic leeks with eggs in the front.  They also accidentally gave me “cuipi doufu,” crispy skin tofu, which had pork in it, so I didn’t eat it.

Eating in the cafeteria: stir-fried lettuce in the back corner.  While I’m a person who really enjoys greens, I actually don’t really care for stir-fried lettuce.  It might be too bland?  In the middle we have stir-fried tomatoes and eggs.  I enjoy the egg and tomato soup, but haven’t been a fan of the stir-fried version.  My extended family on my mom’s side all has an aversion to tomatoes, so this dish isn’t my favorite.  The tofu in the front was the star of this meal for me.  Strips of chewy tofu were stir-fried with bean sprouts, green chilies, and lots of ginger.

Eating in the cafeteria: I’m always a sucker for Chinese stir-fried potatoes, so I loved these.  The other vegetarian dish that day was sliced onions with egg.  I felt like this combination has potential, but that the onions were too sharp and overpowering.

Eating in the cafeteria: garlicky cabbage is tasty and enjoyable.  I also enjoyed the cold and vinegary squishy gluten cubes.

I’ll close this post with a photo of students doing late-night eating in a bustling shopping area near the campus.  This shopping area is in between several universities, and is geared toward college students with lots tiny shops selling cheap and cute things.  You can see that the area also has rows of snack places, and many of the stalls had Chinese-Muslim food, which is the unique cuisine from Northwestern China.  This neighborhood also had rows of boba tea and juice places.  In the months to come, you’ll probably find me here snacking.

Potato Coconut Curry
January 19, 2012, 5:31 pm
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , , ,

Madhur Jaffrey says, “I love this dish with an irrational passion.”  The first time I made this potato-coconut curry I easily understood the attraction.  When coconut is cooked with garlic, cumin, and turmeric, the scent is intoxicating and unusual.

This was one of my favorite dishes to cook in college.  My roommates usually requested this curry or the Mediterranean Lemony Potato Stew.  Both recipes come from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, which was one of the two cookbooks I owned in college.  Both are still favorites of mine.

The original recipe calls for fresh coconut, but I almost always use dried, unsweetened coconut.  Fresh coconut has a fun chewy and silky texture, but it takes some time and effort to break open a coconut.  If you use dried coconut instead of fresh, check the packaging to make sure it is unsweetened, and doesn’t contain sugar.

This is an extremely simple curry to pull together.  It takes about 10 minutes to prepare (and less if you don’t peel your potatoes), and 45 minutes to simmer.  Other than the coconut, the ingredients are staples you probably have in your pantry.  Turmeric and cumin are more common in Western kitchens than, say, fenugreek or ajwain!   This is one of those dishes in which you add ingredients to the hot saucepan in a quick procession, seconds apart from each other — so be efficient by preparing and measuring the ingredients before heating the stove.


3 medium-size boiling potatoes (about 1  1/4 lb)

6 garlic cloves

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 whole dried red chili

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1  1/2 cups grated coconut (dried and unsweetened, or fresh)

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds

2 teaspoons salt

1  1/4 pounds diced tomatoes, fresh or canned (16-20 ounces)

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar


Peel the potatoes (I used white potatoes with delicate skin, and didn’t peel them).  Cut into a 3/4-inch dice and put into a bowl of cold water.  Mince the garlic.  Measure the coconut and whole cumin seeds.  In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, ground cumin, and salt.

Heat the oil in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.   When hot, put in the minced garlic.  Stir for about 5 seconds.

Now put in the red pepper and the cumin seeds.  Stir for another 3 seconds.  The garlic should brown lightly, the red pepper should darken, and the cumin seeds should sizzle.

Lower the heat to medium, put in the coconut and stir around for about 15 seconds (I often stir for around 1 minute to toast the dried coconut a little).

Drain the potatoes in a colander.  Add them to the saucepan, as well as the turmeric, ground cumin, salt, tomatoes (including the juices in the can), plus 1  1/2 cups water.  

Bring to a boil.  Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Stir gently every 7-8 minutes or so to prevent sticking.  Put in the sugar and vinegar.  Stir again and cook, uncovered, for 1 minute.

Fennel and Potato Stew with Olives and Preserved Lemon
August 3, 2011, 9:02 pm
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , , , , , ,

Invariably when I buy fennel, the person standing next to me in the produce section asks me what I do with it.  I usually tell them I slice it and roast it on high heat with olive oil and sea salt.  Roasted fennel is complex and delicious, and I can usually convince my fellow customers to pick up a few bulbs of fennel themselves.  This French stew is my other favorite way with fennel.  I’m drawn to fennel stews from the Mediterranean that are brightened with citrus and perfumed with herbs.  In hot summer weather, when I happen to crave a stew or soup, I want it to be lemony, light, and fresh. 


This stew is an adaptation of a recipe in Skye Gyngell’s cookbook A Year in My Kitchen from the Petersham Nurseries on the outskirts of London.  I have made this stew numerous times, but have gradually made it my own.  Her stew is built on both fennel and artichokes, but I found the artichokes bland actually, in comparison to the fennel.  I have finally landed on substituting yellow potatoes for the artichokes, and found that they pair perfectly with the fennel.  I have also omitted the saffron threads from the original recipe.  The flavors of the stew are so vibrant that the soft and subtle saffron is lost.  I think it’s a waste of an expensive ingredient.

I have tried several other French fennel stew recipes over the years, but this one is more interesting because of the preserved lemon and olives.  I love letting olives slowly cook into a stew or soup.  They give off a saltiness that is more earthy that plain salt.  If you can’t find preserved lemons at your local Arab market, you can make them at home, or substitute fresh lemon juice (although fresh lemon juice doesn’t have quite the same flavor).  If using fresh lemon juice, you may have to add a bit extra juice to make the stew bright enough.

This recipe calls for a drizzle of “basil oil” for garnish.  This is one of the foundational sauces of Gyngell’s cookbook.  It’s similar to pesto in consistency, but omits the nuts and cheese, and you can use it in a myriad of ways.  Keep in mind that it only keeps 1 week in the fridge, so you might want to make a smaller batch of it, or alternatively simply garnish the stew with a handful of torn basil leaves.

I like to serve this stew with either rice pilaf or couscous, a simple green salad, and dry white wine.  I should also mention that I often make a double batch, especially on evenings like tonight when I’m cooking for guests and want to make sure I have plenty of leftovers.


2 heads fennel

3 waxy yellow potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 tablespoons butter

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus extra leaves for garnish

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 dried red chili

4 plum tomatoes (or 14-oz canned plum tomatoes)

1/2 preserved lemon, chopped

1/2 cup vegetable broth

about 12 black olives (kalamata, Nicoise, or Ligurian)

freshly grated parmesan to serve

2 tablespoons basil oil (or alternatively, a handful of torn basil leaves)

For the basil oil, combine 3 bunches fresh basil in a food processor with 1 garlic clove, sea salt and black pepper to taste, and 3/4 cup good quality olive oil.  Adjust seasonings and pour into a jar.  It will keep refrigerated for 1 week.


Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Trim the fennel and cut off the base.  Cut each fennel bulb into quarters.  Peel the potatoes and quarter them lengthwise.

Use a heavy saucepan that is oven-safe, and warm it on the stove at medium-heat.  Add the olive oil and butter and heat until the butter has melted.  Add the fennel and potatoes.  Season with a little salt and cook for 10 minutes or so.  Add the bay leaves, sage, and garlic.  Crumble in the dried red chili, and stir to combine.  Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the pan, along with the chopped preserved lemon, then pour over the broth. 

Cover and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the fennel is very tender, adding the olives for the last 5-10 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning then spoon over the basil oil (or torn basil), and scatter over some sage leaves to garnish.  Sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve.

Rosemary Potato Soup
May 22, 2010, 9:51 pm
Filed under: recipes, soups | Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been 3 full years since a rattlesnake’s skin was found in my front yard rosemary, but I’m still cautious about fetching the herbs. The rosemary bush has grown over a stone wall, and apparently the rattlesnake squeezed between 2 stones to shimmy out of its skin. To this day I still approach the rosemary bush with a yardstick and massive kitchen scissors. The nice thing about rattlesnakes is that they warn you by rattling — as long as they sense you approaching are not caught off-guard. So I stomp around awhile as I approach the rosemary, and pause to listen for a soft rattle. Maybe I’m going overboard, but rattlesnakes are not pals.

That said, a recipe featuring rosemary has to really put me over the edge before I’m willing to venture out into my front yard desert habitat. I felt this recipe was worth it, a rosemary potato soup made with a simple garlic broth.

I’m falling in love with Bryant Terry’s new cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen, a healthy and passionate “remix” of southern classics. If you’re familiar with how I cook, you would understand that I can’t help be swept away with a cookbook that is healthful, ethical, and sustainable, while also being sensual, vibrant, and sexy. He wants to push African American cuisine into a more “creative, cutting-edge, and refreshing” direction. I’m smitten.

This soup looks like a traditional rich cream soup, but is completely vegan (no butter, no cream, no cheese). I think it actually has more flavor because it is built on aromatics instead of dairy. I’m not a vegan, but I love pureed vegan soups that are rich and smooth, having fluffy pureed vegetables camouflaging as dairy.

This soup starts with a garlic broth, the easiest one I’ve discovered: just garlic, water and salt. After simmering an hour it has a soft gentle aroma, and perfumes the whole house.

Yukon Gold potatoes are the potatoes of choice here. If you haven’t used this variety yet, the flesh is a rich butter yellow color, and they make fantastic mashed potatoes. If you can’t find them, red potatoes would work, but the soup would end up paler in color.

GARLIC BROTH RECIPE (makes about 6 cups)

4 whole garlic bulbs, unpeeled, broken up, and smashed with the back of a knife
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
9 cups water

In a large pot over high heat, combine these 3 ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour. During this time, the liquid will have reduced to about 6 cups.

Strain the garlic cloves, pressing down on them in the strainer to extract all their liquid, and discard (compost) them.


3 tablespoons olive oil
3 2-inch sprigs of rosemary
2 large yellow onions
1 teaspoon cumin
coarse sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups garlic broth
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
white pepper

Remove the rosemary from the sprigs. In a large saucepan over high heat, warm the olive oil until hot but not smoking, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and immediately add the rosemary to the hot oil. Cook until crispy, shaking the pan to ensure that all the rosemary is covered in oil. Remove the rosemary and set aside.

Turn the heat back on to heat the oil again. Add the onions, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Saute until soft, 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add the garlic stock, potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, covered until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

Bryant then purees the soup in a blender, then presses it through a strainer or sieve. I prefer to just use a “stick” immersion blender. Use what works for you. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Add additional stock to thin, if necessary. Serve hot, garnishing each bowl with crispy rosemary.

Lemony Potato Stew
May 19, 2010, 6:38 pm
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This Mediterranean stew helped me earn a reputation in college as a cook. Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking was one of my 2 cookbooks in college, and was formative in shaping my sensibility as I experimented in my tiny college apartment kitchen. This stew became a favorite, and I made it so often that my roommates affectionately called it “The Red Stuff.”

It’s a simple, earthy stew, but the simplicity is far from boring. The clean flavors have kept my friends happy over the years, and it is a great addition to a potluck. This recipe feels like an old friend, and I can’t believe I didn’t share it will all of you sooner.

I usually serve the stew over rice or bulgar pilaf, but today I poured it over a piece of toast from a rustic loaf. That made the stew seem even more homey, almost like an Italian bread soup.

I have strayed from Madhur Jaffrey’s original recipe in increasing the amounts of garlic and lemon juice.


4 medium size potatoes
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 medium size onions
14 oz whole canned plum tomatoes
14 oz canned chickpeas
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice


Boil the potatoes in their jackets. Drain. When they are cool enough to touch, peel and roughly chop them.

Roughly chop the onions. Mince the garlic.

Grate the canned tomatoes with a cheese grater into a bowl. This is a trick that will given them a rough and rustic texture You will use both the tomatoes and their canning juice. Rinse and drain the canned chickpeas well in a colander.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. When hot, put in the garlic and onions. Stir and fry until onions are translucent, turning the heat down if necessary. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add all the remaining ingredients (potatoes, chickpeas, salt, pepper, lemon juice) plus 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Cover. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Watercress Gnocchi
April 7, 2010, 4:01 pm
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , ,

In planning an Easter menu, deviled eggs are the traditional constant. For the rest of the meal I pursue new recipes featuring seasonal produce. This year I pulled out my Cafe Paradiso Seasons cookbook by Denis Cotter, which has become one of my top favorite cookbooks. It’s a seasonal cookbook put out by one of the top restaurants in Ireland. It’s darn exquisite. I flipped to the chapter on “early spring” and found this watercress gnocchi recipe. It’s a standard potato gnocchi, but with joyful green flecks of watercress mixed into the dough. I imagine you could substitute tender spinach leaves if watercress is hard to find in your neighborhood.

Denis pairs his gnocchi with a roasted tomato cream sauce. As I still don’t have a special place in my heart for tomatoes, I didn’t enjoy the sauce as much as I had imagined. So I am encouraging you to find your own sauce pairing for these watercress gnocchi. I loved their delicate texture and playful green flecks, and I bet you’ll find wonderful things to do with them.

A word about gentleness. Gnocchi dough needs to be treated quite carefully. Years ago I friend and I mistakenly thought we could whip up a batch in the processor, only to find the dough quickly becoming snotty. When we exasperatedly tried to remedy the situation with too much flour, the dough became tough and leathery, not what anyone wants in gnocchi. The goal is to make soft, tender pillows that melt in your mouth. I soon thereafter read that processing is the worst thing one can do to a gnocchi dough, which confirmed my experience. So I learned my lesson. Now I coax the correct texture from the dough instead of being impatient. That said, this dough isn’t necessarily difficult or time consuming.

One helpful suggestion offered by the cookbook is to bake the potatoes instead of steaming or boiling them. This ensures a drier dough that’s easier to work with.

21 oz. starchy potatoes
5 oz. watercress
3 oz. Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper to season
4 oz. white flour (to start)

Bake the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, peel them and gently mash the cooked potato flesh, or use a potato ricer. I mashed mine with a fork, and I’ll be honest that I enjoyed the tiny rustic lumps of potato in the pillows. Next chop the watercress very finely, and stir it into the potato mash. Add the Parmesan, and season well with salt and pepper.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the 4 oz of flour and work it into the potato. Gradually add more flour to get to the right consistency. You may end up adding as much as 8 oz, but 4 is a safe start. The goal is a soft dough, and not sticky to the touch. If you are unsure of your dough, you can test one piece in the boiling water to see if it falls apart. If so, add more flour.

Press the dough out on a floured cutting board, and roll it into logs. Slice a log into pillows at about 3/4-inch increments. Using a soft touch, roll the pillows around on the cutting board until the surface is smooth.

Drop them into the boiling water. Then will sink to the bottom of the pot. When they float to the top (which only takes minute or two), remove them with a slotted spoon. Depending on the size of your pot, you will probably want to boil them in 2-3 batches.