Wow, it sure got chilly this week. Perfect weather for a side dish like a potato gratin. I am catering a surprise birthday party for an octogenarian tomorrow and this family wanted something warm, comforting and old fashioned for a side dish with beef. This recipe is not only easy, it's delicious. I think they are going to love this!
Caramelized Onion-Potato Gratin
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 T good olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
2 lbs russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 1/4 c heavy cream, separated
2 1/2 c grated Gruyère cheese (1/2 pound) (expensive but worth it)
1/2 c Asiago cheese
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 T fresh thyme, stripped off the stem
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-by-15-by-2-inch (10-cup) baking dish, set aside. Sauté the onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until browned lightly and caramelized. Peel the potatoes and thinly slice them by hand or with a mandoline (one of my favorite kitchen tools). Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyère, 1/4 c Asiago, salt, and pepper. Add the sautéed onion and mix well. Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of cream, the rest of the asiago and Gruyère and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve. Serves 10-12.
Note: Add thinly sliced Black Forest ham and a handful of frozen peas and you have a single dish casserole dinner.
My new friend Susan asked me if I wanted to be a part of a cooking group where a few women would get together every other month or so to cook, drink, eat (not necessarily in that order) and share stories and their love of all thing digestible. What could I say but YES!
Last night was our first gathering. The theme of the night was Tuscany and I was asked to think up something to pair with a Tuscan Lemon Chicken (Ina Garten),Bistecca all Fiorentina (MIchal Chiarello) and a panzanella salad. I had some squash in the garden so I went in search of inspiration and found a recipe for Sformati, a soufflé-like side dish that is delicious, versatile and easy. Everyone loved it and the dinner was delicious. I can't wait until next time...what will we choose for a theme?
2# zucchini or any mix of summer squash (about 4 medium), or any other veg, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, etc
2T olive oil
1/2 c onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
salt & pepper
2/3 c parmesan cheese + 2T for sprinkling on top
1 T butter (for greasing ramekins)
1/2 c fine bread crumbs for dusting ramekins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter eight 6-ounce ramekins. Coat with fine bread crumbs and set aside on a baking sheet. Make the balsamella (see below) and set aside to cool.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet, add the onion and garlic. Cook until beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Add the squash (or whatever veggie), season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Puree all in a food processor until smooth. Meanwhile, beat 2 eggs lightly in a bowl; stir in the cooled balsamella. Add the squash puree and 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Divide the mixture among ramekins. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and bake until a light golden crust forms on top and sformati are firm, about 30 minutes. Let settle for several minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, hold a plate over the ramekin and invert onto the plate, then turn back over to expose the browned tops...or not! Garnish with fresh herbs or more parmesan. Serves 8.
1 c whole milk
1 T butter
1 1/2 T flour
1/4 t salt
freshly ground nutmeg
Heat 1 cup whole milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until small bubbles form at edges. (Do not allow to boil). Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a saucepan over low heat. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour all at once with a whisk. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk all at once while stirring continuously. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is smooth. Break up any lumps by pressing them against the sides. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is as dense as thick cream, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Set aside until ready to use, placing plastic wrap on the surface so a film does not form.
Most people are under the impression that the food in Ireland is not very tasty or exciting. I beg to differ. Last year around my birthday I spent a week on the Emerald Isle and had some of the most wonderful food I have ever eaten. There is a yummy dish over there called Colcannon, a blend of mashed potatoes, cabbage and kale with loads of good Irish butter and cream. I decided to use this dish as my inspiration for an Irish potato salad, I wanted something I could take on a picnic paired with my corned beef and cole slaw sandwiches (March 2016 archives). I added crispy bacon, sautéed leeks and a bit of creamy dill mayo and it turned out great! So, let's get out there and enjoy some of our very own emerald green hills before they are just a rainy day memory.
Colcannon - inspired Potato Salad
6 - 8 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 1” chunks, about 6 cups
1 T salt
2 T white balsamic vinegar
4 strips thick cut, applewood smoked bacon
1 T bacon grease, reserved
2 T olive oil, separated
2 leeks sliced lengthwise then across, thinly
1 shallot cut in half lengthwise, sliced thinly
salt and pepper, as needed
1 bunch kale, leaves stripped from the stems and chopped roughly
1/2 of a head of cabbage, quartered and sliced thinly
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 c parsley, chopped
Cover the potatoes with water and add the salt. Bring to a boil and cook until a fork goes through easily, about 10 more minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl for mixing. Sprinkle with the white balsamic vinegar, a bit of salt and pepper and let cool slightly. Cook the bacon until crisp, remove, drain, cut into 1/2” pieces and add to the potatoes. Pour off all but 1 T of bacon grease from the frying pan and add 1 T of the olive oil, the leeks, the shallot and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally then add to the potatoes. Add 1 T more olive oil to the pan, heat and cook the cabbage until soft, about 20 minutes, cool then add to the potatoes along with the parsley and green onions. Pour the dressing (see below) over and mix well. Serve slightly warm, room temp or chilled. Serves 8-10.
Dilled Mayo Dressing
1 1/2 c mayo, I use Best Foods
juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
1 T fresh dill, chopped coarsely
pinch of salt and pepper
Romanesco broccoli or Roman cauliflower as it is also known, is an edible flower from the cabbage family. Chartreuse in color, with many conical buds, it has a delicate, nutty flavor. I received one of these interesting and unusual vegetables in a CSA basket from my friends at Outer Aisle last week and decided to roast it Italian style, for a versatile and tasty, seasonal side dish. I think you will love the way it tastes, sweet, salty, sour and winter fresh!
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 head of Romanesco, separated into florets
2 T pine nuts
2 T currants
1 T capers
1 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper
juice and zest of half a lemon
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the florets in 2 T olive oil, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 T of olive oil in a small skillet over very low heat. Add the chopped garlic, pine nuts, currents and capers. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned and the nuts and the capers toasty. Stir in the smoked paprika and red pepper flakes and set aside. Remove the Romanesco from the oven and place it in a large bowl, big enough to mix it in. Pour the skillet ingredients over the Romanesco then the lemon juice and zest and toss to coat. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature. You can serve this as a side dish with chicken beef or pork or toss it into pasta or even eggs. You could substitute broccoli or cauliflower in place of the Romanesco...but why?
I grew up in Texas and we have a tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year's Eve to bring us luck in the coming year. I am using beautiful, 'super lucky 2017' peas from Rancho Gordo for my recipe but you can use canned or frozen too. People either like 'cow peas' as they are also known, or they don't. I love this recipe from my childhood and I think you will too. If not, at least swallow one whole, like my sister, so you will still have good luck!
1/2 lb dry black eyed peas (preferably Rancho Gordo, soaked overnight and cooked with 3 cloves smashed garlic until soft, about an hour)
2 (15-oz.) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed OR 3 c frozen OR Melissa's steamed peas in the produce aisle, seems they are mainstream now!
1 c cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped or half a small one
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Serve with tortilla chips or in lettuce cups.