Tagged: potatoes

Potato Gratin

  • Freshly washed red bliss potatoes (any waxy potato will do)
    Freshly washed red bliss potatoes (any waxy potato will do)
  • The mandolin comes in really handy here for making 1/8 inch slices
    The mandolin comes in really handy here for making 1/8 inch slices
  • Making a garlic paste
  • Four tablespoons of butter
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
    Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Adding the half and half
  • Letting things come to a boil and stirring frequently
    Letting things come to a boil and stirring frequently
  • Spread evenly into a 9x9 pan
  • Topped with Gruyere
  • Golden brown deliciousness
    Golden brown deliciousness

I have been on the lookout for a good “standard” potato gratin recipe for years. It seemed every time I tried making the dish the potatoes were underdone or the flavor just wasn’t up to par with what I’ve had at a restaurant, so when I came across a potato gratin recipe from Food 52 for a “gratin that cooks in half the time…and lets you have control all the way through” I had to try it.

Technically I think the dish turned out well, the potatoes were cooked through, the sauce was creamy, the cheese browned, but I definitely under-seasoned things. I deviated from the original recipe and added about 1/3 cup of milk to the potatoes when they were boiling as it just didn’t seem like there was enough liquid there to cook with. I should’ve trusted the recipe on that step, once the potatoes settled into the pot and were stirred periodically there was more than enough milk there and I think my additional liquid made the end result runnier than it was supposed to be.

You’re instructed to season to taste right at the end of the boiling-potatoes-in-milk step of the recipe and I thought things tasted ok at that point, but by the time everything had baked together (and the potatoes absorbed the half and half) the result was a bit on the bland side. I added cayenne pepper as well as the nutmeg the recipe called for and was hoping for a hint of heat to cut the super creamy sauce but I think I was too light-handed with that too.

I would also use a different cheese than Gruyere for the topping. For one, at least in Williamsburg, Gruyere was a bit difficult to find and rather expensive. Second, aside from allowing the top to brown and getting a little golden-brown-deliciousness there was little flavor that the cheese added to the party. It was also only added to the top of the gratin and not integrated at all. So next time I will use a cheese like cheddar, swiss or similar and and integrate it throughout the layers of potatoes as well as on top.

So, overall, a good recipe base, but lots of license can be taken with the seasonings and toppings to jazz it up, and next time that’s just what I’ll do.


Christmas Eve Dinner 2014 – Beef short ribs in Barolo

Christmas Eve Dinner 2014 This recipe for Beef in Barolo from Food 52 turned out really well. We went to Belmont Butchery for the short ribs, a very cool little shop in Richmond. Served it with a quick sautéed broccolini with lemon and garlic (blanched first so they’d sauté up faster then topped with panko breadcrumbs mixed with some lemon zest for some additional texture and flavor) and oven roasted potatoes (love the mandolin for thin crispy slices) and had a bottle of Elizabeth Spencer 2009 Spring Mountain Napa Cabernet along with it.

For dessert I knew I wanted something pie-like but didn’t feel like making a proper pie crust so I found this raspberry tart recipe which was amazing (I omitted the walnuts as we didn’t have any). This turned out to have a very custard-y filling, dotted with fresh raspberries and a shortbread-style crust. Delicious.

Sauteed Broccolini Oven roasted potatoes Beef Short Ribs in Barolo

Raspberry TartSlice of raspberry tart


Thanksgiving 2014

  • IMG_3548
  • Dry brined spatchcocked roast turkey
    Dry brined spatchcocked roast turkey
  • Sausage Stuffing
    Sausage Stuffing
  • Green Bean Casserole
    Green Bean Casserole
  • Mashed Potatoes
    Mashed Potatoes
  • Brussel Sprout Gratin
    Brussel Sprout Gratin
  • Thanksgiving Dinner 2014
    Thanksgiving Dinner 2014
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
    Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

We always try to start off with a fun cocktail of some kind for special occasion dinners. I had been chatting with Jeremy’s mom trying to think of a good cocktail, and also trying to find a good “standard” cocktail that I’m willing to order at any bar as a fallback drink, and Eileen suggested Southern Comfort Sours. I remember back in grad school enjoying “SoCo & Coke” so figured it was worth a shot…yum, to me, with the homemade sour mix (simple syrup, lemon and lime juice) the drink tastes like a SweetTart.

We have been brining the turkey for as long as I’ve been in charge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner but this year we opted to “dry-brine” on the recommendation of Serious Eats (plus, it saves fridge space since we don’t have to submerge the bird). So with some help from my dad (I couldn’t cut the backbone out myself) I spatchcocked the turkey, covered it with the dry brine overnight, and day of covered it with herb butter and roasted it to temperature, it only took 80 minutes for a 12 pound turkey. So dry-brined herb-rubbed spatchcocked roast turkey? Marked down as my new favorite way to go, the skin was super crisp (courtesy of the dry brine with baking powder) and, per usual when cooking poultry to temperature not to time, very moist.

The green bean casserole recipe is a Thanksgiving standard and the only variation I do is to make the mushroom sauce from scratch rather than courtesy of Campbell’s soup. My recipe is based off of Martha Stewart’s green bean casserole but I add a bit of cayenne pepper and go the traditional route of French’s fried onions rather than making my own topping with shallots.

The stuffing is one that I never really use a recipe for but is based off of this sausage and apple stuffing I saw made on “Party Line with the Hearty Boys” on Food Network way back when. I’ve omitted the cranberries since then and use sourdough bread cubes (bread courtesy of Blackbird Bakery in Williamsburg) and this time around we didn’t actually have poultry seasoning so I made our own seasoning blend (sage, thyme, rosemary, black pepper), and I think it actually tasted better that way.

Mashed potatoes, pretty standard with lots of butter (is there any other way?)

The new dish this year was one that Jeremy came across on Serious Eats. Typically we’ve had brussel sprouts with bacon but this year, we went all out and tried this Creamy, Cheesy Brussel Sprout Gratin. Wow was it rich and decadent, a totally different dish than usual with the brussel sprouts, but very tasty.

We made two pies this year, strawberry rhubarb and pumpkin, and made the crust according to Michael Ruhlman’s ratio (3 parts flour : 2 parts fat : 1 part liquid). Jeremy had had success before with this crust recipe using all butter so that’s the way I went and it turned out very well. It was a bit crazy seeing all the butter bubbling away in the oven through the clear glass pie plate but the crust was pretty tender and very flaky with lots of crisp on the edges. Next time I may introduce a little bit of lard/shortening to get a little more tender crumb but overall the crust, and the pies, were delicious.


Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback potatoes
Hasselback potatoes

I saw this technique for Hasselback Potatoes go by on a food blog or two this fall and we decided to try it out to go along with pork chops one weekend for dinner. I can’t track down which specific recipe I used but the preparation was pretty straightforward. Slice almost all the way through the potatoes, brush with butter/olive oil, season liberally, we stuck some sliced garlic and whole sage leaves in between some slices (to go with the pork) and popped them in the oven at 400 degrees or so. Problem was, we didn’t allow enough time for the potatoes to cook before the pork was ready, the top part was done (but not really crispy, which is the goal) but the bottom was still a bit toothsome. Timing multiple dishes has always been an Achilles heel of mine and I think this dish fell prey to that. I definitely want to try this again though and allow lots of time to cook the potatoes. Although this variation turning the dish into a Hasselback Potato Gratin Casserole looks pretty delicious too.


Warm Potato Salad with Grainy Mustard

This is a go-to dish for me during the summer. Healthier than traditional mayonnaise-based potato salad but with lots of flavor and it pairs well with lots of different dishes, especially anything grilled. The tanginess from the mustard pairs really well the the caramelized and grilled flavors.

I have used all different kinds of potatoes for this dish. The little new potatoes are fun and bite sized but really any potato (skins kept on please) works well, I will usually opt for Yukon Golds or red-skinned potatoes if the new potatoes are nowhere to be found.