Archive for the 'Potatoes' Category

Really, I Can Cook

Matt is away for a week due to work so I am left to fend for myself food-wise. After two straight days of Chipotle and McDonald’s, I was craving homemade food. Short of bribing my friend, Heather, to come cook something for me, I would have to bite the bullet and venture into the kitchen (other than to feed the cats or grab a cold Diet Coke).

I decided to start simply: eggs and home fries. Both eggs and potatoes are cheap and I could always have instant oatmeal for breakfast if it didn’t turn out.

Eggs

Potatoes

All in all, I think it was a success. One of the egg yolks was pierced and the home fries didn’t quite get crispy, but it’s sure better than instant oatmeal!

Gratin Dauphinois Madame Laracine (Madame Laracine’s Potato Gratin)

Gratin Dauphinois Madame Laracine

According to Patricia Wells, one can never have too many potato gratin recipes.  I agree.

It may seem as if I chronicle Angela’s dislike of foods too often on here, but I can always make her smile by welcoming her home from work or school with a potato gratin in the oven.  In fact, I don’t believe I’ve made one for someone who hasn’t fallen in love with it.

Potato gratins manage to be both decadent and homey at the same time.  While you may not have eaten them growing up (I know I certainly did not), they still manage to be comfort food.  Somehow they manage to transcend cultural boundaries.

If you’ve been paying attention, this recipe may seem similar to Gratin Dauphinois Madame Cartet (Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin). And that would be due to the fact that they can be found in the same cookbook. In fact, they are on adjoining pages.

Why bother with different potato gratin recipes?  The obvious answer is that they’re all different.  But more precisely, they compliment other foods differently.  The gratin from Madame Cartet has dominate flavors of cheese and cream.  It is undeniably rich.  This gratin gains stronger flavors from the bay leaf and the nutmeg.  They help to reduce the richness of the gratin.  It compliments foods which are less rich.

This is a bit more complicated version of a potato gratin.  It requires the potatoes first be parboiled in milk which requires a little extra time but not that much extra work.  It mainly needs extra planning.

Gratin Dauphinois Madame Laracine

Gratin Dauphinois Madame Laracine (Madame Laracine’s Potato Gratin)
Adapted from Bistro Cooking

3 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups whole milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp salt
3 bay leaves
ground nutmeg
black pepper
1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
2 cups grated Swiss cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large sauce pan, place the potatoes, garlic, salt, and bay leaves.  Cover with the milk and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stirring occasionally, simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat.  Remove from the heat
  3. Transfer half of the potatoes from the sauce pan to a large gratin dish.  Cover the potatoes with half the crème fraîche.  Sprinkle with half the cheese, nutmeg, and pepper.  Add the remaining potatoes then cover with the remaining crème fraîche.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, nutmeg, and pepper.
  4. Bake the gratin for about 1 hour, or until it is crispy and golden on top.

Serves 6 to 8.

Le Gratin de Pommes de Terre Estival de Mireille (Mireille’s Summer Potato Gratin)

Summer Potato Gratin

I’m constantly looking for new ways to cook potatoes.  We eat a lot of potatoes (in reality, we just eat a lot of starch; we’re on an inverse Atkins diet).  My standbys are mashed potatoes or Gratin Dauphinois but I’m always on the look out for something to complement them.

Or, more simply, there are times when I don’t want something as heavy as either of those; where it’s too hot out for something that rich or just too heavy.

The only similarity this gratin shares with other gratins is that it’s cooked in a gratin dish.  It has no milk or cream.  It has no cheese.

Bacon, Onions, and Garlic Cooking for Summer Potato Gratin

It does have onions, garlic, and bacon which happen to be three of my favorite things (I won’t channel Julie Andrews for everyone’s sake).  To an extent, it vaguely reminds me of an Alsatian Tarte Flambée but with garlic and without cream.

While it’s not particular hot here in Southern California, my kitchen manages to get that way.  As does our whole apartment in the afternoon (I blame our west facing windows).  So heavy and creamy are out and light and garlicky are in.

We had this with Poulet Mistral Le Preiuré (Mistral’s Chicken with Garlic) which, ignoring the statement on that page, goes perfectly with this gratin. The garlic in both dishes compliments each other quite well.

Just make sure your date eats as much of it as you do.

Summer Potato Gratin Before Baking

Le Gratin de Pommes de Terre Estival de Mireille (Mireille’s Summer Potato Gratin)
Adapted from The Provence Cookbook

2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz. of bacon, cut into lardons
20 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
salt
2 lbs. potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock reduced to a syrup
black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Combine the onions, olive oil, bacon, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat.  Season to taste with salt.  Cook until the bacon and onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Layer the potatoes in a gratin dish, seasoning each layer with salt.  Top with the onion and bacon mixture.  Drizzle the reduced stock over the gratin.  Season with black pepper.
  4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 11/2 hours, or until the potatoes are cooked through.  Regulate the heat so the onions don’t burn.
  5. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Cooking Lesson 2: Chicken and Potatoes

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I love chicken. If I want to order a meal with meat, I almost always choose chicken. My favorite is chicken breast. Too bad most restaurants (and home cooks) overcook them. while looking through one of our cookbooks I found a recipe for Parmesan-Dijon Chicken. Chicken breasts are coated in dijon mustard then a Parmesan and breadcrumb mixture then baked. The recipe suggested Twice-Baked Potatoes as an accompaniment. Perfect. I love twice-baked potatoes and they seemed easy enough. Bake potatoes, remove inside, mix with cheese, put back into potato, and heat through.

The chicken turned out moist (benefit of cooking to temperature instead of time) though all of the breading sort of fell off. Next time I’ll use a more typical flour then egg then breadcrumbs approach. I’ll also add a bit more dijon as the taste didn’t really permeate the chicken. As for the potatoes, they were just about perfect. Using a food mill to mash the potato and heavy cream (in place of the suggested milk) created a fluffy filling. If you make these, be sure to be certain not to ruin the structural integrity of the potatoes as much as I did.

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Parmesan-Dijon Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Basics: Learning to Cook with Confidence

Ingredients:
1 split chicken breast
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup bread crumbs (make your own if you can)

Steps:

  1. Mix mustard and melted butter into shallow container. Place Parmesan and bread crumbs in another, similar container.
  2. Coat chicken in butter/mustard then Parmesan/bread crumbs.
  3. Place chicken in shallow baking dish and cook for 20-30 minutes at 375 F. If you’ve got an instant-read thermometer, use it to cook chicken to 160 F.

Twice-Baked Potatoes
Adapted from Cooking Basics: Learning to Cook with Confidence

Ingredients:
2 baking potatoes
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup grater cheddar (approx 2 oz by weight)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Steps: 

  1. Poke holes in potatoes and cook for 1 hour at 375 F.
  2. Scoop meat from potato (leave enough so it doesn’t fall apart).
  3. Mash potato and mix with butter, cream, and cheese.
  4. Put mixture back into potatoes. Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.

Gratin Dauphinois Madame Cartet (Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin)

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The first time I bought crême fraîche (at Trader Joe’s) I was asked by the cashier what I used it for. I had to admit that I had never used it before but that I was hoping to use it for some kind of gratin.

I had tried several different gratin recipes from a simple scalloped potatoes to Julia Child’s Gratin Dauphinois among others. And, most of the time, they ended up good but either the potatoes fell apart because of being parboiled or they didn’t get cooked all the way or were sitting in a sea of cream. It was just hard to be satisfied with them.

Because crême fraîche is initially a solid, it’s easier to get it to cover all the potatoes without it settling to the bottom of the dish. It also means you don’t need to parboil the potatoes so they don’t fall apart when you put them in the dish.

I appreciate this dish because it’s simple. I can throw it together in 10 minutes and put it in the oven and not worry about it until dinner is done. And cheese is always good.

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Gratin Dauphinois Madame Cartet (Madame Cartet’s Potato Gratin)
Adapted from Bistro Cooking

1 garlic clove, cut in half
2 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 cup crême fraîche
salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Rub the inside of a 6-cup gratin dish with the cut side of the garlic clove. Rub until the gratin dish is well lubricated with the garlic
  3. Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the gratin dish. Spread half the crême fraîche over top. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the potatoes and season with salt.
  4. Repeat the previous step with the remaining potatoes, crême fraîche, cheese, and salt.
  5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  6. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.