Archive for the ‘potato gratin’ Category

Can you stand another recipe from me for potatoes gratin, scalloped, whatever you want to call it? You probably think that we have it for dinner every other night. Actually, in the interest of saving calories, fat grams, and carbohydrates from my waistline, we, or should I say “I”, restrict ourselves to just once every other month or so. 

It’s a frequent request from the man who lives here, the one who can eat all the calories, fat grams, and carbohydrates without affecting his waistline or cholesterol count. I, on the other hand, can feel the cholesterol count go up if I even think of cheese, potatoes, butter, milk, or cream in a single bite.

Regardless of all that, I threw caution to the wind and prepared this delicious potato recipe a while ago and it was right up there among my favorite potato recipes. The addition of cabbage made it reminiscent of colcannon.  If you’ve never tasted that Irish delight, try it next year on St. Patrick’s Day. 

The origin of this dish is from Food Network’s Tyler’s Ultimate Show. I halved the recipe for the two of us and still had a bit left over. Double it to serve 6 easily.

ULTIMATE POTATO GRATIN (based on Tyler Florence’s recipe)

Notes:   I didn’t use the entire half head of cabbage; I used about a third. I also used regular bacon that I had on hand, about 4 slices. If I find myself without chives, I usually substitute some shallots, or scallions. To save calories and fat grams, use half and half or milk instead of heavy cream. Gruyere or cheddar could work instead of  the parmesan, but the taste would be different. I have occasionally used regular cabbage instead of Savoy.


1/2 head Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded 

1 inch piece of slab bacon, thinly sliced

1 T. butter

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/8 c. finely chopped chives

Salt and Pepper

1 lb. baking potatoes, unpeeled, thinly sliced (about 1/8″)

1 1/4 c. heavy cream 

1 c. parmesan, grated


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

2. Fry the bacon; remove from the skillet when crisp, and drain on paper towels. 

3. Add about 1 teaspoon of the butter to the bacon fat in the skillet; let it melt and add half the garlic and the cabbage. Over low heat, let the cabbage wilt slowly and mix with the garlic. Add the bacon back to the skillet along with the chives. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

4.  With the remaining butter, grease the casserole or gratin dish and set aside.

5. In a large bowl, combine the sliced potatoes, half of the cream (3/4 cup), half of the parmesan (1/2 cup), and the rest of the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and mix carefully with your hands. 

6. Place about half of the potatoes in the gratin dish. Sprinkle with a little more parmesan. Spoon the cabbage on top and repeat the potato layer and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

7. Cover with foil and bake one hour. Remove the foil and bake another 30 minutes. Let stand about 10-15 minutes before serving.




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While planning a small dinner party celebrating a good friend’s birthday, I wanted to simplify the last minute preparations as much as possible. I enjoy having this wonderful couple with us for dinner and didn’t want to be a jack-in-the-box cook, popping up and down in the middle of conversations. A little of that is unavoidable in this day and age. Few of us have cooks, or maids, or butlers handling household duties and I’m not sure I would want that anyway. 

Deciding on the menu was relatively easy. I knew I wanted to serve beef tenderloin, either as a roast or as steaks. Some potatoes, a vegetable, and a salad would make it a very traditional meal, and one I knew we all would enjoy. I had bought a half-peck of apples and wanted to make an apple crisp. (By the way, a peck is a quarter of a bushel, so half of that would be an eighth of a bushel, or 8 pints, dry measure.) Broccoli would serve for the vegetable, mainly because I had a huge amount on hand, having received two bunches the day before from my CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) delivery. I also had a lot of fresh salad greens from the delivery. 

I bought a whole tenderloin and trimmed it and cut it up into several different pieces. It was nearly five pounds intact. I wound up with a nice size piece to roast, about a pound and a half. I also was able to get three moderately small filets weighing about 11 ounces total, and nearly a pound and a half of beef for stir frying or sauteing. The scraps will be used for flavoring soups, etc. Everything except the roast is being stored in the freezer. The price of the whole tenderloin is nearly what I would have paid for just four filets at the meat market. Of course it took a while to do all the trimming. I’m not as fast as a butcher but then I don’t prepare tenderloins everyday, darn it.

The Barefoot Contessa provided the perfect recipe for the tenderloin. With the meat at room temperature, I rubbed the surface with butter and seasoned it with salt and pepper generously. It roasted on a baking sheet in a 500 degree oven, yes, five hundred degrees Fahrenheit, for 25 minutes for medium rare. Then I wrapped it tightly in a double thick piece of foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. I will certainly use this method for all future tenderloin roasts. It was perfectly cooked, nicely browned, still juicy, and very tender. Remember to tie the roast with kitchen twine every two inches to keep the shape uniform. Luckily for me, I have three nice slices leftover from last night! 

I found a great recipe for goat cheese potatoes at Epicurious. I played with the recipe a little, using 1 large shallot instead of onions. I wanted less onion flavor and the potato and cheese to be predominant. I splurged and added about a quarter cup of heavy cream with the milk. I was able to assemble the potato casserole in advance and bake it about an hour before serving. My variation on the recipe follows.*

The broccoli was steamed and served as it was, no sauce, no lemon. Plain. The unadorned slightly bitter flavor was a nice complement to the rest of the meal.

I made a salad of romaine, and a few other greens, with thinly sliced zucchini rounds as a garnish. The dressing was a vinaigrette.**

I called on the Barefoot Contessa again for her apple crisp recipe.*** It had the zest of an orange and of a lemon in it. That adds pizzazz to the old-fashioned dessert that we all enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

All in all, it was a very good dinner, with few interruptions from the kitchen. The apple crisp was made in the afternoon and sat ready to go on the kitchen counter. The potatoes, assembled a little before the guests arrived and already in the oven, needed no tending and neither did the beef. The broccoli was in the steamer ready to steam during the last few minutes.

I was very pleased with the flow of the food preparation. It helps me to have a small chart in the kitchen showing required temperatures and times for the various dishes. I then calculate approximately when each activity should take place and list everything in chronological order. I can check off each chore as I accomplish it. That way I don’t have to remember everything. I carry my little clip-on timer with me if I need to go outside, as we did last night to sit on the patio and enjoy the perfect fall weather before dinner.



Serves 4 or more

(Based on a recipe from Epicurious)

1 large or 2 small shallots, diced, about 1/2 cupful (may substitute scallions or onion)

2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems and chopped

1- 2 T. olive oil

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1 T. flour

1 c. milk

1/4 c. cream or half-and-half (optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes

1/2 c. goat cheese, crumbled

1/8 t. nutmeg

1-2 T. butter

1. Heat oil in a medium heavy bottomed pan. Add shallots and saute over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Add the thyme, salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes until the shallots are tender. Then add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds or so. Add the flour and stir constantly while cooking the raw taste from the flour, about 1 – 2 minutes.

2. Add 1 cup of milk and whisk into the flour/shallot mixture. Continue cooking over medium-low heat until thick. Add cream if desired and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

3. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Try to make them as uniform as possible. It’s important to not get them too thin or they will break apart while boiling. Add to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Drain the potatoes well in a colander.

4. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 425. Butter a gratin dish or other 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

5. Arrange half of the potatoes in the casserole and season with salt and pepper. Put half of the goat cheese on the potatoes and pour half of the cream sauce on top. Repeat the layers and dot with the butter. Sprinkle with a little more nutmeg if desired.

6. Bake at 425 for 35 minutes, or until tender and the top is slightly browned. (I baked the casserole alongside a plain baked potato at 375 for one hour and it was just fine.)


**MORGANA’S VINAIGRETTE (One of many variations)

(Makes about a half cup of dressing.)

1 ounce white wine or rice vinegar 

1 t. dijon mustard

1 t. mayonnaise

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1/2 t. dried Italian seasonings

3-4 ounces canola oil

1/2 t. sugar

1. In a glass jar with a lid, shake the vinegar, salt and pepper and garlic together. 

2. Add the mustard and mayo and shake again.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake well. 

4. Store in the refrigerator for a week.




Serves 10

5 pounds McIntosh or Macoun apples (I used a mixture of apples that I had on hand)

Grated zest of 1 orange 

Grated zest of 1 lemon 

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping: 
1 1/2 cups flour 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup oatmeal 
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 14 by 2-inch oval baking dish.Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.




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My husband surprised me for my birthday last year with a catered dinner party with several of our best friends. He coordinated his efforts with those of my neighbors who kindly hosted the party. A local caterer provided the delicious meal. My daughter served appetizers and Mojitos at my house before the group migrated next door. The caterer served beef tenderloin, potato and goat cheese gratin, and a spinach salad that is one of my favorites.

The next day I searched the internet for a selection of recipes for potatoes and goat cheese and downloaded several to study and select one or two to try. The opportunity presented itself last week when my younger daughter and her two children were visiting us. I wanted to prepare a special dinner for them one night and thought that I would try one of the potato recipes.

I chose the following one because of its simplicity and because I had everything I needed right on hand.

For the meat course, I prepared a flank steak with mushroom ragout and tossed salad. For dessert we had pumpkin swirl cheesecake. The cheesecake recipe is available on the Kraft foods website. The flank steak recipe was featured here a few months ago.


(from Bon Appetit, February 2001, via epicurious.com)

1 c. whole milk

1 c. whipping cream

1 c. crumbled soft fresh goat cheese, about 5 ounces

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 t. salt

3/4 t. pepper

1/8 t. ground nutmeg

2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter an 11 x 7 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

2. Whisk first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. 

3. Arrange 1/3 of the potatoes in bottom of prepared dish, overlapping slightly. Pour 1/3 of cream mixture over. Repeat layering potatoes and cream mixture 2 more times.

4. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown in spots, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve hot.

I hope you try this very easy dish. If you do, you will enjoy it.


I fixed this dish again tonight with a few changes – just as good, just a little different. First of all, I only used 1/2 c. whipping cream, which I whisked with 1 T. flour. Then I added 1 c. reduced fat milk, whisked that with the cream and flour and stirred in 2 T. minced shallots, 1 minced garlic clove, some nutmeg and a dash of cloves, salt and pepper, 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese. I layered it in a gratin dish which I had sprayed with Pam, then I covered it with foil and baked it 1 hour at 375, uncovered it and baked it for another 15 minutes until the potatoes were tender when pierced with a knife. I let it sit for 5-10 minutes and served it with peas and beef steak. Delish! I think I liked it better than the first recipe.

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Mac and I love scalloped or au gratin potatoes – almost any potato casserole, actually. I have several different recipes that I make now and then, some with ham and other vegetables, and most with just potatoes, onions and cheese. I found a new one not long ago and decided to prepare it the day before yesterday. It called for celery root (celeriac) and parsnips, not ingredients that I usually have on hand. After a trip to a large grocery that I was sure would carry them, we came home ready to experiment.


i-parsnips.jpgThe two other root vegetables add a subtle taste to the more bland potatoes. While parsnips, especially old ones, can be bitter, they add a slightly nutty taste to the casserole.
Celery root has a slight celery taste, but it is hard to describe adequately. It can be eaten raw, or cooked.

Celery Root
Celery Root

This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated magazine’s website and, I believe, is a variation of a recipe for scalloped potatoes printed in an earlier issue. While the authors recommend using a food processor to quickly and evenly slice the vegetables to 1/8″, I had no difficulty using a santoku knife for all the slicing. It would have taken more time to get my processor, set it up, and then clean it. I rarely use it for slicing ingredients for ordinary recipes. If I were to make enough for a large group, I would probably use the processor.


2 T. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 2 teaspoons)
1 T. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/4 t. table salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
8 ounces celery root (about 1/2 medium), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
8 ounces parsnips (about 2 medium), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Melt butter in large Dutch oven over medium-heat until foaming subsides. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionaly, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add celery root, parsnips, chicken broth, cream, and bay leaves and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, bring mixture back to simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes are almost tender (paring knife can be slipped into and out of potato slice with some resistance), about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

3. Transfer mixture to 8-inch square baking dish (or other 1 1/2-quart gratin dish) and press into an even layer; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake until cream is bubbling around edges and top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

4. To make ahead: Once the scalloped vegetables have been transferred to the baking dish and pressed into an even layer in step 3, they can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, add the cheese, cover with foil, and bake in a 400-degree oven until the mixture is hot and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook until the cheddar begins to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

(Parmesan cheese can be used instead of cheddar. As a matter of fact, other cheeses, gruyere for example, are also possibilities.)

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Last night I prepared a potato casserole to go with our steaks and salad.

The recipe was one from my secret recipe file, my memory. I peeled and sliced about 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, spread them in a gratin dish with one small onion, sliced, and a smashed clove of garlic minced. I added a sprinkle of salt and pepper and then made a quick sauce.

I melted a tablespoon of so of butter in a small saucepan and added a tablespoon of flour, stirred it a while to cook the flour a bit, and added about a half cup of chicken broth.* I stirred this until it started to thicken and added about a half cup of milk, a little more salt and pepper, some thyme and parsley (from the garden), and a half cup of diced Swiss cheese. I stirred it until the cheese had melted and the sauce was fairly thick. I poured it over the potatoes, covered the dish with foil and put it into a 350 degree oven. After an hour, I uncovered it for another half hour until the top was slightly browned and the potatoes were tender.

Mac always likes potato casseroles, escalloped potatoes, au gratin potatoes, whatever you want to call them. We have some leftover to have later for lunch, maybe, with leftover meatloaf sandwiches.

* I had opened an 8oz. carton of chicken broth the night before to use in the pork tenderloin sauce. I still had half left in the frig. Once again, ask your grocer to carry the 4-pack of Pacific Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth. The 8-oz. size of each carton is so convenient for recipes. Even if you only need a small amount, the container can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two without having the contents spoil. There is no need to transfer to a storage container and have it get lost in the back of the frig.

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