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Posts Tagged ‘side dish’

Often I will spend a great deal of time preparing the entree for a meal and leave little time or energy for a clever or classy side dish. At times like that it’s easy to pop a potato in the oven to bake.

Sometimes, however, a potato just won’t do the job, and if rice and noodles are out of the question, I sometimes think of sweet potatoes. There are always a few cans of sweet potatoes in the basement pantry. In the fall the supermarkets have special sales in anticipation of Thanksgiving Day and I usually buy a few cans then to stock up.

Here is a recipe I developed one evening when potatoes, rice, and noodles wouldn’t do. It’s easy, and you probably have everything you need right on hand. It’s sort of a mashed sweet potato dish with a little spice mixed in to keep it interesting.

SWEET POTATOES MORGANA

1 can natural sweet potatoes (no syrup)

1-2 T. melted butter

approximately 1/2 c. milk (or half and half or cream or a mixture)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 t. allspice

brown sugar or maple syrup, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Puree the sweet potatoes by putting then through a potato ricer, a food mill, a food processor, or just mash them up with a fork. (You can make them as smooth or chunky as you like. No rules here.)

2. Mix with the rest of the ingredients, adding as much or as little sugar as as needed to make it sweet if you want. I usually don’t add any sugar to this because I like the sweetness of the potatoes themselves.

3. Put in a shallow casserole, like a gratin dish, or even a pie plate. (If you want to dress it up a little, you can sprinkle a little allspice or cinnamon on top – not too much.)

4. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.

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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.

POTATO GRATIN WITH GOAT CHEESE AND GARLIC

(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.

UPDATE:

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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As everyone knows, the traditional Thanksgiving menu is full of food that tends to be, to put it mildly, filling. Supposedly, turkey is rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid with a calming or sleep-inducing effect. Let’s blame all our postprandial lethargy on turkey with a particularly high level of tryptophan. Forget the mashed potatoes and gravy, next to the dressing and gravy, next to the sweet potatoes, next to the green peas, next to the roasted winter vegetables. It’s the turkey that makes us crave a nap. Wake me in time for a piece of pie. Or two.

All the carbs served the fourth Thursday each November, scream for the accompaniment of another taste, something tangy, and a little sweet to offset the heaviness of the rest of the meal. I suppose that is one reason that cranberry sauce appears on most tables, either as the whole fruit or in that ridged perfect cylinder, straight from the Ocean Spray can. I can take it or leave it that way – I’m no big fan. However, I like to prepare it the a little differently than most people do.

Turn the kettle on, boil some water. It’s jello time. Don’t turn your nose up at jello. It gets taken for granted oftentimes. Perhaps it was overused in decades past and I myself rarely use it. In this instance, however, it combines with cranberry sauce and frozen strawberries to make a salad that is easily prepared a day ahead, is very pretty, and supplies the contrast in taste that Thanksgiving dishes call for. It also is good at Christmas time.

STRAWBERRY CRANBERRY SALAD

2 small packages or 1 large package of strawberry jello
2 c. boiling water
1-10 oz. package frozen strawberries, thawed
1 can cranberry sauce, jellied, not whole berries

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Add strawberries and cranberry sauce. Mix well. Put into a mold or a 9 X 9 pan and refrigerate until well set. Unmold or cut into squares and serve.

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