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Archive for February, 2010

Last Wednesday, as my husband and I were prepping Thursday night’s meal, I stared at the pile of red potatoes that were sprouting offspring on my counter and reached for my cookbook shelf to come up with a solution to save them.  Ever since we (ok, I) committed to cooking more, we’re trying to be much more intentional about planning and prepping meals so we don’t get home in a flurry and serve a quick all-beige dinner (pasta, bread, milk).  So as I perused my cookbooks, I was immediately drawn to Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, one of the books my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday two weeks ago that I hadn’t yet cracked.

I knew roughly what I was looking for, but when I landed on Alice’s Potato Gratin recipe, I realized I didn’t have the exact ingredients or tools needed (gratin dish? really?), but decided to wing it anyway.  That’s the new kind of confidence this crazy experient has infused in me.  Cook something, using a recipe as inspiration only?  HUGE.  So here’s how it went down.

Spreadable butter (butter/canola oil blend; clearly regular butter would be the better option here, but I had run out — poor planning)

Garlic clove

5 sprouting red potatoes, scrubbed, with eyes removed

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper

Fresh thyme (leftover from a pork tenderloin I whipped up over the weekend)

Whole milk

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.

BUTTER dish and rub a smushed garlic clove all over the insides.  I used a round shallow casserole.

THINLY SLICE the potatoes, skin and all.  I used a handheld mandoline that my mom gave me for Christmas.  If you don’t own a mandoline, check out this one — inexpensive and does the job perfectly.

OVERLAP potatoes in layers, seasoning each layer with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

POUR enough milk in dish to touch the bottom of the top layer of potatoes.

PLACE dots of butter (or butter blend in my case) all over the top layer.

BAKE dish until bubbly and top is browned, about an hour and ten minutes for me.

The end result was a dish that I would qualify as “gentle” — not a standout, but a simple, flavorful side that was an excellent accompaniment to the London Broil we grilled the next night.  And certainly better than throwing the potatoes in the disposal.

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