Cauliflower, Potato, & Cheddar Gratin

CauliflowerPotCheese

Not done with cauliflower recipes yet! One more plant has a giant head still growing, so more recipes to tackle and share in the coming days.

When I stumbled upon this particular recipe, I knew I had to give it a try–mainly because our backyard explosion of cauliflower needed some variety of cooking. However, we also love potatoes and we love cheddar cheese, so it sounded like a perfect dish to explore.

I learned from this combo of ingredients that thyme complements cauliflower. That’s how I knew the Cauliflower Frittata recipe I posted last week would work out well, too, because it also uses thyme.

The original title for this dish uses the word “bake” rather than “gratin,” but somewhere in my mind the word “gratin” popped up. I looked up the meaning: it’s actually a French cooking technique in which food cooked in a shallow dish is topped with browned bread crumbs, grated cheese, or both (along with some egg and/or butter). The dish is then baked to form a golden crust. You learn something new everyday, huh? Hence, I renamed the recipe.

The gratin includes a combo of ingredients I would not have thought of on my own, yet I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. So now I have a new way to cook up cauliflower rather than our previous dull method of simply steaming it.

CauliflowerPotatoCheese

Cauliflower, Potato, & Cheddar Gratin

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 medium), peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head small cauliflower (about 2 pounds), sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray or butter six 12-ounce gratin dishes or a 2-quart casserole dish or even a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. Peel potatoes. Slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Place in large pot and cover with cold, salted water until water is two inches above potatoes. Bring to a boil.
  3. While pot is coming to a boil, slice cauliflower into 1/2-inch thick slices. When potatoes begin to boil, add cauliflower, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 10 more minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and cauliflower is tender yet still crisp.
  4. Drain water from pot and allow potatoes and cauliflower to cool for several minutes.
  5. Divide the potatoes and cauliflower among the gratin dishes, followed by a sprinkle of pepper and thyme and then cheese. If you use a single dish, create a couple of layers of the potatoes and cauliflower with the pepper, thyme, and cheese.
  6. Pour broth over the potatoes and cauliflower and cheese. Dot with butter.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Garnish with additional thyme, if desired.

(I just had a thought: some bread crumbs sprinkled on top would make a heavenly crunch addition!)

SOURCE: Rachel Cooks via Everyday Food

Potato Cheese Soup

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In high school, my buddies and I would frequent Marie Callendars, a chain-food diner. Their potato cheese soup was my love back then…well, second next to their berry pie. So why haven’t I made my own version yet? Good question. No good answer, though, except maybe that I have a zillion recipes bookmarked to test out..someday.

Well, that someday got a kick in the butt at the recent salad club luncheon we had at work. One of my coworkers made a batch of potato cheese soup for her contribution, and my old love reignited.

Within a handful of days, I made the soup at home. Hubby and I loved it. How can we not? It contains potatoes, which we adore; cheese, which we eat far too much of; and garlic, which we purchase by the truckload. And let’s not forget bacon, but that is an infrequent luxury…still, we love bacon, too. Ahhh, the many goodies that comprise this soup make it a heartwarming bowl of yum that will steal your heart, too.

Potato Cheese Soup

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups red or gold potatoes, peeled and finely diced (about 4-6 small to medium potatoes)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used an additional cup of Monterey Jack cheese)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (or less if you prefer a less pungent garlic flavor)
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped (whatever size pieces you desire)
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Peel and dice potatoes. Place in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil (amount of time will depend on how finely you diced the potatoes). Continue to cook until potatoes are tender. Drain water.
  2. In a Dutch oven or stock pot, cook bacon over medium-high heat until cooked but not crispy. Add garlic and cook for one minute, until fragrant.
  3. Add potatoes, broth, and bay leaves to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves. Add cheese and sour cream to pot; stir together until cheese melts.
  5. Pour into bowls for serving; garnish with scallions or chives, if desired.

SOURCE: adapted from my coworker Suzanne’s blog The Family Style Chef

Hasselback Potatoes

Aren’t these cool looking taters? So easy to make, too. Just slice the potato in sections, making sure to not cut all the way through. Tuck slices of garlic in between for loads and loads of flavor, top with butter and oil, and bake. Or, you can try whatever mix of spices and flavorings/garnishes you desire. Ours came out very crispy, so I probably baked them a bit too long. They are a twist on baked potatoes and sure make for an impressive presentation.

Hasselback Potatoes

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 russet potatoes–small, medium, or large
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced (or more if you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (or more if you prefer)
  • kosher salt (or regular table salt)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • toppings of choice for baked potatoes: cheese, sour cream, chives…

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Scrub, rinse, and dry potatoes.
  3. Slice a thin layer off bottom of potatoes to provide stable base. Slice into potatoes widthwise but not completely through to bottom. Aim for an accordion effect.
  4. Thinly slice garlic cloves and slide garlic between potato slices.
  5. Place potatoes on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Top each potato with 1 tbsp. butter. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for one hour or until tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Remove pan every 15 minutes to baste potatoes in the oil and butter on the pan. This will make the skin extra crispy and buttery.
  6. Remove from oven; cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Top with sour cream, cheese, chives, or any other toppings you desire.

SOURCE: Joy the Baker

Fries: Thin Cut and Wedge Cut

In the past few months, french fries have joined my growing skills, and since I shared about hamburgers a few posts back, I thought fries would be a logical accompaniment for that post.

Recently, I came across a recipe for making thin fries like the kind you get at fast food restaurants. I had never considered making those at home, but America’s Test Kitchen included an easy method in their weekly newsletter. Basically, you dump your cut fries into cold oil, heat to boiling, then continue boiling for 25 minutes. Voila! Crispy thin fries. Gotta love the simplicity of the method.

The thin fries cook in 6 cups of peanut oil. I don’t stock peanut oil and was a bit hesitant to spend the money on it. Glad I did because it helps flavor the fries. And I took the leftover oil and saved it for the next time I make the fries.

The wedge cut fries take just a bit more effort but are still easy. I found this particular recipe after hubby requested thick-style fries one night, so I scoured the internet and came across a recipe by the America’s Test Kitchen folks again. This one is a bit odd because you microwave the wedges first to start the cooking process then finish by baking. However, the method ensures a fluffy interior and a crispy exterior.

Each recipe requires a different type of potato, and let me tell ya, it makes a difference. I’ve tried other potatoes and the effect results in disaster. Okay, “disaster” is an exaggeration, but trust the recipes. The Yukon golds for the thin fries have a lighter, delicate texture and flavor that works for the fries. The wedges use russets, which are hearty enough to withstand all the baking and create the fluffy yet firm interior.

If you asked me which recipe I prefer, I couldn’t give you an answer. I like both. Mostly, it depends on the mood we are in or what it’s accompanying. I can tell you that both make regular appearances in our dinner menus, though.

Thin Cut French Fries

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
  • 6 cups peanut oil
  • optional: 1/4 cup bacon fat
  • kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Square off potato by cutting 1/4-inch-thick slice from each of its 4 long sides. Cut potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch planks. Stack 3-4 planks and cut into 1/4-inch batons. (The English teacher in  me just LOVES the imagery in the metaphorical terms “plank” and “batons”–very fitting for the product resulting from the cuts.)
  2. Combine potato batons, oil, and bacon fat (if using) in large Dutch oven.
  3. Cook over high heat until oil has reaching a rolling boil, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until potatoes are limp but exteriors are beginning to firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Using tongs, stir potatoes, gently scraping up any that stick (if not gentle, batons will break), and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 5-10 minutes longer.
  5. Using slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer fries to plate covered with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  6. Season with salt and serve immediately.

SOURCE: cooksillustrated.com

Wedge Cut French Fries

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INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tbsp. oil
  • 3 russet potatoes (about 8 oz. each), cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 475 degree F (my fries burned with rack on lowest position, so I move it up to the next position).
  2. Combine the garlic and oil in a large bowl and microwave until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute. Transfer 5 tbsp. of the oil (leaving the garlic in the bowl) to a rimmed baking sheet, tilting the sheet to coat it with the oil.
  3. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the remaining oil mixture and toss to coat. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high power until the potatoes are translucent around the edges, 3-6 minutes, shaking the bowl every 2 minutes to redistribute the potatoes.
  4. Combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the hot potatoes and toss well to coat.
  5. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake, turning them once, until deep golden brown and crisp, 30-40 minutes.

SOURCE: Pink Parsley Catering who got it from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen