Classic Potato Gratin

CLASSIC POTATO GRATIN

Cream, cheese, potatoes, thyme – repeat. That’s how this Classic Potato Gratin rendition from Bon Appetit was made (well, kinda). While this particular dish was made for a Thanksgiving feast, I’m quite surprised that I’ve not incorporated more of these types of dishes throughout the year. Ignoring the caloric value, this particular dish is just absolutely delicious, feeds EVERYONE and is a great for a ‘make ahead’ option.

Here are a few tips if ever making a Potato Gratin recipe:

  1. Use a Mandolin: If you don’t already own one, I’d highly recommend purchasing a Mandolin. They are so incredibly convenient and made the entire arduous potato process just that make quicker.
  2. Always add more Garlic and Herbs: I added copious amounts of garlic and thyme to this recipe. The result? A kitchen that was not short in flavor.
  3. Be Meticulous with the Potatoes: Arrange the potato slices carefully in the dish. Large gaps can absorb the cream mixture and just create a soup-y mess.

Cheers!

CLASSIC POTATO GRATIN

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Sweet Potato Fries With Sriracha Mayonnaise

I feel as though sweet potato fries are the new “it” item – they literally seem to be popping up on restaurant menus everywhere. Although the term “fry” usually provides for an unhealthy connotation, at least I feel better consuming sweet potato fries because I know I will be receiving my daily dose of Vitamin B6, C, D and Iron. Besides the vitamin values, I especially became inspired to make them after seeing a mouth-watering advertisement in Cooking Light from Alexia that featured Sweet Potato Fries With Sriracha Mayonnaise.

Step 1: Peel and Cut Potato Into Strips


Step 2: Toss With Olive Oil,
Garlic, Sea Salt and Pepper


Step 3: Mix Mayonnaise With
Sriracha Sauce and Lemon Zest;
Bake, Dip, Eat, Enjoy!

Although I totally jumped on the band wagon with this one, I do not regret it at all. These are extremely easy and provide for a light snack (if you do not dip in mayonnaise like I did of course!) and something that is a little bit healthier than the normal greasy fry.

Cheers!

Bacon Mashed Potatoes With Dill

I absolutely LOVE mashed potatoes. Yet, I usually stray away from making them as a result of the copious amounts of fattening substances that are used in its making. But, since Christmas only comes once a year, I figured I could use that as my excuse to make unhealthy foods.

This recipe for Bacon Mashed Potatoes With Dill adds to the unhealthiness factor with the addition of bacon; however, the bacon adds a nice twist, especially when paired with dill (a spice I would have previously never thought to use!).

Step 1: Peel Potatoes and Slice Into
Two Inch Chunks

Step 2: Cook Bacon; Reserve Liquid

Step 3: Add Salt, Sugar, Pepper
and Cider Vinegar to Liquid

Step 4: Cook Potatoes; Mash Them and
Add Fat Mixture, Cooked Bacon and Dill

This was definitely an indulgent mashed potato recipe. Although I felt exceptionally full after, I would consider making this recipe again and perhaps adding garlic and a few other spices for additional flavor (in another 365 days of course!).

Cheers!

Weekend in Seattle

The Space Needle, Pike’s Place Market, the birthplace of “Grunge”, and the destination for corporate giants such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and Nordstrom are a few characteristics that describe the city of Seattle. In addition, Seattle is home to many different culinary tastes ranging with everything from classic American food to Seafood to the authentic flavors of the International District. Since I’m a natural “foodie” at heart, I couldn’t help but document a few culinary adventures I had while visiting Seattle this past weekend.

GaudiLately, I’ve been trending towards eating smaller and lighter meals (essentially tapas, as mentioned in a prior post here). We choose to go to Gaudi which is a Spanish inspired restaurant in the Roosevelt neighborhood. We enjoyed a bevy of items from the menu including Papas Bravas (potatoes with spicy sauce), Bavas (Spanish meatballs), Jitanitos (dates wrapped in bacon), Mojama (fresh cured tuna), and a few other items. But, our favorite part about Gaudi was the dessert we shared: a sponge cake filled with apricots and cream and topped with a raspberry glaze. Besides the fact that it just LOOKED pretty, it also tasted wonderful too.

Apricot and Cream Filled Sponge Cake
With Raspberry Glaze


Homegrown
Sandwich shops have a hard task to accomplish: to develop sandwiches that are fresh, flavorful, and cannot be easily replicated by any random Joe. To be perfectly honest, what differentiates the turkey sandwich made at an independent sandwich shop from the sandwich made at home or from a nationally recognized sandwich franchise? The key differentiator resides in ingenuity of ingredients. That being said, after glancing at the menu of Homegrown, I noticed a multitude of unusual and unique components within the sandwiches. After much contemplation, I settled upon the Roast Pork sandwich (Stumptown Coffee and cayenne rubbed pork loin, pickled red onion, apple butter, mixed greens, and sage aioli served over whole grain bread). After first bite, savory (pork and sage aioli), sweet (apple butter) and tangy (pickled red onions) flavors simultaneously combined to create a medley of enticing flavors. So, unlike the standard and ordinary sandwich shop, Homegrown mastered the art of combining diverse ingredients and creativity to make delicious sandwiches.

Roasted Pork Sandwich and Lentil Soup

High 5 Pie — I absolutely love and adore pies. Not only do I love combining fruit into desserts, but I enjoy making non-traditional fruit desserts or putting a different spin on a classic pie. That being said, High 5 Pie in Capitol Hill in Seattle serves pies that definitely match this description. The selection at High 5 Pie consists of “Pie Jar” (pies in a jar), Flipside (hand-held pie turnovers), Cutie Pie (mini pies), 7″ Deep Dish (classic pie), and Pie Pop (literally, a mini pie on a stick). Flaky crusts, pie fillings bursting with flavor, and a hip venue unite to make this a pleasant stop for a weekend afternoon. Plus, where else can you purchase pie on a stick?

Classic Caramel Pecan Pie


Pie Pop — Cherry Almond
& Cutie Pie — Berry

Good times and good eats this past weekend in Seattle. All in all, I definitely enjoyed these places and hope to visit again sometime soon!

Cheers!

Christmas Dinner

This year, I wanted to experiment with a few new and non-traditional recipes (for example: berry pie instead of pumpkin pie). The following highlights some interesting recipes I made from Real Simple and Epicurious.

Caramelized Onion Tart With Apples: I chose to make this because I liked the fact that this recipe was a mix of a savory and sweet flavors. Specifically, caramelized onions add a perfect flair to any recipe. Plus, this recipe called for Pastry Sheets which means I didn’t have to make the dough! Simple, easy, few ingredients, and delicious! What’s not to love?

Step 1: Chop Onions and Apples

Step 2: Caramelize Onions;
Add Apples and Other Spices

Step 3: Thaw Pastry Sheets, Add
Sour Cream, Apples and
Caramelized Onions, Bake!

Mustard-Crusted Pork Roasted With Shallots and Wine Sauce: This recipe just LOOKED amazing from it’s picture so I decided on a whim to make it. Good thing I wasn’t dissappointed! The addition of mustard made the pork juicy and very flavorful.

Step 1: Toss Shallots in Olive Oil

Step 2: Mix Mustards and Chopped
Sage; Add to Pork

Step 3: Bake at 400 Degrees for 95
Minutes, Cut, Serve!

Now, this next concoction was a mix of two recipes: Classic Sour Cherry Pie With Lattice Crust (crust) and Mixed Berry Pie With Ginger, Orange, and Almond Streusel (filling). Every time I make pie, I always end up with too many leftovers that do not get eaten in time. So, this time, I opted to make individualized berry pies. Plus, I found a super good deal at Kitchen Kaboodle ($2.95 each for Ramekins!).

Step 1: Make Dough With Flour, Butter,
and Other Ingredients; Chill Slightly

Step 2: Use Rolling Pin to Roll Out
Dough, Spread onto Ramekins,
Cut Off Border

Step 3: Use Pastry Wheel to Cut Lattices

Step 4: Stir Filling with Berries,
Sugar, Cornstarch, and Lemon Juice

Step 5: Fill Dough, Place Lattices, Bake!

The dessert definitely took the longest hands-on time to make, but it was definitely worth it. I hope your Christmas was fabulous!

Cheers!

5 Things Thanksgiving Style

Within the past few months, I have truly learned to appreciate the small things in life and to be thankful for normal, everyday things most people take for granted. That being said, I am thankful (again) for Thanksgiving because it serves as a perfect reminder to remember what you are thankful for and count your blessings!

Don’t forget to tell your family and friends this Thanksgiving season that you are thankful for them — just a few words can make such a significant difference!

All right, it is time to move onto other Thanksgiving festivities a.k.a FOOD. It is definitely a good thing that Thanksgiving comes only once a year for according to the NYDailyNews.com, the average Thanksgiving meal rakes in a whopping 3,500 calories! Despite learning that terrifying fact, I still wanted to cook the usual Thanksgiving foods; however, I tried to make some of these foods a tad bit healthier (key words being “tried” and “some”)!

Now, it’s no myth that the reason why Thanksgiving foods are so unhealthy lies in the ingredients with butter, cream, sugar, and nuts as the prime culprits. And, vegetables dishes are usually sparse at Thanksgiving, but even when they are present, they are often laden with plenty of cream, cheese, and fried goodness. Nevertheless, the following pictures highlight a few of the side dishes I made for Thanksgiving as well as my Mom’s Turkey (side dish recipes taken from Epicurious.com and all contain a link to the original recipe):

1. Potato Gratin with White Cheddar Cheese

2. Italian Sausage and Bread Stuffing

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product… oops!

3. Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Fried Sage

4. Turkey

5. Lemon Pear Croustade

All of these side dishes actually turned out pretty well considering these were first-time recipes! Although only one of these recipes is a little bit healthier (Roasted Sweet Potatoes), I would totally recommend to make any of these dishes again. The Pear Croustade was a bit hit with the family and I will continue to use its pasty recipe for other future baked goods!

Cheers!