Potato Gratin

Potato Gratin

In French, potato is “pomme de terre” literally meaning apple of the earth which is odd considering how many differences there are between the two. In any case, a seemingly simple ingredient such as a potato can be brought to life with good ingredients, such as Potato Gratin. Here’s another French lesson: “gratin” signifies that a dish is topped with some kind of bread or breadcrumbs and browned. The twist on this dish is that we mash the potatoes instead of slicing them. This recipe combines the ideas of mashed and baked potatoes and the gratin transforms it into something new.

Potato Gratin

I started by peeling and chopping my potatoes and boiling them with some garlic cloves. This recipe taught me how important salt is to a recipe. Anytime you are boiling a carbohydrate, such as potatoes or pasta, the only way to add flavor is with salt. For these potatoes, I added two tablespoons of salt which boosted the potatoes’ flavor.

Potato Gratin

When a fork was easily inserted into a potato, I knew they were tender and ready to drain. I removed the garlic and returned the potatoes to the pan. Next, I added milk and sour cream and lightly mashed the potato mixture. Unlike when making mashed potatoes, I wanted these to remain chunky because it added texture.

Potato Gratin

Next, I added grated cheddar cheese until it was combined. I didn’t have to worry about the cheese melting because the potatoes were so warm, they took care of it for me. After I poured the mixture into a baking dish, I combined Parmesan, a shake of cayenne pepper, and panko breadcrumbs in a small bowl and sprinkled the mixture evenly over the top. Then, the dish went into the oven. The recipe I used said it should go about twenty minutes but after that time, the top had not browned much so I left it in for a good twenty minutes longer. If I had used a lighter topping of the breadcrumbs, it might have cooked in less time but in the end, I was left with the same result.

Potato Gratin

The potatoes were perfectly cooked and melded nicely with the cheese and topping. It tasted like a baked potato because of the sour cream and chunky potatoes but the topping made it feel special. The hint of cayenne complimented the cheese and potatoes but did not overpower it. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Zucchini and Carrot Scapece

Scapece

Marinades are utilized in a variety of recipes with anything from meats to vegetables. The Italian scapece is zucchini and carrots marinated with mint and red wine vinegar. The result is a delicios side dish perfect for just about any meal. I am personally a fan of cooked zucchini and carrots and was interested to try a new spin. What I liked about his recipe was the simplicity of the procedure and the contrasting complexity of flavors in the end.

Scapece

I started by cooking zucchini rounds in olive oil. They didn’t take too long, only a few minutes per side. I had to do three batches of them because I didn’t want the zucchini to overlap in the pan. Once they had a nice color, I transferred them to a deep dish. I tried my best to reserve as much olive oil as I could from them but as it turned out, the oil that didn’t effect the marinading process. I sprinkled salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and thyme and the zucchini were done.

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Next I sauteed all the carrots in the same pan with a little more olive oil. I kept them moving in a pan with a spatula for a little longer than five minutes or so until they started to brown. When they were finished, they retained a slight crunch but were cooked through. I transferred them to the dish and added the remaining salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs.

Scapece

Then the red wine vinegar was added and the vegetables were given a stir. Once they had cooled, they went to marinate overnight in the fridge. I stole a taste just before and even without the time to soak up all the flavors, they were already tasting amazing.

Scapece

Once they had been allowed time to sit, they were ready to serve. Everyone thought the flavors worked well together. The addition of the basil helped bring the mint and vinegar together and gave it a nice, earthy taste. I was skeptical at first about how they would taste with the red wine vinegar but at it turned out, it was just savory enough. The carrots had a sweet taste that went perfectly as well. I really liked the versatility of this dish, it goes with chicken, pasta, virtually anything. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Penne and Cheese with Ham and Peas

Penne and Cheese

Pasta enveloped in creamy cheese sauce is one of the oldest recipes in the book. Versions of this dish are enjoyed by every age group, from children to the elderly. I have fond memories of devouring mac and cheese as a little girl and wanted to find a more elegant and flavorful way to make this dish and what I found was Penne and Cheese with Ham and Peas.

Penne and Cheese

I first made what is called a roux which is the base for sauce. The sauce in question today was a béchamel, or white sauce. Making the roux was pretty simple to create, simply butter and flour. Then I added warmed milk and allowed the sauce to thicken.

Penne and Cheese

After the béchamel had thickened, I boiled some water for the penne. You can use one of many pastas: elbow macaroni, shells, etc. but I prefer penne. When the pasta was almost cooked, I added frozen peas to the pot to allow the peas to defrost and cook. Then I drained the pasta and peas.

Penne and Cheese

After adding cheddar and Parmesan cheese to the béchamel sauce, I added the pasta, peas, and ham that I had chopped. I decided to add ham and peas to make it more of a main dish and to give it some new flavors. It is also possible to bake this dish with some panko breadcrumbs and extra cheese, if you prefer your macaroni and cheese baked.

Penne and Cheese

When sat down to dinner, everyone raved about this dish. The peas were a fresh addition and the ham added a sweet and smokey flavor that you wouldn’t normally get from a generic macaroni and cheese. The cheese sauce was so creamy and coated the penne nicely. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading

Pesto Parmesan Garlic Brioches

Brioches

A French pastry, brioche is most known for it’s place at breakfast or dessert. Don’t be fooled by this sweet bread, it also has a savory dopplegänger that goes great at any dinner table. Today, I decided to make savory brioche rolls with pesto, Parmesan cheese, and garlic.

Brioches

This being my second yeast bread recipe, I was ready to tackle this recipe. It started out easy enough, with yeast and warm water. The only tricky part about making the dough was knowing that i had enough flour in the mix. Once I decided it was just the right consistency, it went into the fridge overnight.

Brioches

It did not grow as much as I thought it would, but it rolled out on a floured board easy enough. When it was a good rectangular shape, I added butter, lots of pesto, garlic, and Parmesan. The original recipe called for chives, cheddar cheese, and garlic but I decided to put an Italian spin on it. The fun part was rolling it; it was like how they taught us to fold letters in Freshman year, in thirds.

Brioches

After it had been rolled, I used my rolling pin to roll it out a little. I then got out a pizza cutter and cut strips. Each strip fit perfectly into the cup of a muffin tin. After allowing them to rise for half an hour, it was ready to bake. You can leave it longer but at that point, I was looking forward to these baked perfections.

Brioches

When they came out of the oven, my kitchen smelled amazing and to be honest, they tasted even better. I guess what they say is true about butter, but the pesto, Parmesan, and garlic added great flavor. Every year we make our own pesto and this recipe accentuated the freshness of the basil-y paste. Everyone who tried these brioche rolls thought that they were just crispy enough on the outside and chewy on the inside. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit! Continue reading

Mushroom Risotto with Peas

Risotto

I have grown up enjoying the simple pleasure of risotto. Risotto is not a difficult dish to make; it just takes time to get the rice done. Many a time I have seen contestants on food competitions try and fail because of crunchy risotto so I planned to be smart and take my time when attempting this dish.

Risotto

The recipe I used, adapted from the one and only Giada De Laurentiis, was rather simple. I started by soaking dried mushrooms in chicken broth and chopping some fresh mushrooms. Then I chopped an onion and let that saute with olive oil and butter. I thought it was interesting to use both but it turns out that the olive oil keeps the vegetables from burning and the butter adds nice flavor.

Risotto

Once the onion had softened, I added the fresh mushrooms with some garlic and left that to saute. I then pulled the dried mushrooms out of the broth, chopped them, and added them to the mushroom mixture. Next I added Arborio rice, which is a short-grain Italian rice. Using a short-grain rice keeps the risotto smooth and creamy.

Risotto

Over the next half an hour or so, I added a cup of broth every time the previous had been absorbed. Then I checked the rice to be sure it was cooked and was ready to add thawed peas and Parmesan cheese. I chose to add half of the cheese and save the other half for garnish on top. Once I took a bite of the finished product, I knew that this was one of my favorite risotto recipes.

Risotto

Previously, I had only had saffron risotto, which is a lovely yellow color with a sweet and earthy taste. Saffron happens to be one of the most expensive spices around so this was a tasty alternative. The mushrooms added so much flavor and the peas were bursting with freshness. The rice had the perfect taste and wasn’t too firm. My taste-testers also loved this recipe and the leftovers were gone by the end of the week. Bon Appetit! Continue reading

Parmesan Garlic Rolls

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Rolls are a staple at most dinners. My grandmother has made hers from scratch for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, however, simple bread and butter won’t cut it and something zestier will only do.

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These Parmesan garlic rolls are the perfect compliment to any meal. This is the first recipe I have ever attempted that involved yeast and dough rising. At first, I was intimidated by this feat but only until I realized making bread is a piece of cake. Initially making the dough happened to be an easy task; combine some ingredients in the electric mixer and then leave to rise for 45 minutes.

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I had no idea what to do with the dough while it rose so I resorted to the internet in search of the perfect resting place. What I found was fairly simple; place a mug of water in the microwave and give it 60 seconds. Then place the mug in the back and set the covered dough inside the microwave. The dough rose beautifully and was so easy to work with.

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Once I had rolled out the dough, I topped it with a delicious garlic-butter and cheese. Then I rolled it into a log, let it firm up for a little while, and cut it into discs. After adding melted butter and cheese on top, it was ready to bake!

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This is by far one of the best roll recipes I have found and not just because of the beautiful golden color the rolls turned to in the oven. The butter soaked through and with each bite you had garlic, Parmesan, salt, and bread. This will probably become my go to for dinner parties and celebrations because of how easy it is and how much everyone has enjoyed them. Bon Appetit!  Continue reading