Taste & Create: Rustic Potato Summer Gratin

Posted by on August 23, 2009 | 25 Comments

The week flew by, and I had an enjoyable, but rather uneventful weekend. We watched the movie There Will Be Blood. Has anyone else seen that? It was good, but totally mental! We also went out one night to one of our favorite restaurants, sat with a view of the giant fish tank, savored hearty sesame-ahi tuna wraps (I need to make those at home), and sipped on a couple of MGD 64′s. I know, woo! Don’t lose control there. Aside from that, there was a nice long walk, a good cardio workout, an hour of stretch, and … I made a delicous Potato Gratin, rich with tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

You didn’t think I was going to get to the food did you? Well, this dish is actually a take on my partner’s recipe from Taste & Create, food blogger Kendall at Res-O-Puh-Leese.

I had a doozy of a time picking a recipe, as there were so many to choose from buried within her blog, but I eventually settled on the Potato, Tomato, and Garlic Gratin.

Of course, since this recipe was already tested and approved as is, I decided to play around with it a little; within reason of course. Kendall isn’t a fan of onions, but I am, so I referenced the original recipe to add those babies back in. I took the fats down, as some of the oil seemed a bit unnecessary (no compromise there!), and I simplified a few of the steps (she is quite the gourmet!) for my simple kitchen style. In the end, I renamed it a “Rustic” gratin, because I like my potatoes unpeeled. The skin adds so much wonderful flavor and texture. The “Summer” part came from the use of fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.

Here is a close-up just before I popped it in the oven …

rustic potato gratin close

Now, I ran into one little glitch. Those potatoes on top crisp up and start to blacken well before the potatoes are done. At 45 minutes, I took it out, turned those top potatoes over, and popped it back in. You can do this, or try the untested tip which I include at the end of the recipe. I think it will work just fine.

The end result was rich, delicious, and completely gone in one meal (Thank you Kendall!) …

rustic potato gratin

Oh yes, would you like the recipe?

 

Recipe: Rustic Potato Summer Gratin

Summary: ReAdapted from Res-o-puh-leese, which was adapted from Simply French by Patricia Wells & Joel Robuchon.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Sea Salt, to taste (1/2 t is probably enough, but I went overboard with 1 t, and we loved it!)
  • Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 lb Ripe Tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded & chopped (See note below. I used fresh, but you can substitute 1 14.5-ounce can of drained diced tomatoes in a pinch)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Honey (can sub agave nectar to keep it vegan)
  • 1.5 lbs Baking Potatoes (nice big Russets!)
  • 3 Teaspoons Dairy-Free Margarine, divided (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free, but you can substitute more olive oil)
  • 3/4 Cup Chicken, Beef, or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley, snipped
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and allow it to cook and thicken for about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  3. Meanwhile, prep those potatoes! Give them a good scrub. I leave them unpeeled for that “rustic” effect, but peel them if you must. Thinly slice the potatoes (about 1/4-inch worked for me). Set aside about 1/4 to 1/3 of the potatoes in a medium-sized bowl to use as the topping.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the remaining potatoes with the sauce and toss carefully to blend.
  5. Liberally rub the bottom of a 9″ pie dish (or similarly sized oven-safe dish) with 1 teaspoon of the margarine, or oil if using instead.
  6. Transfer the potato-tomato mixture to the baking dish, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Add the broth to cover.
  7. Add the remaining 2 teaspons of margarine (or oil) and the parsley to the reserved potatoes for the topping. Toss to coat evenly.
  8. Arrange the “buttered” potato slices one by one atop the potato-tomato mixture in your baking dish (in an overlapping pattern), until the entire dish is covered with an even potato layer. Sprinkle with the thyme.
  9. Place the dish in the centre of the oven and bake until the potatoes are soft, most of the liquid has been absorbed, and the top is golden, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check in after 40 minutes. If those potatoes on top are crisping too fast, turn them over to cook the other sides, and return to the oven. Serve immediately.

Quick notes

Peeling Tomatoes: Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water large enough to hold all the tomatoes. Cut a slit in the skin of each tomato from top to bottom, and drop them all into the boiling water. Leave them in the boiling water for approximately 1 minute before removing each tomato with a slotted spoon and placing it immediately in the bowl of cold water. As soon as the tomato is cool enough to touch, remove the skin, which will now slide away easily.

Variations

Alternate Baking Method: If you run into the potato crisping problem I had, try this … reduce the broth to 1/2 to 2/3 cup, and bake for just 45 minutes to 1 hour. I think this timing will work well, since the potatoes are definitely done by 1 hour but with 3/4 cup broth, it isn’t all absorbed.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 90 minute(s)

Diet tags: Dairy free, Egg free, Gluten free, Nut free, Peanut free, Soy free, Wheat free, Low Sugar, and optionally Vegan and Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 4

Copyright © Alisa Fleming.

rustic potato gratin uncooked

Blog Events: I submitted this recipe post to Friday Foodie Fix (Thyme) at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.

Easy Mexican Meals: Part 2 – Sloppy Joses over Polenta

Posted by on July 10, 2009 | 26 Comments

(Part 1: Easy Mexican Meals: Homemade Taco Seasoning)

By most people’s standards, my grandpa was a very difficult man. He was often labeled as stubborn, tough,  and bull-headed, but to me he was a loving grandfather with so much wisdom from life. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade. He built his first fortune from scratch in his twenties. He lost it all. He built his second fortune. And once again, he lost it all. He built his third fortune (no, this man was not a quitter!), but this time he held onto it, invested wisely, and lived a comfortable and long retirement.

Of course, my fondest childhood memories of my grandpa revolved around food. He loved my grandma’s loganberry jam and pies; OH how he clamored for those pies! But he always took a minute away from his dessert cravings to make sure my grandma put out an antipasto platter filled with black olives when we were coming for dinner. Within minutes of our arrival I would find my way to the olives, popping one on each finger and nibbling them away one by one until dinnertime. It always made my grandpa smile and laugh.

My grandpa passed away last month, but he fought his way to the wonderful age of 91. Though I miss him greatly, I think he would be happy to know that I am still playing with my olives …

Turkey Sloppy Joses Over Polenta

Turkey Sloppy Joses over Polenta
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Low-Fat, and Sugar-Free (depending on your tomato sauce)

This version is served over polenta, but you can use rice or a hamburger bun (with some lettuce of course!) as your base if you prefer. My husband convinced me long ago that Worcestershire sauce adds a “meaty” flavor to ground turkey that it seems to be lacking, so I frequently use it in dishes such as this one.

  • 2 Teaspoons Grapeseed or Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Diced
  • 1 20-ounce Package Lean Ground Turkey
  • 2 to 3 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
  • 1 8-ounce Can Tomato Sauce (like Hunt’s or a generic)
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes (around 3/4 to 1 lb), diced
  • 1 Batch Alisa’s Homemade Taco Seasoning, black pepper omitted (can sub 1 packet of premade taco seasoning, but if you ask me, mine’s better)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn*
  • 1 Chub Prepared Polenta*
  • About 1 Dozen Black Olives, sliced

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté for two minutes. Add the turkey, and sprinkle with the Worcestershire if using. Sauté, breaking up the turkey as you go, until it is cooked through (no pink!). Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, and corn. Stir until everything is well combined. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow it to simmer for a few minutes or longer if you prefer.

While that  is simmering, slice the polenta into 1/2-inch thick slices, and heat it in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, flipping once.  Divide the polenta between four plates, and top with the turkey mixture. Sprinkle with olives and serve.

*Since corn is a top GMO product in the U.S., I always purchase organic corn products. Organic frozen corn shouldn’t set you back more than an extra quarter or two depending on where you shop. Most chub polenta that I see is organic, so it shouldn’t be hard to find by default. Do not purchase the polenta at a local grocer unless on sale, they tend to charge way too much. You should be able to find it for around $2.00 to $2.50.

Yields 4 sloppy servings

Turkey Sloppy Joses over Polenta

Blog Events:

 

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5 Good Things Since My Last Post (oops, I almost forgot!)

  1. I emailed with a good foodie friend whom I hadn’t heard from in a very long while.
  2. When picking up some weights we happened across a clearance sale at a sporting goods store. While looking through the shoes my husband handed me a pair that were in the wrong section and said “these belong in the 6′s.” Me, not listening, thought he handed them to me to try on. So I put them on and they fit great! Up until that point only Asics fit my narrow heel and wider forefoot, but the Renegade Brooks fit like a glove and were on sale for a steal! I should not listen to him more often!
  3. I made fresh-squeezed lemonade, yum!
  4. Today I finished 3 big to-do items from my list. Yes, I am a list freak.
  5. I was honored with some personal tips from the blogger guru, Zesty, so you may see a facelift on this blog soon!

 

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