Friday, March 22, 2024

Three of My Favorite Scalloped Potato Recipes

I was middle-aged when I discovered there was more than one way to prepare scalloped potatoes. Below are three of my favorite, all wonderful for an Easter table. With a mandolin, prep goes fast (always wear a glove and use that protective finger guard!!!) The more fat in the liquid you use, the creamier the potatoes. Do not use low-fat anything.

Scalloped potatoes bake for a long time, so plan accordingly. It's always better to overcook, than undercook. Which will be your favorite? And, remember, they are not just for holidays! 

Potatoes with Leeks and Mushrooms

 

This dish blew me away. It's a keeper and my new go-to potato dish. I kept going back for more and more. The depth of flavors was incredible. It's a classic and simple pairing of leeks and mushrooms tucked between thin-layered potatoes and cheese.

It's important to use a mixture of mushrooms for this recipe. I used a pre-packaged blend I bought from the grocery store that included crimini, shitake, and oyster mushrooms. They have a woodsy flavor you can't get from white button mushrooms alone. And don't sub onion for the leeks.

Serves 4-6
  • 2 cups mixed, chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped leeks
  • 1 small garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
  • 1.5 pounds potatoes
  • 3/4 cup cheese (I used half white cheddar and Parmesan)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Cut off root ends of leek and slice off to area that is just beginning to turn green (see picture above). Slice in half lengthwise. Peel apart and check for sand and grit. Wash if necessary. Pat dry and chop. 

Add about 2-3 teaspoons olive oil to a pan and sautee leeks just until they begin to brown. Remove to a plate and set aside. 


Add a bit more olive oil to pan and add mushrooms. Cook just until they begin to give up their juices, 5-7 minutes. Add leeks to pan. Stir. Add garlic and stir just until fragrant, about one minute. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper and to taste.


Microwave cream just until warm, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Peel and slice potatoes into 1/8-inch rounds using a mandolin. Save largest rounds to be placed on top last.

Butter or spray an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Gently layer half of the potatoes into dish in overlapping rows, like shingles. Do one row horizontal, the other vertical. Give a slight sprinkle of Kosher salt and pepper. Spoon mushroom and leek mixture over potatoes. Sprinkle with half the cheese and then layer rest of potatoes on top, ending up with largest slices. Drizzle in the cream being sure to coat top layer of potatoes. Cream will not rise to cover the entire dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in a 400 F. degree oven for 35 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake uncovered for another 30 minutes or so until potatoes are tender and top is golden. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes to allow potatoes to re-absorb juices. Cut and serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.



Notes: if you use a shallow dish, spray the foil so the cheese doesn't stick.



Scalloped Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Garlic

Spudlucioius!

I just kind of assume it's the French who had the culinary genius to bake ultra-thin layers of potato in cream. I mean, just look at that photo. Magnifique, n'est pas? It's a work of art!

Three kitchen utensils make this recipe a breeze to prepare: first and foremost is a mandolin. No kitchen should be without one. Next is a scale. How many times have you told yourself you were going to get one? You need two pounds of spuds. And last, but not least, a garlic press. Or a micro-plane. Okay, that's four.

A mandolin makes easy work of slicing potatoes. Always guard your fingers
and never look up while slicing. Keep your eyes on the task at hand.


Use large starchy Idaho potatoes, not red or yellow waxy ones. Use a good goat cheese. People who don't like goat cheese will love these potatoes. Trust me. This is Bon Appetit recipe. I used a flavored goat cheese instead of plain it called for and changed the process of preparing a bit.



  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 5-oz. log garlic and herbs goat cheese, softened
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons regular table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon regular black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (do not omit)
  • 2 pounds starchy potatoes, such as Idaho or Yukon Gold

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter or spray a glass baking dish 11 x 7 x 2, which I prefer. But mine was out of commission at the time so I used an 8 x 8 which also worked.



Measure your milk and cream into a glass measuring cup and microwave until warm (not hot). Add your softened goat cheese and with the tines of a fork begin working it into the cream mixture so it dissolves. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste and re-adjust seasonings, if necessary. Set aside.


Scrub and peel your potatoes. I don't peel, I just use a metal scrubbie to wash them well which removes some of the skin. Slice 1/8-inch thin. Save the largest slices to place on top of dish as the last layer.


Place 1/3 of the potatoes on bottom of dish, overlapping slightly but neatly in rows. Whisk cream mixture and pour 1/3 on top. Continue layering and adding cream mixture 2 more times. I use the smaller pieces to place around the perimeter of the dish.



Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 10-15 minutes. Allow to rest a bit before serving.






Scalloped Potatoes with Three Cheeses

Tender, soft pillows of potato and onion quilted with cheese and cream. What is not to like?

Use fresh, not packaged, cheeses for a great scalloped potato dish.

The first time I made this was for a family-Christmas served alongside a beef tenderloin. Relatives still talk about it. What's not to like? Creamy potatoes baked with cheddar, Parmesan and blue cheese. Use quality cheeses that you grate yourself. If I use blue cheese, I generally use Maytag Blue, but it's getting difficult to find.  For the recipe below, I used Gorgonzola. Instead of using all milk, I use about 2/3 whole milk and 1/3 half-and-half. Either way, don't use reduced-fat milk. It's not unusual for the potatoes to look "curdled" during baking. That's okay. It generally works into a creamy sauce with the cheese. I generally use a mixture of shallots and yellow onions. 

A mandoline makes easy work of grating the potatoes. Do not use boiling or waxy potatoes. You want starchy Idaho spuds. 

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
  • 3/4 cup grated (packed) extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces) I prefer white, not yellow
  • 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or Gorgonzola (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup grated (packed) fresh-grated Parmesan (about 1 1/4 ounces) do NOT use the canned stuff
  • [I probably use a bit more of all the cheeses]
  • 4 pounds Russet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch rounds (I think 1/8 is better)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided (I prefer Kosher)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (I use a combo of onions and shallots)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups whole milk (I've never used just milk. I use a combination of whole milk and half-and-half or all half-and-half or, if I have it, heavy cream with a combo of milk and half-and-half)

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Butter or spray a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish (I recommend spraying with Pam).

In a medium bowl, mix together all the cheeses. Set aside.



Grate potatoes. Set aside. Either grate or finely chop the onion/shallot. Set aside.



Measure milk/cream mixture in a glass measuring cup. Microwave until warm. Set aside.

Using half of the potatoes carefully arrange them in rows in the baking dish, overlapping slightly. I go one row down the length, and then the second row across the width. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Evenly sprinkle the onion mixture over it then the flour. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over this and reserve the rest of the cheese. 



Now top with the rest of the potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and dot with remaining two tablespoons butter.

Pour warmed milk over the potatoes (it will not cover them completely). Tightly cover the dish with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil (liquid may look curdled, that's okay, especially if using all whole milk). Evenly scatter the rest of the cheese over casserole. Bake an additional 45 minutes, uncovered until cheese is a deep golden brown and potatoes are tender and creamy.

Oh, my!

Remove from oven. Let sit a good 20-30 minutes before serving.

This recipe is easily halved. Bake in an 8 x 8 dish and adjust cooking time accordingly. I bake it covered for about 35 minutes and then uncovered for about another 40 minutes or so.

(This may be prepared two hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cover and re-warm in 375 F. oven for about 20 minutes)

NOTES: People always love to add more cheese. Be careful. More cheese may add more oil and grease, not necessarily taste. A little cheese with potatoes goes a long way.

Cover with milk just until the top is barely covered or it will boil over. The trickiest part of scalloped potatoes is bake time. It's easy to underbake them. 

How much milk you use depends on the thickness of your potatoes. 



Friday, February 9, 2024

Peanut Butter Cookies

My vintage Hall's Crocus Pattern cookie jar. It is basically
a heavy "crock", so it keeps cookies fresh.

Like most everyone in the whole wide world who grocery shops, I'm pinching pennies and careful with what money I have. I'm grateful I know how to cook which saves me quite a bit since I have the skills to cook with less.

Some birthdays are looming; to economize, I have decided to give homemade cookies. Who doesn't love a good cookie? They are personal. They are generally much appreciated. There is nothing to store (except calories) or to put together. Or take apart, unless you count breaking them in half to dunk into a glass of cold milk. And, they are fun to package.


(As an aside: When I gift food to people in a jar or a tin, I usually ask for it to be returned. Empty and clean! LOL . . . I mention that last remark, "empty AND clean" for two reasons. Older people will return a container with something in it as a thank-you. It's not necessary. Younger folks, which I've learned the hard way, often return your bowl, etc. "wiped" but not neccesarily washed. That's why I emphasize clean!)

Girl Scout Cookie-a-thons are now in full swing. But at six bucks a pop, I'll pass. I remember when they were 45 cents and my mom would buy a half dozen boxes from different kids in the neighborhood . . . Well, those days are long gone . . . I think Girl Scouts need a new business plan.

I don't post many recipes for sweets. It is tempting, thus dangerous. And, now that I'm not working, I have to be careful. With no audience to feed, the sweets hang around my kitchen until I consume them! To add to the dilemma, living in a large apartment complex, I rarely know my neighbors anymore ... and, truth be told, not sure I want to know some of them. But it's pretty easy to freeze cookie doughs, so you only need to bake what you need and save the rest for a rainy day or when that sweet-tooth hankering gnaws at you. Or some birthdays are approaching . . .

Most likely, your first peanut butter cookie was in the school cafeteria. I know mine was, but that was when the cafeteria ladies actually made the food we ate from scratch. Then, sadly, the government got all involved and home cooking by real experts was deemed unsafe and illegal. Processed, pre-prepared food became the norm . . . And kids are obese. Then the government created The Department of Education. And now kids are dumb . . . Do you see a pattern?

I digress . . .

PB cookies are pretty basic and simple. I've gone over dozens of recipes. The only controversy is butter vs shortening. Some use all butter; some use all shortening. Me, I like half and half, the best of both worlds and you can purchase butter-flavored shortening. All butter will cause your cookies to spread and be crisper. Shortening will make them rise a bit taller and, since it does not contain any water, a bit more moist. To me, the perfect PB cookies is crisp around the edge, a bit chewy in the middle ... One lady said she was going to use lard. Interesting. I'd love to know how that turned out, especially since lard is better for you than shortening or butter. And certainly better than any seed oil.

This recipe is the standard, all-American recipe for peanut butter cookies from none-other than Betty Crocker. My only true deviation is to first roll some of the dough in a cinnamon-maple sugar before giving them that obligatory criss-cross fork pattern.  (I purchase the sugar from thespicehouse.com. If you never visited, you are in for a treat. I recommend purchasing the flat packs. They make storing so much easier, shipping is cheaper, and you can always fill your own jars.) I also add a teaspoon of vanilla.

For a future project, I intend to make a peanut butter-almond-chocolate pinwheel cookie. I think all those flavors would work well together.

Any kitchen utensil can be used to emboss a "pattern" on a drop or peanut-butter cookie. Get creative. Think beyond the criss-cross fork method. My favorite is a large "spider" I use to fish out items when deep frying, below are a few more examples from King Arthur Flour. This is a great chance to involve kids. Head up a scavenger hunt to find items that can be used . . . 






  • 1/2 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup name-brand peanut butter, not "natural"
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter and egg in a large bowl.

Stir in remaining ingredients. The dough should be light and fluffy. Do not overmix which results in a "tough" cookie. 

Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.

Heat oven to 375F.

Shape Dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on an ungreased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 

If desired, roll balls in sugar or flatten in crisscross pattern with a fork dipped into sugar. I prefer cinnamon maple sugar. Or skip sugar and dip fork in flour to avoid sticking.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. 

Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to five days.

NOTES: Be vigilant on how long your cookies bake in the oven. A mere minute longer or shorter is enough to change the texture from soft and chewy to crisp. Use an accurate timer and, like pancakes, you may want to make a few first. Dark brown sugar will give you a tad more "molasses" flavor (or just add a few drips of molasses).




Friday, January 12, 2024

The Perfect Baked Potato, Part II (With Toppings)

I had America's Test Kitchen (ATK) recipe for baked potatoes for ages. The other week, I finally made one and posted it on my blog. Oh, my goodness ... Almost thirty thousand people clicked on it! Seriously, folks, it makes for an incredible baked potato.

Well, yesterday, Dan from ATK released yet another video on the humble spud. Coincidence? I think not. 

In this video's written description, you will find links to several unique baked-potato toppings. Enjoy.

Remember, be sure to sign up to get automatic new and exciting updates on Kitchen Bounty! 



(I am a real advocate of PBS's television series America's Test Kitchen and its magazine publications: "Cook's Illustrated" and "Cook's Country." I subscribe to both. I always learn something new or I am challenged to try something new, whether it's an ingredient, a recipe, or even a gadget.)