Paas Potatoes

Although we don’t technically celebrate Easter, we do take advantage of using it for a good excuse to have a special dinner. We stopped by the biologische (organic) butcher on Biltstraat on Saturday to splurge on some tasty lamb racks. Next door at the Super de Boer grocery store, we found some lovely fresh asparagus, and I had plans for a potato galette. All in all, a nice menu!

The potato galette was vaguely inspired by various recipes I’d seen online, although by the time it came to cook it, I had to wing it, since we were without the internet at that point. My copies of Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything weren’t much help, either. Fortunately, winging it turned out just fine. The dish turned out excellent and G was raving about it. I figured since I remembered to take a few before and after photos, I’d share the recipe, although I don’t have exact amounts to pass along to you. I made mine in a small springform pan that was enough for two people. You could take it larger to feed more or to make more of a main meal out of it.

grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
dried rosemary and sage
salt and pepper

When we moved, I sadly left behind a lot of my kitchen utensils and instruments. I have no idea what I was thinking, especially since I had such a lovely stocked kitchen. It was bad enough leaving behind my beautiful Kitchen Aid, but why I left behind my zester and other smaller, non-electric tools, I’ll never know. I think by that point I was too caught up in taking as little as possible. Fortunately, I didn’t leave behind my mandolin. It’s a beautiful stainless steel one that my mother got me for Christmas a few years ago. It’s wonderful for slicing potatoes for homemade chips or for dishes such as this one.

I washed and sliced three or four smallish potatoes, cutting them at roughly a quarter-inch thickness. Basically, you want to leave them thick enough so they don’t fall apart easily, but thin enough that they’re not big chunks. I then parboiled them for 5-8 minutes to take the edge off them, so that they wouldn’t need a ton of time in the oven, with the possibility of raw bits and pieces. Once they were done, I drained them and left them to cool off a bit while I moved on to the onions.

I thinly sliced an onion and then slowly cooked it in a bit of olive oil and butter until they started to caramelize. The key really is to cook them slowly. I have a habit of turning the heat up too high and they end up more burnt than caramelized. This time I had success, though. Deliciously sweet and pretty! I added a bit of salt, pepper and dried rosemary toward the end.

Once the onions were done, I started layering the potato slices into my springform pan. Unless you know your springform has a tight seal, you may want to use a solid baking form to avoid any leakage, or you can just put the springform on top of another baking sheet with edges to contain any drippings (I speak from experience). Once you have a layer of overlapping potato slices, then add in a layer of the onions and top that with some grated parmesan cheese and some dried sage. Keep repeating these potato, onion and cheese layers until you’ve run out of ingredients or room in the pan. The top layer should be potatoes. I drizzled a bit of butter over the top, to help keep it golden and from drying out. I also added a bit more grated cheese and dried sage.

The whole thing went into the oven at around 200C/400F for 15 or 20 minutes. Basically, until the top was golden and the cheese nicely melted. Since I needed the oven for the lamb, I cooked the potatoes ahead of time and served them more at room temperature, sort of like a fancy potato salad. In other words, it’s good hot or cold. I had some potato slices left over, so I pan cooked those with some olive oil and a bit more salt and rosemary to have for lunch the next day. Why waste good potatoes!

The dinner was delicious, even if it turned out that the lamb wasn’t cooked yet and had to go back into the oven. We just ended up eating the potatoes and asparagus as a first course with the lamb as the second course. It pays to be flexible and not too picky!

Links 234

I’ve not got too much to say today, since the past few days have been little more than me wrestling with Dreamweaver as I try to build a website for my editing service. Plus, despite my ability to ramble on here about next to nothing, I find it difficult to write about myself, particularly in regards to selling myself. And describing my editing services? Oy. I suspect I need to say a bit more than, “You write it; I’ll make it better.”

So since I have nothing of interest to say, I’ll just direct you to this link for a recipe by my Dutch cooking guru, Kay from Kayotic Kitchen. She posted this recipe for ham, cheese and chicory (endive) rolls served atop mashed potatoes. I saw the recipe this morning and knew immediately what we’d be having for dinner tonight. I’ve made endive wrapped in ham, topped with a cheese sauce before, but with today’s rainy, cold weather, this just sounded perfect and comforting. I highly recommend checking out her site. I’ve linked to some of her recipes before, because every single dish we’ve tried has been a winner.