Post #558 Yup, Bread Again!

January 21, 2018 at 12:48 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s no secret in this blog that I love bread.  I really do.  Yesterday, for breakfast, I ate two biscuits with butter and local raspberry preserves and was happy all morning.  Then for lunch, we had french bread slices with brie and veggies and sliced meats.  Dinner was a little heartier, grilled and sliced steak with salad, but there were croutons in the salad so that counts.  Pizza is one of my favorite things and it’s really just bread dough with cheese and tomato sauce.  And don’t even get me started on cheese sandwiches, hot or otherwise.  This morning for breakfast, I ate two pain au chocolat, basically french croissants with bittersweet chocolate inside them although rolled a little differently.  So, yeah.  Bread.  Good stuff.

I’ve had a search on for a couple of years now to find the easiest and most satisfying recipe to make “regular” white sandwich bread.  I found one from Julia Child that fit the bill, but was a little complicated.  I used one from America’s Test Kitchen that was good, but intricate though reliable, as all their recipes are.  I had just settled on one that made a good serviceable bunch of sandwich rolls in an easy manner, when someone from the food group I’m in on FB (Food Interactive, if you’d like to get involved) shared a recipe that made two loaves of a tender but well structured loaf.  It was an easy recipe, hands on, and versatile.  I took it on and I’ve made easily 50 loaves using this recipe.  We’ll go through the first loaf in a couple of days, and the second (when we start getting tired of toast and sandwiches) over the rest of the week.  Partner/Spouse doesn’t eat as much bread as I do, but eats his fair share.

So somewhere along the line, I decided I was a bread baker.  For Christmas this past year, I got two books on baking bread, three Banneton bread proofing bowls (French willow baskets used to create round or oblong rustic loaves), and a couple of other baking implements.  And I’ve been working on trying out various recipes.  Cuz that’s how I roll (mmm, rolls!)  When I wanted to learn how to make a good cake, I made cake over and over again.  I got so I could from an urge to make to cake to the finished product in under an hour.  I can throw together a batch of chocolate chip cookies and have them cooling on a wire rack in under 45 minutes.  Brownies from start to eating is about four hours because you have to add in the three hour cooling time it takes to keep from searing the inside of your mouth.  I did the same with spaghetti sauce and Italian cooking.  And there was a time when I used the gas grill outside far more often than the stove.

So here I am now with bread.  Cuz I love bread.  And bread, in its simplicity and complexity and variety, is truly one of the great challenges in the baking world.  It’s easy to learn and hard to master.  There are subtleties to making it.  The ingredients can change the finished product depending on their age.  And those changes can make the bread a tremendous success or a rousing failure.  It’s tough to tell what’s going to happen.  I used to keep a jar of yeast granules in the fridge to keep them fresh.  Now I keep the vacuum sealed packages instead so they maintain their freshness longer.  I imagine one of these days, I’ll be making my own sourdough starter.

So one of the books I got was from America’s Test Kitchen, their Bread Illustrated Book.  After devouring it with my eyes, I noted a recipe for brioche.  Brioche is a light textured bread with a crumbly interior and a very lightly sweet taste.  It makes a wonderful breakfast bread to toast or to eat plain with butter and jam.  It makes a good french toast, or a bread pudding.  I wanted to try my hand at it, just to see what I came up with.  Here’s how to make it.

  • 1 2/3 cup bread flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temp
  • 1/4 cup water, room temp
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

In a medium bowl, stir the first three ingredients together with a whisk to fully incorporate.  When first putting the ingredients in the bowl, do not allow the salt and the yeast to touch.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together last four ingredients until well blended and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and using a rubber spatula, gently incorporate the wet into the dry.  The best way is to move the spatula under the flour and lift up through the egg mixture.  Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat.  Keep gently mixing until there are no dry ingredients, and everything is mixed.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temp for 10 minutes.  Then, using a plastic bowl scraper or your fingers, fold the dough into itself by lifting from the bottom of the bowl and pressing into the center.  Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat.  Keep repeating until you’ve turned the bowl a total of four times.  Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.  Repeat this three more times, allowing the dough to rest for 30 minutes in between each folding process.  Cover tightly and place bowl in the fridge to rest for at least 16 hours or up to 48.  (I let if rest for about 20 hours, overnight into about mid-morning.)  My fridge runs a little cold so at the next step, I allowed 15 minutes to make the dough more pliable.  Remove dough from bowl to a well floured surface and cut in half.  Cover one piece with plastic.  Using your well floured fingers, roll the piece into a ball then flatten into a four inch disc.  Fold the top into the middle and press firmly but gently.  Turn a quarter turn and repeat until all four corners have been pressed into the middle and a rough ball is formed.  Using your cupped palm, roll the dough into a firm ball and set aside.  Cover with plastic from other piece of dough and repeat process with that piece of dough.  Cover both dough balls with plastic and let set at room temp for 5 minutes.  Prepare an 8×4 loaf pan by spraying with vegetable spray.  When five minutes have passed, repeat the process of flattening each dough ball and reforming.  Place each dough ball in prepared loaf pan and cover loosely with plastic.  Allow to rise until they reach a half inch below edge of pan which can take 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Allow ample rising for lighter texture.  Just before rising is completed, heat oven to 350.  Brush loaf with an egg wash and bake for 35-40 minutes (I did 40 minutes but turned the oven off for the last 5.)  Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool for 3 hours.

Here’s how mine turned out.  I forgot the egg wash so it’s darker than expected.  The interior crumb was good, and the flavor was excellent.

It also didn’t rise as high as I’d hoped, but I put that down to my own inexperience and lack of technique.

So, that’s my latest adventure in bread.  Not sure what my next will be except I’m sure it’s going to feature our new stand mixer and the Banneton bowls in some way.  I’ll be sure to let you know what happens.

As always,


Post #557 Our Pack is Less Today

January 14, 2018 at 8:13 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nearly ten years ago, Partner/Spouse and I, and ex-wife, went to a dog adoption show.  It was the same group where I had picked up my previous cocker spaniel rescue, Sporty, who had left us several months earlier.  We were there with the intent of adopting another cocker who looked identical to Sporty.  While I was walking him around the parking lot to see if he and I were going to be friends, Partner/Spouse had wandered around looking at other dogs.  When I walked back in, there was a small, black, curly haired spaniel mix sitting on his feet.  He looked at me with excited eyes and a sheepish grin, and asked, “Can we take home two?”  That was how I met Jack.  Oddly, the other spaniel didn’t work out for us.  He was a one-person dog, and we weren’t his one person.  No harm, no foul, we got another one who stayed with us for years and years.

They told us Jack was around five years old, but every vet I talked to agreed with that he seemed older.  The adoption people didn’t have any history on Jack since he’d been dropped off during the night with no information of any kind.  Jack was a bundle of energy.  He loved life, but had the attention span of a nanosecond.  He worked his way into our hearts then into our bed in no time.  Everyone who met him loved him immediately.  I always said it was easy to love Jack because he made you do it.

The first visit to the vet was a bit of an eye opener.  I’ve had cocker spaniels since the mid-80s, but not one of them has ever been any trouble medically.  Jack was different.  The first thing the vet said was, “He has ear trouble.”  And we were launched into a never ending struggle to keep his ears clean and infection-free.  It was a losing battle.  We never got ahead of it, despite the amount of money we threw at it, and the amount of time spent working on it.

Jack was the cutest dog ever.  He had some poodle in him so his hair curled.  A month after a grooming session, he looked like a Disney character.  But he was a trucker.  He burped, he made the air unbreathable, he snored, he napped like an Olympic athlete.  He couldn’t leave paper towels alone.  He’d practically take one off your plate to chew it up and swallow it.  He knew he wasn’t supposed to do it, but it was way too tempting to resist.  Once, we were all sitting in the living room watching TV.  Jack was sitting at ex-wife’s feet and she suddenly yelled in surprise, “Jack!”  He quickly spit out the bit of paper towel in his mouth and said, “What?” in all innocence.  His face was so expressive.

Jack also had a sensitive stomach and would vomit for no apparent reason.  He also had the intermittent bouts of loose stools which led to the treatment of rice dinners.  Nearly any upset stomach a dog has can be fixed by mixing a quarter cup of cooked and cooled rice into their regular food.  They’ll love it.  Of course, if the problem isn’t corrected in a couple of days, get ’em to the vet.

Jack took everything that came at him with an equable attitude and a certain air of puzzlement.  Something was different; he couldn’t explain it; he rolled with it.  When we got another dog to add to the pack, he looked quizzical, then wagged his tail, and took a nap.  When we went on long road trips and ended up in a new house, he sniffed around a bit, pooped in the yard, and took a nap.  When we switched out dog foods to keep weight under control, he looked aggrieved, took a bite, ate what was in the bowl, then took a nap.

Jack suffered from seizures.  Not many, about once every nine months or so.  The first one scared me to death.  We talked to the vet who said if it didn’t repeat on a constant basis, we shouldn’t worry too much about it.  We all got expert at timing them, and taking care of Jack afterwards.  He was a goofy dog, and his seizures were just part of his charm.  I can’t imagine anyone giving him up.

Until this winter.  His chronic ear infections finally took their toll about a year or so ago, and he became deaf as a stump.  I used to think he was putting us on because he always seemed to hear the word “Treat”, but it became more clear that he couldn’t hear.  His naps became longer and deeper.  He responded well to hand signals, and with his normal quizzical look, he soldiered on in a silent world.  We kept a closer eye on him so he wouldn’t get into too much trouble.

But this winter, things took a down turn.  He’d always loved winter.  We would groom him in November so that by the time harsh winter arrived, he had a short thick coat of fur to help him withstand it.  He would play in the snow, digging tunnels and chasing invisible squirrels until he looked like a snowman.  Or a snowdog.  This year, he wasn’t enjoying it much.  We kept a very close eye on him, and realized he was losing his sight.  He would walk into the walls and wander around until he found the water dish even though it hadn’t moved.  Then he had another seizure, and it seemed worse than the others.  His condition grew worse.

Then I saw that his tail wasn’t wagging anymore.  He wasn’t having a good time.  He still ate pretty well.  He pooped, peed, napped, but didn’t engage like he used to.  Even Buddy, our other dog, couldn’t seem to rouse him.  I carried him around a lot and he seemed to appreciate that.  He cuddled a little more than he used.  He napped at our feet rather than on the dog bed.  We decided it was time.

So this week, our pack is one less.  Jack was a happy-go-wacky kind of dog who brought a lot of joy to our lives.  He wasn’t the dog we would have chosen, so we were lucky that he chose us.  He drove us to distraction at times, but the joyful, quizzical, accepting, happy nature he exuded won us over every minute of every day.

Sorry, no recipe to go with story, but a memory of a happy dog who enriched our lives from the moment we met to the moment we said goodbye.

Post #556 Winter Food

January 7, 2018 at 3:33 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So we made it through the first snow storm of the year and the subsequent wind chill factors in the sub-zero range.  It’s still cold, but the snow is gradually going away.  The dogs hate it, but that’s the normal state of affairs.  They both tend to get snow crystals in between their toes and start limping.  We don’t stay outside too long.

Work schedules have normalized for the moment, but in another week, I should be getting my final schedule, and we start the next phase of the work process, assessments.  We’re supposed to receive assessments on our work quality at 30-, 60-, and 90- day periods with guidance and success plans.  So far, it’s been a little challenging, but fun.  And we’ve been dealing with the subject of dinner with creativity and patience.

Since the bitter cold has set in, we’ve been eating soup fairly often.  Decades ago, when I was young, my family lived in upper state New York.  One of the major soup companies ran an advertising campaign where kids would be outside playing in the snow and yelling back at the house “Is it soup yet?”  Mom would shake her head as she stirred a pot on the stove, then finally shout out, “It’s soup!”  The kids would run inside and enjoy a bowl of hot soup and a sandwich for lunch to brace themselves for an afternoon of playing hard in the cold outside.

It was a brilliant campaign.  It made kids all over New England ask for soup for lunch and I’m sure they sold a ton of dried instant soup.  My mom even got into the swing of things and served us reconstituted chicken noodle soup a few times a week with our PBJs.  More importantly, it started a life long love affair with soup for me.   And we’ve been enjoying several pans full of hot bracing soup during this bitter cold.

Partner/Spouse used the crockpot to make a form of Tortilla soup that was to die for.  He started with a blade steak, added Mexican seasonings and dried peppers, some tomatoes, and let it all cook overnight.  The next night, while it reheated, he fried up some corn tortilla strips as a garnish.  Hot soup, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and tortilla strips, what a great meal!  It was so good.  The meat was shredded perfectly, the flavors were spectacular.  It was like eating a taco in a bowl.  Just the right amount of spiciness.

Another soup is one a ripped off my mother in law years ago.  It’s mostly a cabbage stew, but it’s so much more than that.  She developed it to stretch her food budget.  It’s made up of leftover meat, a head of cabbage cut very fine, and a can of diced tomatoes.  The only herbs and spices per her recipe was a tablespoon each of vinegar and sugar.  You put it all in a large pot over medium-low heat and cover it.  Let it steam and stew until the cabbage is soft.  Stir it occasionally to keep it from scorching and to blend the flavors.  Over time, I played with the make up.  I added some salt, some pepper, some basil or thyme.  I played with the meats, added cooked rice, sometimes cooked pasta.  What I ended up with was a soup-stew that warms the body any time of the year.  Chop the cabbage fine.  Slice two cleaned leeks across the grain into thin disks.  Cut whatever cooked meat you like into bite-sized pieces.  I use roast beef most of the time, but ham is good, as chicken, but add that towards the end or it will fall apart.  I typically use cider vinegar, but sometimes use a fruit infused vinegar.  Just before serving, I toss in half a cup of cooked rice or pasta.  If you use pasta, try to use one that is small and bite-sized.  Ditalini is good, and there are many small versions of the regular pastas you’re used to.  Get everything heated through, and serve with bread of some kind.  Good stuff.

One of my favorites is one that I learned from a mix.  Wild Rice soup is so good.  It’s a creamy soup, but since Partner/Spouse and I don’t like cream based anything, or milk for that matter, I use a roux.  So, cook no more than a 1/3 cup of wild rice in a separate pan per package instruction and set aside.  Dice one small onion very fine.  Slice one medium stalk of celery very thin.  Chop one small to medium carrot very fine.  In a large dutch oven, heat one tablespoon high quality olive oil to shimmering and add the vegetables.  Cook until softened about five minutes  stirring often.  Add 3 tablespoons of butter and melt, then stir in a third cup of flour.  Stir until a roux forms.  Cook for a minute or so to eliminate the raw flour flavor, but try not to let the roux turn brown.  Add simmering chicken stock a half cup at a time, stirring to remove lumps.  Be careful when adding the first couple of additions of stock as the pan will cause the stock to sizzle and steam.  Keep adding when lumps are smoothed out until you’ve added about six cups.  This will produce a medium thick, creamy broth with the vegetables floating in it.  Add the rice directly from the pan including any remaining cooking liquid from the rice.  Add a pinch of rosemary and stir to combine.  Simmer for about ten minutes to heat everything through.  Serve with croutons on top.  I’ve also added small pieces of chicken breast either cooked or not.  If not cooked, I add it when I’m cooking the veggies.  If it’s already cooked, I add it when I’m adding the rice.  A thought just occurred to me that I could add the chicken to the rice cooking process and add some extra flavor that way, too.  You could also switch up the veggie combo to include garlic, leeks, shallots, whatever you think would taste good.


Post # 555 Luscious Lasagna!

December 31, 2017 at 4:41 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

We had guests over yesterday, close friends of Partner/Spouse who we haven’t seen for several years.  They couldn’t stay long sing there was an impending snow storm and there were other people for them to see, but they were staying for a late lunch/early dinner.  I wanted to make something that would be impressive but easy and enticing.  Can you guess from the ingredients?

Yup!  Lasagna!  And since I’ve promised a couple of times but couldn’t find an actual post about it, I decided to take you through the steps on my way to a finished and delectable product.

Lasagna is an Italian casserole dish involving sauce, long flat noodles, and a ton of cheese.  It’s made in layers and the layers can be filled with as many different things as there are cooks.  The sauce can be from a jar, the noodles can be from a vegetable, the cheese can be from something other than dairy.  I’ve always made lasagna in a two day process, but I’ve watched television chefs make it in two step process.  I decided I wanted to make it the way I’ve always done, and since our guests were coming on Saturday, I started the sauce on Friday.

I put a large can of chopped tomatoes in the crockpot with an equally large can of tomato sauce and two small cans of tomato paste.  I added two tablespoons of mixed Italian seasonings with an extra teaspoon of oregano.  Then I crushed a lot of fresh garlic and added it with some powdered onion and some salt,  I also added a half teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.  You have to be careful with those since their heat can vary from bottle to bottle and brand to brand.  But I felt safe with these since I’ve used them in the past.  At the end, I added a teaspoon of cinnamon.  All this filled my little crockpot nearly to the top, so I flipped it to high and let it cook for several hours.  I stirred it several times to blend the flavors and make sure all the tomatoes were blended together and thickened.  Just before bedtime, I turned it off.  That was day one.

When I make this lasagna, there’s no doing a small portion.  I’ve used such a large pan and some much stuff that it’s weighed in at upwards of twenty pounds.  I even once sold a full pan for $40 to a coworker.  He felt he got his money’s worth.  So the next morning, I knew how I was going to fill it and cook it.  Usually I plan on three layers of different fillings.  I’ve filled them with fresh spinach, mushrooms, ricotta cheese, eggplant, onions, various meats and veggies, whatever I have on hand.  This one, I filled with ground sausage on the bottom, sliced mushroom in the middle, and ground beef on the top.

I didn’t want to get behind the curve on this and feel rushed at the end, so I started early by cooking the sausage, then the hamburger.  The sauce was cold and beautifully thick.  And it tasted GREAT!  I did the sausage first so I could use some of it to make sausage omelets.  Then I did the ground beef so I could use part of that for the dogs’ breakfast.  Then I set up bowls to fill with cheese, a big bowl filled with mozzarella, and a smaller bowl filled with roughly grated parmesan.  That’s what you’re seeing in the pics above.

After breakfast, and Partner/Spouse leaving to take care of a couple of errands, I got down to assembling the dish.  Like any pasta, lasagna noodles need to be cooked before you use them.  Except, somewhere along the last fifteen years or so some enterprising person designed an “oven ready” lasagna noodle.  I’ve never used them before but there they were.  I step saved.

Always start assembling with a thin layer of sauce to keep the noodles from sticking to the bottom.  A slight squirt of non-stick vegetable spray helps, too.  Lay down noodles to cover the sauce with another thin layer of sauce of the top of the noodles.  I put down a layer of crumbled cooked sausage for my first layer, then added two good handfuls of mozzarella cheese spread evenly over all of it with a sprinkle of parmesan over that.  Put another layer of noodles on top of the cheese and spread sauce over the top.  I put down a layer of sliced mushrooms, cheese, and then more noodles.  I finished by putting sauce of the noodles, laying down a good layer of hamburger, and put the rest of the mozzarella on top.  A goodly sprinkle of parmesan finished it off.  I was worried that I’d overfilled my pan, so I decided to cook it on a baking sheet to protect the oven.

There’s several ways you can go about cooking any cheese dish.  The goal is the nice brown and crusty top.  The best way to go about this is to cover the pan with foil and cook at 350-375 for about an hour.  Then take the foil off, raise the temp to 425 and cook for about 20-30 minutes, checking at the 20-, 25-, and 30-minute mark for the best looking browning.

I goofed and left it in about ten minutes too long, so mine looks burned even though it isn’t.

Also, another thing I should have thought through but didn’t is the oven-baked noodles.  Pasta of any kind needs moisture to cook, so the noodles sucked up all the moisture from the sauce and the melted cheeses.  When I served it, it was still warm, the cheese was gooey and stringy, but the lasagna as a whole was bone dry.  It tasted good, but either I should have made the sauce wetter, or I should have used more of it.

And the thing felt like it weighed 20 pounds.

Today, we’re having soup.


Post #353 Memories Are Made of These

December 24, 2017 at 4:28 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This time of year I tend to think back over sixty plus years of holidays I’ve spent with loved ones.  Each giggle, each peal of laughter, each tear shed for those not with us, each sharing of the story behind each memory is a gift wrapped treasure.  I remember as a kid the holidays were filled with anticipation, looking forward to The Day.  The tree would be decked out in glory with promise of what was to come.  It’s funny how much things have changed from looking forward to looking backward.

I don’t know if I’m just different or what, but so many of my memories seem centered around food.  It was always about feasting, no matter what the holiday or celebration.  A table heavy laden with something special, or something everyday made special by abundance and celebration.  As a kid, I was always hungry anyway.  Growing kids have an bottomless stomach.  Christmas was different.  It was all about sugar.  Everything was sweet.  There were candy canes on the tree.  There were bowls of candy around the house.  Home made fudge was plentiful, as were chocolate chip cookies, iced sugar cookies, cakes, pies, and other assorted delicacies.  It was everywhere in the house.  Except the bedrooms.

Mom always went back to her roots during the holidays.  She made the things she had growing up.  Things I didn’t like.  Fruitcake, boiled honey candy, mincemeat pies.  But she also made things we liked.  Anything chocolate disappeared fast.  And turkey.

One year, after I finished college and started working full time again, I didn’t have time to do the kind of cooking I usually did.  There were still plenty of things to eat, but my sister noted that you could tell I was working long hours.  There was no fudge, few cookies, and only one cake.  I went to work and inside of two hours, there was a coconut cream pie, a cake cooling on the table, two batches of chocolate chip cookies, and fudge cooking on the stove.

One year, I made a batch of sugar cookies, but they looked kind of plain.  I made a big batch of frosting to go on them and split it into four bowls.  I colored them into red, blue, green, and white.  Then I put sprinkles on top and put them out.  They were gone in an hour, and my sister said the red ones tasted best.  I tried explaining they were identical, but even forty years later she swears the red ones taste best.

Since Partner/Spouse and I have been together, we’ve been making our own traditions for the holiday.  We do a mish-mash of holidays at this time of year, starting with the Solstice, and celebrating birthdays, and welcoming the arrival of a new year.  We’ve celebrated with feast of meats, and feasts of plants, and feasts of appetizers of various types.  Over the last few years, though, we’ve gravitated toward a meal of prime rib, bone in or not.

So when one of the local stores put prime rib roasts on sale for half off for one day only, we hot footed it right to the store and picked the best one for our needs.  This sucker was six pounds!  And we got it for just under $30.  When we got it home, I looked at it and decided we’d never eat that whole thing before it went to the dogs’ dinners, so I chopped two hefty sized steaks from it (had those on Saturday night!  Deeeelishus!)  It was still too large so I cut it in half.  I froze one of those pieces and the steaks, and put the other in cold age storage in the fridge.  Today, I made a blend of spices and rubbed it all over the roast.  Right now, it’s in the oven on the slow roast method.  The house smells terrific with onion, garlic, pepper, and meat roasting away.

In about an hour, we’re going to have what I hope is the start of a new and fun tradition.  In Iceland, Christmas Eve is the time to share books.  You give someone a book they wouldn’t ordinarily buy for themselves but that you think they’d enjoy.  The rest of the evening is spent reading, listening to music, and discussing what you’re reading.  And eating chocolate.  I’ve got the best book for him that I could think of.

Later, I’m going to make a potato gallete (recipe to follow), and I’m going to sauté some asparagus.  For the asparagus, I’m going to clean them and lay them flat into a large skillet.  I’m going to barely cover them with water and put about two tablespoons of butter in the pan.  I’m going to simmer them until the water evaporates and the butter coats them evenly.  They should end up thoroughly cooked and with wonderful scorch marks to add flavor.

The potato gallete is easy to make, but you have to work it right.  First, it’s important to slice the potatoes as thinly as possible.  A mandolin slicer, or a food processor will do this well.  You can slice by hand if you have a couple of hours and a sharp knife and steady hand.  Do not rinse the potatoes.  You need the starch to make this recipe work.

  • 4 good-sized Idaho baking potatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°. Coat a 10-inch pie plate or shallow tart pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place the butter in a glass measure and microwave it for a few seconds until melted.
  3. Slice the potatoes into very thin slices and distribute them in the bottom of your pie plate in a spiral fashion, 2 layers deep. Season with salt and pepper and brush with melted butter, then repeat the process, 2 layers at a time with the remaining potatoes. Try to be speedy because the potatoes start to discolor rather quickly when sliced so thin and be sure to cover your top layer completely with the melted butter so it browns up nicely in the hot oven.
  4. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the degree of browning. When done, the potatoes will shrink away from the sides of the dish slightly and be fork-tender in the middle. Allow to cool slightly and cut into wedges for serving.

You can vary the recipe by adding herbs to the layer, or cheese, or veggies (hey! asparagus would work!) or even leftover bacon bits or ham slices.  You can also use different types of pans.  Think muffin tins to make individual gelletes, or pizza stones, or spring form pans.  Whatever you think will work.

So that’s our Christmas Eve, our holiday season, our new tradition.  I hope yours is pleasant, happy, joyful, and all those other great words.  Take care, stay warm, and as always


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