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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Potatoes au gratin, pork shoulder roast, steamed green beans and strawberries

So, I had some potatoes that had reached the critical "use 'em or lose 'em" stage. A lot of potatoes. Okay, a 5 pound bag of potatoes... sometimes I just forget things, okay?! Anyhow, I made some potato soup the other night and last night I made spaghetti and meatballs. Since that is a very easy dinner to make I decided to use up the rest of my rapidly aging spuds by peeling and chopping some for mashed potatoes and peeling and slicing some for au gratin. By the by, for making quick uniform slices, I just adore my mandolin!

The mashed potatoes got boiled, drained and saved for tomorrow night's dinner, the au gratin potatoes were placed in a buttered dish and then, I realize, "Whoops. I can't remember how to make au gratin potatoes!" Off to the internet where I am immediately captivated by The Pioneer Woman's delectable looking Au Gratin Potato recipe. Of course I only have about HALF the ingredients, but there ya go. I am more of an improvisational cook anyhow. I just needed to know some technique.

My "recipe" such as it was called for about 1/3 cup each, whole milk, half and half and sour cream, really well blended. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, 2 smashed and chopped cloves of garlic and about 2 teaspoons of flour for thickening. I placed my potatoes in thin overlapping slices on the bottom of the baking dish and topped each layer with about 1/3 of the milk/cream mixture. I baked at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, honestly I didn't keep track I just pulled it out to look at when I could smell the garlic cooking. Then I topped it with mozzarella cheese (3 handfuls or so?) and put some foil on it and set it in the fridge.

Tonight in the last 20 minutes of cooking time for my marinated pork shoulder, I set the au gratin in the oven to reheat and melt and brown the cheese. Meanwhile I snapped and strung about a pound of fresh green beans and placed them in a microwave safe bowl with butter and salt and nuked them for about 5 minutes. (If I can digress on the pork shoulder roast a bit, this was a pre-marinated boneless chunk of meat about the size of 2 softballs put together. As roasts go it is pretty fool-proof and easy enough to cook on a weeknight.)

We rounded out dinner with some fresh Florida strawberries from Plant City and called it a meal. The kids really, really, REALLY liked the strawberries, they actually asked for thirds on those. Of course that would be the one dish I didn't actually COOK, but that's baseball, I guess. We have plenty for lunches tomorrow and the tag ends of the roast may even end up flavoring a pot of beans or something.

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