Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin

This is a real oldie but goodie. If you have not made these before, try it and it just might become a favourite.

  • 12 large potatoes, cleaned, peeled and cut in thick rounds
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • Bechamel Sauce – recipe follows

Butter a large oval casserole baking dish and set aside.

Drop the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and cook until tender and this should take about 5 minutes. Drain well.

Make up the sauce and assemble by making a single layer of rounds in the dish, sprinkle half of the onion over and with half the sauce. Repeat the layers and finish with the remaining sauce.

Bake in preheated oven of 375 degrees for 40 minutes until nicely browned. Settle for 10 minutes before serving.

Bechamel Sauce

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 1/4 cups half and half cream
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed

Melt butter in saucepan and add garlic, stirring for one minute.

Stir in the flour and cook for two minutes until completely blended and no lumps remaining.

Whisking quickly, slowly add the cream until it thickens and is smooth.

*Like with all sauces, strain for a totally silky smooth sauce.

Heirloom Carrots With a Lime Butter Toss

This time of the year, gardens explode with bounty to use by either braising, steaming, frying, bbq-ing or simply eating raw straight from the earth.

This is using multi coloured carrots, left with some of the tops (for added colour) and topping with the lime butter.

  • 3 lbs. baby carrots
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. good olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. grated lime rind
  • 2 tsp. minced mint leaves

Scrub the carrots and trim the tops off leaving a 1 cm of the stem, still attached. Bring a large stockpot of water to the boil and add the oil and sat the carrots in, uncovered, and cook for about 6-7 minutes.

Cream the butter in the food processor with the lime zest, juice and minced mint leaves, beating until light and fluffy. This should take  no  more than 2 minutes on high speed.

When ready to serve, drain the carrots and  add a couple of tbsp. of the butter mix, tossing to coat. The remainder of the butter can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

Spring Vegetables In A Flash

This is a wonderful side dish and if  you remember to purchase only the freshest and most tender vegetables, it will be ready in a ‘flash’.

 

  • pinch of salt
  • 1 bunch thin asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 small leek, dark green leaves removed, slicing the rounds 1/4 inch thick (1 cup)
  • 1 bunch baby spinach, stems trimmed
  • 4 ounces sweet  baby peas
  • lemon pepper

Firstly, wash and pat dry the vegetables.

Fill a large skillet with about an inch of water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and add the asparagus. Cover and simmer for 4 minutes.

Remove the asparagus from the skillet and place on a serving plate. Pour the water out of the skillet.

Return skillet to oven and add the butter. Add the leek circles and cook for about 2 – 3 minutes until tender. Now add the spinach and peas, season with a pinch of lemon pepper . Cover and cook for about 3 minutes.

Turn the vegetables out over the asparagus and serve immediately. It takes approximately 10 minutes.

There! Told you it was quick and certainly easy.

Golf Weekend Baked Beans For Barbecue

I won’t say we are competitive , my husband and I, BUT I have been making baked beans forever and then, when Don’s golf weekend with the guys came up, he made this. Well…… You now have a choice.

 

  • 2 – 16 oz. cans beans, drain well
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (your choice)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins (soak 30 min. before using)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, peeled apple

Drain the beans really, really well. Pour into large casserole and mix in the remaining ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1  1/2 hours.

Easy peasey

 

Note: mine are better…now isn’t that just like a wife? The men loved these beans by the way.

Various Baked Potatoes For The Summer

We all love to eat outdoors and with a steak or lamb or anything else, baked potatoes are most often on the list. Here are a few ideas you might want to try. Who knows,  you just might invent a new one you like as well.  Here we go:

 

To maintain a crispy outer potato skin, do not wrap in foil. Brush oil all over the outside of the potatoes and bake in the oven or barbecue, until done.

Let cool a few minutes and then cut in half, but not completely through. Add any of the following to the center of the potato.

  • Simple butter, salt and pepper;
  • Sour cream, crisp bacon, chopped hard boiled egg;
  • sour cream, salsa, finely chopped radish
  • Cheddar cheese, grated, cauliflower florets and crisp pancetta

These little ideas will make the meal go from simple to gourmet in a heart beat. Add an ice cold green salad, making sure to add a fruit to it such as diced mango or cantaloupe. perhaps a berry or two. All it takes is a little imagination on  your part and you can entertain exceptionally.

Potato and Carrot Mash

This is a bit unusual, perhaps, but oh so tasty. This would be a wonderful side dish for a barbecued steak.

 

  • 1 lb. yellow fleshed potatoes
  • 1/2 lb. carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. creamy horseradish
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

The potatoes and carrots should be peeled and cut into chunks. In a saucepan, cook the vegetables and the garlic until tender. This could take about 18 minutes. Drain really well.

In your electric mixer, combine the vegetables with the butter, creamy horseradish and sour cream until smooth. You may need to add a touch of milk to make the consistency you want. Add salt and pepper and serve with the steaks or ribs you have just taken off the barbecue.

Enjoy this dish.

The Best Crispy Roasted Potatoes Ever

My Mom could make the very best roasted potatoes, especially if cooking a pork roast. Here is another way, perhaps a little longer time-wise, but it is so worth it, you won’t mind.

Serves 4

  • 2 lbs. Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup each butter and olive oil
  • 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
  • pinch of salt

The big secret here is to boil them first just until fork tender. Drain well.

In a roasting pan, heat the oil and butter in a hot (425 degree) oven for about 3 minutes. Remove from oven.

CAREFULLY now-stand back and, with a slotted spoon, add the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and fennel seeds, and stir to coat.

Put back in the oven and roast for about 50-55 minutes, making sure to turn the potatoes every 20 minutes. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

 

New Flavour For Broccoli

Wow! If you are looking for another way to serve Broccoli to family and friends, this just may be the one.

  • 3 cups broccoli florets, fresh not frozen
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 – 3 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup  blue cheese, crumbled (depends how much you love blue cheese)
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1-2 tbsp. melted butter

Steam the broccoli for about 5-8 minutes, just until tender and set aside.

In a skillet, make a roux by melting the butter and slowly whisking in the flour and, stirring constantly, slowly add the milk. ( you may need to add about 1/4 cup milk more to make a consistent roux. Add the cream cheese and blue cheese.

Stir in the broccoli and pour into a buttered casserole. Top with the panko crumbs and drizzle over with the melted butter.

Bake for 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

 

 

Asparagus With Lemons and Pecans

 

Sometimes we all get into a rut and serve vegetables the same old way. Try this one and it will brighten your outlook on asparagus.

 

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup pecans (measuring 1/2 cup after saute)
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 2 lbs. asparagus
  • lemon slices

In a skillet, melt the butter and add the pecans, sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the panko crumbs. and continue for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze into the mixture, making sure no seeds fall in. Remove from the heat and add the zest and parsley.

Steam asparagus just until tender. Arrange on a pretty platter and sprinkle the topping over all. Garnish with lemon slices.

You will get lots of oohs and ahhs for sure.

 

 

Summer Corn You Will Love

I don’t know anyone who does not like/love corn on the cob. This is the same thing but different. Ready to try?

  • 7 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • pinch of salt

First, cut the corn from the cob. Combine with the sugar, stir to cover and let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and when melted, add the corn and cook for about 3 – 3 1/2 minutes. Gradually add the cream, stirring to combine and making sure not to burn it.

Cook now for about 14-15 minutes over a medium heat until the liquid is almost all absorbed. Stir in the salt and serve to some very lucky people at the table.

You will be making this over and over.

Summer Vegetable Pies

This might be one way for kids and adults who claim NOT to like vegetables, to eat them. It is very pretty to look at and the vegetables are not mushy in texture. A super summer dish.

  • 2 pie crusts (store bought is good)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. cold water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into a small dice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Emmental cheese, grated
  • 1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb. baby carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (variety of colours is really pretty)
  • 1/2 lb. sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2  inch pieces
  • 8 small nugget potatoes, sliced in 1/8 inch pieces
  • 2 small zucchinis (1 green – 1 yellow), sliced in 1/8 inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/8 inch slices
  • pinch of salt and freshly grated black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the pie crusts to cover two 4 inch pie or tart pans. Cut each crust into 5 inch circles and place one circle in each pan. Confused? Never mind, keep going.

Using small cookie cutters, cut out about 18-20 shapes of your choice and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tsp. of cold water. If using a pie plate, then take a small brush and brush the one side of the small cut outs and set around the pie plate edges for a pretty design. Fill the plates with baking weights. If using tart pans, just leave on parchment lined baking tray.

With a fork, prick the base of the pie crust and bake all for about 8-12 moments. Remove from the oven and remove the pie weights. Let cool.

In a medium sized fry pan, heat the olive oil and the onion and garlic, cooking until fragrant which could be 4-5 minutes. Divide into two and spread evenly over the base of the pie plates. Top this layer with the grated cheese.

Blanching Vegetables

Fill a bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large pot with water to the boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the ice water to prevent further cooking. Remove and blot dry with a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining vegetables.

Now here is where you become creative. Line each vegetable up in rows over the cheese, making sure to reach the edges of the pie plates. Trim if necessary for a perfect fit.

Place in the oven and bake for 13-16 minutes until the cheese has all melted and the vegetables are heated through. This can be served hot or warm (room temperature).

Paired beautifully with a chilled Chardonnay.

 

Creamy Herb Polenta

Polenta made this way can really serve another purpose as well. Place any leftovers in the fridge and in the morning, cut into squares and fry them to go with your eggs. Voila! You are so clever.

 

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth (no salt added)
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime zest
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

In a saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the leek and garlic, stirring occasionally until softened (about 4-5 minutes).

Add the broth, 1/3 cup water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal, cook by constantly stirring until it becomes thick enough to mound on a spoon. This will take 7-10 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, sour cream, lime zest and juice and mustard. This is delicious when served with pork.

Remember, you can save the leftovers for breakfast.