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Potatoes Au Gratin

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I am a devotee of the potato.  Mashed, twice baked, casseroled, churned into pies, fried, you name it I love it.  One of the things I receive a lot of comments on is my family’s tendency to put mayonnaise in their mashed potatoes.  Which I get, kind of, because mayo gets a bum rap, but how is it any different than putting sour cream or even whole milk in your potatoes?  We’re all trying to achieve the same thing people, creamy carby goodness.  Or in this case, one notch above- cheesy creamy carby goodness.

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The phrase “au gratin” refers to a technique where a browned crust is created with breadcrumbs or, in this case, cheese.  Potatoes au gratin are (in this recipe, at least) scalloped potatoes layered with different types of cheeses, topped with cream, and baked in a shallow dish for an extended period of time.  The end result is a crunchy top and layers of soft, gooey, incredible potatoes.  This is the kind of dish that you’ll want to make in your big casserole dish.  Because this is exactly the type of dish that my sisters and I would eat in bed while watching an entire season of Celebrity Mole the day after Thanksgiving.

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Don’t forget, springing this recipe onto your springpad, either from b&s or my springpad page, will automatically enter you to win $100!  And if you’re feeling generous, spring all my thanksgiving 2009 recipes to help me win $500!

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NEW FEATURE:  Finally, a solution to the desire to print, email, & share our recipes has arrived.  If you scroll down, just below the instructions and before the comments, you’ll see a row of icons.  Run your mouse over them and they’ll jump up to full size, revealing their function.  Enjoy!

Potatoes au Gratin

for a small casserole dish. for a larger one, double the ingredients.

5 yukon gold potatoes

1 cup heavy cream

2 garlic cloves

1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Peel & slice potatoes, putting them in cold water after their sliced to prevent discoloration.

Shred your cheese. In a small casserole dish, layer potatoes and cheese until you are out of both, ending with a generous layer of cheese.

In a sauce pan, scald cream with the whole garlic cloves. Right before the casserole goes into the oven, pour the cream into the dish. Pour it along the edges so as not to disturb the layers.

Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.

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Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

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When I was trying to come up with a good appetizer for this year’s Thanksgiving spread, I thought about what dish I wanted to spice up, what ingredients I wanted to use and what I wanted to pass over.  Last year, I decided to skip over the calorie-heavy favorite, the green bean casserole, in favor of other dishes.  Instead, I made apple cider green beans, which I loved but were not a complete head over heels crowd pleaser.

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I thought about other holiday favorites, and realized everything I thought of had one thing in common- it was wrapped in bacon (or prosciutto).  Perfect!  Green beans roast well because they’re a very firm vegetable, and their flavor is strong enough to stand up against bacon.  I decided to pair it with a glaze, something that would play well with the essence of bacon but also tie the dish in with the rest of the meal.  Thanksgiving is, after all, about blending dishes.

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I prepared this side dish as part of a larger meal for Springpad’s 2009 Thanksgiving competition.  Because of this, I wanted this dish to have notes of flavor in common with the other dishes in my spread.  The marinade on my roasted mango and habanero turkey was roasted mango, roasted habanero, and orange juice.  So I made a glaze for the green beans out of brown sugar and orange juice.  The orange juice tied the flavors in with the turkey (and the cranberry sauce).  I used sugar to thicken the glaze, brown sugar in particular because it’s richness compliments the bacon.  The end result was scrumptious, leading Dan to suggest (not for the first time) that everything in life is better wrapped in bacon.

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Don’t forget, springing this recipe onto your springpad, either from b&s or my springpad page, will automatically enter you to win $100!  And if you’re feeling generous, spring all my thanksgiving 2009 recipes to help me win $500!

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Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

2 cups fresh green beans

1/2 lb bacon

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup light brown sugar

Toothpicks

Snap the ends off of your green beans.

Preheat your oven to 400. Cut each slice of bacon in half. Bunch together 5 or 6 green beans, and wrap a piece of bacon around them. Secure with a tooth pick. Repeat until all the beans are wrapped.

Roast for 20 minutes.

While the beans are in the oven, combine oj & brown sugar in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool.

When the beans are done, plate them and drizzle with sauce.

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Melted Brie & Cranberry

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You know that dish that everyone gobbles up around the holidays and ooohs and ahhhs over, relishing in consuming countless calories of delicious pre-New Years Resolution goodness?  This is so that dish in my family.  My Aunt Lori brings this to every family gathering and it is a hit, every time.

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When I was trying to come up with a good appetizer to include in my Thanksgiving spread this year, this one immediately came to mind.  At first I pushed it out of my head because I thought it was too common, too traditional.  But then I thought- that’s what people want on Thanksgiving.  Sure, they’ll take a little twist here and a little spike of new flavor there, but for the most part, around the holidays, we want tradition. And for my family, this is tradition.

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You’ll be happy to know that, since this is a food blog and I was entering this recipe into a recipe contest (after all), that I did add a twist.  Usually when this dish is served in my house it’s strictly brie and puff pastry.  Which, by itself, is one of of the most delicious things ever.  I mean, soft cheese and puffy buttery dough?  Please. But, being a professional and all, I added a little of my  homemade cranberry sauce.  I know.  I’ll take that invitation to MENSA now for my groundbreaking ideas.

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Even if my twist isn’t revolutionary, I’m happy to report that it is delicious.  It adds a burst of flavor to the dish, not to mention a beautiful layer of color, which is important while you’re trying to show up the rest of your family during the holiday season.  Not that I try and show up my family.  Though my sister does make these oreo balls that I’m perpetually trying to one-up.  But that’s a story for another day.  What I’m saying is- delicious.  Perfect for the holidays.  Gobble gobble gobble.

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Don’t forget, springing this recipe onto your springpad, either from b&s or my springpad page, will automatically enter you to win $100!  And if you’re feeling generous, spring all my thanksgiving 2009 recipes to help me win $500!

Melted Brie & Cranberry

1 sheet puff pastry

1 round of brie

1/4 cup fresh cranberry sauce (recipe here)

Spread the puff pastry out. Place brie on top. Spread cranberry sauce onto the brie. Fold up the edges of the pastry so that a circle is formed.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Allow to rest 5 before serving

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