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Gorgonzola Scalloped Potatoes

I am lucky to have come from a family full of talented cooks and passionate food lovers. I spent many afternoons perched on a kitchen stool, watching my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles carefully put together simple meals and extravagant suppers. I learned the care and love of cooking from them, and I credit my love for toiling in the kitchen to their example.

 

 

That said, learning the techniques was something different entirely. For that, I was on my own, and I was thankful for my grandmother’s recipe cards, my subscription to Southern Living, and the library of cookbooks I began to collect as soon as I hung bookshelves in my first tiny apartment kitchen. Southern Living taught me how to make so many things, from a fluffy coconut cake to scalloped potatoes; I’ve poured over each issue that landed in my mailbox, picking up tips, techniques, and process. I firmly believe that once you learn the how of a recipe you open the doors to experimentation, changing and tweaking to suit your tastes.

 

 

I’ve made scalloped potatoes time and time again, for holidays, dinner parties, and date nights at home. Last Thanksgiving, pregnant and craving potatoes in a bone deep way, I made three different versions of scalloped potatoes in addition to mashed potatoes. That particular meal ended with one family member getting the potato sweats and one very happy pregnant lady.

 

 

While the bones of my scalloped potato recipes is always the same— thinly sliced potatoes, heavy cream, generous amounts of garlic and cheese— each time I make the dish it turns out a little bit different. Sometimes I’ll add other vegetables, different cheeses, spices, or even add a breadcrumb top to make the leap to au gratin. Recently I mixed in a cup of gorgonzola, and the result was heavenly. Tangy, creamy, and buttery, the gorgonzola gave the dish a punch of flavor that made it the perfect accompaniment to a pesto-topped sirloin and arugula salad. It’s a variation I’m sure I’ll find myself returning to again and again, a delicious twist on a family classic.

 

 

Gorgonzola Scalloped Potatoes
serves 4-6

 

8-10 medium sized red potatoes

1 cup gorgonzola cheese

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated asiago cheese

2 cups heavy cream

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt

 

Heat oven to 350F.

 

Wash potatoes and thinly slice into 1/8″ slices, skin on. Arrange a layer of potato slices in a medium size casserole dish or braiser. Top with 1/2 gorgonzola and 1/3 mozzarella. Add a second layer of potatoes and top with remaining gorgonzola and 1/3 mozzarella. Add a third, and final, layer of potatoes and top with mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, salt, and red pepper flakes.

 

In a medium sauce pan combine heavy cream with minced garlic. Scald by bringing the cream just to the edge of a boil and then removing from heat. Add cream to the potatoes, pouring in along the edges of the dish so as not to disturb the layers.

 

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until cheese is melted, brown, and bubbling. Allow to set and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

 

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Dandelion Green Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

This morning I took a nature walk with my students, living vicariously through them as they delightedly picked dandelions and blew the flowering seeds into the wind, watching them dance on the cool spring breeze. After school I circled back to the same field with a pair of scissors and trimmed myself a bunch of dandelion greens for tonight’s salad. Slightly bitter with a peppery taste, dandelion greens are one of Dan’s favorites, which means that I jump at the chance to harvest and serve them. We particularly love them with a hot bacon dressing (because everything tastes better with a hot bacon dressing), goat cheese, toasted pecans, and red onions. Happy Spring, everyone!

 

 

Dandelion Green Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
serves 2-4

1 bunch fresh dandelion greens (approximately 4 cups)

1/2 red onion

1/4 cup fresh goat cheese

1/2 lb bacon

2 tbsp diced pecans

1 tbsp butter

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp seeded German mustard

Pinch salt

 

Clean and chop dandelion greens and thinly slice the onions.

Melt butter in a pan and quickly toast the pecans over medium heat by cooking for 2-3 minutes until browned.

Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, 4-5 minutes per side. Set aside and drain all but 3 tbsp of grease out of the pan. Add vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt to the skillet and whisk thoroughly over medium heat until completely combined (1-2 minutes).

Toss greens in hot dressing, and then transfer to serving dish. Top with onions, toasted pecans, goat cheese, and crumbled bacon. Serve warm.

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Onward

Those that regularly follow this space may have noticed that it’s been unusually silent lately. In fact, I haven’t posted anything since early November. I’ve made plenty of things (in fact, I wrote a cookbook), but I haven’t known what to write. Since the election I’ve had my fair share of opinions, mostly incredulous and angry, but this didn’t seem like the appropriate outlet for that (thanks, twitter). I knew I couldn’t turn around and come here to talk about Thanksgiving recipes like everything was fine so I just… didn’t. And every time I started to write something here, I came up blank. I eventually realized that I wouldn’t be able to go on with blogging as normal until I addressed the situation head on.

 

So here it is. This is a scary, disappointing, and frustrating time to be an American and a Southerner. We have given control of the country to an unhinged man who every day proves to be completely unfit. We have elected a congress that is prepared to wage war on women, people of color, low income Americans, and the environment. We allowed racism and sexism to get in the way of progress, and now we have to sit back and watch as our democracy is attacked in the name of lining the pockets of the super wealthy. I was hoping for something different when we voted in November, and I am having a hard time reconciling the choices made by my fellow (white) Americans.

 

Saturday I joined the Wilmington Women’s March to protest the inauguration and this administration’s attack on women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, the environment, health care, public schools (and on and on and on). I was so overwhelmingly proud of my community for the crowd of over 1200 people (women, men, children). I was even more inspired to see massive protests around the world, and it gave me a slice of hope to hear people committing to resist today and going forward. I’ve been calling my congressional representatives and senators, sending postcards, and I’ve resolved to join as many protests and marches as I can going forward. If nothing else this election has inspired me (and so many) to be more politically engaged, and I’m inspired watching Americans come together to stand up for what we want our country to be.

 

I’m planning on coming back to this space more frequently with recipes, including a recipe that has been neglected in my drafts folder since October as I processed all of this. I believe in this country, and I am hopeful that we can make this a country that serves all of its citizens equally and fairly.

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