julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

You Say Potayto, I Say Potahto

 

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“You find yourself refreshed by the presence of cheerful people. Why not make an honest effort to confer that pleasure on others? Half the battle is gained if you never allow yourself to say anything gloomy.” – Julia Child

Last night I went to a lovely potluck holiday party. (Yes, I know it’s the end of January. What can I say, we’re busy people!) When the food sign-up sheet was passed around, my first instinct was to sign up for one of my go-to appetizers or desserts – those are always relatively easy. But then I thought, what’s the fun in easy? So I opted for a side dish from MTAOFC. Our hostess was going to make the entrée, a yummy chicken dish, so I flipped through the (now kind of gross) pages of my (exhausted) cookbook to find something new, but also relatively safe. 

And that’s how I came across Gratin de Pommes de Terre Crecy (scalloped potatoes and carrots with cream). It was similar to the Gratin de Jurassien I had made before that were so tasty, so not only did I have an idea of what I was doing, but I also felt pretty confident that it would taste good in the end.  The only thing I wasn’t too sure about was the carrots. I mean, since when do carrots hang out with scalloped potatoes? But far be it from me to promote segregation among the vegetable kingdom. If Julia said it was okay, I wasn’t going to rock the boat. Potayto potahto, right?

Sliced carrots

For the first time since beginning this project, I actually DOUBLED a recipe (*gasp!*). I sliced about 4 cups of carrots and boiled them with a little butter and minced green onion until tender. Meanwhile, I sliced about 12 cups of potatoes and buttered the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. I created a layer of potatoes, added some salt and pepper, then covered them with a sprinkling of shredded Swiss cheese and a few dots of butter. Next I added a layer of drained cooked carrots, salt/pepper/cheese/butter dots, and ended with one more potato layer with salt/pepper/cheese/butter dots. 

Simmering on the stove

I poured about two cups of cream into the pan, then set it on the stove and brought it to a simmer. Finally, I put the pan in a 300 degree oven for an hour while I went to go get ready for the party. When I came out of the bedroom to check on the dish, I could smell it before I got to the kitchen – it smelled divine! I removed the pan from the oven and could tell the potatoes were cooked through, and the Swiss cheese topping was nice and golden. I let it cool for a bit while I got the rest of my things together, then put a lid on the pan and packed it up in my car.  I had an hour-long drive ahead of me, and on the way I couldn’t help thinking how wonderful it would be if I got stranded somewhere and was forced to live off the potato dish…it filled my car with the most amazing creamy potato smell! 

Let's take this show on the road!

Of course any time you try a new recipe and serve it to people for the first time without having tasted it yourself, you’re setting yourself up for possible disaster. But despite my disclaimers, my friends assured me that even if I had botched the recipe, they would love me anyway, so I figured I had nothing to lose. And you know something? The potatoes/carrots turned out great! The potatoes were crispy on the edges and soft in the middle, and the soft carrots added a nice sweetness to the dish. The melted cheese and cream tied everything together, and made for a really nice accompaniment to the chicken. Best of all, this dish got rave reviews from the party goers! I even noticed people going back for seconds. In fact, I hardly had any leftovers to bring home, which is always a good sign. 

This was all that was left for me to bring home.

Everyone had a wonderful time at the party. The hostess had small tables set up in her living room with candle centerpieces and red/green table cloths, and she surprised us by hiring a guitar quartet to come play for us while we ate. Everyone brought delicious food, and we enjoyed visiting and planning activities for the new year. 

Why don’t we have holiday parties more often? 

Since the potatoes were such a hit, I thought I’d celebrate this culinary victory with a little video to get your week off to a great start. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Happy Monday, everyone!
– Jessica

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2 Responses to “You Say Potayto, I Say Potahto”

  1. Mom says:

    I had some of them thar’ yummy potatoes and carrots – oooooeeeeee, delish!

  2. Jessica says:

    This one looks/sounds great! I wouldn’t think potatoes and carrots would go together either but I believe you and Julia!

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