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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Pan-Fried Potato

2 Great News to announce!

You can now install The Cooking Ninja free application on your Android phone (if you have one obviously) and access my blog & recipes easily from your phone. Just search for "cooking ninja" on the Android application market.

And we have finally decided on our love nest. It's only about 5 minutes walk to Little One's school. That means Little One gets to sleep for another hour before getting ready to go to school. The only down side of the deal is that we'll need to take a bus to the nearest train station (10 minutes away) to go down town. But hey, it's what is best for our kid that counts the most right? Boy, we are so ready to move in right away as Little One (not just her, us too) is exhausted from waking up like 6.30 am to take the train and bus (about an hour of commuting) to school every morning and back. Yesterday night, she was so tired that she hardly ate her dinner and went to bed at 7.30 pm. Anyway, the apartment isn't ready until next month and we don't have any furniture at all. So there are lots of things to sort out before we can settle down and feel home. And I hope to satisfy my baker & cook itch in me soon. Pierre (so do Little One), needlessly to say, is dying for a nice western (French) home cook meal.

Now today's recipe has very much to do with this month's book choice The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaeffer and Annie Barrows' for our « This Book Makes Me Cook » club. Read on and you will soon know why.

This book came highly recommended by my mother-in-law at the beginning of this year, who went on to buy a copy for her own library. Before I sat down and read it, she warned me that it is not written in the ordinary book way but in a form of series of letters and that if I can get it beyond that oddity, I would fall in love with book like she did. What can I say, this book is indeed a gem and how right she was!

Set in London and Guernsey Island, the story is about an author, Juliet, in search for a new inspiration and angle to write a new book, who became friends with the inhabitants of the island shortly after the end of World War II through correspondence. She was rather intrigued by the name of a book club 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society'. Least to say, not just her but us, the readers are rather curious about its name sake too. I love the way the author create each characters, giving them each an unique voice that endear themselves to the readers, making them so real and the depths of friendship and relationship that binds the characters in the story. This book evokes both happiness and sadness in the readers as if we were right there living with the inhabitants of Guernsey and making the reader sad that it has come to an end.

For this book, I would like to introduce a super simple French classic side dish called 'Pommes Rissolée' that is often present on the table in every French household with either steak, fish or pork. It's a big favourite among the young and old. Thank you Michèle (mom-in-law) for showing me how to make this.

Panfried Potato (Pommes Rissolées)
Ingredients
  • 5 medium/big potatoes (peeled & diced)
  • olive oil or butter or duck fat (oil from leftover duck confit)
  • 1 or 2 garlic (finely chopped - more if you prefer lots of garlic)
  • salt for seasoning
  • a prig or two of parsley, chopped (optional)
Pan-Fried Potato
Directions
  1. Peeled and diced your potatoes into small cubes. Rinse and towel dry them. This is to remove the starch from the potatoes after cutting it. If you don't wash them, the potato will likely stick to your wok/pan later.
  2. Heat the wok/pan with some oil/butter or duct fats.
  3. Once the oil is hot or butter is melted, add in the diced potatoes. Let it cook for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the bottom is browned under medium heat.
  4. Turn the potatoes over and let it brown on the other side. Add more oil if needed.
  5. Season it with salt. Toss now and then to get even browning of potatoes.
  6. Once the potatoes are more or less brown all over, toss in the chopped garlic. Stir to mix it together with the potatoes and let the garlic flavour infused with the potatoes under low heat about a few minutes.
  7. Toss in the chopped parsley (optional) onto the potato just before serving.
  8. Enjoy it with a steak, fish or chicken.
Pan-Fried PotatoPan-Fried Potato
Conclusion

It's unbelievable how such a simple dish like this can taste so good and full of aroma - crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. With or without the parsley, this dish still smell so good but of course the parsley bring it to another height in flavour.

Most of the time I only panfried it with olive oil but on the occasion when I have some duck fats (leftover oil from duck confit), I can't resist pan fry the potatoes with it. It's heavenly awesome. Try it and you'll know what I mean by it.

Notes

Some slice the potatoes instead and pan fry them the same way.

Pan-Fried Potato
12 comments on this post.

Gratin Dauphinois

It seems like the Flu just can't stop from visiting us this winter : our poor daughter is running around blowing bubbles with her runny nose - she finds it very interesting (sigh!) and a nasty cough. Though it doesn't like it is bothering her too much. Now she likes to share her dirty hanky ... first she will wipe her nose and then she insists on wiping my nose and then Pierre's. Ugh!

Back to something more appetizing : one of the most classic French gratin is gratin dauphinois (originated from Dauphiné), made up of mainly potatoes and heavy cream (crème fraîche). There are many different ways of cooking it, some cook the potatoes with milk first before baking it, some just bake it with milk or just plain cream. Some (to the food snobs horror) even add grated cheese to it, making it something called gratin savoyard.

Gratin Dauphinois
Ingredients
  • 1 kg potatoes (peeled & sliced)
  • 5 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic
  • butter
  • milk
  • salt, pepper & ground nutmeg
Directions
  1. Cut the garlic into half and rub the garlic all over the bottom and sides of a baking or gratin dish.
  2. Then grease the bottom and sides of the dish with butter.
  3. Wash the potatoes, peel off the skin and then use the food processor to cut them into thin slices.
  4. Spread a layer of sliced potatoes on the dish and sprinkle on top of it with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg. Then lay another layer of potatoes and season it with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg. Repeat it until all the potatoes are used.
  5. Mix milk and cream together until it is combined and liquid enough. Spread the mixture evenly all over the potatoes.
  6. Bake in the oven at 210°C for about 45 minutes. The potatoes are cooked when the toothpick pierced through the gratin easily. If the top browns too quickly, lower the temperature slightly.
gratin dauphinois
The Verdict

Well cooked, the potatoes litteraly melt in your mouth and the cream makes it even more smooth! It's a nice side dish to go with some red meat.

Notes

You can either spread the milk-cream mixture on top of the potatoes or you can spread a bit of the mixture on each layer of potatoes.

You can do different variations with this dish like sprinkling grated cheese and bread crumbs on top of it, however it will not be called gratin dauphinois anymore.:-p

gratin dauphinois
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Tourte aux pommes de terre - Potato Pie

This is another French recipe from my mother-in-law, Michèle. This big potato pie is rather delicious, and as often in this case, not the best thing for your diet ! It goes well as a side with some meat, but we also like to eat it as a main course (with salad) since you are unlikely to end up hungry after downing a portion;-)

Tourte aux pommes de terre

Ingredients
  • 1 kg potatoes (peeled and sliced in thin rounds using a vegetable slicer machine)
  • 1 big onion (sliced)
  • 200 to 220 g bacon (cut in match sticks)
  • 2 puff/flaky pastry (pâte feuilletée dough)
  • 1 egg yolk slightly beaten with a bit of milk
  • 40 cl sour cream (crème fraîche)
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg for seasoning
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven at 170°C (325°F - gas mark 3).
  2. Stir-fry the sliced onions with a bit of oil till they are a bit transparent and soft.
  3. Lay 1 puff/flaky pastry in a deep pie dish or round baking pan laid with baking paper.
  4. Spread a layer of sliced potato in the pie, then spread some bacon and onion on it. Season it with a bit of salt, pepper and nutmeg powder.
  5. Repeat the above step till all is finished.
  6. Fold in the side border of the dough (towards the potato) and brush it with water (this helps to seal the two pastry). Then cover it with another puff pastry, pressing on the border a little to make sure it is sealed to the bottom pastry. Fold in whatever is left on the side.
  7. Cut a tiny hole in the middle of the pie to make a chimney and place a small cone on the chimney.
  8. Brush the surface of the pie with the beaten yolk-milk mixture.
  9. Bake it at 170°C (325°F - gas mark 3) for about 60 minutes or till the potato is cooked.
  10. Once the pie is cooked, cut a bigger circle on the top crust and put aside the cover. Pour in the crème fraîche. Put back the cover on the pie and leave the pie inside the warm oven (switched off) for a few minutes to let the cream melt and spread down the pie.
Tourte aux pommes de terre ingredientsPotato Pie
The Verdict

Well my first attempt at it turned out to be a masterpiece, although a bit by accident: I added a bit more bacon then normal (the "official" recipe use only 150 g) to finish a box, and the potatoes were well cooked to the point of melting in your mouth. With the cream, the result is a very delicious (and rich) texture, smooth in the mouth and with that tasty smoky bacon flavour. Yummy ! The crunchy crust around makes the whole experience even better. This is definitely one of Pierre's favorite recipe as well:-)

Note

Some variants skip the bacon but use a lot of parsley to enhance the flavor. We are not a big fan of parsley but if that's your thing, you might like to have a go at it.

Tourte aux pommes de terre - potato pieTourte aux pommes de terre
25 comments on this post.

Gnocchi, Gnocchi ... oh sweet delicious Gnocchi!

Gnocchi (pronounced 'ɲɔkki ) means dumplings in Italian (gnocchi is the plural of gnocco, which literally means 'lump') - made of potato and flour (there are different variations) that Pierre and some of my friends love so much. It's amazing how many food in common my friends have with my better half. It's just so weird at times.:-) Now, here's how our gnocchi adventure started:

A few days ago, while I was chatting with my friends on-line, I got a message from Pierre with a link to an article from Le Monde newspaper. I did a quick read through without really noting anything special about it. After a long silence from my part, Pierre asked me from his desk excitedly : Did you read the article I sent you ? to which I answered Yeah, so ? and he was going Well ? ... me : hmm... not bad. At this point, he was getting a bit exasperated at my air nonchalant. Him: Isn't it cool that she made gnocchi herself ? with that hopeful look in his eyes. I was about to say hmm, yeah. So ? again when it finally hit me. Oh you mean you want me to make these gnocchis ? ... now tell me, how can I say "no" to that "excited wishful puppy" look.:-D

Gnocchi

Makes : 4 - 6

Ingredients

Gnocchi

  • 1 kg old potatoes
  • 200 g Plain flour (approx.)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • Salt

Sauce

Directions

Gnocchis

  1. Wash the potatoes and cook them (with the skin) in a pot of salted water.
  2. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them slowly (to keep them warm) as you peel each potato skin off while it is still hot.
  3. Flour the work surface and mash the potatoes over it using a potato masher or a food mill.
  4. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mashed potatoes, make a well in the middle and add in an egg, 1 yolk and a pinch of salt.
  5. Mix the potato-flour mixture together with your hands and slowly add in the rest of the flour as your work on till it forms a dough.
  6. Continue adding flour a little at a time while kneading the dough, until the potato dough is no longer too sticky but firm and is soft and fluffy - avoid incorporating too much flour.
  7. Cut the dough into a few smaller portions. Then sprinkle the work surface with a little flour, and place the first piece on it.
  8. Roll the dough into one or two long sticks approximately 2 cm (¾ inch) in diameter. Then cut it into pieces ¾ inch (2 cm) long and then roll it into a round oval shape in your hands.
  9. Roll the pieces along the prongs of a common fork using one finger, in a way so that the side of the piece running along the fork will be ruffled and the side you are pressing with your finger will be a little concave. Or simply press the gnocchi with your thumb with a rolling motion to create a small concavity.
  10. Spaced the gnocchi on a piece of cloth. Let it stand for 1 or 2 hours.
  11. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Once it is boiling, drop the gnocchies in a few at a time to avoid damaging them.
  12. After about 1 or 2 minutes the gnocchi will float to the surface, this means that they are cooked.
  13. Remove them as soon as they float to the surface with a large slotted spoon or strainer, draining thoroughly. Do not let the gnocchi overcook.
  14. Serve it immediately with sauce.

Sauce

  • Melt the cheese in a bain-marie (double boiler) with crème fraîche till well blended.
gnocchi doughgnocchignocchi
The Verdict

Wow! It's a million times better than the prepackaged ones. Everybody loves it, even my picky 1 year old baby. It's soft and taste like thick pasta with a slight potato flavour. It is not chewy like those industrial ones from the supermarket. I personally love it - I wasn't a fan before but now I'm converted (and I'm not saying this because it's me who made it !) Pierre and our guests had theirs with the gorgonzola cheese sauce while I had mine with crème fraîche mixed with a bit of butter (not a fan of blue cheese).

Regarding the preparation itself, I made them using fresh potatoes because I didn't understand what it means by "Vieilles pommes de terre". I thought it was some special type of potatoes. I just didn't make the connection between "vieille" and "old" in English. (I know, I know ... silly me, go ahead and have a good laugh - I don't know where was my brain that day). Next I over mashed the potato in my enthusiasm that it became a puree. And I should have worked the dough on a work surface instead of a big bowl. In the end, I had to use almost 500 g of flour to get a nice dough - over twice what the recipe said.

By the way, rolling the gnocchi on the fork to get the shell-like shape takes some practice but you will get the hook of it pretty fast. Or you can just simply imprint your gnocchi with your fork or thumb.

I'm so glad that with all the silly mistakes that I made, they still turned out great.:-) That made my day!

Note

Don't drain gnocchi in a colander as you would do with pasta. Gnocchi are very soft and may be damaged.

It is preferably that you use old potatoes which have higher starch content than fresh potatoes and avoid my mistake.

The classic accompaniments of gnocchi are tomato sauce, brown butter or sage sauce, or melted butter and cheese.

gnocchi


Edit on 08/24/2007:
this is my entry for the Hay, Hay, It's Donna Day #14 hosted by Lynne

14 comments on this post.