Potatoes au Gratin

Potatoes au Gratin

Potatoes au Gratin

Calling all potato lovers!  If you are anything like me you love potatoes in any form.  And really, potatoes are  a healthy, non-fattening food.  Its how they are cooked and what you put on them that makes all the difference.

The potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (approximately 26 gm, in a medium potato), with starch being its predominant form.  A large quantity of this starch is resistant to digestion, and so it reaches the large intestines largely intact.  This resistant starch is considered to have many beneficial effects similar to those of fiber.  When you eat the skin of a potato this increases the fiber benefit.  Without getting into a lengthy physiological explanation, let me just say that the bulk that fiber provides offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and increases satiety (feelings of fullness and satisfaction).

Most notably potatoes contain high levels of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Potassium.  A medium potato also contains about 75 gm. water.  So you see, potatoes can be a healthy food.  Preparation is the key in preserving the nutrients.

The following recipe for Potatoes au Gratin in one that I like to make as an accompaniment to baked ham, or meatloaf.  You will note that I have kept the above mentioned facts in mind in my preparation:  using a good quality Idaho potato,  limiting the amount of cheese and using cheeses that provide good favor, and using low-fat milk with just a little flour for thickening.  Chopped green onions many be added as desired to the potato mixture for further flavor.

POTATOES AU GRATIN

Yield:   4 servings

Ingredients:

Note that only three potatoes are used to make 4 servings.

Note that only three potatoes are used to make 4 servings.

  • 1 lb. Idaho baking potatoes
  • 3 oz. grated cheese (Swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby are all good )
  • 3/4 cup milk  (I use skim milk with no problems)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  •  black pepper, to taste
  • 1  1/2 teaspoon flour
  • paprika

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Lightly butter a shallow au gratin dish, or spray with non-stick baking spray.

2.  Slice potatoes into 1/4-inch thick rounds.

3.  Arrange one layer of potatoes to cover the bottom of the baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4.  Mix together the cheese and flour, and sprinkle 1/3  of it over top of potatoes.

5.  Repeat with another layer of the potatoes, salt and pepper, 1/3 of the cheese and flour mixture.

Layering the potatoes with cheese/flour mixture.

Layering the potatoes with cheese/flour mixture.

6.  Repeat a third layer of potatoes, cheese and flour.    Warm the milk in the microwave, then pour gently over the potatoes.  Sprinkle with paprika.   Bake for 50 minutes until potatoes are tender and milk is absorbed.

Just out of the oven, nicely browned and crusty.

Ready for the oven.

Out of the oven, nicely browned and crusty.

Out of the oven, nicely browned and crusty.

SOURCE:   a Carolyn Original

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Cauliflower, The Royal Vegetable

How many of you grew up eating ( or not eating) that white vegetable that looked so bland and had a cabbagey taste?  Me, too!  Definitely, not one of my favorites.  Until one day in the cafeteria at work I met Cauliflower au Gratin bathed in a cheesy sauce, with a crunchy crumb topping. AHHH!  That’s more like it.  I fell in love, and became determined to learn how to make it.

Did you know that cauliflower actually has aristocratic roots?  It was first popularized in the Royal Court of France, when Countess Jeanne du Barry, mistress of King Louis, XV, became enamored with it.  On restaurant menus any dish which features cauliflower may be called “du Barry” in her honor.

Like many nobles, cauliflower can be rather fussy.  It gets easily “sunburned” while still growing in the garden, unless the farmer ties the leaves of each individual crown to cover and shield it from the sun, lest it become yellowed.  Once harvested, however, it is less fussy. Easily prepared in a variety of ways, cauliflower can be dressed plain, or fancy to bring out its sophisticated flavor.

Not to be overlooked, is the nutrient value of cauliflower.  It is loaded with a cancer-fighting chemical which can help destroy cancer cells.  Add to that it is low in calories, high in fiber, and contains healthy amounts of vitamins C and K.  All excellent reasons to learn to love cauliflower if you don’t already.  Perhaps I can entice you with my recipe for Cauliflower Au Gratin, which follows in the next post.