Gratin Dauphinois | Potato Gratin

Potato gratin, a classic gratin dauphinois, or scalloped potatoes

I love this side dish for being so simple to make, yet extremely attractive. Similar to lasagna or moussaka, potato gratin should be cooked in advance, refrigerated to set, removed from the pan, sliced to portions while cold, and reheated before serving. If all steps are done in that order, a humble potato makes an eye-catching side dish, a beautiful element of any plated dinner.

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Vegetable Moussaka

Vegetable Moussaka

This casserole is a celebration of vegetables! Look at the list of ingredients. Their variety is stunning! That’s why the complexity of this dish flavors conquers the taste buds of vegetarians and carnivores alike. Just like any other layered dish, benefits from being cooked in advance, set in a refrigerator for a few hours and reheated portioned right before serving. It helps to develop flavors and keep colorful layers presentable.

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Potato Cake with Smoked Cod and Caramelized Fennel

Potato Cake with Smoked Cod and Caramelized Fennel

Gratin Dauphinois is known much better than Gâteau de Pommes de Terre, isn’t it? Gratin Dauphinois (aka potato gratiné in the U.S.) is made with thinly sliced layered potatoes and cream in a buttered dish rubbed with garlic. For the cake, potatoes are sliced thick and boiled first. Then, potato slices are mixed with some duck fat and smashed in the skillet to be cooked for the second time as a cake with golden brown and crispy crust. Traditionally, this French potato cake is served with nothing but chopped fresh garlic and parsley on top. So, feel free to omit fennel and smoked fish. But they are so good together!

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My Hawaii: Smoked Potatoes

Smoked Potatoes

The Canoe House’s smoked potatoes were so good that we nearly leaked the serving bowl. I asked our waiter about the cooking method. He said they are cooked and mashed first and then placed into a continuously running smoker at the back of the restaurant. The level of smokiness was as delicate as a reminder of a campfire and charcoal roasted potatoes from my childhood. There was just enough butter and seasoning to emphasize natural flavors of potato. The texture was a combination of creamy fluffiness and chewable morsels. No wonder I wanted to recreate these smoked potatoes at home!

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Khashlama

Khashlama

I prefer slowly cooked beef shanks for plain khashlama and leg of lamb for festive version. A slow cooker/crock pot is the most convenient device to make this dish. Otherwise, assemble vegetables and meat layers in an iron pot, start on the stove to bring water to boiling and finish in the 300F oven by slowly cooking for another 3-4 hours. There is also a version when meat is cooked first; then it is layered with vegetables in small ceramic or clay pots and cooked in the oven to serve khashlama individually portioned. In this case, it only takes 1-1.5 hours in the oven — just to cook vegetables.

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Smoked White Fish and Tactical Nuclear Penguin Soup

Smoked White Fish Soup with Tactical Nuclear Penguin

There are many Cullen Skink online recipes and articles about it. Some recipes are elaborate, other — quick and simple. Cullen Skink can be thicker and thinner, with higher and lower calorie count. No matter what recipe you trust, it is amazingly satisfying soup for cold weather. If you are in the U.S. and crave for true Cullen Skink — because you know what it is! — order Finnan Haddie online. If you are in Texas, have never tasted authentic Cullen Skink before, and not ready to invest too much money and efforts into its perfect taste — try my recipe below. I use easily available in Central Texas White Smoked fish found in Whole Foods, Central Market, and some HEBs. After you read about Nuclear Penguin below, you’ll start laughing ironically “Oh, yeah! Very easily available!” It’s my secret and teasing WOW-ingredient for coming Scottish Beer Tasting Party. It’s optional for this recipe.

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Cold Summer Soups: Okroshka

Okroshka

Okroshka is one of the most popular cold summer soup in Slavic culture. The name suggests that ingredients are diced or chopped. Some of them are fresh and crunchy (cucumbers, radishes, scallions, herbs), some are cooked and soft (lean meat/poultry/fish, eggs, neutral tasting vegetables), all of them are lean. To make Okroshka, these ingredients are traditionally mixed with kvass and sometimes dressed with a dollop of sour cream just before serving. It’s a salad-like soup, light, refreshing, and filling at the same time. Every spoon of Okroshka is an entertainment for those who have an appreciation for diverse flavors and textures!

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Grin for Green! Ox Tail Green Borsch

Ox Tail Green Borsch

Long time ago, I was sure green borsch is unique for Ukrainian cuisine. In reality, a similar dish exists in many cuisines all over the world. For regions with four-season climates, a soup with local greens is a must. Like for red, there are many variations of green borsch in Ukraine. This recipe is one of my variations with a strong ox tail stock. Use any stock of your choice, or even water. Adjust the toppings to you taste and diet. Sorrel and other greens are the main hero in this soup, they create the flavor and pack it with spring goodness!

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