Dinner Prep with a New Mandolin

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Mar 142014
new mandolin potatoes

Layering potatoes and cheese for a potato gratin

I got a shiny new mandolin as a gift awhile back, and up until now I’ve been a bit nervous to use it – I’ve heard so many horror stories about slicing off bits of fingers along with paper thin potatoes – but I wanted to make a potato gratin and the mandolin was there, just waiting for me to grab it. After I skimmed the user’s manual (deceptively thick, it had instructions in 16 languages) I peeled four potatoes and away I went. Wow – this thing slices so easily I was through those potatoes in like a minute, and the finger guard worked great so I avoided giving myself a trim. I put about three layers of potato slices in a pan with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese in between each layer, and added milk up to the top of the potatoes, covered the whole thing with aluminum foil and into the oven. Easiest potato gratin ever – and we all loved it, even the little guy once we convinced him to give it a try.

Look at how thin these onions are; they're almost translucent.

Look at how thin these onions are; they’re almost translucent.

It turns out that the mandolin sliced the potatoes so quickly, easily and uniformly that I decided to use it on a red onion as well, to put in the roasting pan under a pork tenderloin. I just chopped the root end off, peeled the onion and sliced it up, in a fraction of the time it would have taken me with a knife. The next time I make up a batch of caramelized onions (one of my favorite things) it’ll be such a breeze.  Suddenly I want to slice everything with the mandolin! I wish I’d have overcome my fear sooner – what a time saver in the kitchen.

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Cook the Collection #8: Falling Cloudberries

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Mar 052014

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Time to get back on the ball with the cookbook challenge – at this rate I’ll never get though them all – especially since I’ve acquired more since I started. Most recently I baked from the intriguing cookbook Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes by Tessa Kiros. This is a lovely book to read, full of family stories and remembrances of grandparents, in-laws and family friends. Its a very eclectic collection of recipes, drawing from around the world with just the unifying theme of the author’s family, but it works, especially when you read the headnotes of each recipe. There’s something in that eclectic mix that reminds me of how our family eats, drawing our culinary influences both from family recipes and the world around us.

I baked Apple Cake with Toffee Topping and it turned out delicious – good apple flavor with a yummy caramel toffee topping. The recipe was straightforward and easy to follow but the best part for me was the way it got the gears turning in my mind. For me, the best recipes get you thinking as you make them and eat them; I was quite inspired by this recipe and can’t wait to work on my own variations.

apple toffee cake 2