I’ve spent the last 4 days cleaning one of my rooms trying to make it into an organized and functional home office. The more I threw out, the more things appeared. Amazing.
But more amazing was the bunch of old recipes I had written a few years back for the yoga center that I had completely forgotten about. I found this folder with about 5 potato recipes I had made a looooong time ago, just waiting for me to rediscover them again. Perfect for my Potato Festival theme…
One of these recipes is this Creamy Potatoes dish – it’s basically a potato gratin, but because the name in Spanish is Papas a la Crema, I thought I should stay true to the original name… It turned out to be a very creamy and satisfying little dish. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…
2 lbs potatoes – I used russets – sliced as thinly as possible
1 medium onion – sliced as thinly as possible
3 cups of milk
4 tbs cornstarch
1/2 stick of margarine
2 tbs sofrito
1 1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese – optional
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash potatoes well and slice them as thinly as possible. I used a mandolin for the first time and I love the way they come out – Super consistent. Slice onion too.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, pour margarine and sautee sofrito for a few minutes. Pour 2 cups of the milk. In the remaining milk, dilute the cornstarch and pour in. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken a bit.
Stack the potato and onion slices in a glass casserole dish. Pour the milk mixture over the potatoes.
If using, sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the potatoes.
Bake in oven for 45 minutes.
Turn off oven and let the potatoes in the oven for an extra 10-15 minutes. Let cool a bit before serving so the sauce does not run all over the place.
I served this together with Sauteed Corn.
If you make the recipe before – Potato and Fried Eggplant Pastelon - and you have leftover fried eggplant, what do you do with it?????
Make an eggplant sandwich!!!!! But what would make the ultimate eggplant sandwich – an Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich!!!!
EGGPLANT PARMESAN SANDWICH
Whole wheat hoagie bread bun
2-3 fried eggplant slices – check out this recipe on how to batter and fry the eggplant
2-3 fresh mozzarella cheese slices
Grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 Lettuce leaves
Spread the mayonnaise on both bread halves.
Stack the fried eggplant slices, sprinkle some grated Parmesan, mozzarella slices on the bottom half.
Place in a toaster oven or broiler for a few minutes for the cheese to melt a little.
Add the tomatoes and lettuce. Top with remaining bread slice… (like I need to tell you how to build a sandwich, huh?)
Press sandwich for all the ingredients to come together.
This is how I made this sandwich when I was veeeeeeery hungry the other day. But now thinking about it, it would really make it an Eggplant Parm sandwich if I had added a bit of tomato sauce before adding the cheeses. In this case, the tomato and lettuce would be optional.
I’ve been trying to “crack my head open” trying to figure out a way to translate the word “pastelón” for you guys. A pastelón is very similar to a casserole… but the difference being that things are mainly layered in instead of mixed all -together. So I figured that if Rachael Ray can invent a word in “stewp”, I can just use the word “pastelón” and you’ll learn to embrace it.
Pastelón is pronounced [pas-te-LON], and as I mentioned before, it consists of layers of ingredients, sometimes pre-cooked, sometimes raw and then baked off in the oven.
This is a new installment for the Potato Festival I mentioned a few posts ago… I know, the translation thing should have not kept me for posting this, but I guess I got caught up in it.
POTATO and FRIED EGGPLANT PASTELÓN
3 medium potatoes cut into 2″ pieces – you can use new, russet or red-skinned potatoes
1 small eggplant – try to buy the lightest eggplant available*
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tbs sofrito
¼ – ½ cup of water
2 tbs butter
2 tbs cream cheese
4 tbs grated Parmesan cheese, divided
A splash of milk
¼ cup Italian cheese blend
Salt, Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste
Canola oil – to fry the eggplant
* Note: The lighter the eggplant, the less seeds it will have and the less bitterness it will have.
In a medium sized saucepan with salted water, boil the potatoes until fork-tender. I find the potatoes boil faster when I use as little water as possible… I guess it’s a combination of boiling and steaming… I don’t even let the water cover the potatoes. Just let the water come up halfway the potatoes.
Then, you need to prepare the eggplant batter… Mix together the flour, water, sofrito and season generously with salt and pepper. Use enough water for the batter to have the consistency of pancake batter. Set aside.
In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil for frying.
Slice the eggplant your favorite way – in rounds or in long slices. Dunk the eggplant slices in the batter. Clean up any drips and fry until golden brown. Drain the fried slices over paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
When potatoes are done, drain any liquid leftover. Mix in butter, cream cheese, 2 tbs of the Parmesan and milk. Smash then until creamy soft. Season with garlic salt and pepper.
Pour half the mashed potatoes in a buttered casserole dish. Add in the fried eggplant slices creating a layer. Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese (optional). Add in the remaining mashed potatoes. Top with the last of the remaining Parmesan and the shredded cheese mix.
10. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, until the cheese on top is melted and golden brown and the flavors meld.
I am on a bread phase… and most mornings I crave bread in some kind of shape or form. I know I should be more moderate, but sometimes the craving is too strong to ignore.
I love toasts with lots of butter, I love cheese toasts, I love melted cheese sandwiches… but the other day I saw a box of veggie bacon and I knew I have to do something with it. I built this breakfast sandwich – cream cheese, veggie bacon, tomatoes on whole wheat toast. It hit the spot… so much indeed that I ate it two days in a row…
Whole wheat Bread
2-3 veggie bacon strips
Toast bread. Cook Veggie Bacon according to package directions - I put it in the toaster oven for 5 minutes turning it half way
Assemble components in your favorite way.
Enjoy your breakfast!!!!
This is one of the easiest recipes… ever!!
The funny thing, it has not been even 24 hours since I learned about it. I was perusing one of my favorite food blogs – Serious Eats… and in one of the Talk threads there was a discussion about making mac & cheese without boiling the pasta first. Then, one of the participants – his/her name is hanak- mentioned this recipe for Baked Ziti without even boiling the pasta. I always get stumped at what to do for lunch… so when I read this today, my lunch dilemma was immediately solved. I would do this while I finished some stuff at the computer. God bless hanak and the Baked Ziti recipe…
I modified the recipe a little – as you know… can’t bear to make a recipe “by the book” not even once. Here is the recipe as it was given to me today and with notes on the modifications I made to it today at 1PM:
THE EASIEST BAKED PENNE
8oz whole wheat pasta – I used penne, but ziti or any tubular pasta would work
28oz can of crushed tomatoes – I used a 26oz carton of Pomi crushed tomatoes
6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Mozzarella - optional
Grated Parmesan cheese – optional
Soak the dry pasta in the olive oil for around 20 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
This is a picture of the pasta at this point. It is DELICIOUS just like this!!!! A bit oily to my taste, so maybe the next time I will try to see if I can cut the oil in half… but believe me, it’s been a while I tasted a pasta that I would eat as is, without any cheese. This one is awesome. I even bragged to my mom about it already…
I decided to use up some leftover fresh mozzarella cheese… so I added a few pieces in the dish, sprinkled some grated parm/romano cheese and put it back in the oven with the residual heat after I turned it off. It is really good, but as hanak said… it does not need it.
Thanks a lot to my fellow online foodies, but specially to hanak and this awesome Baked Pasta recipe… they are all a source of inspiration and hunger-relief.