It's very easy this time of year to get caught up in the business of the holidays. You search for that perfect gift, shopping hastily and wrapping even more so. It's easy to forget that simple moments with your family (whatever form that takes) is the real reason the holidays can be so magical.
We've had a rough few months in our family. We lost two very close family members to cancer within the past month or so, one just last week. I debated sharing this, but I think it's a good reminder of what's important in life, especially during this season. You would think because of such a great loss the holidays would be muted this year. They are definitely more understated but still as joyous. The two loved ones we lost, they loved Christmastime. They would want us to toast them and celebrate with one another. We did, and it was seriously heart-warming.
|Gordie and Gabbie would like to say Happy Holidays!|
We had my side of the family's Christmas a little early this year. My dad lives in Dallas and he flew up here to celebrate with us this weekend. So in our little Newburyport bungalow - my dad, my mom, my husband, brother and uncle all gathered for some holiday cheer this past weekend. I took to the task of cooking the feast, while my amazing husband readied the house for our guests. I looked to the bounty I had stocked up from my Winter CSA share at Heron Pond Farm for my cue of what to serve with the gorgeous beef roast we were having.
I'll be sharing a few recipes from our early Christmas feast in the hopes if you're undecided on what to put on your table this coming weekend, maybe something I put in here might just help you decide. Today's offering is Cooks Illustrated's Holiday Scalloped Potatoes. Now I put this disclaimer in quite a bit - "lighter" in this blog's title doesn't necessarily mean "low-calorie or low-fat". Some of these recipes are quite healthy, but some, are the exact opposite. Lighter in this blog's case tends to mean a "lighter attitude" towards a local eating style. This next dish, well, there's a reason you only bring it out at the holidays.
Holiday Scalloped Potatoes
Source: Cooks Illustrated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons table ssalt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 pounds russet potatoes (I used whatever mix I had from the farm), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick
slices (use a food processor with slicing attachment if you have one, makes this all so much quicker!)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces, I used Cabot's Extra Sharp)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven oven medium heat until foaming subsides, about a minute. Add onion and saute until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so until you can smell it. Add cream, milk, thyme, bay leaves, salt pepper and potatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjusting heat as necessary to get a light simmer until potatoes are almost tender. This all takes about 15 minutes.
Remove and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Pour potato mixture into a large au gratin dish (in my case a 9x13 pyrex baking dish was just fine). Sprinkle the top with all your cheese and then put into the oven and bake until cream has thickened and top is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving and enjoy!
(Note - if you want to slice up your potatoes in advance, put them into a large bowl with the cream and the milk in the fridge, that will prevent them from discoloring. )