Thursday, November 19, 2015

Copper Cookware

Making Bechamel for Pastitsio in one of my favorite copper pots.
Treasured for the stylish good looks and for best and most even heat conductivity, copper pots continue to be one of the most popular cooking utensils among professional and home cooks. Those of us who cook at home probably have stainless steel pots with copper lining the exterior--a much better price point and easier to use and maintain than true copper pots.

I remember researching which set of pots to buy and coming across a comment from someone who probably wanted the pots primarily for show. True or not, that was my assumption. She'd posted a comment which was very negative, saying the the pots "turned" as soon as she used them. Well, yes, copper will do that when you heat it. Ahem!

Which Set to Buy:
If you're looking to buy copper lined pots, here are a few options to consider:

While they are a great investment, copper pots can be expensive and they do require maintenance. I gather them all about every 3-4 months and use copper cleaner. Sometimes I use this more organic method. It requires a little more elbow grease, but it's worth it for making your kitchen investment look (almost) brand new.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Confessions of An Addict or Potato Lovers Unite!

Yes, I'm talking about potatoes again. It's an "on again" "off again" romance that I've finally learned to manage. You see, potatoes are clingers. They love you and they never leave, always hanging on, typically on your hips and tummy. I realize this and have learned that:

  1. I don't have to eat ALL of the french fries JUST because they're on my plate.
  2. I don't have to have potatoes (or any other starch) at EVERY meal.
  3. If there we have leftover Potatoes Dauphinoise...I WILL EAT...EVERY...LAST...SCRUMPTIOUS BITE. Now I send the leftovers home with others.
  4. I can eat all I want at one meal and not eat potatoes again for another month or two. Easy...once you've become a reformed potato-ist. (sniff!)
  5. A really good steak doesn't always need a potato by its side.
  6. A really good salad CAN be as satisfying and as pleasing as a potato dish. Really.
Potatoes Dauphinoise Despina's Way

Potatoes Dauphinoise. Sexy, right?
The classic recipe for Potatoes Dauphinoise doesn't have cheese; most recipes today include cheese and sometimes garlic. I believe that the garlic is too much. I prefer the simple and elegant tastes of sweet cream and buttery potatoes punctuated by the addition of salt, pepper and a bit of fresh rosemary. You can try this recipe from, or you can try mine...or you can go wild and try both.

My recipe is simple. There is no recipe!

You'll need potatoes (Yukon Gold is what I typically use), salt, pepper, heavy cream, butter, rosemary.

Oven preheated to 400F. Rack in the center.

Mandolin ready and potatoes peeled.
Butter, cream, salt, pepper and chopped fresh rosemary assembled.

A round ceramic or glass baking dish like a tart or pie pan.  (Any other ceramic or glass baking dish will do, but I prefer the round shape.)

Slice potatoes thinly on the mandolin. Watch your fingers. (Better to lose a bit of potato than to sacrifice a bit of your finger for a bit of a potato. You follow?)

In a large bowl, toss potatoes gently with the rosemary, salt and pepper. How much? Sprinkle in the salt the way you would if you were using it on your plate at the table. Pepper? Until you see a few specks on all the potatoes. Same goes for the rosemary, but keep it light.

Layer the potatoes in a swirl, dot with butter, top with another layer, dot with butter and repeat until your dish is 3/4 of the way full. Pour in cream until it almost covers the top potato layer. Bake for about 1 hour. We want a golden-brown color on top and all of the potatoes to be tender. A toothpick or sharp paring knife inserted in the potatoes will tell you when they're ready. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Whatever you serve with this dish, I consider the lesser dish--the side dish--so let it be roasted chicken, a grilled rib-eye steak or a pork roast. I don't care. I care about the UN-side dish.