Now syndicated on BlogHer.
A couple of weeks ago, I was startled by a cookbook among the books we picked up at the library. I don’t generally read new cookbooks and why on earth were we getting one from the library. It was too polished, too many pictures, too new. Cook’s Country Best Lost Suppers-Old-Fashioned, Home Cooked Recipes Too Good to Forget, 2009. I put it in the cold room to flip through while waiting for the dogs to come in.
I didn’t like it. First was the matter of the pictures (am not a fan). Then there was the matter of the “Notes from the Test Kitchen” at the end of each recipe. These were family favorite recipes from all over the country. How dare they change them? I read on though. And I thought. I considered. I craved.
Then I realized a couple of things, these are recipes that I would LIKE, do like, and uh, I tweak old recipes all the time. The people who submitted probably tweaked the originals as well. Ok, so maybe I love this cookbook, as new as it is and as much as it first rankled. I may even put it on my wish list. You see, there were a lot of recipes I want to try but it will be due back at the library soon. So, go see if your library has it. Give it a look. See what you think. The only thing I would have liked is the exact recipe pre-tweaking. For instance, one mentions that the original had used the crock pot but they preferred the oven to save time. I would nearly ALWAYS prefer a crock pot than the oven.
The one recipe I made already, Funeral Potatoes with Ham, got mixed reactions last night. Boy child and youngest objected to the mushrooms. (They both liked it well enough though-even if it had that horrible food included) Girl child-food snob-objected to the “casserole-ness” of the recipe. She also wasn’t impressed. But as she reflected on it, she said “You know, I didn’t think I liked this much, but now I want more.” Denise feared the ham and the “That looks like au gratin. I don’t like au gratin.” She had two servings. As for me-yum.
My notes-the peeling and shredding of the potatoes after cooking them was highly unpopular as a step. I think in the future, I will use pre-shredded potatoes-it won’t change the baking time and save a big step. We also didn’t butter the cornflake crumbs. I served with a dill cole slaw.
Funeral Potatoes With Ham
4 lbs russet potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb white mushrooms, sliced thin (We used pre-sliced)
salt (oops-left that out)
1 onion, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
11/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
11/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound ham steak, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups cornflakes crushed fine
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Set aside
2. (This is the step I would skip in the future) Bring the potatoes and 4 quarts of water to a simmer in a large pot and cook until just shy of tender (a paring knife should glide through the flesh with slight resistance), 10-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and then grate the flesh lengthwise on the large holes of a box grater. Return the grated potatoes to the pot.
3. While the potatoes cook, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. (a step we said “Huh?” to) Add the mushrooms and 3/4 teaspoon salt (yeah, that salt, forgot.) and cook until mushrooms have released their juices and are brown around the edges, 7-10 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
4. Whisk in the milk, thyme, and pepper, bring to simmer, and cook, stirring frequently until thickened slightly, about 1 minutes. Stir in the cheese and 6 tablespoons of butter and cook until melted, about 1 minute.
5. Off the heat, stir in the ham and sour cream. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and toss to combine. (I think this could be done in the 9 x 13 pan in the future and save a second saucy pot to clean) Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a bowl in microwave. (skipped this) Stir in the cornflakes, then sprinkle evenly over the top of potato mixture.
6. Place the baking dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until potatoes are bubbling and the top is golden brown, 35-45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.