Dinner for four

We had some friends over for dinner last night, and everything was a smash success.

Jessie started by serving a delicious blue cheese and bacon dip with crackers and toasted pieces of baguette. For the main course, we served one of the best recipes we’ve found on Epicurious so far, sauteed chicken breast with pear, bell pepper and cilantro salsa. We also served what is quickly becoming my favorite way to eat potatoes, pommes a la dauphinoise.

Pommes a la dauphinoise is a time-consuming recipe, and it’s certainly not health food, but the potatoes end up with that lovely au gratin crust, a silky texture throughout, and a flavor that can best be described as heavenly. Look at the recipe technically: the potatoes are baked in a cream and garlic mixture (how’s that for flavor?) and you push down on the potatoes every 20 minutes in the hopes of creating a sponge effect – in essence, to make the potatoes replace any air they may have with cream and garlic. The end result is well worth the 2 1/2 hours that it takes to make this recipe.

So here’s the recipe (which shouldn’t be confused with Pommes Dauphin or Pommes Dauphine; this one is completely different):Pommes a la Dauphinoise (serves 4)


4 cloves of garlic, peeled

3/4 cup milk (I prefer 1 percent)

2 cups heavy cream (aka one 16 fl. oz. container)

2 pounds of baking or russet potatoes, sliced into medium slices (about 1/4 inch)

Salt (kosher or sea salt) and pepper

Steps:Boil the four peeled garlic cloves in water in a small saucepan for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the cream and milk in a second saucepan. Don’t heat yet.

When the garlic is done, push the cloves through a fine sieve or crush with a mortar and pestle. The idea is to get a fine puree out of your garlic. Combine the puree with the cream and milk, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Place the potato slices, stacked evenly, in a cake pan or 6×10 roasting pan. Now’s a good time to preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Pour the cream and garlic mixture around the potatoes in the pan. The mixture should just barely cover the potatoes. Use a spatula to push the potatoes down (but don’t break the potatoes too much).

Bake the potatoes in a 325 oven for 2 hours, pushing the potatoes down with the spatula every 20 minutes. You shouldn’t mash the potatoes with the spatula; you won’t feel a whole lot of give to the potatoes, but your pressing will make a difference in the final texture of the dish.

It’s good to let the potatoes sit out for a few minutes before serving, because the mixture is like napalm.

For dessert, we had Apple-Oatmeal Crisp with Irish Whiskey Cream, which was excellent.

The only hitch the whole night was our magnetic spice jar with the cinnamon got stuck shut, but thankfully one of our guests figured it out.

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Owner of a graphic design firm specializing in magazine design and wannabe chef. Former resident of Belgium, the United Kingdom and...North Dakota.