Mrs. Delicious

Potatoes Two Ways

Potato Au Gratin

Hasselback Potatoes

I’ve recently made potatoes in two of my most favourite ways. The two recipes following occupy opposite ends of the potato spectrum. They are very disparate, but equally delicious. We have the crisp baked hasselbacks on one end, and the creamy soft potato au gratin on the other.

These dishes pay credence to the versatility of the humble potato – it’s a staple for a reason. Potatoes fall into two categories – floury and waxy. Generally speaking, the dirt covered potatoes (usually russets) are always going to be floury. There are also a couple of clean pink skinned varieties that are on the floury end of the spectrum. Desiree is one such, and a really good all-rounder. As it is a “washed” variety (ie. grown in clean sand) it can be eaten unpeeled in most dishes. If you’re in doubt, just buy the desiree – they are good potatoes. I find that waxy potatoes are only good for potato salad or boiled with the skin on. For everything else, I like a crumbly floury texture. It just seems more potato-ey to me. Particularly for these dishes. They soak up the flavour of the cream and oil better than the impervious waxies do.

Potato is best when it’s handled simply and cooked with attention to texture. If you really want to enjoy your potato, skip the bacon and the herbs and the mustard and the cheese. Adding one or two flavours to it is best, along with some generous seasoning. Ever had an unsalted french fry? Ew.

PS. Excuse the detailed recipes, what they lack in ingredient lists, they make up with detailed processes to ensure potatoey perfection!

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Hasselback Potatoes

Serves 2 as a side dish

  • 2 medium sized floury potatoes
  • Fine salt
  • Delicious oil with a high smoke point. Add a bit of melted butter if the oil you’re using don’t got much flavour. I have been known to use freshly rendered lard or tallow, both end up with delicious results. I am sure chicken fat or duck fat would render the same result. The fat is rather important here as it’s one of only 2 ingredients so it contributes to not only the crispness but also the flavour of the potatoes.

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees C

Carefully peel your potatoes, and halve them longwise. With a sharp knife, make parallel slashes across the top of the potato, making them as deep as you can without cleaving the potato in two. Salt the potatoes and leave them sit for 5 minutes.If they start to turn brown it means they’ve been refrigerated (hopefully not by you!) so just skip this step in that case.

Very thoroughly dry the potatoes off with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Lay them flat side down on a non-stick metal roasting tray. Metal is important as it aids in the crisping process.

These will stick so if you don’t have teflon as your ally here, lay a sheet of baking paper down first. Now douse the potatoes in oil, making sure to get oil down into the cracks. Salt them generously with sea salt and pop in the oven. Roast until the bottom is crisp (20 minute, give or take) and then flip them over to crisp the top. Pull them out and enjoy the fluffly insides and crunchy french-fry outsides.

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Potato Au Gratin

Serves 4 generously as a side dish


  • 5-6 medium floury potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2cm thick.
  • 2 large eschallots, peeled and sliced finely.
  • between 400 and 600ml of whipping cream. You can use thickened cream but you’ll be melting gelatine into your potatoes. As long as you’re ok with that, proceed. As with the hasselbacks, this is a really simple recipe – so go buy some really fancy cream for best flavour.
  • Salt and Pepper

In a glass or ceramic casserole (Pyrex is great) lay carefully a layer of potatoes and a gentle sprinkling of eschallot. Season generously with salt and ground black pepper and drop 1/3 of the cream onto that layer. Repeat until all the potato and shallot are gone. Don’t end with a layer of shallot or you’ll get blackened onionyness on the top.

Bake at 200 degrees C for 1 hour, or until the top is golden and bubbling and a knife stab slips gently through the layers. Leave to sit for 15 minutes (if you can) and it will taste better and not burn your tongue like creamy coloured magma.

Osso Bucco

Best casserole ever. It’s easy, it’s impressive (veal is naturally impressive by virtue of it’s rarity alone!), it’s Italian, it’s tender and rich and has gelatinous bone marrow to suck out. It’s great for entertaining as you simply cannot overcook it, it just sits in the oven and tenderises more and more. I serve it with unpearled barley risotto at home rather than the traditional saffron risotto, cause if I did everything the traditional way then we’d be traditionally spherical. Feel free to serve with rice or soft polenta, some sweet potato mash, or some well cooked egg noodles. The risotto is a post on it’s own, soon to follow after this one!

Serves 4

Osso Bucco


  • 6 pieces of Veal Shin. Try to get the mid sized ones. The little ones fall apart and the big ones are too sinewy, and the marrow doesn’t soften.
  • 1 Red onion – cut into wedges
  • 2 large carrots – cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 small bulb of fennel (omit if it’s not in season) – cut into 2cm chunks
  • 3 celery sticks – cut into 2cm chunks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 can of tomato puree or passata (Americans, take heed – use San Marzano, it is without peer)
  • 1/2 cup of vermouth or dry white wine (you can use a light red if that’s what you have)
  • 1/2 cup of reduced-by-half veal or beef stock. It needs to be reduced so that the casserole is a wet braise rather than a soupy stew
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Cooking oil

Gremolata

  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • Small handful of parsley, chopped super fine
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Salt

Start cooking a few hours before you want to eat – the key in osso bucco is in the long slow cooking. It works pretty well in a slow cooker, but I do like the dry heat the oven provides for crusting the top of the meat and darkening the sauce.

Generously season the veal shin on both sides. Sprinkle them evenly with the flour and coat both sides.

Heat 1cm of oil in a large cast iron casserole (if you don’t got, do it in a large heavy based skillet) Brown the veal shin on both sides till golden. Remove the meat and set aside.

Add a bit more oil and tip the vegetables in. Saute for a moment, and then add the stock to deglaze. Do be certain to scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan, cause that’s where the tasty is. Add the tomatoes and wine, and boil for one minute.

If you are using a skillet, transfer the vegetable mixture to a heatproof casserole and position the meat in the sauce, making sure it’s not engulfed, cover with a lid or foil. If you’re lucky enough to have a flameproof casserole, pop the meat in the sauce and cover. Season liberally.

Place into the oven on 340 degrees F, cook for A Very Long Time (anywhere between 3 and 6 hours will be perfect)

Take the osso bucco out of the oven to cool a touch, and make the gremolata by combining all the ingredients thoroughly. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt to the gremolata if you feel it needs it.

Serve the osso bucco on a mound of some kind of carby sauce carrier and topped with a sprinkle of the lemony garlicky gremolata. Make sure you get the delicious marrow out of the bones. I think that marrow is most of the reason for me making osso bucco. But if you don’t want it, that’s ok – I’ll take it off your hands.


Coffee Rubbed Chateaubriand with Bitter Chocolate Sauce

So the coffee in this dish acts like a spice. Charring brings out all the complicated dark flavours that are not desirable in your morning cup, but work terribly well here. The dark chocolate sauce is spiked with rosemary and is made lip smackingly savoury by the addition of some good stock. It’s simple, but arresting.

This was a revelation in our household. Coffee + Beef is the only truly new flavour combination I remember eating for a long time. I read about coffee being used as a spice rub for beef, it sounded novel, but as with anything that sounds even remotely gimmicky, I was skeptical. I think that this dish has me learning to ignore the little skeptic sitting on my shoulder. He’s a droopy hound dog about the size of Jiminy Cricket and he whines a lot. I am too scared to name him lest he stick around and stop me from trying new things like coffee rubbed beef.

Chateaubriand is traditionally a thick cut of steak cooked for 2 people. Historically, It was cut from the tenderloin, which is a very tender muscle that runs along the back of the cow. This is a bit too expensive and dare I say, tender, for my liking. My chateaubriand was cut from the sirloin, which is tougher, cheaper and has more flavour than the fancy loin bits. But essentially, any thick cut of rump, sirloin, rib fillet will do the trick, you want something boneless and flavoursome. Safest bet is to ask the butcher. If he (she?) is any kind of purveyor he’ll know what cuts are good for chateaubriand and will provide you a suitable thick slab of cow, and if you’re lucky, some small talk about your local sports team.

PS. Make certain your beef is grass fed. Australians, again, don’t need to worry about this – all your beef is grass fed. Americans, this is the only time I’ll encourage you to get thee to a Whole Foods if you don’t have a supergood butcher near.

Serves 2 – Generously

Coffee Rubbed Chateaubriand


  • 1 piece of delicious beef (as detailed above), enough to serve 2 people.
  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground “turkish grind” coffee. Or just whizz some beans up in your spice grinder until they resemble a finely ground spice.
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika or mild chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary, very finely chopped.

A few hours before dinner, generously salt the beef on both sides with flaky sea salt. The salt is hydroscopic and draws a whole bunch of tasty wet proteins to the surface of the meat. This is useful for delicious browning. In this case it’s additionally useful to ensure our rub will stick to the meat and meld with the tasty tasty juices. Put it back in the fridge.

An hour before starting to cook, bring the beef out of the fridge and prepare the spice rub by combining all the ingredients.

Wholeheartedly rub the spices onto the beef, giving it a proper massage. Leave it out to come to room temperature before cooking. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (200c)

Heat 1cm depth of high smoke point oil (broken record blogger says Rice Bran Oil if you please) in a large heavy based frypan until it’s shimmering. Add the beef and sear the meat on both sides until it’s dark dark brown. If the pan’s architecture allows, pop the whole rig into the oven. If not, transfer the meat to a oven proof tray and roast for 1/2 hour for rare. To check doneness, give it a poke with your finger. Imagine the firmness of raw beef and then the firmness of well done beef and form a continuum in your mind between the two. Rare will offer only the smallest amount of resistance, Medium rare slighty more so, and so on. Using your brain and sense of touch is the most reliable method to tell doneness other than using a probe thermometer, which I find to be a total faff. I suppose that makes me a not-that-serious foodie, but oh well. Use one if you wish.

When the beef is approaching your desired done-ness, pull it out, tent it with foil and set to making the sauce while it rests. It will continue to cook as it rests so err on the side of under-done.

Bitter Chocolate Sauce

  • 1 cup home made veal or dark chicken stock, or the best tetra pack stock you can find
  • 50g of very high quality bitter dark chocolate (I used godiva 85% – Valhrona and Green & Blacks are decent substitutions) You want something with very low sugar content.
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons (about one shot) cognac or brandy
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (about 30g) butter
  • Lots of salt and pepper.

Make the sauce while the beef is resting (I didn’t do this – but I should have. I had something else in the oven at the time). Bring the stock and rosemary to a vigorous boil in a saucier.

Add the booze and balsamic vinegar and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes till the alcohol fumes subside. Take the sauce off the heat and slowly mount in the chocolate piece by piece, constantly stirring or shaking the pan. Mount the butter in the sauce in the same way until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Season to taste – it will need lots of black pepper. Strain into a gravy boat. Be astonished at how you have challenged your predetermined culinary categorisations of sweet and savoury!

Slice the rested beef across the grain

and serve with the sauce on the side, marvelling at the contrast between the pink juicy meat inside and the blackened aromatic crust on the outer.

I served mine with crunchy hasselback potatoes and a fresh pea, ricotta and watercress salad. This is a really impressive date night dish – if a chateaubriand can’t get you laid then you’re dating a vegetarian.

Dahl

For those of you not into Indian food, dahl is a thin porridgey curry made with lentils. My recipe is a bit heavier on the spice than a lot of indian recipes I’ve read, but it works, particularly if you are using the more meaty green/brown lentils. If you can get your hands on some curry leaves and pandan leaves, you’ll glean a whole lot more flavour from your dahl.

I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve been making a concerted effort recently to “eat clean”. Being inspired by Alton Brown’s weight loss show, our household has decided to cut back on the meats and fats and sugars and white things, and eat more legumes, brown things, green things and fishy things. It’s embarassing to admit you’re dieting as a food blogger, but having limitations has made my cooking a whole lot more creative.  Plus, it seems to be working so far, we are shrinking, our skin is better and I’ve got a boatload more energy.

Dahl definitely fits into the “virtuous” category, so we can eat it until we burst and still not feel bad. If I serve it with copious amounts of steamed and spiced kale and cucumber raita, it’s a feast. Dahl is also very cheap to make en masse, so now I have virtue sitting in individual portions in the freezer, to stave away lunchtime cravings of bacon and cheese butties on white bread.

Makes 6 servings


  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 cloves garlic – peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 green or red chilli – chopped (make them smaller chillis if you want more heat)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons rice bran oil or ghee
  • 2 cups lentils ( I used brown lentils, but yellow split peas or red lentils are nice and make a mushier Dahl)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large can crushed tomato

These things are awesome to add if you have them, but not mandatory:

  • 4 curry leaves
  • 1 piece of pandan leaf
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Vegetable or chicken stock

Optional additions:

Sweet potato, peas, eggplant, spinach, paneer cheese

Be certain to use a metal spoon to stir this, as the turmeric will indelibly stain any wooden or plastic utensils.

Heat the oil or ghee in a large deep heavy based pan, add the spices and cook until fragrant. I assure you, it will be fragrant. Add the garlic, onion and ginger and sweat for 2-3 minutes.

Add the lentils, sugar, tomatoes, a solid pinch of salt and a can full of water or stock.

Simmer gently until the lentils are soft and almost falling apart – this will take more than an hour (if you don’t have that long, use red lentils cause they cook faster) Add some more water during the cooking process if necessary. In the last few minutes of cooking, add any extra vegetables you wish to include and a bit of extra water and salt. Taste and add some lemon juice if more acidity is needed. The texture should be porridgey and liquid, rather than one congealed mass.

Serve with cucumber or mint raita over (brown – virtuous remember) rice.

Fast Food: Savoury Steel Cut Oats

I do not have a sweet tooth. I appreciate a lovely dessert, but 9 times out of 10 I’ll take the cheese plate over the creme brulee, s’il vous plait. I never ever crave anything sweet for breakfast, but I do really enjoy oats. So this is a fantastic way to enjoy oats for those of you with a salt tooth. You have to use steel cut oats for this recipe. Actually, you have to use steel cut oats always. Once you taste them, you’ll never go back to slushy powdery quick oats.

Be warned, this will stick to the bottom of the pan, you have to be ok with this before you proceed. Total time is 25 minutes, but you can leave it and go do other morning things while it cooks.

Makes one serving

  • 1/2-2/3 cup steel cut oats (use these, they are better for you and they taste so much nicer than rolled or quick oats)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • salt

Dump the oats and liquids into a pan and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. You may need to add more water. If you have a slow cooker, you can simmer your oats the slow cooker on low for 8 hours while you sleep. It’s advisable to warm up your water and milk a bit in the microwave first if you’re using the slow cooker.

Stir in some salt to your taste right at the end of cooking. Take off the heat and stir in any combo of  flavouring you like. I like chilli, spinach and cheddar cheese. I also top with a fried egg and a liberal dousing of hot sauce.

Flavouring options:

  • Gently fried egg
  • Crumbled bacon or ham
  • Sausage
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh chilli
  • Spring onion
  • Diced tomato
  • Melty cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Leftover roasted vegies

Tabbouleh

One of my buddies’ Lebanese Mama is famous for this tabbouleh. My friend brought it to every BBQ or event where a donation of food was required and it was always the first thing to go. I watched her make it once and so now I have some kickass authentic Lebanese Mama tabbouleh skills.

This salad is redolent with lemon, backed up with grassy greenness and nutty cracked wheat. It’s also one of a rare breed of salad that keeps after dressing, so you can eat the leftovers the next day for lunch. The cracked wheat gives it a substantialness I find lacking in many other salads. I love that the herbs make up the bulk of this salad rather than serving as a flavouring on top – I have a love affair with parsley, I used to eat it from the bush in my Grandma’s garden in my younger years.

I served it here with garlic yoghurt sauce, felafel and pita. But I think it’s stout enough on it’s own for a healthy lunch without any extras. You’ll feel healthy *and* exotic all at the same time.

I’ve approximated amounts in the recipe – they aren’t set in stone, just make sure it tastes good.

Makes enough for 6 generous side servings

  • 1 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green onion (or use a couple of finely diced eschallot)
  • 1/2 cup dry bulghur (cracked wheat)
  • 2 medium tomatoes – diced
  • 2-3 lemons
  • A few sploshes Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt

Before you start chopping the herbs, soak the bulghur in one cup of hot water from the tap. Mix the chopped ingredients in a large bowl, fork in the swelled bulghur.

Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and give it a couple of generous pinches of salt. Mix it up and taste. You’ll need to add more lemon and salt until it tastes nice and zingy, Add the olive oil, mix and give a final taste. I guarantee you’ll need some more lemon!

As an aside, this is the only recipe I have for cracked wheat in my repertoire. Anyone got any suggestions to prevent it languishing in the pantry, unloved until the next tabbouleh adventure?



Sausages in Onion Gravy

This is a real at-home classic dish. It’s also one that I have honed and perfected through the years. It’s rich and unctuous and peppery, with the onions all sweet and soft.  It is always a crowd pleaser.

My secret weapon in this sauce is a teaspoon of Vegemite. Americans might find it difficult to get their hands on a jar, but for my Australian readers – I am sure you have some on hand. Vegemite is a great savoury flavour booster.  All the other “mites” don’t really compare, if you put marmite in this dish, it’s gonna taste like marmite. But you put vegemite in and it tastes like itself only better.

Use any breakfast sausage or mild pork sausage. I’ve done it with bratwurst before and we did bratwurst burps all day. Very unpleasant for those around you. So keep your sausage mild and you won’t emit horrid sausage-smells from your mouth all day. If you’re making this for dinner, go ahead and use the brats – as long as who ever you are sharing a bed with is also eating them too!

When I make this for dinner I serve it on a big mound of fluffly mashed potato & parsnip. For breakfast, serve with a bit of baby spinach and a slice of well toasted solid bread. Normal supermarket bread will turn into a pappy mush so this is one instance where artisanal bread really adds something and doesn’t cut the top of your mouth to shreds (someone remind me why this is a good thing?)

Makes 6 small servings or 4 dinner servings.

  • 6 large sausages
  • 3 large onions (red, white, brown – doesn’t matter)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 scant teaspoon of vegemite
  • 1 cup of strong chicken or beef stock (home made is best!)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt & Pepper

Peel, Halve and slice the onions thinly longwise.

Gently fry the sausages in a deepish fry pan (or saucier) until they are golden on the outside and pan has some nicely developed brown bits on the bottom. Remove and set aside somewhere warm.

Melt the butter in the pan, once it is liquid, add the onions and sweat until they are soft. Add a little splash (maybe 1/4 cup) of water to loosen the brown bits on the bottom somewhere along the line.

Once the onions are very soft and starting to brown, add the flour into the pan and stir it in, cook for one minute.

Add the stock and the milk slowly and stir vigourously to avoid lumps. Let the mixture come back to the boil and thicken.

Add the vegemite, lots of salt and pepper and a few sploshes of worcestershire sauce. Taste and add any more of those things that you think it needs. It should be nice and peppery so don’t skimp on that.

Leave the sauce to thicken and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Slice the sausages on the bias and put them into the sauce, making sure they are warmed through before serving.

Weekly Web Crawling – 30th September

Part of my epic markets haul this week. Take close notice of the kaffir lime leaves! Thai food is coming your way...

Medium Raw – A Review by a Frienemy – Michael Ruhlman gives a reluctantly raving review to Anthony Bourdain’s new book, but a more tempered review on the man himself. After reading this I wonder if they are actually friends, or rivals, or both?

The Sydney Morning Herald – There’s a mouse in my loaf!  - It looks like it’s sleeping.

Chez Maman – Went to this teeny tiny gem of a french bistro/burger joint in Potrero Hill before a concert. I ate so much Moules and Frites I almost couldn’t headbang afterwards.

Humphry Slocombe tweets – Here’s Your Damn Strawberry. Don’t mock the classics Slocombe, remember that your whacky (and sometimes dreadful) flavours of ice cream stand on the shoulders of giants like “strawberry”.

Zen Habits – You Are Perfect – Leo Babuata (A recent transplant to San Francisco! We should totally meet up, Leo) dispenses advice your mother would give, but with more eloquence and less references to bringing a sweater.

Olive Biscuits courtesy of 101 Cookbooks  - I’m baking these for a party on the weekend. They look like little bite sized bubbles of savoury.

Come to Off The Grid tomorrow and eat food from trucks, it’s being held at the Civic Center for most of the afternoon. I’d be happier if there was a Mister Whippy Van, but I can be content with ramen and burritos.

Make your own: Mint Sauce

For the Americans among my readers, Mint Sauce with Lamb is probably one of the only true Australian meals. I think it’s eaten in the UK as well, but with far less regional fervour.

Toss out any pre-conceived notions you have about mint sauce/jelly. It’s not artificial Alien green, it’s not wobbly. Mint sauce is sharp, watery, fresh minty condiment that pairs particularly well with roast lamb, but also with fresh peas and beans.

After this recipe you will never buy that odd shaped bottle of McCormicks Mint Sauce ever again.

Makes 1 cup

  • 3/4 cup cup mild, good quality red or white wine vinegar.
  • 3/4 cup or a decent handful fresh mint
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar

Very finely chop the mint and the shallot.

Mix all ingredients together at least 1 hour before you intend to serve. Add a bit of water if it’s too piquant. Serve with any incarnation of lamb, or tipped over baby peas.

Tools Tuesday: Pyrex

I am decidedly nanna-esque with my kitchenware choices – I prefer old and proven over shiny and gadgety. Pyrex fits this bill nicely. Pyrex is really non-reactive and will never take on flavours or odours like metals, plastics or ceramics. We all hear nasty stories about toxins leeching out of plastics in the microwave – so Pyrex is the best material for cooking in the microwave and storing leftovers.

It is fantastic fodder for my thrifting (or op-shopping for the antipodes) obsession. For less than $2 I can pick up an old piece of Pyrex in white milk glass or with a nice retro 70s print on it.  Thus my shameful consumer addiction is sated and I get something cool for the kitchen. Usually the older stuff is made from borosilicate glass, which is what laboratory glassware is still made from.  The newer pieces are still quite durable, but the oldies are definitely the goodies.

I like Pyrex so much that I don’t just limit it to ovenware and the ubiquitous measuring jug. I have mixing bowls, coffee cups, serving trays as well. It doesn’t chip, doesn’t scratch and will only crack if you put it directly onto the hob. I have a set of mugs in Pyrex that has seen the comings and goings of 5 other porcelain sets.

So if you’re a bit clumsy or you hate throwing away chipped stoneware – Pyrex is the material for you. Have a look in the mess that is the homewares section next time you pass a Salvos or Vinnies. You will likely be pleasantly surprised with a tank-like bit of Pyrex history.

So now I ask you, Dear Readers – Do you buy any of your kitchen wares second hand? If so what’s your favourite thing to thrift?