Sour Cream-Potato Casserole

March 22, 2008

A particularly comforting twist on scalloped potatoes … SAM

6 medium waxy potatoes
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 1/4 cup milk, divided
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
3 eggs, hard-cooked and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until tender, about 25 minutes. Slice them thinly. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish and cover the bottom with breadcrumbs. In a medium bowl, mix 1/4 cup milk with the sour cream. Layer half the potatoes and eggs in the casserole dish and season with salt and pepper. Cover with half the sour cream mixture. Repeat the layers and top with breadcrumbs and dots of butter. Pour the remaining 1 cup milk around the sides and bake for 1 hour.
Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from Emily’s cookbook All-American Comfort Food.


Bobotie Casserole

February 21, 2008

Image: Impala African Safaris

First stop is a lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve , a home base from which our two lovers may spend several days venturing out to see an enormous range of exotic wild game.  Later, if feeling luxurious, they must spend an additional night or two at The Palace of the Lost City, a five-star hotel set in the middle of its own tropical jungle and featuring a fine restaurant, where they can enjoy the multi-cultural riches of South African cuisine before flying home out of Johannesburg.

Bobotie is long-time favorite South African dish, and there are many variations of this minced meat and egg casserole which is traditionally flavored with spices, fruit, and almonds. –Almostgotit

1 slice bread
3 cups milk
1 lb very lean ground beef
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon curry paste or powder
½ cup chopped almonds or unsweetened coconut
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon apricot jam
3 eggs
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Dash each of salt, pepper,

Soak bread in half the milk, squeeze out excess milk WITHOUT DISCARDING IT and mash the bread with a fork.  Set bread aside. Pour the reserved milk back into remaining milk, and set milk aside.

Cook the ground beef.  Add salt, pepper, tomato paste and a little parsley. Set aside.

Fry the onions in butter and add curry – allow to darken slightly. Beat the eggs and milk together. Add lemon juice to onion mixture, then add apricot jam, almonds, bread & vinegar.  Stir in the beef, then add one third of the milk & egg mixture. Pour into a casserole dish and bake for ten minutes at 325° F.   Carefully pour the remaining milk & egg mixure over the casserole and continue baking until brown, approximately 30 minutes.  Serve with steamed rice (traditionally seasoned with yellow saffron) and chutney.

  • Don’t miss this recipe for Elephant Stew  included on the South African website FunkyMunky (it “takes 2 months to prepare” and calls for “1 heaping wheelbarrow of onions.” But it’s for reading pleasure only: we don’t REALLY want Sam & Harry to kill any elephants!)

Tex-Mex Grits

December 27, 2007

The good news about this yummy grits casserole is you have to taste it along the way to make sure the seasonings are right. Leave out the chili powder entirely for a milder taste or go for the burn. You can make it with regular grits, but the stone-ground variety, found in most natural foods sections, are much richer and nuttier. Do not use instant grits. SAM

3 cups water or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 cup stone-ground or regular grits (not instant)
8 ounces white Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
8 ounces hot or medium salsa
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium chef’s pan over high heat, bring the water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until thick, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, half-and-half, and garlic, stirring until melted. Add the butter and eggs, stirring until melted. Add the salsa and chili powder. Taste a small amount to check the seasonings and add more salt and/or chili powder if necessary. Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole and bake for 50 minutes or until lightly browned and firm.
Makes 6 servings.

Pasta Baked with Potatoes and Leeks

October 31, 2007


Leeks and potatoes are an almost magical combination. Bake them with pasta and cheese, and you have the ultimate comfort food. SAM

1 pound new potatoes (4 medium)
1 pound onions, thinly sliced (2 medium)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium leeks
1 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin seed
4 ounces small pasta [curls, oriechetti, macaroni]
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unseasoned breadcrumbs, divided
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch gratin dish and set aside.

In a small saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, cool, and roughly chop.

Trim away the heavy green ends of the leeks. Leaving the roots intact, slice the leeks into quarters from roots to tips. Rinse under running water and place upside-down in a sieve in a large bowl of cold water. Soak for 30 minutes or until free of sand and dirt. Chop into 1-inch pieces.

In a large chef’s pan over medium heat, sweat the onions in 1 tablespoon oil for 15 minutes. Add the leeks, raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes more. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the cumin and sauté until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes.

Boil the pasta in lightly salted water until al dente. Drain, toss with 1 tablespoon oil, and stir into the onions and leeks. Add the potatoes, crème fraîche, 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper. Turn into the prepared casserole and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon oil. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned.
Makes 2 main or 4 side servings.

Roasted Red Pepper-Potato Gratin

October 30, 2007


A perfect casserole for cooler weather … Use whatever cheese you find in your market. Paneer would be fine or a nice hard sheep’s cheese. The goat’s cheese-water mixture functions as the sauce. You can substitute a béchamel or use heavy cream. Actually, heavy cream would be wonderful! SAM

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds sweet onions, thinly sliced (4 medium)
1 pound new potatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
3 ounces log goat’s cheese
3 ounces water
6 ounces roasted red bell peppers, minced
2 tablespoons grated mild cheddar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unseasoned breadcrumbs, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch gratin dish and set aside. in a large, covered chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the onions in 1 tablespoon oil, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic after 15 minutes and continue cooking another 15 minutes, until translucent. In a small stockpot, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. In a small saucepan over very low heat, combine the goat’s cheese, water, and bay leaf stirring until melted. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the onion mixture, potatoes, goat’s cheese mixture, roasted peppers, cheddar, and 1/3 cup breadcrumbs. Discard the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Turn into the prepared gratin, sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake for 50 minutes or until browned.
Makes 4 servings.