published Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Fare Exchange: Joys of potatoes, braised or scalloped, and pecan tassies

Jane Henegar
TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

E-mail: janehenegar@gmail.com

Fax: 423-668-5092

Today's requests came from a conversation among three friends: Marie, Laura, and Chris. They are looking for a Kentucky Derby Pie without bourbon or nuts, for a white sangria without Triple Sec and for ways to serve arugula and tart cherries.

Suzannah Gardener offered a favorite new recipe from Cook's Illustrated. "The recipes often seem way too detailed, but I am learning that those details keep me from making mistakes. I have made some slight variations in the recipe, and I include them because they worked. This is an easy new way to prepare potatoes, but you have to be sure you choose the right potatoes."

Braised Red Potatoes with Lemon and Chives

1 1/2 pound small red potatoes (about 11/2 inches in diameter), unpeeled and halved

2 cups water

3 tablespoons butter

3 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled

3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Arrange potatoes in a single layer, cut side down, in a 12-inch, nonstick skillet. Add water, butter, garlic, thyme and salt, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove lid and use slotted spoon to transfer garlic to cutting board; discard thyme. Increase heat to medium-high and vigorously simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until water evaporates and butter starts to sizzle, 15 to 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, mince garlic to paste. Transfer paste to bowl and stir in lemon juice and pepper.

Continue to cook potatoes, swirling pan frequently, until butter browns and cut sides of potatoes turn spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes longer. Off heat, add garlic mixture and chives and toss to thoroughly coat. Serve immediately.


Mary Ann McInturff, who has shared many recipes, found pecan tassies in a 1970 Southern Living cookbook, "Our Best Recipes."

Pecan Tassies

Pastry shells

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

Combine cream cheese and butter; blend until smooth. Add flour, mixing well.

Refrigerate dough 1 hour, then shape into 24 balls. Put each ball in a greased mini muffin pan. With fingers or a tamper shape into a shell (on the bottom and up the sides).

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes before filling. Let cool a few minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling. These will puff up some, so be sure not to have the dough too thick in the cups of the muffin pan.

Filling

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter softened

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup chopped pecans

Combine ingredients, mixing well; spoon 1 teaspoonful filling into each pastry shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes.

There may be enough dough and filling to make another 4 to 6 tassies. And the shells lend themselves well to any filling, including Lemon Curd or a crab or chicken filling that needs to bake for about 15 to 17 minutes.


Barbara adapted this from Melissa d'Arabian's recipe for Individual Potato Gratins. "I use Velveeta instead of Swiss cheese, and two small oval ramekins instead of eight individual muffin tins."

Scalloped Potatoes in Heavy Cream

2 medium potatoes, peeled, and sliced thin

1/2 cup cheese (Swiss or Velveeta)

2 green onions, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup heavy cream

Layer ingredients in ramekins: potatoes, then cheese, then onions well-salted and peppered. Cover to the top with cream. Cover with tin foil and bake about 45 minutes in preheated oven at 375 degrees until tender. Remove foil and allow to brown on top. This can easily be multiplied and baked in a regular casserole dish.


To finish today's column and subsequent ones, you will find a kitchen tip, a quick idea that will help finish a dish or a meal well. Please send your ideas in the days ahead, on any kitchen or dinner-table topic.

Helene Lang wrote that a mistake in a favorite recipe is her family's latest tradition. "I always caramelize a lot of onion slices on the stovetop for a quiche with mushrooms and crumbled bacon, but recently we had company, and I was distracted and forgot to stir in the onions. The quiche was just coming out of the oven, so we put it on the table along with a bowl of caramelized onions, and put a spoonful on top of each slice of quiche. It was delicious and accented the onions' sweetness."

Thank you for coming today. How about next week?

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