Saturday, September 12, 2015

Crispy Cheesy Oniony Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Crispy Cheesy Oniony Twice Baked Potato Casserole

What do you do when you want to make a twice baked potato casserole, but you don't have bacon in the house? Sure, you could drive to the store to spend $5 on a pound of bacon, or you could fry up the potato skins and use them as a crispy topping instead. My train of thought actually went something like this: "Need side dish for church--potatoes--homemade potato chips--no, pain in the butt--fried baked potatoes--too greasy and they'll get cold--cheesy potatoes--no cream of chicken soup--twice baked potato casserole--no bacon or green onion or cream cheese--caramelize some onions with garlic--cheese chunks, not grated cheese--fry the skins and put on top--YES."
Well, suffice it to say, everyone at our church dinner raved about the potatoes--everyone who got some anyway. They went pretty fast. The flavors and textures in here are perfect: creamy, salty, oniony potatoes with lots of melty cheddar cheese throughout, and the crispy salty fried skins on top just add another layer of fabulous to the experience. YUM. I will definitely be doing this again.

Crispy Cheesy Oniony Twice Baked Potato Casserole

  • 6 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for crispy skins
  • 1 1/2 cups medium cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks
  • canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash, trim, and pierce potatoes. Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour at 400 degrees, or until they  yield when squeezed gently with a mitted hand.
While potatoes bake, place a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add butter and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Saute the chopped onions until they start to brown on the edges. Add the chopped garlic and pepper, and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
When potatoes are done, carefully remove with oven mitts or tongs. Turn oven down to 325 degrees. Carefully cut each potato in half lengthwise. Holding a half potato in a mitted hand, scoop out the potato and place potato flesh in a mixing bowl. Scoop out almost all of the white flesh, leaving about 1/8 inch of the white flesh in the shell of the skin. Repeat with remaining potato halves. Set skins aside. 
To the potato in the mixing bowl, add 4 tablespoons butter, milk, sour cream, and half teaspoon salt. With a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low until ingredients are incorporated, and then mix on high for about a minute until mixture is creamy. Add onion mixture and beat to incorporate. Stir in chunks of cheese. 
Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread potato mixture into the dish, cover with aluminum foil, and place in the oven at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. 
While potatoes bake again, heat up about 1 inch of canola oil in a frying pan. Line a plate with a couple of layers of paper towels. Stack 3 or 4 potato skins on a cutting board and cut into 1/4 inch strips, preferably in the direction that will give you shorter strips. Repeat with remaining skins. When oil reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit, add a portion of the potato skin strips, taking care not to place too many in at once--you can fry in batches. Gently stir and fry potato skins until browned and crisp. Remove crisp skins to paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat with remaining skins until all are fried.
After 30 minutes, remove potatoes from the oven, take the foil off, and evenly sprinkle crispy potato skins all over the top. If potato skins don't seem crisp enough, you can turn the oven to broil and broil for 2 minutes to crisp them up on top.
Serve hot, but be careful.
Makes about 12 servings

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Individual Apple Streusel Galettes

Yummy individual apple streusel galette
with a little heavy cream on the side

Sometimes you just want some apple pie for breakfast. Today is one of those days for me. I've made a full size galette before, but since I know I'm the only one who will want this today for breakfast, I made four individual galettes. I'll enjoy one for breakfast and then I will freeze the others for another time--or maybe I'll be generous and take some to my friends. We'll see. 
The crust of these galettes is what I think makes me love them: flaky, buttery, tender and perfect. The apples are just tender enough, sweet and tart; and the streusel ads another sweet, crisp element--unless of course you pour on some heavy cream, which is what I did. The heavy cream adds the creaminess of ice cream without more sugar, which this galette does not need. The cream cuts the sweetness just a bit and still gives you the creamy side element most of us like with our apple pie.
Ahh. A very satisfying breakfast indeeed.

Individual Apple Streusel Galettes

Streusel Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Filling Ingredients:
  • 3 medium granny smith apples (or other combination of your favorite baking apples)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 ¼ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoon Crisco (vegetable shortening)
  • 3-4 tablespoon ice cold water
  • flour for dusting 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

For the streusel... in a medium bowl, mix the white sugar, graham crumbs and flour. Add sliced butter and toss to separate butter slices. With your fingers, gently smoosh the butter into the dry ingredients until butter is entirely incorporated and the mixture looks like wet sand, with some clumps here and there. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the filling... peel, core, and quarter the apples. Slice each quarter into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices. Place all of the apple slices in a medium bowl, add the lemon juice, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt, and then fold gently to disperse the dry ingredients. Set aside while you prepare the crust.

For the crust... get two square pieces of wax paper. Place one on a flat surface for rolling, and lightly flour the wax paper. Then, in a medium bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until you have quarter-inch chunks of butter. Add the vegetable shortening and continue cutting until you have some sandy parts and some larger chunks of butter and shortening (a few quarter-inch chunks here and there--see pic below). Drizzle in the ice water and toss with a fork until the dough starts to clump. 

Then use your hands to gently knead the dough into a relatively cohesive mass--be careful not to over work the dough, or your crust will be tough. Turn out onto the lightly floured wax paper and cut into four equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, form the dough into a ball and place on a flour-dusted piece of wax paper. Sprinkle dough with more flour, cover iwht another layer of wax paper, and roll out to about 1/8-inch thickness. Carefully remove top layer of wax paper and transfer sheet of dough to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions of dough. They will likely overlap one another on the baking sheet, but that's okay, because you will fold up the edges of the dough.

Assembling the galette... Pour/scoop a fourth of the apples into the middle of each dough circle, leaving about 2 inches apple-free. Try to make sure the top of the apple mound is slightly flattened so that it can hold more streusel. Carefully scoop some streusel all over the apple mound. Now, fold up the dough edges to form rough pleats around the edge. Press lightly to make sure the pleats hold. Repeat with all galettes and arrange them on the pan so they are rather equidistant from each other.

Bake galettes at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until nicely browned and a knife inserted into the center meets little resistance. Check the galettes about halfway through baking. If the streusel seems to be browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil on top without pressing down--just let it sit there on top.

When done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before serving. 

Makes 4-8 servings, depending on who's enjoying them.
Serve with a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream or ice cream, if desired.

Freeze leftovers. To reheat, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place frozen galette on parchment lined baking sheet and reheat for about 20-25 minutes, or until hot and crisp.

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