Twice Baked Potato Casserole

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By cooking these potatoes in their skin and then peeling them, you benefit from more nutrients being absorbed into the potato’s flesh. Plus, they are much easier to peel after they’ve been cooked; just rub them with a paper towel or a butter knife. This makes a large batch and is great for serving half and freezing half for later. We reheat a lot of pre-made meals from the freezer. For this reason my man, Eric, says our dish is really thrice baked. Har Har.

For fluffier boiled potatoes, after you drain the water, cover the pot with a double thickness of paper towels and the pot’s lid. In ten minutes, steam will be absorbed by the towels and your potatoes will be dry and fluffy.

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Serves 12

2 1/2 quart boxes of Everblossom new potatoes (about 7 pounds)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Scrub the potatoes well and rinse under cool running water. Start them in a pot of cool water and bring to a boil together for the most even cooking. Boil in salted water for about 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.

When the potatoes have cooled, use a paper towel to rub off their skins. Place the potato flesh in a large bowl and add 1 stick of the butter, the sour cream, heavy cream, salt, and pepper and mash until chunky-smooth.

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Fry the chopped bacon until the fat is melting and then add the onions. Stir until the onions are softened and absorbing that bacon flavor, about 5 minutes.

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To the mashed potatoes, add the bacon and onions, cubed white Cheddar and eggs and mix thoroughly.

Butter two 8×8-inch casserole dishes (or a single 9 by 13-inch casserole) with the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Place the potato mixture in the prepared casserole. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and heated through and the top is lightly browning. Serve hot.

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Farmers’ Fairs and the Canning Competition

Eat Happy!

Eat Happy!

Everblossom Harvest Party

This weekend is one big harvest celebration. Elaine’s Everblossom Farm CSA Potluck Picnic and Harvest Party is Saturday, October 19, from 12:30 to 4:00. Details are available on our website: www.everblossomfarm.com. It’s rain or shine and friends and members are invited. If you’re curious about the Organic CSA and the farm, please visit us.

Dillsburg Farmer’s Fair

Also this weekend is the Dillsburg Farmer’s Fair.  My friends and I have grown up eating the fair food on the street, watching the pumpkin catapulting and the Children’s Parade on Friday night, marching with our high school band in the big parade on Saturday night, walking through the vintage tractors, cars and petting zoo. I am even close personal friends with a previous Farmer’s Fair QUEEN!

This year we are taking part in new ways. First, my husband Eric’s South Mountain Cycle Shop will ride their motorcycles in the auto and tractor parade on Saturday at 3:00 pm. Check them out at www.southmountaincycleshop.com.com.

Stiff Canning Competition

Secondly, this year I have bravely entered the Farmer’s Fair canning competition in two categories; Cut Tomatoes and Applesauce. Right away I must give credit to my dear friend, canning partner and CSA member, Elizabeth. She and I learned to can this year and had an awesome experience doing it. Thanks to her adventurous spirit with a careful and studious approach we learned how to safely and successfully store away tomatoes, apples and peaches. Also, special thanks to my Aunt Jeanne who gave us a hands-on lesson in canning tomatoes that I previously posted about.

Now that I have delivered my blue ribbon acceptance speech…please let me tell you I have not often been so intimidated as I was Tuesday night at the community hall dropping off my two fine little quart jar specimens for the judging.  I nervously chose the wrong line at first and after switching back and forth to fill out the proper forms, I found myself in front of two ladies taking their jobs as serious as a heart attack. They soberly took my jars and wrote out the tiny tags as I looked around at the other jars full of perfect little globes of beets, cherries, I’m not sure. I had a clear and strong urge to pick up my jars and apologize. Pretend like the whole thing was a big misunderstanding.

There is no doubt; I am an optimist. It’s not a bad way to go through life, but sometimes makes me feel silly as I was already regarding our pretty jars as “award-winning”. Just as any good mama should, I think they are beautiful — marbled yellow, orange and red heirloom tomatoes, and pretty applesauce that is pink from cooking the Honeycrisp apples in their skin. It made me smile (nervously) at my second thoughts that night and desire to rescue my babies and just take them right back home. Who needs to be judged anyway.

But, I was brave. I left them there and I will find out tomorrow how we stack up. If we lose, I will try not to make excuses about local politics. If we win, I will tell the world about it here. Stay tuned!

A Better BLT

a better BLT

It’s hard to improve on a classic, but we certainly can take the standard Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwich and maximize those few ingredients.

Tonight’s dinner conversation with our dear little girl started with, “What’s a BLT?” Seems like a great place to start here too:

  • B is for Bacon from Nell’s Butcher Shop in East Berlin, PA. Oh, it’s pretty prefect. Just look at it.
  • B.2 is for Bread, really good “artisan” bread from Lark Rise Bakery’s CSA based out of Loysville, PA. Toast your bread and spread on your favorite mayo.
  • L is for Lettuce – in this version it’s Everblossom’s organic peppery arugula and salad mix. Its texture and spice makes the sandwich pop.
  • T is for a sweet, ripe, organic heirloom Tomato from Everblossom Farm.

Earlier in summer when basil is also brightening our table, it is also my secret  ingredient to brighten my BLT. Use it in place of lettuce or alongside Elaine’s butter crunch variety. Yuh uh um.

 

Buttermilk Dressing served over a salad of boiled potatoes, tomatoes and peas

A simple salad of boiled potatoes, tomatoes and peas drizzled with buttermilk dressing

A simple salad of boiled potatoes, tomatoes and peas drizzled with buttermilk dressing

STILL have buttermilk left over? What do you like to make with it? And, why do they sell it in such big containers? We originally bought buttermilk to make some good old fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch sugar cakes and then went searching for inspiration on what to do with the rest. Cinnamon Bread and Eggplant Gratin (see previous post) did not use it all. So, we moved on to salad dressing…try it over this week’s peppery salad mix!

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 teaspoons champagne vinegar

1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

Pinch of salt

Liberal amount of freshly ground pepper

Eggplant Gratin

Eggplant Gratin with spaghetti and chunky heirloom tomato sauce

Eggplant Gratin with spaghetti and chunky heirloom tomato sauce

This may just be the best way I have ever eaten eggplant. It is a lower fat gratin than the usual variety that uses half & half, but no one will ever know. It is still as fluffy and creamy as the original. I had buttermilk to use and necessity is the mother of invention! I served it with spaghetti noodles and some of the Chunky Heirloom Tomato Sauce from last week’s post.

Olive oil for frying

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2 inch thick – about 2 Everblossom eggplants

1/3 cup low-fat sour cream

1/3 cup low-fat cream cheese

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 extra-large eggs

1/4 cup chives, chopped finely

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat about 1/8 inch of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking add several slices of eggplant, but don’t overcrowd. Cook, turning once or twice until they are evenly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use a splatter guard if you have one and be careful. Transfer the cooked eggplant to a paper towel. Add more oil to the pan, heat it and repeat until all slices are cooked.

In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, cream cheese, buttermilk, eggs and chives, half cup of the parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a square baking dish layer the eggplant slices, salt and pepper, and pour on the custard mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining half-cup parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 minutes; lower heat to 375 and bake for another 20 minutes until the custard is browned on top and your dish is hot and bubbly.