Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cookbook Case Study - Potato Pepper Bake - Food Legends of the World

The second recipe I made from Food Legends of the World was Potato Pepper Bake. Essentially, this was scalloped potatoes with blue cheese, capsicum, and fresh herbs. I'm all for blue cheese, so I was into it...

The potato's legend comes from Peru, and tells of conflict between the people living on the plains, and those living in the Andean mountains. The people of the plains had grown strong on quinoa, and wishing for more land on which to grow their crops, they began stealing the food of the mountain-people in the hopes of starving them out. The mountain people prayed to their gods, and were answered when a great bird dropped large fleshy seeds form the sky, which the mountain people planted. However, the people from the plains stole these crops, too, before the berries on the plants were harvested. The great bird returned, telling them that the plains people had fallen for a trick taking the poisonous berries, and that they should dig the hidden crop of potatoes from the ground.

The mixture of chopped red capsicum, fresh herbs, and spring onions that goes between the layers of potato was delicious by itself. Here it is:

Red Pepper of Yumminess
Tasty tasty foods. Tasty!
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In a fit of laziness, I used frozen potato slices. (Also, our potatoes were soft and sprouting, and I'd just bought the newly released frozen pre-sliced potatoes, so it was quite lucky.) Here's a hint for working with frozen potato slices: don't put them on a wet chopping board if you want to be able to get them off again easily! Uh... how do I know? Oh, just a guess, I certainly didn't let them freeze onto the chopping board by mistake...

Frozen Potatoes!
Frozen potato. Wet chopping board. Oops.
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Frozen Potatoes!
Product placement! These are like the first frozen potato product I've come across that wasn't battered for roasting. It's just potato! Perfect! Oh, I have no stake in this company and bought the product myself, blah blah. :)
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I made half with blue cheese as called for, and the other half with feta, so I didn't have to inflict blue cheese on Neil. The feta was easier to crumble than the blue cheese, so probably not a bad alternative. Neil appreciated the swap, and though he was brave enough to try a bit with blue cheese just in case, he still didn't like it.

White things
Potatoes, blue cheese, and feta.
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Left half has feta. Right half has blue cheese. Bottom half has red pepper - though after I took the photo I sprinkled it over the whole lot ;)
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Because I used frozen potatoes, and the instructions had only short cooking times listed, I baked them for 30 minutes rather than the 60 called for in the recipe (followed by 15 minutes without a cover to brown the dish). This worked a treat.

Baked bake
It didn't get particularly brown, but good anyways.
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This was seriously tasty, I was more than impressed. I preferred the blue cheese to the feta - it had a smoky flavour while the feta half was strangely slightly sweet. This was also good as leftovers. It didn't serve 4-6 though - perhaps it would as a side to something else. We started off making it into four servings, then we polished off another half-serve each at the same meal. I had the final serve for lunch the next day, and was still slightly peckish afterwards.

Potato Pepper Bake
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This will definitely be a make-again sort of dish! I'll have to think of a nice protein dish to pair it with, I think, to make the recipe go a little further.

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