Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

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Sliced mushrooms, gruyere cheese and potatoes in a basket are being prepped for Potato and Mushroom Gratin.

With Easter just around the corner, you’ll want to be dinner ready for family and friends. Hopefully, with some luck, the Covid-19 gathering restrictions will ease in my area and a modest gathering can take place. I do miss my family and friends, and I miss cooking for them. It’s the best part of any gathering, in my opinion. You’re gonna love this easy and delicious Potato and Mushroom Gratin. It feeds 8 people, it’s easy to assemble and bakes up golden and creamy every time. There’s no messing around with cooking a white sauce, there’s no boilovers and no pre-cooking potatoes. It’s a no-fuss casserole, loaded with earthy mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, and has become my favourite to serve with ham. It’s also fantastic served with roast chicken, pork or grilled steak.

Sauteed mushroom in a stainless steel skillet that have been cooked for Potato and Mushroom Gratin.
A prepped and layered Potato and Mushroom Gratin in a red casserole dish ready for the oven.

What makes this potato casserole a winner in my books is the simplicity of the sauce. The mixture of cream and sour cream makes it extra creamy and the sour cream gives a little tang. The sauce is whisked together cold and poured over the potato slices. I find there’s no need to be fussy with the potato arrangement either. Simply toss the slices into the casserole dish and spread them around evenly instead of trying to layer them ever so carefully. If you don’t have a mandolin for thinly slicing the potatoes, that’s no problem, simply slice as thin as you can by hand and cook for the longest time suggested in the recipe. Remember, dinner doesn’t need to be fussy. This simple casserole is not only delicious, but it also feeds a small crowd and is worthy of your family gathering. Enjoy!

Potato and Mushroom Gratin baked golden in a red casserole dish and garnished with chopped green onions.

Potato and Mushroom Gratin baked golden in a red casserole dish and garnished with chopped green onions.
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Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp salted butter plus more for dish
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced see note
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sour cream, full fat
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes see note
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a large 3-quart casserole dish.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until starting to foam. Add mushroom and cook until lightly browned and the moisture has evaporated. Add minced garlic and continue to cook, stirring often for 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  • While mushrooms are cooking, whisk together cream, sour cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. In a separate bowl whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add to the sour cream and cream and whisk until incorporated. Grate the cheese and set it aside.
  • Peel and thinly slice potatoes. Spread half of the potato slices evenly in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Scatter half of the sauteed mushroom and half of the cheese evenly over the potatoes. Repeat with remaining potatoes, mushrooms and cheese.
  • Pour cream mixture evenly over potatoes. Give the pan a gentle shake to help flatten everything out. Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes (this will depend on how thin you've sliced the potatoes) Start checking at 45 minutes. The potatoes should be almost tender in the center. Remove cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the top is golden.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or sliced green onions if desired.

Notes

-Russet potatoes work well for this recipe, however,  I've also used red potatoes with equally good results.
-The covered cooking time will vary slightly depending on how thin you've sliced the potatoes.  I find cutting them by hand instead of using a mandolin requires closer to 60 minutes covered.
-I like using cremini mushrooms for this recipe as they have a little more earthiness than regular white mushrooms, however, either work well as does a mix of mushrooms.

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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza baked hot and bubbly and garnished with fennel fronds.

Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

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I say start the new year with pizza! Yes, that’s right, crispy, cheesy, flavour-packed Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza. We can not make just any pizza, it truly needs to be a cast-iron pizza to start the new year right. It creates the best golden and crisp underside that you’ll ever create at home, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making all your pizzas this way. Most new year resolutions include some form of healthy eating, but I think the new year (because it’s gonna be great) deserves full-on, carefree, in your face deliciousness. The sausage and fennel combination has not only become my new favourite, cooking it in a cast-iron pan tips it over the edge of my pizza nirvana. So move over plain ol’ pepperoni pizza… grown-up pizza just walked in.

A cast iron skillet full of of ingredients for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.
Pizza dough, marinara sauce and fennel ready for Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza.

With the new year upon us, we have no choice but to be hopeful for a more user-friendly year. Even though I can consider 2020 a good year, it hasn’t been without its frustrations, and for many people, it has been a year of hardship and heartache. While we can’t eat cheesy, sausage laden pizza all the time, it’s a good reminder to enjoy a few of the simpler things that we can. It’s also great fun to create homemade pizza at home with loved ones lending a helping hand.

All the best in 2021, let’s eat!

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.

Sausage and Fennel Cast Iron Pizza garnished with fennel fronds and cut into slices on a black cutting board.
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Sausage and Fennel Cast-Iron Pizza

Course Main Course
Keyword baked, cast iron, cast iron pizza, fennel, garlic, Italian sausage, mozzerella, olive oil, pizza, pizza dough
Cook Time 14 minutes
Resting time 5 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ounces pizza dough homemade or store-bought
  • 8 ounces Italian sausage about 2 links, casing removed
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce homemade or store bought
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced plus fronds for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Set oven rack to its uppermost position. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  • Drizzle room temperature pizza dough with 1 tbsp olive oil and press out to a 10" round. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 10" cast-iron skillet. Add Italian sausage and cook over medium, breaking up any large pieces. Once cooked and slightly crisp remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • With the heat still on medium/low, immediately lay pizza dough in the pan, stretching out to the edges using a spatula or spoon if necessary. Top dough with marinara, then mozzarella, fennel, garlic and sausage. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and check the underside which should be starting to brown and crisp. Transfer pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 10-14 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and fennel fronds or fresh basil. Lift out of the pan and cut into wedges and serve.

Notes

-The dough will press out better on a wooden surface such as a cutting board as opposed to granite or super-smooth surfaces.
-I prefer a thinner crust and opt for 8 ounces of dough vs 10.  It is 10 ounces pictured in the blog.
-Makes one 10" pizza, however, a 12" cast-iron skillet would work too, just use the 10 ounces of dough.  There's plenty of topping, so there's no need to adjust unless you'd like more cheese.
-The original recipe from Bon Appétit suggests garnishing with fresh basil, however, I enjoy using fresh fennel fronds instead, but it's a matter of preference and both are delicious. 

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Meaty Baked Pasta

Meaty Baked Pasta

Well, baked pasta is far from anything new.  This little version is my own yet very similar to many that are out there.  It’s more of a reminder of how wonderful a baked pasta can be.  There are a few steps involved so I wouldn’t call it the best weeknight meal.  However, Meaty Baked Pasta is just what the family calls for on the weekend.  

With this pasta casserole, you will find a meaty sauce that includes ground beef and Italian sausage, a light and creamy ricotta cheese layer that helps to balance the acid in the tomato sauce.  More sauce hugged pasta with chunks of tomato that is broiled oozy with mozzarella and parmesan.  It’s the kind of dish you know you should stop eating, but just can’t.

It serves many with even a few leftovers.  If planning ahead, you may want to assemble in two casserole dishes, bake one and freeze the other for a later meal when time is not your friend. 

Meaty Baked Pasta is homey, satisfying and best of all cheesy!  It’s not diet friendly, so I won’t pretend that it is.  Everything in moderation, right?  Enjoy!

Meaty Baked Pasta is hot and cheesy from the oven in a blue casserole dish with handles. There is a serving spoon half tucked into the pasta. The dish rests on a cork pot holder that is draped with a white and navy towel. Fresh basil sits in the background.
Meaty Baked Pasta
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    8-10 people 40 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    40 minutes 5 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    8-10 people 40 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    40 minutes 5 minutes
    Meaty Baked Pasta is hot and cheesy from the oven in a blue casserole dish with handles. There is a serving spoon half tucked into the pasta. The dish rests on a cork pot holder that is draped with a white and navy towel. Fresh basil sits in the background.
    Meaty Baked Pasta
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      8-10 people 40 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      40 minutes 5 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      8-10 people 40 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      40 minutes 5 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften, stirring often.
      2. Add ground beef and Italian sausage. Cook until browned and no longer pink, breaking apart any large chunks and stirring often. Dab out any excess fat with a paper towel.
      3. To the meat add marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and chili flakes.
      4. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 20- 25 minutes to meld flavours.
      5. While meat sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions using well-salted water. (about 1 tbsp regular salt to 4 litres of water). Drain pasta and set aside.
      6. Preheat oven to 350℉.
      7. In a small bowl stir together ricotta, half of the mozzarella, half of the parmesan, dried basil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
      8. Lightly spray a 9"x13" casserole dish with non stick spray. Add half the cooked pasta and half of the meat sauce to the casserole dish. Stir to combine. Spread with ricotta cheese mixture.
      9. To the pot with the remaining pasta add remaining meat sauce. Stir to combine and pour over ricotta cheese layer. Top with remaining half of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
      10. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until bubbly. Broil for 2-3 to blister the cheese. Remove and allow to rest 3-5 minutes prior to serving.

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      Creamy Caper Smashed Potatoes

      Creamy Caper Smashed Potatoes

      Creamy Caper Smashed Potatoes…oh my!

      One of my quick and easy weeknight meals consists of broiled fish with a creamy caper paste.  It takes mere minutes to cook and is tender, moist and full of flavour.  I decided to use this same paste on smashed baby potatoes for an easy side dish that’s super delicious and pairs well with roasted meats and fish. 

      Capers are the unripened flowers buds of Capparis spinosa or Capparis inermis and are generally dried and pickled.  Here’s a handy link from The Spruce Eats that tells you a little more about the amazing caper. 

      You won’t be disappointed!

      Roasted mini potatoes get a gentle smash and topped with a creamy caper paste made with capers, lemon, dill, mayonnaise, and parmesan cheese.  Crispy little potato disks with fluffy centres are the perfect base for the briny capers, fresh dill and creamy mayo.  

      If you’re not familiar with capers, they’re a handy pantry item to have kicking around.  They’re pungent and briny and not all that good on their own, but combine them with cream, butter or lemon and you have a flavour explosion. They add a salty depth of flavour that enhances sauces, dressing, salads, and more. Enjoy!

      Author: Compelled to Cook

      Creamy Caper Smashed Potatoes
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        3-4 people 15 minutes
        Cook Time
        30-35 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        3-4 people 15 minutes
        Cook Time
        30-35 minutes
        Creamy Caper Smashed Potatoes
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          3-4 people 15 minutes
          Cook Time
          30-35 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          3-4 people 15 minutes
          Cook Time
          30-35 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: people
          Instructions
          1. Preheat oven to 350℉. In a medium bowl toss together potatoes, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
          2. Spread out evenly on a baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes, turning once, until just tender.
          3. While potatoes are baking, combine together mayonnaise, parmesan, capers, dill, lemon juice and pepper.
          4. Remove potatoes from oven and gently flatten each with a flat surfaced utensil (I use a metal potato masher) to a third of its original height.
          5. Set oven rack to 7" from broiler and turn oven to broil. Spread 1 tbsp of paste onto each potato. Broil for 2-3 minutes until golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and serve immediately, garnishing with fresh dill if desired.

          Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta

          Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta

          Do you like lamb?  I certainly do, and I believe it’s a meat you either like or don’t.  I also believe that some people associate lamb with mutton, which has turned them away from it. Mutton is from the same animal as lamb, but stronger in taste and usually much tougher due to the age of the animal.  Mutton is meat from a sheep that is 1-3 years old, which yields a stronger, gamier taste, and is tougher due to the muscles working longer.  Lamb, on the other hand, is meat from young lambs that are less than a year old.  Young spring lamb is tender and milder in comparison to mutton.

          My personal favourite in cuts of lamb is chops, specifically grilled chops, which are delicious with a mustard rub.  I also enjoy lean ground lamb and lamb shoulder.  The wonderful thing about lamb is that it can take on robust, bold flavours and pairs wonderfully with the tomatoes and olives in this Mediterranean style dish.  Saucy, rustic and full of flavour, Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta is a welcome change from regular beef meatballs. Perfect with rice or toasty bread!  Enjoy!

          If you’re a lamb lover like me, you’ll also want to try Braised Lamb Shoulder. Fork tender lamb shoulder braised in a creamy mushroom sauce.

          Recipe source for Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta:  Compelled to Cook

          Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            3-4 people 30-35 minutes
            Cook Time
            45-50 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            3-4 people 30-35 minutes
            Cook Time
            45-50 minutes
            Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              3-4 people 30-35 minutes
              Cook Time
              45-50 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              3-4 people 30-35 minutes
              Cook Time
              45-50 minutes
              Ingredients
              Meatballs
              Sauce
              Servings: people
              Instructions
              Meatballs
              1. Add all ingredients except oil to a large bowl. Gently combine with your hands or a wooden spoon. Roll mixture into 17-18 evenly sized meatballs approximately 1 1/4 ounces each.
              2. Heat oil in a cast iron or oven safe skillet over medium heat until hot. Arrange meatballs in a single layer and brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and drain all but 1 tbsp of fat from skillet.
              Sauce
              1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
              2. To the skillet add chopped shallot and garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until soft, stirring often. Pour in white wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits in the pan. Add chicken broth and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.
              3. Using your hands, crush tomatoes and add to skillet along with oregano, paprika and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs back to pan, stirring to coat with sauce.
              4. Place in oven uncovered and bake for 20-25 minutes until sauce is reduced, stirring once. Remove from oven and stir to coat with sauce. Sprinkle with feta cheese and olives, return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped red onion and fresh oregano if desired and serve immediately on top of rice or with crusty bread.
              Recipe Notes

              -dampened hands help to roll meatballs.