Hassleback Potatoes

hasselback-potatoes-frame-silvia-baldini

My mother taught me how to use a knife and prep at a young age. I started helping her in the kitchen when I was 5 or 6. I would peel potatoes, carrots and apples for her. I shelled peas and beans, chopped herbs, I stirred sauces and I coated baking pans for her cakes. She was very adamant I should not waste anything. I had to learn to scrape the flesh from the peel of an apple and to squeeze a lemon till the last drop. While I prepped, my mother would cook and bond with me. Those were precious years where I learned mothers have infinite patience, women have been working for no money in the kitchen for years, and a savvy cook must know how to use and finish everything she buys to cook for the family.  Zero waste cooking, scrap cooking, frugal gourmet, it’s what thrifty and smart women have done for century.  I believe the ability to use all parts of produce, reinvent leftovers, not only reheat them in to a chewy microwave blob, repurpose everyday food scraps into useful ingredients, it’s what separates a real cook from the pretender.

Since we never threw away anythings, stale bread turned in to useful bread crumbs and crunchy crostini; used vanilla pods were saved in glass jars to scent sugar and baking powder; the rendered fat from the pancetta was reserved for frying delicious potatoes; we even kept espresso grounds in an air tight container to get rid of odors and to keep ants away. I believe cooking with scraps is a must not only for the thrifty but also our obligation to our enormously abused planet.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorite frugal tips and recipes here on my blog as well as in an article, soon to be published, in Reader’s Digest.  Today, I’m starting with the basic.

Bread Crumbs:

To make my bread crumbs I keep the left overs loafs of breads out on the counter for at least a day. Once the bread is hard and stale I pulverize it in a food processor. If I’m in a rush and I don’t have stale bread I slice fresh bread and bake in the oven at 250F for 10 minutes and then pulverize it. I store the bread crumbs in air tight container for up to two months. I like to add dried herbs to the crumbs, or even grated lemon or orange peel, ground pepper, cayenne pepper or curry powder for a bit of a kick. If I add spices or herbs to the crumbs, I save them in parchment paper for up to one week. Bread crumbs are perfect for breading cutlets, to thicken soups and sauces, to soften meatballs mixes, to line molds and baking pans.

Croutons and Crostini:

I dice the stale bread in 1 inch cubes or for rustic croutons I tear the bread in to thumb size pieces. I toss the croutons with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I place them on a lined baking tray, and toast them in an oven preheated at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. For an infusion of flavor I add chopped herbs, like rosemary and thyme, chopped garlic, chili pepper flakes, paprika or grated parmesan.
To make crostini, I cut the stale bread, I like to use old baguettes or italian crusty loafs, in to regular slices about 1/2 inch high. I drizzle with olive oil and toast the slices in the oven at 350F until golden brown. Both the crouton and the crostini will keep in an air tight container on the counter for up to two weeks.

Saving energy tip:

If you have an hot oven that’s finished being used and cooling down, put the bread crumbs or the crostini inside overnight. You will use the free heat that you have already payed for and save energy and gas!

Hassleback Potatoes:

Then there is the best ever recipe for hassleback potatoes, a big favorite at my Thanksgiving table. I have attached the recipe below, it’s always a winner.

 

Hasselback Potatoes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Hasselback Potatoes
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
  • 4-6 medium yukon yellow potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Butter melted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Peel and halve the potatoes in half. Place them on a chopping board, cut side down. Slice the potatoes one at the time thinly, but be careful not to cut through the potatoes. I place a chopstick along each sides of the potato to prevent the knife going all the way through.
  2. Combine the oil and the melted butter. Place the potatoes cut side down on a lined baking dish in a single layer. Coat the potatoes with the oil and butter mixture using a brush.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes basting frequently with the remaining oil and butter. Combine the crumbs and the grated cheddar cheese.
  4. After 45 minute sprinkle the potatoes with a little salt and the combine crumbs and cheddar cheese. Bake for an extra 15 minutes or until golden brown.
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