Simple Gratin Potatoes

Simple Gratin Potatoes

I don’t know what my deal is recently but I have been craving eggs like it’s no one’s business.  I’m fine with curbing the non-stop thoughts with a couple of fried egg whites on some buttered-toasted rye but what really (and I mean really) makes me happy is poached eggs.  What got me back in the mood for runny eggs on top of foods other than toast was the brunch I had in Richmond last February.  Annie, Josie and I all ordered the same thing: two poached eggs with hollandaise on top of shrimp and cheesy pimento grits.  I fell hard.

Simple Gratin Potatoes

So it I considered it the natural choice to top some leftover gratin potatoes with a poached egg and some spinach and kale.  I made these potatoes for our Christmas brunch which also consisted of a to-die-for beef tenderloin, baked spinach, hot fruit compote, pierogis, sausage-egg casserole, and cinnamon buns, and while the tenderloin completely stole the show, these potatoes were a pretty close second.  Sliced super thin, layered with Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, soaked in cream, then baked to tender and crispy perfection…I was smitten.

Simple Gratin Potatoes

And even though I had this odd preconceived notion that gratin potatoes were a pain in the arse to make, I was purely wrong.  It’s a 3-step process that I made a day in advance to save time (the potatoes did get discolored in the fridge but the taste wasn’t altered) but I certainly could have squeezed in 15 minutes to prep them shortly before our meal.  Either way, these gratin potatoes are now my go-to potato dish and whether I top them with a poached egg or add some herbs or use a different cheese (blue cheese would be amazing!) – or all of the above – they will make me a happy, happy girl.

Martha’s Mac and Cheese

Martha's Mac and Cheese

Life doesn’t get any better than when you’re faced with a bowl of the most incredible homemade mac and cheese on the planet.  That’s a fact.  It’s time to forget about the woes of everyday life.   About the job that stinks.  About the kitchen budget that just went bust.  About the nasty head cold and sore throat.  Your week probably shaped up to be different than mine did last week but while the circumstances are probably different, we all deal with life’s crap.  And as a reward for dealing with said crap, it’s time to belly up to a bowl of this mac and cheese.  You won’t be sorry.

Martha's Mac and Cheese

A perfect blend of sharp cheddar and gruyere melted into a luscious white béchamel sauce makes this mac and cheese everything I’ve ever wanted in this classic dish.  The recipe yields way more cheese sauce than you think it should but the sauce finds its way into all of the nooks and crannies of the basic elbow macaroni and even after baking, leaves you with the creamiest baked mac and cheese ever.  Yes, ever.

Martha's Mac and Cheese

If you’re not familiar with croutons on top of your mac and cheese, get used to it because after trying Martha’s version, you’ll never go back to breadcrumbs.  Cubed white bread gets tossed with melted butter and the oven bakes up the bread right on top of the mac and cheese – there’s no extra step to browning them like croutons!  The result is a topping of buttery croutons over creamy mac and cheese.  It’s pure heaven.  I made Martha’s recipe exactly as written (except that I halved the recipe and had no issues at all with the measurements) and wouldn’t change a single thing the next time I make it.  Somethings are better left untouched.  This mac and cheese recipe is one of them.

Grafton Village Cheese Company
Let’s talk cheese for a quick second and add in some fun stuff..  The recipe calls for sharp cheddar and gruyere and I don’t suggest you change this mix.  The cheddar melts beautifully as does the gruyere but the gruyere also adds a little nuttiness…or earthiness…to this mac and cheese.  It’s an amazing combination.  Go for the best cheddar you can afford.  I purchased mine while in Vermont last week (though any block of good white cheddar – not pre-shredded! – will work with this recipe) when Kyle and I met up with Annie and Ben.  We hit the Grafton Village Cheese Company for a cheese tasting, took a walk around the quaint and sleepy Grafton Village, and had a warm and cozy lunch next door to the cheese shop.  It was seriously so fabulous to finally, after nearly 5 years of being friends online and through our blogs, meet up and hang out!  You can bet that we’re already planning another get together soon!  I’ve got some additional photos of our trip to Lake George and VT in my Flickr photostream if you feel like checking them out.

Annie and Tara

Martha’s Mac and Cheese

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 12 servings


  • 6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn or diced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 5 ½ cups milk
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 ½ cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere
  • 16 oz elbow macaroni


  1. Heat the oven to 375° F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the bread pieces aside.
  2. Cook pasta 3 to 4 minutes less than the package instructions indicate.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 ½ cups Gruyere. Set cheese sauce aside.
  6. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 ½ cups cheddar and ½ cup Gruyere; scatter bread pieces over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve hot.


source: Martha Stewart as seen on TheKitchn and Food52

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

grown up mac and cheese 1

The ultimate comfort food “kicked up a notch.” Whether you prefer the blue box or your mama’s homemade recipe (like I do), most people don’t really argue about the fact that they love mac and cheese. So as we head into cooler weather, it was definitely fitting that Heather of Randomosity and the Girl would choose one of Ina’s mac and cheese recipes for her BB pick.

I haven’t tried many other homemade mac and cheese recipes other than my old (and favorite) standby but I’m always willing to give another recipe a shot. Ina’s recipe combined 2 very grown up cheeses with the deliciousness that is cheddar but since I’m still unsure if I’m allergic to blue cheese or not, I passed it over for a champagne cheddar (Yancy from a small dairy in upstate New York) that brilliantly showed up in my grocery store a few months ago. Holy crap this cheese is good. I wanted something just as sophisticated as the blue cheese and I definitely got it with this cheese.

Aside from the cheese, I made a few other modifications: skim milk, 2% cheddar, and turkey bacon. And while I really enjoyed the mac and cheese, it wasn’t “blow my mind” fabulous. Maybe it’s because of my modifications – maybe turkey bacon isn’t a great substitute for real bacon in all recipes. Maybe I cooked it a few extra minutes – it was a little on the dry side. I don’t know. Kyle wasn’t thrilled with it at all and while he finished his serving, he didn’t go back for seconds – very strange for him. Oh well. I’ve still got our old standby so I’m not upset that this one didn’t turn out as wonderful as I had hoped it would.

Thanks again to Heather for choosing this recipe and for starting our group off on a trend of cool-weather foods!