Twice during the last two weeks, cooks have shared their new versions of my recipes.
I received an email from a 72-year-old gentleman who said he reads my column each week. Often, if the recipes are easy, he will cut them out and try them.
He made the Spanish Rice Pronto that appeared in a column a month or so ago. He liked it, but felt it “lacked a little something.” He likes spicy food, so he decided to “kick it up a notch” by substituting a can of Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies for one of the cans of tomato sauce. He also reduced the amount of water called for in the recipe and added a little garlic powder. Great job.
When we had a class last Thursday night at Parker Memorial Baptist Church, Sharon Muller, a great cook and a class regular, told me she had wanted to make the au gratin potatoes we made at an earlier class, but did not have the type of cheese called for in the recipe. She did, however, find some Gouda, and used it. With Béchamel sauce and Gouda cheese, the potatoes tasted wonderful.
The original recipe for T.G.I.Friday’s au gratin potatoes with Béchamel sauce came from Ron Douglas’ “More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes.” According to the book, his recipes are “copycat versions” of foods from restaurants. The following recipes for this dish and for Spanish Rice Pronto are revised versions, and I think you will like them.
Revised Au Gratin Potatoes
4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed, baked and cooled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
When baked potatoes are cool, slice into 1/2-inch thick rounds. To make the Béchamel sauce, melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour until the mixture is smooth and very light brown. Gradually add milk, whisking until blended. Season with the 2 teaspoons salt and nutmeg. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put the sliced potatoes in large bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Add the Gouda cheese, then fold in 3 cups of the warm Béchamel sauce. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and cover with foil. Bake until cheese melts, then remove foil and let top get bubbly and brown. Serve hot.
Revised Spanish Rice Pronto
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound ground beef
1 (7 ounce) box instant rice
1 (8 ounces each) can tomato sauce
1 (10 ounce) can Rotel tomatoes and chilies (do not drain)
11/2 cups water
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Heat oil in a large skillet. Sauté bell pepper and onion until soft, but not browned. Add ground beef and brown. Drain well. Stir in rice, tomato sauce, tomatoes and chilies, and water. Cover and cook over low heat about 8 to 10 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Season with salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
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