I am lucky to have come from a family full of talented cooks and passionate food lovers. I spent many afternoons perched on a kitchen stool watching my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles carefully put together simple meals and extravagant suppers. I learned to care about cooking from them and I credit my love of toiling in the kitchen to their example.
That said, learning the techniques was something different entirely. For that, I was on my own, and I was thankful for my grandmother's recipe cards, my subscription to Southern Living, and the library of cookbooks I began to collect as soon as I hung bookshelves in my first tiny apartment kitchen. Southern Living taught me how to make so many things, from a fluffy coconut cake to scalloped potatoes. I’ve pored over each issue that landed in my mailbox, picking up tips, techniques, and process. I firmly believe that once you learn the "how" of a recipe, you open the doors to experimentation, and can change and tweak it to suit your tastes.
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I've made scalloped potatoes time and time again, for holidays, dinner parties, and date nights at home. Last Thanksgiving, pregnant and craving potatoes in a bone-deep way, I made three different versions of scalloped potatoes in addition to mashed potatoes. That particular meal ended with one family member getting the potato sweats and one very happy pregnant lady.
While the bones of my scalloped potato recipes is always the same—thinly sliced potatoes, heavy cream, generous amounts of garlic and cheese—each time I make the dish it turns out a little bit different. Sometimes I’ll add other vegetables, cheeses, spices, or a breadcrumb topping to make the leap to au gratin. Recently, I mixed in a cup of gorgonzola cheese, and the result was heavenly. Tangy, creamy, and buttery, the gorgonzola gave the dish a punch of flavor that made it the perfect accompaniment to a pesto-topped sirloin and arugula salad. It’s a variation I’m sure I’ll find myself returning to again and again—a delicious twist on a family classic.