Potatoes are the workhorse of the produce world. They can be baked, boiled, fried, mashed, roasted, sauteed, used in casseroles, soups, salads, breads and even desserts. Potatoes are available in the produce department as well as in cans, boxes, the freezer section and, of course, as chips. This versatile vegetable even has a day honoring its greatness. October 27 is National Potato Day.
There are different varieties of potatoes available in the produce section. The moisture level and starch content differs in the potatoes. This means different varieties are better suited for certain types of cooking. Potatoes with a high starch content -- baking or Russets -- are best when baked, fried and mashed. Potatoes with a lower starch content -- boiling, blue, purple and new -- hold their shape better and are best suited for soups, salads and casseroles.
One of my favorite potato recipes is Scalloped Potatoes. A lot of people use the term scalloped and au gratin interchangeably. Although both use cheese, there's one big difference. Scalloped potatoes have a white sauce, but au gratin potatoes do not.
The recipe for Scalloped Potatoes is only one of two in my collection that calls for milk to be scalded. To scald milk means to bring the milk almost to the boiling point. Scalding milk isn't hard and it's even easier when you follow these tips:
- Use a thick bottomed pan for even cooking.
- Rinse the pan with cold water before adding the milk. This will help keep the milk from sticking.
- Cook the milk on medium heat and stir constantly.
- Heat the milk until small bubbles appear around the surface of the pan. Don't let the milk come to a boil.