Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Comfort Food

Comfort takes many forms..too many to list or to ruminate upon in one short blog posting. Tonight I gathered for a New York City-to-Houston sendoff for a friend who is paring down, and giving up the lower Manhattan apartment that she's maintained as a pied a terre, for years.

Of the six women, four of us find ourselves in a state of flux...not of our doing, but from a corporate layoff. 4 out of 6. That's a bad ratio, a big dose of ugly reality. Oh, and one friend was laid off after her husband was, so there is double pressure there. We're all past 40 and not ready to retire.

Over comfort food and wine, we commiserated, blew off some steam, might have shed a tear but mostly told crazy stories and jokes and laughed our butts off. We are all strong and resiliant and we know others close to us who recently faced really horrendous obstacles...2 who've had double mastectomies, the sudden death of a parent, a double lung transplant at age 39. We are keeping our trials in perspective. Someone's always gonna have it better or have it worse. That's why I'm trying to maintain...and keep my life Level & Plumb.

Comfort food is so damn yummy. There was a 7 layer dip to start, mac 'n cheese, a potato/apple/onion/cheese gratin and a crazy-fab chocolate ice cream cake from good ole Baskin Robbins. Oh and a lot of red wine.

Here's the recipe I followed for Potato Cake with Tart Apples and Jarlsberg. I maintain that it is more of a pie, or a gratin, than a cake...and I'd add another apple and a bit more cheese next time...but do with it what you wish!  From Country Living magazine, March 2010, in the section devoted to cast-iron pan recipes. I used a deep pie dish (earthenware), and it came out just fine!

Makes 8 servings
Working Time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour

You'll need:
Cast iron skillet or a deep pie or gratin dish
Vegetable peeler
Large Bowl
Mandoline for slicing veggies and fruit wafer thin (Oxo makes a handheld version for $19.99

1/4 cup olive oil
7-8 medium russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I'd use 3 apples--2 Grannies + 1 Fuji or Gala!)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped plus a bit more for garnish
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3/4 - 1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
Butter, for greasing foil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F
2. Coat the pan with olive oil
3. In a large bowl, using your hands, toss together and separate the thinly sliced potatoes, apples and onion with the parsley, salt and pepper. Spread half the mixture in the skillet or dish, scatter with cheese, and top with the remaining potato mixture.
4. Cover with a piece of buttered tin foil, and bake for 40 mins.
5. Remove foil and continue to bake for 20 mins or so.
6. Increase oven temp to Broil, and cook until the top begins to crisp, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Approx 235 calories per slice, but who's counting?  Serve with a green salad, some vino, good humor and great friends.

You can't miss.


  1. I LOVE reading your blog. It makes me laugh, teary, laugh again and it makes me miss you like crazy. What am I doin' in London when I could be with you on a night like that?! Gotta rethink this...! Thanks for bringing a smile to my face. And, if I haven't told you already, forget those jobs in FS. You need to be a writer and you need a column (like this one) in some major mag. Come on everyone...doesn't someone know Oprah and can't someone make that intro?! I see Dale as the next great blogger and writer for people of our generation!


  2. I'm so sorry I missed this evening!! Let's schedule the next laugh/cry party stat!! ; )