I have always been an "old soul." On the rare days that I would not have swim/gymnastics/dance practice after school, I remember indulging in watching a guilty pleasure on PBS: Bob Ross.
Yep. Happy little clouds. Happy little trees. Happy little bushes.
Without even realizing it, this "Chuck Norris" of painting inspired me as a young child. I remember being mesmerized as I would watch him mix colors on his palette... to see one color transform literally before my adolescent eyes. This attention to color has been a pivotal spark when I create dishes.
Now granted, do most of us have time to plate a multi-course meal every single day? Absolutely not. Whether it is eating a sandwich on the metro, slurping soup in the car, knocking down a protein shake after hitting the gym or grazing on fruits and veggies throughout the day, food is generally treated as fuel in the majority of our lives. However, when you do have time to prepare a meal, I encourage you to take a few minutes and play with the presentation.
Happy little scallops. Happy little steak. Happy little potatoes.
Yep, I just went there.
How about happy little healthy scallop potatoes? Rather than lathering in heavy cream and cheese (good on occasion, but not every day diet), here is a healthier version:
Skinny Potato Gratin
5 medium peeled Yukon gold potatoes - sliced to about 1/8" thick
2 cups fat free milk
1 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
2 garlic cloves - smashed and minced
1 Tbsp herbs de Provence
1 tsp smokey paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray an 10 by 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In a small sauce pan, bring the milk, garlic, herbs de Provence, smokey paprika, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and salt/pepper to a boil.
While the mixture is heating, peel and slice the Yukon potatoes (using a mandolin in order to achieve the thin slice... be careful with your fingers!) Arrange half of the potato slices in the baking dish; top with 1/2 cup cheese, then add the remaining potatoes. Once the milk mixture boils, carefully pour over the sliced potatoes. Top with remaining cheese and bake, uncovered until potatoes are tender (about 45 - 50 minutes). Be sure to rotate the potatoes while they are cooking, in order to ensure a balanced cooking throughout the pan.
Et puis, voila. As mentioned before, this is a healthier alternative. If enjoying in a fine-dining restaurant, you can be sure that heavy cream, full-fat cheese and butter would be the stars of the potato show. However, when consuming food on a daily routine, it is essential to nourish your body with healthy recipes.
"Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.” - Shakespeare