Agile Cooking

One of the most important skills for a home cook is the art of transformation – what do you do when you have leftovers and you’re bored of them, or when something doesn’t turn out the way you expected? You transform it. I think of this as agile cooking—welcoming changes in your project requirements while you’re literally at the stove.

Today I was planning to make a potato and green bean quiche, because we had an extra pie crust, lots of potatoes left over from holiday latkes, and some blanched haricots verts from a recent dinner party.

So I par-baked the pie crust, like you do, and it shrunk to the point that it had no chance of holding a pile of potatoes and an egg batter. Time to change tacks! The mandoline has been on my mind, since we make a lot of gratin-style dishes in the winter, and it occurred to me that I could make something of a terrine with a potato crust. I sliced a potato paper-thin and microwaved it with a little milk and salt, which softened the potato slices and released some of the starch into the milk, creating a kind of glue that helped me arrange the potatoes into a shell inside of a loaf pan. Into the pan went some haricots verts, more potato, cheese, and some other leftover vegetables I had around. I made a little béchamel sauce and caramelized some onions. These were split between the loaf and the tart shell. Then more cheese went on the tart. I covered up the loaf with more potato slices, and everything went into the oven.

I am pretty sure that the results will be much more delicious than a quiche.


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