Potato and Leek Au Gratin

Potato & Leek Au Gratin

We spent this Christmas, as the last three Christmases, with our good friends and their marvelous family. We wanted to share one of our favorite dishes for the sumptuous table. Our favorite go-with for Prime Rib Roast is Potato and Leak Au Gratin, a Matha Stewart Living entry from several years back. I knew that the amount that I cooked wouldn’t go around, if it was a hit. When my wife went to clean the French porcelin gratin dish it had been scraped clean, except for the bubbly dark brown residue that forms along the sides of the dish. Everyone wanted the recipe. I want to share it with them, but I also want to share it with you, so here goes.

Serves 6 to 8

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish; 2 Leeks trimmed, thinly sliced and rinsed,(about one cup); 6 Russet Potatoes (about 2.5Lbs.) peeled and thinly sliced; 1/2 Tsp coarse salt; 1/8 Tsp freshly grated nutmeg; Fresh ground pepper to taste; 8 ounces Gruyère cheese shredded (about 3 cups); 1 cup Heavy Cream; 1 cup low-sodium ChickenStock.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 12 cup baking dish or gratin dish. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add Leeks, and cook until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Arrange 1/3 of the potatoes in dish, slightly overlapping the slices in a spiral. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the salt-pepper-nutmeg mixture, followed by 1/2 of the sauteed Leeks and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat second layer. Top that with third layer of remaining potatoes in a spiral. Sprinkle on remaining cheese. Combine cream and stock, carefully pour over cheese and potatoes. Cover with foil. (Mixture can be refrigerated over night if necessary.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes. Increase temperature to 425°, uncover, and cook until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender, about, 45 minutes. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.


  1. When peeling the potatoes, keep the slices in a deep water bowl to keep them from turning brown. Shake extra water off before placing in the gratin dish. I always have left over slices. Try to purchase medium large tubular shaped russets, for consistantly round slices.
  2. DON’T forget the nutmeg-salt-pepper mixture on the first and second layers.
  3. Don’t be afraid to use more cheese than the recipe calls for, especially on the top layer.


From Martha Stewart Living



Of All The Luck – Something for the Weekend


Celebrating Christmas with friends on Sunday this year. I offered to provide the five bone Prime Rib Roast. It is a beauty, cut, tied and rubbed with Pappies Beef Rub. I know my friends will cook it perfectly to a tee.

Problem is, I had two teeth pulled three days ago and can’t chew anything for another two weeks. Bad planning. Woe is me.

National News Media Reporting Bias

Donald TrumpHillary Clinton

Donald Trump says a lot of things that on the face of it seems bombastic. Hillary Clinton says a lot of thing that on the face of it seems implausible. No matter what Donald Trump says the National News Media makes it into something bombastic and stuff of bullies and no matter what Hillary Clinton says, it is as if she speaking with one hand on the bible.

National News Media bias is so blatant that it is shameful. There should be no editorializing when reporting the National News. It is disgraceful how the wealthy owners of the various National News Channels bend and shape the news to what they want you to hear to promote their philosophies, ideas and candidates.

If you don’t believe me watch Lester Holt on NBC. He and his band of yes men and women, are so barefaced it is laughable. Donald Trump is trashed by the National News Media every time he opens his mouth, while Hillary Clinton is eulogized. I am starting to see, however, that most American’s now see through the National News Media shennigans and are beginning to look at things from a more sophisticated viewpoint. At least I hope so.

Hawking Prediction – Something for the Weekend


Steven Hawking

Steven Hawking says “Smart Drugs” that he has been taking have tripled his memory, and that the drug “Cogniq” will revolutionize humanity. Clinical tests have shown that the drug increases concentration by 32%, improves creative thinking, boosts energy, enhances memory recall, increases IQ by 42%. The downside is the drug costs $300 per bottle and it is hard to find. I can think of several members of the US Congress and the Senate that are in dire need of this drug, however.

Share Whats In Your Garage

German Beer Steins

I was at a friends house some time back and noticed that he had a very substantial beer stein collection displayed above his cabinets in his TV room.

Back in 1979 my wife and I went on an extended six week tour of Europe, beginning at a friends house in England and stopping in Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece and then home. For some reason I decided to collect a beer mug from each of the countries we visited. When we got home we proudly displayed them, but over the years, they got put aside and when I retired they ended up in a box in the garage. I really liked the steins, but we had no place to put them.

I decided this year to give them to my friend, noticing that he still had space left in his display area. They had us over for a pre-Christmas dinner and we presented the box after dinner. It was obvious that my friend was very appreciative of my gift, and it warmed my heart to see his obvious enjoyment.

What’s in your garage?

Something for the Weekend The Truth About Writing

Mountain Climbing

Writing must be a lot like mountain climbing. The task initially seems insurmountable, arduous and mind boggeling.  To overcome this I am sure that a mountain climber plans the route, gathers the gear, anad physically and mentally prepares himself or herself for the ascent. It is exactly the same with writing the novel.

The best planning advice I received was “create a premise, a ‘what if’ and expand from there. What if Hitler had won the war. What if the first moon landers couldn’t leave the moon. What if Hinkley was a better shot. The possibilities go on and on, and once you have settled on your what if, expand it.

The Manhattan Matter Cover Picture

Manhattan Matter 3D Book

One of the most significant scenes in the book is my young heroine, Priscilla Wingate, running for her life. Finding a compatable picture for the cover was a difficult task, until I had an AHA moment. I just happen to know a young, blond, pony tailed girl why not ask her to be my runner. She agreed and the, not so little, little girl you see running down the streeet is my Grand Daughter. It makes the cover doubly special for me.

The book is not available yet, but will be soon.



San Bernardino was a horrible tragedy, as was Paris, Sandy Hook and all the others. Each and every time, the guns were obtained legally as were the bullets. Stricter gun  laws did nothing to mitigate those horrific incidents. Why then, other than shear politics, is our president calling for stricter yet gun laws?

I was having a pest problem on my rural property and thought that a 22 caliber rifle would be the right solution. I went down to the local sporting goods shop and began the process of purchasing such a weapon. After I made my selection, I had to fill out a from and provide information for my background check. Have you ever been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year? NO. Are you under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than one year? NO. Are you a fugitive from justice? NO Are you addicted to a controlled substance? NO. Have you been adjudicated as a mental defective? NO. Are you illegally in the United States? NO. Have you been dishonorably discharged? NO. Have you renounced your citizenship? NO. Have you had a court order restraining you from stalking, harassing, or threatening someone? NO. Have you been convicted of a crime of domestic violence? NO.

As I stood there answering the questions I couldn’t help but wonder who in their right minds would answer any of those questions YES, if they wanted a gun. Most of the states vary in their approach to background checks, but in my case, the above information (ATF form 4473) was sent to the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and run through the III (Interstate Identification Index). In some cases the FBI gets involved because of the Brady Act of 1993, and the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is employed, which usually takes minutes, and the FBI has three business days to make their decision of approval or denial. There is also, in California at least, a ten day waiting period before you can pick up your new weapon.

So we have all this process in place, and yet the senseless violence persists. The background check process as we have it now, is a farce. It only deters people with criminal backgrounds from purchasing guns, and most of them don’t purchase guns legally anyway. We need a background check that works. Certainly we must have the brain power to do that.

I have found the Holy Grail

The Holy Grail
The Holy Grail

Believe me, my friends and readers, when I say I have found the Holy Grail, and just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

One of my best friends, who travels three and a half hours, to and fro, to my home for Thanksgiving has told me on numerous occasions that there is a secret to cooking the Thanksgiving bird. “Can’t be. Hum Bug.” I said, “I have been cooking Thanksgiving birds for forty years, and know what I’m doing.”  “Okay,” says he, “Just trying to be helpful.”

I learned the secret to cooking Salmon, to cooking pork chops and to cooking chicken but I never considered cooking a turkey the same way. Too big, I thought. Too much trouble, I weighed. Too time consuming, I mused. Then from out of the blue my Sur la Table Thanksgiving Catalogue shows up and lo and behold an Urban Accents product feature catches my eye. The Holy Grail for $19.95 plus free shipping, can’t beat that.

Sure enough the main catalogue was out of the product and might not get it back in stock in time for Thanksgiving. DRAT!!!

Not to be put off, I called the closest Sur La Table Store near me and they said they had the Holy Grail in stock and would send it with free shipping. When the package arrived I opened it, read the instructions and got right to work. The night before Thanksgiving I placed my sixteen pound, free range beauty, in the heavy plastic bag provided in the package, breast down. I poured one quart of cold water in a 7 quart pot, poured in the Holy Grail and brought it to a boil. I took it off the stove and allowed it to cool. I poured four more quarts of cold water into the mix, then poured it all in the heavy duty plastic bag which nearly covered the bird. I poured enough cold water in to cover the bird about one inch, about a half quart more and refrigerated the results.

The next afternoon, Thanksgiving, at two thirty PM I rinsed off my beautiful bird, tented it and placed it, unstuffed, in a 325 ° oven for twelve minutes a pound. I removed the tent one half hour before completion. At six PM we sat down to eat and everyone, to a man, raved at the dinner table. Three days later the Turkey meat was still moist, tender and tastey for the last of the turkey sandwiches. The best Turkey I have ever cooked. PS No basting, my mom was wrong on that one.

Yes friends, brining is the Holy Grail of Turkey cooking. The kit said 30 minutes per pound in the brine, but I did it for twelve hours, plus or minus. The product is Urban Accents Turkey Brine and Rub Kit. You will never cook a better Turkey. Enjoy.