Potato Stack Scalloped Potatoes

Potato Stack (Scalloped Potatoes)
Potato Stack (Scalloped Potatoes)

After the first few attempts at thinly sliced potato dishes Jeremy came across this recipe on Food52. It promised crispy, flavorful potatoes stacked up in little compact towers and baked inside muffin cups. Sounded simple enough and simplicity definitely won out. The tops were crispy and browned, the middles were soft, cheesy and very flavorful with the rosemary and butter. Plus (if we had had enough muffin cups) really easy cleanup!

So this recipe definitely wins out of all the scalloped potato recipes so far and will be added to the dinner repertoire.


Sean Brock’s Heritage Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder with Tomato Gravy

  • The spices: Salt, fresh ground black pepper, hot Hungarian paprika and brown sugar
    The spices: Salt, fresh ground black pepper, hot Hungarian paprika and brown sugar
  • Dijon mustard brushed over the pork
    Dijon mustard brushed over the pork
  • Seasonings added on all sides and ready for the oven
    Seasonings added on all sides and ready for the oven
  • Three cups of whole tomatoes and their juices
    Three cups of whole tomatoes and their juices
  • Freshly ground cornmeal
    Freshly ground cornmeal
  • Toasting the cornmeal
    Toasting the cornmeal
  • Right out of the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes or so
    Right out of the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes or so
  • Pull-apart tender with a great flavorful crunchy crust
    Pull-apart tender with a great flavorful crunchy crust

We procured Sean Brock’s Heritage cookbook after hearing many wonderful things from various food-wise sources (and enjoying eating at both Husk and McCrady’s on our anniversary trip to Charleston, South Carolina in 2013). The weather in Williamsburg this week was very cold (verging on bitter), so that, combined with us having the second half of a six pound pork shoulder thawing out in our fridge, meant that having something slow roasted sounded like a great option for a weekend meal with friends.

We didn’t tweak a thing for the pork recipe aside from the cooking time as the original recipe calls for a six pound bone-in pork shoulder and we had a three pound boneless shoulder. We put the meat in at 8:30am and after four hours or so checked it every hour to see if it was pulling apart tender yet. By the time we were ready to eat at 5:30pm the meat was perfectly tender and only needed gentle pulling apart to portion it out. I think our piece of pork has less fat than usual as we didn’t end up with any juices to baste with and make the glaze, but things still turned out very juicy and tender (and I loved the crunchy, spicy exterior).

For the tomato gravy we had all of the ingredients in the pantry however we did not have fine white cornmeal so we substituted the yellow corn grits we did have and spun them through the food processor first to get a finer grind. As the cornmeal was toasting it smelled like bacon flavored popcorn, yum (note to self, need to try popping popcorn in bacon fat). Even though the gravy is super simple (just bacon fat, cornmeal, San Marzano tomatoes, salt and pepper) it really did pair well with the pork and was quite tasty on its own as well.

This was the first time we’ve cooked out of Heritage, but after the success of the dishes tonight, certainly won’t be the last.

Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Meat, Entree
Cuisine: Southern
Serves: 12
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder (also called butt; about 6 pounds), skin removed
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat the oven to 250F. Place a rack in a roasting pan.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, salt, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl and blend well.
  3. Using a brush, paint the top only of the pork with the mustard.
  4. Pat on the seaoning mixture.
  5. Place the pork on the rack in the pan and roast, uncovered, for about 14 hours, until the meat is tender but not falling apart; baste it occasionally with the pan juices during the last hour to make a glaze.
  6. Remove the pork from the oven, transfer it to a platter, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Reserve the juices in the roasting pan, skimming off any fat from the top as the pork rests.
Recipe from Sean Brock's Heritage cookbook Copyright 2014



Potato Gratin

  • Freshly washed red bliss potatoes (any waxy potato will do)
    Freshly washed red bliss potatoes (any waxy potato will do)
  • The mandolin comes in really handy here for making 1/8 inch slices
    The mandolin comes in really handy here for making 1/8 inch slices
  • Making a garlic paste
  • Four tablespoons of butter
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
    Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Adding the half and half
  • Letting things come to a boil and stirring frequently
    Letting things come to a boil and stirring frequently
  • Spread evenly into a 9x9 pan
  • Topped with Gruyere
  • Golden brown deliciousness
    Golden brown deliciousness

I have been on the lookout for a good “standard” potato gratin recipe for years. It seemed every time I tried making the dish the potatoes were underdone or the flavor just wasn’t up to par with what I’ve had at a restaurant, so when I came across a potato gratin recipe from Food 52 for a “gratin that cooks in half the time…and lets you have control all the way through” I had to try it.

Technically I think the dish turned out well, the potatoes were cooked through, the sauce was creamy, the cheese browned, but I definitely under-seasoned things. I deviated from the original recipe and added about 1/3 cup of milk to the potatoes when they were boiling as it just didn’t seem like there was enough liquid there to cook with. I should’ve trusted the recipe on that step, once the potatoes settled into the pot and were stirred periodically there was more than enough milk there and I think my additional liquid made the end result runnier than it was supposed to be.

You’re instructed to season to taste right at the end of the boiling-potatoes-in-milk step of the recipe and I thought things tasted ok at that point, but by the time everything had baked together (and the potatoes absorbed the half and half) the result was a bit on the bland side. I added cayenne pepper as well as the nutmeg the recipe called for and was hoping for a hint of heat to cut the super creamy sauce but I think I was too light-handed with that too.

I would also use a different cheese than Gruyere for the topping. For one, at least in Williamsburg, Gruyere was a bit difficult to find and rather expensive. Second, aside from allowing the top to brown and getting a little golden-brown-deliciousness there was little flavor that the cheese added to the party. It was also only added to the top of the gratin and not integrated at all. So next time I will use a cheese like cheddar, swiss or similar and and integrate it throughout the layers of potatoes as well as on top.

So, overall, a good recipe base, but lots of license can be taken with the seasonings and toppings to jazz it up, and next time that’s just what I’ll do.


Southern-inspired dinner

  • The final plate
    The final plate
  • Dishing things out
    Dishing things out
  • Black pepper and Maldon salted and buttered peanuts
    Black pepper and Maldon salted and buttered peanuts
  • Homemade pimento cheese
    Homemade pimento cheese

When we decided to try out Sean Brock’s slow cooked pork shoulder recipe from the Heritage cookbook we concluded the rest of the meal should be Southern-themed as well. I had made some pimento cheese earlier and that seemed a perfect appetizer option. We also had some Virginia peanuts from our CSA that we had roasted and were sitting in the fridge and Jeremy decided to take some inspiration from the “Bar Peanuts” we had a the Rogue Gentleman in Richmond and sautéed them in butter with a generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper and Maldon salt.

Dinner came together perfectly with the pork, tomato gravy, potato gratin and roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta (provided by our dinner guests). Definitely need to go “Southern-inspired” for dinner more often. Simple ingredients, un-fussy recipes, and a good bottle(s) of wine? A recipe for success.


New year, new consolidated blog(s)

So you may have been redirected here from one of my old blog sites…I decided after a year of neglect in 2014 and prior years of sporadic blogging on both my personal and tech blogs, as well as maintaining a personal website, that it was time to just consolidate everything into one spot. So here it is: archive.tiffanyb.net.

I’ve been retroactively posting all day today so there is much more “going on” in 2014 now that when I started yesterday. Jeremy and I had talked about wanting to note which recipes we try out of our shared Evernote folder, so that combined with inspiration from Melissa McKelvey‘s renewed food blogging, and I’ve decided to post a lot more this year. Whenever I photograph a dish we’ve made and I have a recipe it will (hopefully) make it up on to this blog, more than anything just for my own sanity so I’m not searching back through my browser history trying to figure out which recipe I used for a given dish (hello Thanksgiving. Happens. Every. Year.). I’m always taking photos of food but don’t feel like it all needs to go on Instagram, so instead it will go here where, if nothing else, I can remember what I had for dinner one night…and if you, dear reader, are inspired or intrigued, then that’s even better!

This will also be the spot where I share the “work” side of me…articles I’ve enjoyed, presentations I’ve given, random thoughts on social media things, all that will be going here too.

So here’s to a new year!


The wonders of burrata cheese

Burrata with fresh tomatoes

Burrata with fresh tomatoes

I first really fell in love with soft, creamy, salty burrata cheese this August in California when I was served it over fresh heirloom tomatoes with a simple drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of salt and pepper (similar to this). Since then I’ve encountered it on many a restaurant menu and (almost) every time have ordered it and enjoyed it immensely.

Summer vegetable salad with burrata cheese croquette, part of lunch at Mondavi

Summer vegetable salad with burrata cheese croquette, part of lunch at Mondavi

I looked into how to make burrata cheese, as cheesemaking has been in the queue of “cooking techniques to learn” for quite a while, but I think I may start with a simpler cheese for my first cheesemaking endeavor (perhaps ricotta, especially since we got a Thermapen for Christmas so temperature monitoring will be vastly simpler).

So deep fried or fresh, if you encounter burrata in the grocery store or on a restaurant menu, I highly encourage you to try it!


Christmas Eve Dinner 2014 – Beef short ribs in Barolo

Christmas Eve Dinner 2014 This recipe for Beef in Barolo from Food 52 turned out really well. We went to Belmont Butchery for the short ribs, a very cool little shop in Richmond. Served it with a quick sautéed broccolini with lemon and garlic (blanched first so they’d sauté up faster then topped with panko breadcrumbs mixed with some lemon zest for some additional texture and flavor) and oven roasted potatoes (love the mandolin for thin crispy slices) and had a bottle of Elizabeth Spencer 2009 Spring Mountain Napa Cabernet along with it.

For dessert I knew I wanted something pie-like but didn’t feel like making a proper pie crust so I found this raspberry tart recipe which was amazing (I omitted the walnuts as we didn’t have any). This turned out to have a very custard-y filling, dotted with fresh raspberries and a shortbread-style crust. Delicious.

Sauteed Broccolini Oven roasted potatoes Beef Short Ribs in Barolo

Raspberry TartSlice of raspberry tart


Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip (or mini-M&M) Cookies

Soft and chewy mini M&M cookies
Soft and chewy mini M&M cookies

I had bought a bag of mini M&M’s from Amazon a while back in the hopes of recreating a childhood cookie-favorite, oatmeal M&M cookies. However, upon being faced with an impending deadline for a holiday cookie exchange, I opted to made more “traditional” chocolate chip cookies using the M&M’s instead. Always on the search for the perfect soft and chewy cookie (with just a little crisp on the outside edges) I found Martha Stewart’s Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and it was a winner. All of the things I wanted it had (just ignore the quantity of butter used, it’s what makes them so tasty).


Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup
Butternut squash soup

As our Dominion Harvest CSA fall season was coming to an end (which, by the way, if you’re in the Richmond/Williamsburg area and like fresh produce, eggs and cheese delivered right to your door, I highly recommend), the Beker household found itself with a plethora of winter squashes. I subscribe to Food 52’s blog and this well timed post for Thomas Keller’s Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter gave us an excellent outlet for the two large butternut squashes we had sitting on the counter. The author emphasizes the importance of the brown butter and I’ll second it, the nutty flavor really adds a new dimension to the soup, along with the creaminess of the creme fraiche, the crispy fried sage leaves, drizzle of good olive oil and sprinkling of black pepper.