Oh, Eastern Market, how I love thee. No, really I do, it’s probably one of the best outdoor (and indoor) farmer’s markets in the area. Problem is, it’s about a 30 – 45 minute drive from my house, and I won’t even begin to talk about parking. If I could I would go every day, just to pick up some fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Maybe even eat a crepe, or stand in line at Market Lunch, on a Saturday morning. Well, if I could skip the line, in a VIP kind of way, I would totally do it. However, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, so I’ll just wait like everyone else.
My Mother was an amazing cook. She loved trying new recipes, and tasting new dishes. Especially the Salvadorean cuisines my Father’s family cooked for her. However, there was one food that she loved, but could never quite master. That dish is what I affectionately call her elusive tortilla. She was always on the hunt, trying to figure out how to make these little “flatbreads”. She bought presses, asked coworkers, badgered random people on the street, can you say embarrassing for me and my sister, but ultimately she never learned how to make tortillas. So, I figured, I would pick up where she left off, besides going up to random people on the street, I also wanted to learn how to make these treats.
This is probably one of my favorite sides to make because it combines some of my favorite vegetables. About two years ago, I found this great recipe for a potato and sweet potato gratin and thought it would be perfect for a potluck I was invited to. Logistically, it turned out to be a nightmare. First, potatoes turn a grayish-brown color (become oxidized) if they are not cooked right away (within 15-30 minutes) after being peeled. Also, if you don’t cut the potatoes thinly then they will take forever to cook. The gratin came out okay, but I’m a bit impatient and I knew I had to do something to cut down on the cooking time. I came up with this recipe by accident because I ran out of potatoes, and just used what I had stocked in the fridge. Did I mention it cooks in about 30-45 minutes? That’s right, this dish is table ready in less than an hour. Not too bad when you’re talking about a potato gratin.
I have to admit for many years I was intimidated to make my Mom’s famous macaroni and cheese. She made it so well, I didn’t want to mess it up. Besides, grating tons of cheese by hand, and cooking pounds of elbow macaroni seemed so tedious. In my house, her dish has become a Thanksgiving staple, and is usually the first to go at all of our family events. Yes, it is that good. Finally, when it was my turn to learn how to make my Mom’s legendary mac and cheese, I knew it would be a battle grating all of those special cheeses, and trying to combine all of the ingredients that made it so tasty. I remember she started listing all of the ingredients and in two seconds, she was done. Wait, that’s it?!? You mean you don’t add eggs, or flour? You only use cheddar cheese? I thought there was a lot more involved. She laughed and said, “Gotcha!”