Friday, August 28, 2009

Laptop Battery Fires, Buffalo Firefighters,

Pretty scary news yesterday about Laptop battery fires. Maybe you knew about it, but I certainly didn't. A lot of serious fires have been caused by laptop batteries and some people have been killed because of it. From all I read, a lot of it is carelessness or lack of knowledge on the part of the owner, putting the laptop on a soft chair for instance which stops the air getting at the battery and keeping it cool. There is an article here telling why laptop batteries overheat and what to do to prevent it. If you own a laptop, I urge you to read it. Talking of fires, there are two funerals taking place today in Buffalo for the two firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty recently. If you saw the movie Ladder 49, the whole situation reminded me very much of that story although this, obviously, is NOT a story. A very tragic occurrence. One thing that has Matt and I slightly puzzled; they died of smoke inhalation according to the medical examiner, we were both under the impression firefighters used breathing apparatus.

Last night Matt made a recipe we haven't had for a number of years and both enjoyed very much. It is from Happy Cooking by Jacques Pepin - he used to be a good friend of Julia Child.

Potato and Spinach Galette

This main course vegetable dish is prepared in a non-stick skillet or omelet pan so it will release easily when inverted onto a plate for serving. The word galette denotes a flattish, dish-shaped pancake (crêpe) here; this one is really a "sandwich" of potatoes panfried in a skillet with a filling of garlic-flavoured spinach. This galette is especially good in summer with a green salad accompanying.

1 lb. spinach
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes (3 or 4), preferably Yukon Gold 3 Tbs virgin olive oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced (1 1/2 Tbs)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.

 If you will bake the galette immediately after preparing it, preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove and discard the tough stems and damaged leaves of the spinach and wash the remaining leaves. Wash the potatoes, peel them and cut them into very thin slices by hand or in a food processor fitted with a slicing disk. (Matt and I use a mandolin). Wash the slices, drain them and pat dry with paper towels. In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet (preferably an omelet pan), heat 1 Tbs of the oil and the butter until they are hot. Add the potato slices and season them with 1/4 tsp of the salt. Sauté over high heat for 2 or 3 minute, gently stirring the potatoes, until all the slices are coated with oil and butter and are just starting to soften and become transparent. Transfer the potatoes to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet (unwashed) heat 1 Tbs of the remaining oil until it is hot. Add the garlic and sauté it for 10 seconds. Then add the spinach, the remaining salt and the pepper and sauté for about 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and most of its liquid has evaporated. Transfer the spinach to a plate and set aside. Place the remaining Tbs of oil in the same skillet and arrange a layer of potato slices in an attractive pattern to cover the bottom of the pan, extending about 1/2 inch up the sides. Place another layer of potatoes on top, using half the potatoes for the two layers. Spread the spinach on top of the potatoes and cover it with the remaining potatoes (the recipe can be prepared to this point up to 6 hours ahead). When you are ready to serve the galette, bake it in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes. Remove the skillet and place it on top of the stove over medium to high heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown the bottom layer, shaking the pan so the bottom of the galette doesn't stick to it. Invert the galette onto a large plate or platter and cut into wedges to serve.

Have a great day.

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