This dish comes with a story. It is the modern day once upon a time tale of a young college girl in a rather cool Kingston city apartment and an experiment with a kitchen tool. It does not seem as long ago as it is…oh how time flies. The year was 2001. It was months before September 11, when the world was still round, level and cheerful and I walked around looking at the world through oversize bug-eyed glasses.
I loved that apartment. It was located in a great neighbourhood and walking distance from everywhere. I held down three freelance media jobs to pay for it and it was worth every penny. It was furnished in 1970s furniture with a loft feel and lots of wood detailing on a side wall. On a trip to Canada, I found myself going through kitchen drawers with Aunty D, who had tons of useful gadgets that were taking up space in her grand suburban home. On the other hand, I had lots of empty cupboards in my apartment. How those few cupboards in my tiny kitchenette seemed plentiful then. But they were mine. Not my mother’s, not my stepmother’s, not my grandmother’s. Mine.
At the end of that summer I returned to Kingston with a treasure trove of kitchen things, including heirloom silverware and what would become my prized V-slilcer. I was thrilled. My kitchen was so empty I often had to borrow baking things from my college mate Scarlett downstairs. She and I shared a passion for cooking and we would often invite each other over for dinner. We were young and fiercely independent and revelled at the idea of playing house with our own rules.
I would borrow Scarlette’s royal blue glass pie dish from her glass bakeware set and apply the V-slicer judiciously to ingredients that would allow me to slice them and keep my fingers intact. Enter potatoes.
I also discovered that by slicing things thinly, I could prep and cook food in the one hour I had for break to eat between classes. I would use minimal ingredients and make tasty quick dishes and it was there I honed my talent for developing quick and easy dishes. This is like a potato au gratin, gratin dauphinois or scalloped potatoes without the cheese and cream making it a very light but super tasty alternative.
5 large potatoes (or as many needed to fill whatever size pie or baking dish you have), 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 entire bulb of garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt to taste..
Preheat oven to 200C/400F
Wash potatoes thoroughly with a clean scrubbing cloth, grease dish with olive oil.
Slice potatoes with a V slicer or mandoline.
Peel garlic cloves and cut each in 2-3 pieces depending on the size.
Layer potatoes, thyme garlic in about 2-3 thick layers in the dish. Seasoning each layer with salt and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 30-45 mins until cooked tender. I like the top to crisp up, so I crank up the heat at the end for another 10 minutes.