Well it happened again-- I watched another episode of Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home from my Tivo queue and had to try one of the recipes. I forget what this one is called, of course it's another one of Jacques' recipes, so it's labeled in French. It's basically hash browns, but it tastes very different than the typical American version. I find it very convenient to have the cookbook, since I don't have to memorize the recipes from the TV show-- I just look it up in the cookbook when I'm ready to make the dish that looked most delicious from each episode:

But for this dish, you don't even need a recipe, per se. Here's what to do:

First, bake some potatoes. I used small red potatoes, although the official recipe calls for baking potatoes. I doubt that it matters very much.

Next, peel the skins and roughly chop the potatoes. Jacques used a technique where he used a tin can cut open on both ends, the cookbook says you can use a 3" cookie cutter if you don't have an open-ended tin can handy. I just broke up the potatoes with the side of a fork. Whatever, the important part is that they should not be totally mashed, just broken up to 1/2"-3/4" bits.

Heat vegetable oil & butter in a non-stick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat while the oven preheats to 425F (or if you just baked the potatoes like I did, leave the oven hot while you prepare them to go back in the oven). Put the potatoes in the skillet & toss to coat. Also season them with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. The nutmeg is important, it's what gives the dish it's special French flavor. I didn't measure any of them, I just seasoned to taste. Continue tossing the potatoes to make sure all are evenly seasoned. Once they taste to your liking, turn the heat down to medium-low, and press the potatoes into an even layer in the skillet, and let them brown on the bottom. About 5-7 minutes (I suppose it depends on how long you spent tossing and seasoning them).

Then put the skillet into the oven for about 15 minutes until the top is browned. When that is done, flip the pan over onto a platter so the potato cake (gateau) comes out, bottom-side down-- that side is brownest by now. This step is tricky since the skillet handle is very hot from being in the oven. It's easier if you have a something light you can hold right on top of the skillet and so flip them over together. On the TV show, Julia had some special tool she got in France specifically for that purpose. I've never seen one in stores here. My platter was too heavy to put over the hot skillet and flip both together (although I would have tried if the pan weren't so darn hot) so I just quickly flipped the potatoes out of the pan and hoped for the best.

They broke a little, and so I didn't have a perfect presentation, but most of the potato cake was intact (and once I smushed the broken bit together it wasn't that noticeable a break).

You could serve them as-is at this point, but to be fancy, cover the top of the potato cake with a layer of sour cream, and then a layer of shredded swiss cheese (of course Jacques used gruyere on the show, but Swiss is easier for me to find in our rural grocery store). Then stick the platter under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. I think Jacques kept it under the broiler until the cheese actually started to brown a bit, but I had a hungry husband to feed so I didn't wait that long.

Cut into wedges to serve. And that's that. It was really delicious, and didn't use that many ingredients, and I didn't have to measure anything. My kind of recipe! In the future, I'll probably bake extra potatoes anytime I'm baking them, so I'll have some leftover so I can make this for lunch the next day. Serve some vegetables or a salad on the side, and it's enough for a light entree.