I don't recall ever eating gratins at home but my first restaurant taste of one fixed my obsession forever. Rich, creamy, gooey, often cheesy, they were right up there with the best in comfort foods. And so I learned to make them. But seeing first hand how rich they really were, made me rethink them. Oh, not to top eating them...don't be crazy! Just to remake them a bit.
I learned that a basic bechamel sauce could be made with milk instead of cream and that adding a bit of stock gave it a whole new depth of flavor. I learned that plenty of aromatics like onion and garlic and fresh herbs like thyme added more dimension still. And, oh, there's still cheese. But a good, well flavored cheese that shines through.
I still love rich restaurant gratins but I think I love mine even more. And I can customize mine with whatever vegetables I have on hand, in this case a blend of hearty winter root veggies. Gratins are also great company food but... confession time...I've always hated doing that because I didn't have any dishes pretty enough to cook and serve in.
Fortunately for me, my long time lust after a gorgeous Le Creuset Heritage Gratin Dish has been satisfied and the good folks there sent me this 14" stunner (Caribbean blue was my choice). Fortunately for you, they gave me a second one to give away. So check out my recipe, enter the giveaway below and this dish might be on your table soon. Enjoy!
by Hungry Couple
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Ingredients (6-8 Servings)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 Onion, peeled and diced
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1 Cup chicken stock
1 Cup milk
4 oz. Grated Gruyere cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Large potato
1 Large red beet
1 Large rutabaga
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a pan, add the diced onion and saute for a few minutes until translucent. Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan and whisk in the flour. Slowly whisk in the stock and the milk and continue cooking and stirring on medium heat until the mixture has thickened. Stir in the cheese and thyme and season to taste.
Use the remaining tablespoon of butter to coat the gratin dish.
While the sauce is cooking, peel the potato, beet and rutabaga and slice thinly, ideally with a mandoline. Layer the sliced vegetables in your gratin dish in whatever pattern you like. Pour the finished sauce over the top, letting it sink into the crevices and bake for 1 hour.
If you're not familiar with this French classic, it's typically a luscious blend of cream cheese and heavy cream, sweetened and topped with a fruit sauce. The French word coeur means heart and this dish (literally "heart of cream") is usually molded in a heart shaped pan, hence the name. And that certainly makes it popular for romantic occasions. Sure, I'm all about chocolate on Valentine's Day but this makes a nice dessert alternative, especially if there's also a box of chocolate candy involved for late evening snacking.
Stuffed cabbage rolls were on my mother's regular meal rotation when I was a kid. And I loved them. Even the cabbage part. As a very young woman on my own, I kept a crazy schedule with a full time job and grad school at night. No time to cook much and mostly what was in my fridge was yogurt. Except on those lovely evenings when I'd get home late, open the fridge and find that my mother had dropped by during the day and left me a pot of her homemade cabbage rolls. She was such a good mommy.
When I was growing up, my father used to eat prunes and tell me they were healthy. But all I saw, when he offered me one, was a wrinkled, shriveled mess. I couldn't image what kind of tree had grown it and I certainly wanted nothing to do with it. And he would chuckle and continue eating his prunes. At some point in my adult life, somebody clued me in that prunes were dried plums. Plums? Really? I like plums. I eat plums. They're really plums, huh? Hmm.
I have a very well stocked pantry with an enviable variety of grains from which to choose when making interesting recipes. The only thing that could possibly be more interesting is if I actually looked in there once in a while instead of just reaching for potatoes. But, it's a new year, a whole new me, a healthy me...OK, I was out of potatoes. But that gave me a chance to reacquaint myself with one of my favorite quick cook grains.
Over the weekend I found myself doing the thousand yard stare into my pantry, trying to decide what to make for dinner. I had some salad ready and some chicken but I needed a side dish. Potatoes, polenta, rice...hmm...I kept coming back to the rice. I guess I like rice with chicken. Except that I'm trying to cut back on the starches for a while and add a few more vegetables. And then it hit me that I could make my favorite non-rice rice!
Let's talk about beets this morning. Come back here! I'm not talking about that mess you got at some school cafeteria somewhere. And when people tell me they think beets taste like dirt, I have to assume a cafeteria is the only place they've tried them. Beets are sweet. Unless they're pickled. Then they're sweet and sour. And good.
OK, I'm officially cold. Somehow the holidays make the weather seem bearable and being outside, among the lights and decorations is festive enough to overcome the chill. But my annual post-holiday intolerance of all things cold, snowy and wintery has set in.
At last we've come to the end of 2014 and not a moment too soon. I'm not gonna lie, this was not my favorite year and I'm looking forward to waking up tomorrow morning with a fresh new attitude and endless possibilities.
OK, so Christmas is over and the long Christmas weekend is over and you've eaten all the cookies in the house. You might have even made some public statements about being sick of sweets and ready for a healthy new year. But... the new year isn't here quite yet and you're getting hungry again and you do sort of still want something sweet. Or maybe that's just me.
OK, not long, long ago. Just two years ago. But I'm a little obsessed with Christmas music these days and the song It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with the line "And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago" was running through my head. Just like the line from The Carpenter's Home For the Holidays that reads "I met a man who lives in Tennessee and he was headin' for Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie" was looping in my brain the other day when I made pumpkin pie. I'll be over this soon, I promise.
I have Christmas music playing pretty much non-stop these days. When I'm at my desk, when I'm at the gym...it's my annual binge. And, come the new year, it will be banished again until after next Thanksgiving. One of my favorites has always been Home for the Holidays by The Carpenters and it's made me associate Christmas with pumpkin pie.
I like giving homemade food gifts because I think the love and effort that goes into making them truly expresses to the recipient that they were important enough to you to make the effort. And so I spent the morning of my dearest friend's birthday in the kitchen, baking these treats for her. I also have a treat for you today because Peanut Butter & Co. will send 4 jars of their peanut butter, in your choice of flavors, to the winner of my giveaway below.
If you think that I'm capable of walking past a package of chocolate chips stuffed with peanut butter then it's obvious that we've never met. It was definitely one of those "stopped in my tracks" moments in the baking aisle when there, next to the chocolate chips and the peanut butter chips, was the combo of my dreams. Thank you, Nestle, for your new DelightFulls filled baking morsels. Or snacking morsels, as the case may be. Or just buy two and do both.
Today I have the pleasure of working with Mirassou on some great holiday entertaining ideas.
We're deep into holiday entertaining mode around here. Cocktail parties, appetizers before dinner, something special for New Year's Eve perhaps? I have some great wine and that needed a great appetizer to match. Wine and cheese is a given but a savory cheesecake is so much more impressive. And I promise you there won't be a sliver left because it's just too good.
Have I ever mentioned to you that I am a cashew thief? I mean that, if there's a bowl of mixed nuts around, I will surreptitiously steal all the cashews. And if you happen to comment on how few cashews there are in the bowl, I will stand there and complain to you about how the mixed nut companies are shorting us on cashews while pretending there is an equal number of them in the can. This has happened.
Excuse me but can somebody please tell me what happened to the first part of December? These days it seems like I blink and I'm handing out Halloween candy, blink again and I'm roasting Thanksgiving turkey and and now all my get-it-done at the start of the month December plans are late. Some of you may be getting Christmas cards for Valentine's Day if this keeps up.
Today I have the pleasure of partnering with Minute® Rice to create this mouth-watering recipe. As always, thank you for supporting the products I love and use in my kitchen.
We all have our guilty pleasures and, while mine are usually sweet, rice balls have the savory honor. There's a gourmet Italian market dangerously close to my apartment and they make the most perfect arancini. They also have an amazing produce selection which is why I go there...cough, cough...OK, moving right along.
Every year it seems like I spend the month of December coming up with creative ways to feed guests. Oh, planning a dinner is easy enough but what about those in-between, buffet type foods. A cold cut platter, cheeses, crudites, something more special?. But what?
If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I was whining about not being motivated to make a fuss over breakfast and calling it a successful meal when I've actually poured milk into my bowl of cereal. But, it's the holiday season and making a good breakfast for someone you love or visiting guests is such an act of love. And, in fact, it is on holidays and birthdays that I haul out the bacon and eggs and French toast to make people happy at breakfast. But that's kind of the problem because the recipients are happy but the cook is eating leftover cold French toast crumbs while cleaning the kitchen. Wow, I guess I wasn't done whining.
The post-Thanksgiving weekend comes with certain traditions around here. Pumpkin and turkey decorations are put away, I can hear the Christmas tree vendors setting up down on the sidewalk and my kitchen smells like gingerbread.
No recipe today, my friends. Those
of you cooking tomorrow’s feast already know what you’re making. But before we
break for the long weekend, I wanted to say a few personal words about life and
love and this past year.
When it comes to Thanksgiving foods, I tend to favor tradition. There's comfort in the familiar and expected. However, what exactly constitutes traditional and familiar is different in every family and culture. In my house, we prefer butternut squash over the better known sweet potato side dish and so that is the flavor we expect.
Apple pie is a Thanksgiving tradition in my house. And Thanksgiving foods are, after all, about tradition. So while I'm not willing to forgo this familiar treat, I've been known to mess with it a little over the years. Last year I did away with the top crust altogether in favor of a peanut butter crumb topping. And I don't recall hearing any complaints about it, either.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about breakfast. And that's pretty unusual for me since it's never been a meal I gave much thought to. It always seems like, no matter how early I get up, I have so much to do before the day "officially" starts and I'm always running behind. So breakfast ends up being a bowl of cold cereal. And I'll admit that I've been known to skip the milk and just eat the cereal bits like little snack bites in between other morning chores. So not inspiring.
If you follow me on Instagram (and if you're not, why aren't you??) then you know that my tag line says "currently sprinkling za'atar on everything." I'm obsessed with it and with labneh (strained Greek yogurt cheese) too.
What are your cold weather comfort foods? I have a few but pot pies are high on the list because they're fully enclosed comfort. I don't have to make side dishes for a roast or add bread or croutons to a hot soup. Here the hot, creamy, comforting filling is wrapped with delicious pastry dough and served in my own individual portion. Just tuck me into bed with a good movie and this is cold night dinner heaven.
Cookie Week is in full swing and I'm back today with another of my favorite cookie treats. Despite my love of chocolate and my obsession with peanut butter, my all time favorite type of cookie is shortbread. Thick, crumbly, buttery and not overly sweet. Just pour me a cup of tea alongside a good stack of them and I'm a happy woman.
All week long, several of my fellow bloggers and I are celebrating Cookie Week with great recipes and an awesome giveaway. But today I have an extra special giveaway for you. My friend Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen now has an online bakeshop and her cookies put mine to shame.
Welcome to Cookie Week. Several of my fellow food bloggers and I have some great recipes for you and an awesome giveaway. Scroll down past the recipe for prize and entry information. And, as a bonus, I'll have an additional, extra special giveaway (hint: it involves free cookies) for you tomorrow.
Welcome to the second annual Cookie Week, hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Susan of The Girl In the Little Red Kitchen! We've teamed together with 10 other talented bloggers to bring you 5 fantastic days of cookie recipes to get you in to the holiday spirits. Now is the time to break out the flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Bring your friends and family together for cookie exchanges or a giant baking party, we have got you covered!