Sweet Potato Gratin

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I wrote a post a couple of years ago when I started this blog, called “Please – No Marshmallows!” Of course, I was referring to the rampant use of marshmallows on sweet potatoes in the U.S. Now, if you love this combination – great! What I have to say will not deter you. But I’ve just never understood putting something so sweet on something sweet. I mean, for god’s sake, they’re called sweet potatoes for a reason. Do you put sugar on a slice of cake?

I remember the first time I had sweet potatoes with marshmallows. It was my second year of college and I wasn’t able to fly home just for Thanksgiving, so I went with a roommate to her parents’ home in Los Angeles. I was so excited about having a “normal” Thanksgiving meal because I’d always been so deprived of traditional dishes.

My mother was a chef in her own right. She’s French, and I think all French people must be fabulous cooks. We never knew how spoiled we were with her cooking. She only used fresh ingredients, and I don’t remember her ever opening a can. We certainly never ever ate fast food.

Being French, however, and the fact that she always disliked turkey, which I think a lot of French people do, she never embraced the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. The last Thanksgiving meal I had at her home was duck a l’orange. Okay, it’s good. But I yearned for turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes with those darn marshmallows.

So then I got my chance, in 1974. My friend’s family was very sweet and embraced me like one of their own. In fact, there was no yelling or throwing of pots, which was something else I wasn’t used to.

Then came dinner. Oh my. I guess my taste buds were quite sophisticated at my young age, and hopefully I didn’t show my reaction to the various dishes, but I was horrified. The turkey was dry, the stuffing was stove-top, which is a very popular American boxed brand, and the sweet potatoes were smothered in melted marshmallows. To make things even worse, the pumpkin pie was purchased and came in a litle foil pan. And then cool whip… I can’t go on.

Sweet potatoes are a fabulous vegetable, and to me, they shine with the addition of garlic. And butter and cream. And cheese. They’re also fabulous mashed, but today I’m making them into a gratin. And I’m using Reblochon, one of my favorite stinky cow cheeses.
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There are so many ways to make a potato gratin from scratch, but I’m par-boiling the sweet potato slices in order to speed up the baking process. It’s an extra step, but sometimes it seems like it takes forever for sliced potatoes to bake in cream. And you end up with dish of milky, uncooked potatoes. So I’m just helping their cooking along, and that way less cream is required as well. So here’s what I did.

Sweet Potato and Reblochon Gratin

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
2 ounces butter
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup 1/2 & 1/2 or heavy cream
16 ounces Reblochon, or Gruyere, or Fontina
Butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Peel the potatoes and slice them using a mandoline or a food processor.
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Bring pasta pot filled with salted water to a boil on the stove over high heat.

Add the sweet potatoes and cook them for 5 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how thinly you sliced them. Mine are approximately 1/8″ thick.
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Remove the potatoes and let them drain in the sink. I prefer to use a pasta pot with the insert, so the slices don’t break apart when they’re poured into a colander. Let them cool.
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In a small pot, melt the butter and add the garlic. Stir for just a few seconds, then pour in the cream.


Reduce the mixture to approximately 1/3 cup.

Slice the cheese however way you can. I kept the cheese chilled to facilitate slicing, but soft cheeses are always a little more challenging.
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Using an appropriately sized oven-proof baking dish, well buttered, place one layer of sweet potatoes into the dish. Add cheese, then continue, alternating sweet potatoes and cheese.

Make sure to season the sweet potatoes with salt and pepper.
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Then carefully pour the cream mixture over the top.


Bake until the cheese has melted and is golden brown, approximately 25 minutes.
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Let the gratin cool slightly and set. It’s easier to slice that way.
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Because of the Reblochon in this gratin, it takes a pretty strong protein like a filet mignon or lamb chop to pair well with this gratin. Tomorrow I’m serving it with ham.
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It will also keep well in the refrigerator, and can be heated in the oven or microwave.
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So try sweet potatoes once without the marshmallows. Only that way you can truly taste their sweet goodness.
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And by the way, I deleted my post called, “Please – No Marshmallows!” I wrote the post before I realized that posts should contain decent photos! Now, white balance is my friend!

Scallop Tomato Gratin

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In 2010, I accompanied my daughter to New York City for her interview at Sotheby’s. It was a mandatory part of the application process, which she obviously aced because she was soon after accepted to the London Sotheby’s master’s program.

My daughter didn’t need me with her in NYC, but because she had been feverishly finalizing her first master’s degree thesis, she hadn’t really taken the time to think about interview clothes, or get herself emotionally prepared. That’s where Moms come in handy.

Thanks to my wonderful travel agent, I made reservations at the The Surrey hotel. Her recommendations are always fabulous, and this hotel was perfect for us. It’s a boutique hotel, just 1 block off of Central Park. Still lots of honking outside throughout the night but, well, it is New York. But the hotel was lovely and had the best staff. They even had a bottle of champagne chilling in the room after my daughter’s interview.

But the wonderfulness didn’t end there. Turns out, Café Boulud is right next door to The Surrey; they even provide the room service. We went for lunch one day, and were so impressed, that we went for dinner on another night. (My daughter and I also went to Le Bernardin one night, so we didn’t suffer in the dining department. Again, that’s what Moms are for!)

Every one knows of Daniel Boulud, but this was a first for me dining at one of his many establishments. The food, wine, and the service were all top notch at Cafe Boulud. And the best part? After the meal, you’re brought warm Madeleines, along with the check, of course.

So it was because of our experience that I bought his Cafe Boulud cookbook – one for myself and one for my daughter. It was published in 1999.

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It’s a very interesting cookbook, because it’s organized differently from the traditional sets of chapters. The book is divided into four parts:

La Tradition, the traditional dishes of French cooking
La Saison, the seasonal specialties of the market
Le Voyage, dishes from lands far and near
Le Potager, vegetarian dishes that celebrate the bounty of the garden

Within each chapter are subchapters including soups, small dishes, lunches, main courses, etc. It makes it a little more difficult to look for recipes in the normal way, but it still works. I’ve made quite a few recipes already, and have many more marked.

I chose to post about the scallop and tomato grain for its simplicity. As I’ve mentioned before, simple food can be the best food – as long as it’s made with the highest quality and freshest ingredients.

This recipe allows the bay scallops and tomatoes to shine. And as my tomatoes have begun to ripen, this is the perfect recipe to try! It’s in the Le Voyage chapter, for its Italian style. He recommends a Pinot Grigio as a pairing, and I concur!

For this recipe you need to have peeled tomatoes. The way I peel potatoes is to boil them in water for about 30 seconds. If the skins don’t split, then use a tip of a knife to pierce the skin for easy removal.

Bay Scallop and Tomato Gratin
from Café Boulud Cookbook

3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
6 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
3 sprigs basil, leaves only, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled, split, germ removed, and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/4 pounds bay scallops
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

Toss together the bread crumbs, half of the parsley, the thyme, basil, and three quarters of the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.


Preheat the broiler. Butter six shallow gratin dishes (The dishes should be only about 1″ deep and about 6″ in diameter.)

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Pat the scallops dry, then season them with salt and pepper and slip them into the pan. (Do this in batches if necessary.) Cook, turning the scallops as needed, until they’re golden on both sides, 2 minutes.

Toss in the diced tomatoes along with the remaining parsley and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more, to cook off some of the tomato juice.


Divide the scallop mixture evenly among the gratin dishes and sprinkle an equal amount of the seasoned bread crumbs over each dish. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each gratin and slide the dishes under the broiler for 2 minutes – watch them closely – or until the tops are golden brown.

To serve: The herb-crusted scallops should be served in their gratin dishes, so place the hot dishes on heatproof dinner plates, and rush the gratins to the table.

On a side note, my daughter and I went to Bar Boulud in London, and we weren’t impressed. Maybe they had a bad night. But if you’re ever in NYC, check out Café Boulud!

verdict: As much as I’m a devotee of white pepper, I felt like it was too strong of a flavor for this scallop dish. Otherwise, the dish was fantastic!

Baked Cauliflower Risotto

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There is a lovely book written by a food blogger, Yvette van Boven, called “Home-Made Winter.” Photographs are by Oof Verschuren. The book was published in 2012.

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Not surprisingly, they also published “Home-Made Summer” together in 2013, which I also own.

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The whole idea of the summer and winter cookbooks really swept me off my feet, because I am so seasonally oriented. This isn’t just with the case of food. I change everything with the seasons, from my home decor to the lipstick I wear. And I’m not talking holidays. I’m talking seasons. I take them very seriously.

The Winter cookbook is inspired mainly by Yvette’s native land of Ireland; her summer book inspired by her love of adopted France. The recipes run the gamut from breakfast through dessert, plus drinks. There are also some holiday dishes included. The photos are a real delight, especially the ones featuring Yvette herself. She definitely doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Now, you may wonder why I chose this recipe out of Home Made Winter? There are two reasons.

First of all, even though it’s March, spring has not sprung where I live. I’m not running around outside in shorts planting tomato seedlings, and my strawberry plants don’t even look perky. It’s cold.

Secondly, I’ve never baked a risotto, so I decided this was a good time to start!

This recipe is probably not representative of the recipes in Ms. van Boven’s book, but it jumped out at me, not just because the risotto is baked, but because it includes cauliflower and Gruyere.

Baked Risotto with Cauliflower and Gruyere
adapted from Home Made Winter

1 small head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
7 ounces Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine, I used a Sauvignon Blanc
2 1/4 cups strong-flavored chicken broth
8 ounces grated Gruyere, or Fontina or even a white cheddar
Bread Crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Trim the cauliflower by removing the core. I usually make about 5 slices into the center of the cauliflower, slicing inward, until it comes out on its own.
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Remove excess leaves, then break up the cauliflower into florets.

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Steam the florets until they’re just tender, about 10 minutes over boiling water. Let cool, then place them on the cutting board and chop them coarsely.
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Heat a 12″ cast-iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add the onions and saute them for a few minutes.
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Then stir in the garlic and saute for barely a half of a minute.
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Weigh out the rice. I used arborio, but any risotto rice would work in its place.
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Pour the rice into the onion-garlic mixture.
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Stir well for about one minute. All of the grains of rice should be glistening.
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Then pour in all of the liquid.
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Add the chopped cauliflower.
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Add the grated cheese.
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Bring the liquid to a boil, then carefully place the skillet in the oven. Top with a tight fitting lid, and bake for 25 minutes.

It will look like this when it’s fully baked. Individual oven-proof dishes would have been very pretty for serving purposes, but it would have really been challenging to divide everything equally, when the rice to liquid ratio needs to be correct.

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I actually left the lid on the skillet for another 15 minutes, to insure that the rice was fully cooked. Then I removed the lid from the skillet.

The original recipe called for a large amount of bread crumbs, in my opinion. I just used a couple of tablespoons of my home-made bread crumbs to add some texture. If desired, the breadcrumbs can be mixed with dried herbs, or even fresh parsley, before being sprinkled. I left things plain for the purpose of testing my first baked risotto.
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At this point, the skillet can be placed under the broiler for browning purposes, but I left it as is. Truth be told, I got out my little butane torch for this purpose. It wasn’t working well so I refilled it. I thought I waited long enough, but somehow some butane leaked and the whole thing caught on fire. I screamed and did what any intelligent person would do and threw it on the floor, nearly missing my dog. Fortunately, the flames retarded quickly. It’s good I have a non-flammable floor. But I was more worried about my very inquisitive dog, as well as my one hand that’s now as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Note to self: make sure to ask for a new butane torch for Christmas.

To serve, I sliced a wedge of the baked risotto because I thought it would be pretty, but there just isn’t enough cheese throughout the risotto to keep things stuck together.
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Nonetheless, I served the wedge alongside a fresh tomato salad.
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I must say it was delicious. It helps if you love cauliflower, of course.
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verdict: The top of the baked risotto looks a bit anemic – I think I probably should have taken the time to brown the top. But the looks of it doesn’t reflect the full flavors. However, I’m not really sure what purpose the arborio rice served. I think it could have been any white rice, or even brown rice, given a longer cooking time. But it was fun, and as a side dish it went very well on subsequent days with both steak and chicken. I would call it a rice-cauliflower gratin.

If I have one complaint about this book, it’s that the author doesn’t go into many details, such as pan dimensions, or number of servings. So novice cooks might be a bit challenged. If you want to check out Yvette’s blog first, here it is. She’s adorable, and has published other books than these as well.

White Bean-Tomato Gratin

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I love to use tomatoes when they’re perfectly red and ripe during the summer months when my garden is behaving properly. I probably overuse them, in fact, because I love tomatoes so much. Sometimes they’re good just sliced, with a little salt. They are also perfect for fresh sauces and salsas, and I’ll certainly cook them when necessary. None go to waste.

But then there are the winter months. Sometimes, “vine-ripened” tomatoes are available at my local grocery store, but these really fall flat in quality. Which isn’t surprising, of course. They sell them even attached to the vine, but they’re never the same.

Fortunately for all of us, there is such a thing as canned tomatoes. The kind you purchase. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve canned my own before, because my garden produces just enough for some nibbling and a little cooking, when, like I said, it’s behaving.

But I really love canned tomatoes. They serve a purpose. I think it’s important to buy the best, highest quality you can find, no matter the price. Because it does make a gigantic difference.

And while we’re on canned ingredients, let’s discuss canned beans. Specifically, white beans. From all of my white bean dip posts you know that I happen to respect canned beans. Certainly there’s nothing quite like home-made beans, from scratch, but white beans, like tomatoes in cans, are wonderful when necessary. (And for pureeing purposes, canned white beans process smoother than home-made, I’ve found.)

So today I’m simply making a gratin using canned white beans and tomatoes. The rest you should have on hand. Within an hour, this gratin was done. And it’s good. Please don’t tell me you don’t have time to cook.

White Bean-Tomato Gratin

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
Salt, pepper

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2 – 15.8 ounce cans white beans, rinsed and well drained

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1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan

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1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
Fresh rosemary leaves, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and give them a good stir.
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Add the tomatoes, and cook for just a few minutes. There should be no significant liquid in the bottom of the saucepan. Stir in some salt and pepper to taste.
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Stir in the white beans and remove from the saucepan from the heat. Lightly grease a baking dish. The size of the baking dish depends if you want a thin white bean and tomato layer, topped with a significantly larger amount of breadcrumbs and cheese, or a deeper dish, which is what I chose.

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Place the bean and tomato mixture into the baking dish. Cover with the cheese.
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And then cover with the breadcrumbs.
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Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top, if desired.
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And then sprinkle a few rosemary leaves over the top, if you like rosemary. This is completely optional. Honestly, there’s not much rosemary flavor in just those few leaves, but I happened to have them on hand, and like the looks of rosemary.

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Bake until the top browns, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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Today I served the gratin with some sous vide flank steak, which was a really nice combination.
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But the gratin would be delicious with just about any protein.
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Even fish, because it’s not strongly flavored in any way.

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note: If you don’t like rosemary, other options would be to add dried thyme to the white bean and tomato mixture while it’s cooking, or even dried basil or fresh basil. It’s just what flavor you want in the gratin. Even some fresh lemon or orange zest would be lovely. Or, just leave the basic flavors of the onion, garlic, and tomato shine on their own. There is nothing wrong with that.

A Spinach Gratin

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I happen to love spinach. I much prefer it to kale, which I know is so trendy right now. Well, no one’s ever accused this old lady of being on trend.

Spinach is fabulous raw, like in salads or even sandwiches. But when it’s simply sautéd with some oil and garlic, or creamed, or baked in a gratin with some ricotta or cheese, it becomes even more magical.

This is one of those magical gratins featuring spinach, plus leeks and red bell peppers. Yes, Christmas colors in a gratin. I can’t help myself. Green and red are two of my favorite colors. Another reason that I love Christmas so much.

This gratin is easy to make, and can be made ahead and reheated as well. It’s a fabulous side dish to protein. This evening I paired it with grilled flank steak. You don’t even need pasta or potatoes added to the meal, because there’s plenty of heft from within this gratin.

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Here’s the recipe:

Spinach Gratin with Red Bell Peppers

Olive oil or butter
20 ounces fresh spinach leaves
2 small red bell peppers*
1 large leek, cleaned, dried, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, diced
1/2 cup full-fat ricotta
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
4 ounces finely grated white cheese like mozzarella, provolone, or Swiss

Using a large skillet or even a wok, heat a little oil, about 1 tablespoon over medium high heat.

You will need to work with the fresh spinach in batches, so it’s manageable.
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Add approximately 1/4 of the amount of spinach to the skillet. Carefully toss and turn it around so that every spinach leaf touches the hot skillet and gets coated with the oil.
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It takes a few minutes for the spinach to completely wilt.
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Place the sautéd in a colander in the sink, and return to complete the remaining spinach.
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Meanwhile, place the ricotta, cream, eggs, salt and white pepper in a medium bowl.
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Whisk the mixture until smooth. .

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Using the same skillet, heat a little oil, about 2 tablespoons, over medium-high heat. Add the red bell peppers and leeks to the skillet.
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Sauté them for a few minutes, then add the shallots and sauté for another few minutes.
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Then turn off the heat and let the vegetables cool off a bit. Then remove approximately half of the vegetables and place in a small bowl; set aside.

Using your hands, if the spinach is cool enough to handle, grab a handful of spinach and squeeze the excess water out of it. Alternatively, you can roll handfuls of spinach in paper towels or clean dish towels to remove the water. Place the dried spinach into the skillet along with the vegetables.

At this point, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir the spinach and vegetable together to combine.

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Then add the ricotta mixture to the skillet. And add the grated cheese.
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Stir the vegetables and the ricotta mixture well, then turn it out into an 8″ square baking dish, greased if necessary.

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Sprinkle the top with the saved red bell pepper and leeks.
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Bake for approximately 55 minutes; you can test the gratin with a cake tester, and it should come out clean just as with a quiche.

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This gratin is very spinachy, but it’s also blessed with a soft, quiche-like interior, plus a sprinkling of vegetables. It’s slightly rich, but also very hearty. I hope you enjoy it!

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* You could use jarred roasted red bell peppers if you wish, instead of raw, but I don’t think the resulting flavors will be much different.

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Gratin Fun

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Can you have fun creating a gratin? Absolutely yes! Because there are no rules. It’s just a matter of using what you have on hand.

We all know and love rich, creamy potato gratins, but during the summer months, it’s fun and easy to create your own customized gratin using your garden vegetables or those from a farmer’s market. And because summer veggies are more watery than potatoes, no cream is required.

A gratin isn’t absolutely necessary, but sometimes you get tired of roasting and grilling and steaming. A gratin just provides a slightly fancier layered dish that is delicious. Plus you can add cheese, so it’s definitely a different kind of win-win vegetable dish.

Today I had a lot of summer squash and zucchini, so that’s what made me decide to make a gratin. This gratin is not seasoned to speak of, because I served it with some grilled chicken breasts topped with my home-made pesto (which contains no cheese). So I left things simple so the wonderful ripe vegetables could shine. Here you go…

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Squash Gratin

Squash, sliced thinly with a mandolin
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 ounces sliced pancetta
6 ounces grated cheese of choice, I used pecorino
Salt and Pepper

Choose a dish, preferably a relatively deep baking dish. It can be square or round, it doesn’t matter. Then pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Begin adding the zucchini and summer squash rounds to the dish in a layer. Season with salt and pepper.

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Then add the slices of one tomato. Season with salt and pepper again. Add some of the grated cheese. In my case, I just happened to have some buffalo mozzarella left over, so I used that. Anything that melts well and will help hold the layers together will work.

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Continue with the remaining zucchini and squash, and tomato slices. Then top everything with the pancetta. Pancetta is completely unnecessary, but I thought would add some nice flavor to the vegetables.

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Then top with the remaining cheese.

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Bake the dish covered with foil for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue baking for about 15 minutes. It should look like this:

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Now, there will be water in the bottom of the baking dish from the vegetables. You can either let everything cool and then carefully pour off the water, or, use a baster like you would use for your turkey, and remove the water from around the edges and discard. This is just inevitable because of the amount of water that is in vegetables. But this is also why no cream is required to make this kind of gratin!

Because of the water issue, your gratin will shrink, as well. So when you make it, try to get it to the top of the baking dish as much as you can. If you’re concerned about overflow, place the baking dish on a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan first.

To serve this gratin, you can dish it out with a spoon like my husband did when I wasn’t looking, or slice it into pretty wedges.

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So hopefully I’ve inspired you to make your own vegetable gratin. You can layer the vegetable slices with sautéed onion rings for more flavor if you wish, and of course you can season with herbs of choice. You could even brush individual layers with pesto, and dot them with sun-dried tomatoes! It really doesn’t matter what you do – trust me, it will work!

Cauliflower Gratin

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Maybe I should take a break making gratins for a while. My last gratin didn’t come out well, the Potato and Salmon one, and this one was sort of a disaster. Don’t get me wrong, they both tasted good. They just didn’t cook properly. And I even followed the directions for both, which I don’t often do.

The funny thing is, the recipe I followed for the cauliflower gratin was out of Bobby Flay’s book, Bar Americain. I bought it because I’ve been to Bar Americain during a trip to New York City with my daughter. She needed to go for an interview, and so of course I tagged along for moral and dining support.

We sadly went to Bar Americain only for drinks, because our dinner reservations that night were at Le Bernardin (incredible!).

But it’s a very large and beautiful restaurant. It reminded me of some of Stephen Pyles’ restaurants – very chic, in a casual way. After seeing the menu, I knew I wanted the cookbook.

Bobby Flay is extremely popular in the U.S. It seems like he’s been around forever, yet he still looks like a man-child! He must have 30 cooking or food-related shows on tv, because it seems he’s always on when I pass through the food channels.

My favorite is still an early show, when he barbecued everything outside on his patio with a view of downtown NYC in the background. He barbecued meats, vegetables, limes for the margaritas, because he always made a pitcher of something alcoholic, and then he’d barbecue peaches for a dessert. He seems nice and easygoing as a person.

But back to this recipe, I’m not sure what went wrong. But here it is as I made it, and anyone who has actually gone to culinary school can perhaps figure out what the problem was.

Cauliflower Gratin

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2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
3 cups whole milk, or more if needed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
6 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets, each floret cut into 2 or 3 pieces
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsely, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 10-inch baking dish.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium heavy saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute; do not let the mixture brown.

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Slowly whisk in the milk, raise the heat to high, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Monterey Jack, half of the goat cheese, and half of the Parmesan cheese.

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Season with salt and pepper. If the mixture seems too thick, thin with a little extra milk.

Transfer the sauce to a large bowl, add the cauliflower, and stir well to combine.

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Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the remainging goat cheese and Parmesan.

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Slip a rimmed baking sheet underneath and bake until the cauliflower is tender and the top is bubbly and golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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Garnish with chopped parsley.

Now the only thing I did differently, was because I was too lazy to go into my pantry. My pantry is so full of food stuffs, that it’s difficult even to go get flour. So I substituted Wondra flour for regular flour when I made the roux. I added the warm milk and the sauce looked beautiful, but when I added the cheeses, the sauce curdled. I’ve never seen anything like it. So when the gratin cooked, it become watery. I personally think there should have been some cream in the recipe instead of milk, but I still don’t understand the curdling. Anybody?

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Smoked Salmon Potato Bake

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The real name of this dish is Laksloda. It is from the Time Life series of cookbooks Foods of the World. In 2013 I’ve been honoring various regions of the United States with recipes, and this one is from American Cooking: The Northwest.

Just from the name alone it’s easy to figure out that there is a significant Swedish contingency in the Pacific Northwest. (This is also the region from where Swedish Meatballs originate.) The traditional name caught my eye, but I fell in love with the recipe because it contains smoked salmon.

I can eat smoked salmon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I prefer the lox variety, and if I’m forced to eat it with cream cheese, onions, and capers on bagels, I can do a pretty good job of it.

This recipe is very simple, although I would make a few changes, which I’ll mention below.

Laksloda
Potato and Smoked-Salmon Casserole

1 tablespoon butter, softened, plus 4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 medium-sized boiling potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices

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4 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1/2 pound smoked salmon, sliced paper thin
1 1/2 cups light cream
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. With a pastry brush, spread the tablespoon of softened butter over the bottom and sides of a 1-quart baking-serving casserole. Spread about one third of the potato slices evenly on the bottom of the casserole,

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sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons of the onions, and lay half the salmon slices on top.

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Add another third of the potatoes, the remaining 2 tablespoons of onions and the rest of the salmon, and cover with the remaining potato slices.

Pour the cream down the sides of the casserole, then dribble the melted butter over the potatoes and sprinkle them with the allspice and a liberal grinding of pepper.

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Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender and show no resistance when pierced deeply with the point of a small skewer or sharp knife. Sprinkle the top with parsley and serve at once, directly from the casserole.

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Verdict: I followed the recipe exactly, but I needed to cook this casserole a bit longer. When I went to serve it, there was still about 1 cup of the 1/2 & 1/2 in the bottom of the dish, so I would the next time use only 1 cup, and use heavy cream instead. Although it was tasty, it was on the watery side. This dish would be fun with a little cheese, as well, and served at a brunch. I had it with a salad for lunch.

I also just realized I had not peeled my potatoes, but I don’t think that had any affect on the recipe.

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Salt Cod for Lunch

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I’m calling this post “salt cod for lunch” because it is perfect as a lunch or a light meal. It’s salt cod cooked with potatoes, smothered in a white sauce, sprinkled with a little Parmesan, and then baked. It’s like the inside of a fish pie, with no crust. It’s hearty, but it’s not too rich, in my book. I hope you like it:

Salt Cod and Potato Gratin
to serve 4

fish:
1/2 stick butter
1 onion, sliced
3 small red or white potatoes, cut into 3/4″ cubes
12 ounces rehydrated salt cod, see about salt cod, cut into smaller pieces
1/4 cup half and half

white sauce:
1/2 stick butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cup half and half
Pinch of white pepper

Grated Parmesan

Heat the butter in a large skillet or work over medium-high heat. Add the onion and potatoes and sauté them for about ten minutes; they should be nice caramelized. Tuck the pieces of cod into the potatoes, and then pour the half and half over the top. It should bubble. Cover the skillet with a lid, then lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Let this paste cook for about a minute, whisking often, then pour in the half and half. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave the whisk in the pan.

To prepare the gratin, use an 8″ square baking dish, or four individual gratin dishes. Place the fish and potato mixture on the bottom of the dish. Then give the white sauce a whisk, and pour it over the potatoes and fish. (If using gratin dishes, simply divide the fish-potato mixture by fourths, and divide the white sauce into fourths.)

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Add some grated Parmesan, then bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is golden brown in spots.

Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, then serve with a green salad, if desired.

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