About This Blog

This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.

Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...

Thank you and enjoy!

Smashed Root Gratin

I added a rutabaga to the mix here because I had one and only one that was big enough to harvest. Fresh celeriac from the garden, a stash of potatoes lingering from a summer harvest, and that lone rutabaga came together into an amazingly flavorful and satisfying gratin. I used Red Boat salt, which is the salt left over making Vietnamese fish sauce, but any good salt is fine to use.

About 1 pound celeriac
About 1 pound potatoes
About 1/2 pound rutabaga (swede)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish
1 teaspoon salt (Red Boat)
1 pinch saffron threads
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces semi-soft cheese (Abondance), grated and split into 3 ounce and 1 ounce portions
Dry bread crumbs

Preheat the over to 350ºF.

Peel the celeriac and cut it into about 3/4-inch cubes. Place it in a bowl of cold water. Do the same for the potatoes and rutabaga and hold them in separate bowls of cold water.

Drain the celeriac and steam it until tender enough to mash, about 8 to 10 minutes, maybe more. Place the hot celeriac into a large mixing bowl and toss it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Repeat the process with the potatoes and rutabaga, each may take a different time to become tender enough to mash so do them separately. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil as each steamed vegetable is added to the bowl.

While the vegetables are steaming prepare the saffron. Pulverize the threads in a small bowl and add 1/4 cup hot water. Cover and let sit.

Season the steamed vegetables with 1 teaspoon of salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste, an additional tablespoon of olive oil, and the saffron water. Use a potato masher to smash the mixture into a somewhat chunky puree, add more water if the puree seems too thick. Stir 3 ounces of cheese into the puree. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Spoon the puree into an oiled 6-cup gratin dish or baking dish and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining ounce of cheese over the top, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs, and drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over all.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes until the top is brown and crisp and the gratin is bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings as a side dish.

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