Roasted Baby Beet Gratin

Roasted Beet Gratin

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat beets, especially in the winter when rich gratins are warm and satisfying. It’s also a great way to introduce the beetroot to any skeptical family member. Small or baby beets are mild and sweet, and their flavor is less assertive than their grown-up relatives. In this recipe, they are thinly sliced and smothered in layers of garlic-infused sour cream flecked with orange zest and a generous shower of nutty Gruyère cheese. All of the ingredients meld together, and while the beets are present, they are not overwhelming in flavor. As they cook, the beets release their juices and saturate the dish with spectacular color, which makes this one of the prettiest gratins I have seen. So give it a try, and let the skeptics eat with their eyes – and also hopefully with a fork.

Roasted Baby Beet Gratin

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Makes one (8 by 8-inch) gratin or 6 to 8 (4-ounce) ramekins

2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter
16 baby beets, about 2 pounds trimmed, scrubbed clean
4 ounces finely grated Gruyere cheese
Finely chopped thyme leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch square gratin dish (or individual ramekins). Whisk the sour cream, garlic, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.
2. Thinly slice the beets with a mandolin or knife.
3. Arrange 1/3 of the beets, slightly overlapping in the baking dish. Spoon 1/3 of the sour cream over the beets, carefully spreading to cover. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the top. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of thyme. Repeat with two more layers.
4. Transfer the gratin to the oven and bake until the beets are tender and the gratin is bubbly and golden, about 50 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Baby Beet Gratin

Beet Gratin TasteFood

I can’t promise that any of your beet-averting family members will do a complete 180º turn on their opinion when it comes to these earthy roots. I will suggest that this casserole might be your best chance to convert them. Baby beets are mild and sweet, and their flavor is less assertive than their grown-up relatives. In this recipe, they are thinly sliced and smothered in layers of orange and garlic-infused sour cream and a generous shower of nutty Gruyère cheese. All of the flavors meld together, and while the beets are present, they are not overwhelming in flavor. As the beets cook, they release their juices and saturate the dish with spectacular color, which makes this one of the prettiest gratins I have seen. So give it a try, and let the skeptics eat with their eyes – and also hopefully with a fork.

Baby Beet Gratin with Orange and Thyme

I prepared this recipe with a variety of red, golden and chioggia beets. So long as you scrub them well, you don’t need to peel them (and their skin is a great source of nutrients). This recipe has you assemble the gratin in a casserole dish. You can also divide it between smaller ramekins or cast iron vessels, such as 2 (6-inch) cast iron skillets (pictured above).

Makes 1 (7 by 9-inch) gratin

16 ounces whole milk sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter
16 baby beets, about 2 pounds trimmed, scrubbed clean
4 ounces finely grated Gruyere cheese
Finely chopped thyme leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter a 7 by 9-inch square gratin dish. Whisk the sour cream, garlic, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.
2. Thinly slice the beets with a mandolin or knife.
3. Arrange 1/3 of the beets, slightly overlapping in the baking dish. Spoon 1/3 of the sour cream over the beets, carefully spreading to cover. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the top. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of thyme. Repeat with two more layers.
4. Transfer to the oven and bake until the beets are tender and the gratin is bubbly and golden, about 50 minutes.  Serve immediately or slightly warm.

Cauliflower Gratin

cauliflower au gratin

Just as we like to wrap ourselves in warming layers in the fall, we can do the same with our vegetables. Cloak your favorite hardy veggies in béchamel and cheese, and your simple summer staples will morph into a warm and comforting side dish. I found yellow cauliflower at the market the other day and mixed it with white cauliflower in this gratin. Don’t just experiment with color. Get creative with other veggies, such as  broccoli florets, chunks of celeriac or diced rutabaga for variety and flavor. As long as there is a blanket of cheese and bechamel, this gratin is a winner.

Cauliflower Gratins
Serves 6 as a side dish

1 large head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ounces Gruyere (or sharp Cheddar) cheese, grated
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.)  Butter 6 individual ramekins (or a gratin dish).
Steam the cauliflower until crisp tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook until light golden, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly, the continue to cook, stirring, until the bechamel thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add  the Gruyere cheese, whisking until smooth. Pour the bechamel over the cauliflower and stir to thoroughly coat. Spoon into the ramekins. Combine the Parmesan and panko in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the tops of the gratins. Bake until golden on top and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

The Cowgirls’ Guide to Cheese and Potato Gratin

Cowgirls gratin

Posted by Lynda Balslev 

I am not going to lie. I am a cheese fanatic. Those of you who know me already know this. I adore cheese, and relish serving it on pretty boards, tumbled into salads and cooked with gratins, pastas, eggs, you name it. I even call it dessert when given the choice. I think I know a little about cheese, gleaning knowledge from my international life, tasting, favoriting and cooking with locally produced cheese from the various countries I’ve called home and traveled to. People ask me about cheese, seek recommendations, and even pay me to create lavish baskets and wooden boards covered with blocks, rounds, wedges, and slabs of mild, creamy, floral, moldy cheese. And then I met this book: Cowgirl Creamery Cooks and realized that while I know about cheese, the gals at Cowgirl live it. And I envy them.

cowgirl book

Sue Conley and Peggy Smith are the Cowgirls behind the Marin creamery, located in Point Reyes, California. They met in college, and have both worked as chefs in Berkeley restaurants before launching Tomales Bay foods, which promoted West Marin’s farms and dairies to Bay area chefs. From there it was a quick leap to producing their own cheese from locally produced milk from Strauss Family Creamery. Nearly 20 years later, the Cowgirls are known throughout the Bay area and beyond, garnering numerous awards, including the induction into the Guilde des Fromagers.

This book is a great read for cheese lovers and organic food aficionados. Not only is it Conley and Smith’s personal story, it’s a how-to on all things cheese – including tasting, buying, storing, and pairing with 75 recipes and photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton. It will entertain and enlighten, and most importantly, leave you very hungry. Here is a taster.

Red Hawk Potato Gratin

Red Hawk is a rich triple-crème washed-rind cheese with a strong aroma and mellow flavor. Camembert may be substituted. Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Cowgirl Creamery Cooks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, julienned
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
10 ounces Red Hawk cheese, cut into 16 wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat a cast iron skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. When the butter has melted, add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the cream and half of the Parmesan.

2.Transfer half of the onion-cream mixture to a glass 13 by 9-inch baking dish or casserole. Arrange half the potatoes in an overlapping layer on top of the mixture, and then top with 8 of the Red Hawk wedges. Add the remaining potatoes in an even layer, the remaining half of the Red Hawk, and the remaining onion-cream mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let the casserole cool for 10 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Cowgirl Creamery Cooks. All opinions are my own. 

Kale Gratin

kale gratins tastefood.jpg

Winter Greens Gratin

Gratins are a great way to eat your vegetables, especially in the winter. Who can resist bubbling pots of roasted vegetables and winter greens, crispy golden on the top and cheesy-creamy in the center? Hearty earthy greens, such as kale, spinach and chard, stand up exceedingly well to rich bechamel and melted cheese (what wouldn’t?) Serve in a large gratin dish for family style dining or spoon into individual ramekins for fancy serving. Either way, you can be sure that everyone will be eating their greens.

Kale Gratin
Feel free to add other greens or vegetables, such as chopped broccoli or cauliflower. Pecorino or Gruyere cheese may be substituted for the Parmigiano. Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 to 2 bunches kale (Tuscan or curly), tough ribs removed, coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a deep skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute 1 minute. Add the kale and saute until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until light golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream. Simmer, stirring, until thickened. Whisk in 1/4 cup cheese, the salt, pepper and nutmeg until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Pour over the kale and stir to combine. Transfer to a buttered gratin dish or individual ramekins. Top with the remaining cheese. Transfer to oven and bake until the tops of the gratins are golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Baby Beet Gratin with Orange and Thyme

baby beet gratin tastefood

Beet Gratin with Orange and Thyme

It took a good long while for me to reconcile with the flavor of beets. I gazed at them from the sidelines, attracted to their vibrant hues, aware of their nutrient-rich flesh, yet wary of their earthy notes. As a cook, I wished to like beets, and as a parent, I wanted to serve them – so I willed myself to eat beets until I learned to love them.

At first, I took baby steps. I nibbled small bites. I  doused them with citrus to offset their earthiness. I grew bolder and roasted beets in olive oil, discovering that fire and char nicely counteract their dirt-like flavor. My go-to beet became the golden variety, which is pleasantly mild and nutty. And, eventually, I succeeded. Now, I am a beet convert. Yet while I no longer shudder at eating a completely naked beet, I continue to craft recipes that embrace the sweet beet while tempering their earthy nature.

This gratin recipe allows beets to shine amidst a minimal cast of characters. The co-stars of the dish happen to have their own strength and assertiveness, helping to tone down any earthy qualities that might be lurking in each bite. Layers of beets are cloaked in sour cream infused with orange zest and thyme. Gruyère cheese ripples throughout, adding a complementary nuttiness. The beets release their juices while cooking, saturating the gratin with spectacular color and all the flavors meld together. When I made this, it was so good, everyone at the table was reaching for seconds. As a cook, parent and beet convert, I find that a very good thing.

Baby Beet Gratin with Orange and Thyme

I prepared this recipe in individual ramekins with a variety of red, golden and chioggia beets. A gratin dish will also work for family style serving. Feel free to mix and match the beets to your taste. Eight large beets may be substituted for the baby beets, but be sure to peel the skin.

Makes 1 (8 by 8-inch) gratin or 8 (6-ounce) ramekins

2 cups sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter
3 bunches baby beets, unpeeled, ends trimmed, scrubbed clean
4 ounces finely grated Gruyere cheese
Fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter 8 (6-ounce) ramekins or an 8 by 8-inch square gratin dish. Whisk the sour cream, garlic, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.
Thinly slice the beets with a mandolin or knife.
Arrange 1/3 of the beets, slightly overlapping in the baking dish or individual ramekins. Spoon 1/3 of the sour cream over the beets, carefully spreading to cover. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the top. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and pinch of fresh thyme. Repeat with two more layers.
Bake in the oven until the beets are tender and the gratin is bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Holiday Sides: Root Vegetable Gratin

root vegetable gratin tastefood

~ Root Vegetable Gratin with Sweet Potato, Red Potato and Rutabaga ~

My cheese and potato loving family loves a good gratin. I use a simple method of layering thinly sliced potatoes with a rich garlic infused sour cream and shredded Gruyere cheese. Simple and, yes, decadent. I switched up my go-to recipe recently when I wanted something more flavorful and nutrient-rich than white spuds. Thinly sliced rutabaga (also known as Swede) and sweet potato were included in the mix, and I switched out the white potatoes for red, which tend to hold their shape more while cooking. The result was a colorfully striated gratin, flecked with sage and thyme, adding their earthy fragrance to the sweet and nutty root vegetables. This is a wonderful side dish, and makes a rustic and festive addition to any holiday table.

Root Vegetable Gratin

Feel free to mix up the root vegetables to your taste. In all there should be about 3 pounds of vegetables.

Serves 8

16 ounces full fat sour cream
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 medium-large red potatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 large sweet potato, peeled, about 3/4 pound
1 medium rutabaga, peeled, about 3/4 pound
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, finely grated
1/3 cup heavy cream, or to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Butter an 8 by 10-inch gratin dish.
Whisk the sour cream, garlic, sage, thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl and mix well.
Thinly slice the potatoes and rutabaga, preferably with a mandoline. Arrange half of the red potatoes, overlapping, in the bottom of the gratin dish (there will be about 2 layers). Spread 1/4 of the sour cream over the potatoes and sprinkle with 1/4 of the Gruyere. Cover with the sweet potatoes, overlapping in about 2 layers. Spread with 1/4 of the sour cream and 1/4 of the gruyere. Repeat with the rutabaga, more sour cream and gruyere. Finish with the remaining red potatoes, sour cream and gruyere. Drizzle some of the cream around the edges and in the corners of the gratin without overfilling.
Bake in oven until vegetables are tender and the top of the gratin is brown and bubbling, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Loosely cover gratin with buttered foil if browning too fast.) Serve hot.