Tag Archives: gratin

Brussels Sprout Gratin


~ Brussels Sprout Gratin ~

If you have more than one child you may understand this tale: I have two children. One is an adventurous eater, and one is not. One loves fish, and the other can’t stand it (although I don’t really remember her tasting much of it.) One loves butter, while the other would prefer not to be seated at the same table with it. My highly unscientific theory is that this is nature’s way of ensuring that it’s offspring do not starve. If siblings have opposite tastes, then there is enough sustenance to feed the litter. After all, how would our species advance? At least this is how I console myself as a parent and a cook.

Which brings me to brussels sprouts. OK, I understand that you don’t have to be a child genetically predisposed to preserving the human race to dislike brussels sprouts. These little crucifers are enough to rile many a mature adult. But in our home, they are enjoyed – at least by most of us. My son likes them, and, therefore, my daughter does not. So, in a moment of inspiration and indefatigable hope I purchased a bag of firm pretty brussels sprouts at the market today with a plan. Instead of stir-frying or steaming them, I would gratinée them. While my daughter dislikes brussels sprouts, she loves gratins. Anything cheesy, creamy and crispy is right up her alley. Why not? I would give it a try. And you know what? She liked it. The problem is that my son, who dislikes rich and creamy food, did not.

Brussels Sprout Gratin
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Wash brussels sprouts. Trim outer leaves and bottoms, then cut in half. Steam brussels sprouts until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and light golden in color. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking to incorporate, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the Gruyere cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg until smooth. Pour over the brussel sprouts and stir to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a gratin dish. Combine panko and Parmigiano in another small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the brussels sprouts. Bake in oven until golden brown and heated through.

Ratatouille Gratin

~ Ratatouille Gratin ~

It’s that time of year when the vegetables sneak up on you. A month ago, summer squash were elusive, appearing in the markets in small groups at a price. In the garden they were merely a hint of themselves peeking from their flowers. Purchases felt premature, tasting a little bitter, and costing too much for something you knew would soon be prolific.

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Then, before you know it, a month has passed and squash are teeming everywhere. The garden is lobbing them to you like tennis balls, the market shelves are stacked with zucchini, crooknecks, and patty pans, ripe and ready for consumption. With the bounty, it’s time to get creative, because, ironically, it’s easy to tire of this abundance, and that is a shame.  So, yesterday I was determined to use my imagination to celebrate summer squash. Instead of a traditional ratatouille, I made a gratin. And before I made the gratin, I played a little bit with my food and made Ratatouille Stacks.

~ Ratatouille Stacks ~

The ingredients are identical, only the arrangement is different. Serve the gratins as side dishes or a light vegetarian meal. The stacks are fun appetizers.

Ratatouille Gratin

Be sure that the squash and eggplant have similar diameters. Makes 4 individual or 1 large gratin.

2 narrow Italian eggplant
2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red peppers, roasted, seeded, skinned (or 1 jar piquillo roasted peppers, drained)
1 bunch basil leaves
6 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash 1/4 inch thick. Arrange in one layer on an oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil briefly until the vegetables begin to brown. Remove and cool.


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Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Cut the peppers in pieces no larger than the sliced vegetables and set aside.  Place an eggplant slice on the work surface. Smear a pea-sized amount of goat cheese in the center of the eggplant. Top with a squash slice. Smear with the goat cheese and top with a red pepper piece. Smear with goat cheese and top with a basil leaf. Repeat process, alternating with squash, eggplant, red pepper and basil leaves, always adhering with a pea-sized amount of goat cheese. (If forming stacks, top with a basil leaf and a little goat cheese, then impale with a toothpick).
If making a gratin, carefully transfer stacks to an oiled gratin dish and slightly fan out the layers. Repeat until gratin dish is full. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese. Bake gratin in the oven until heated through and cheese begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Summer Berry Tian

~ Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries: summer in a dish ~

This berry tian highlights the ease of summer in its simplicity of ingredients and preparation. The season’s best fruit – strawberries, blueberries and raspberries -are blanketed with a cardamom-infused custard and baked, resulting in a refreshing and delightful dessert. Tian is a french word for a shallow earthenware casserole, often gratineed, an appropriately simple and elegant name for this dish. Enjoy warm or chilled.

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Summer Berry Tian (2 ways)

This recipe results in a thick liquid custard filling, begging for a spoon. For a more souffle-like consistency, add the optional egg whites. Makes 4 – 6 ounce tians.

6 ounces raspberries
6 ounces blueberries
8 ounces strawberries, hulled, quartered
Zest of one lemon
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter four 6-ounce shallow ramekins. Sprinkle with a little granulated sugar, tapping out excess. Place ramekins on a baking tray. Arrange raspberries, blueberries and strawberries in one layer in ramekins. Sprinkle with lemon zest.  Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in cardamom and cream. (If using egg whites, beat in a bowl of an electric mixer until firm. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the egg yolks and mix to combine. Gently fold in remaining egg whites).
Pour egg mixture over fruit. Bake in oven until golden brown and custard is set on top (it will still wobble when jiggled), about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on racks. Serve warm (not hot) or chilled. Garnish with extra lemon zest.

Cauliflower au Gratin

Who can’t resist a Cauliflower Gratin? Perfect as a side dish or vegetarian course, these golden gratins are bubbling with cheesy goodness. I found yellow cauliflower at the market and mixed it with white cauliflower in this recipe. 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. So long as there’s lots of gratinéed cheese and bechamel, this gratin is a winner.

Cauliflower Gratin
Serves 4

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

Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.)  Butter a gratin dish or 4 individual ramekins.
Steam cauliflower until crisp tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring, until bechamel thickens. Whisk in salt, mustard, pepper and nutmeg. Add half of the Gruyere cheese, whisking until smooth. Pour the bechamel over the cauliflower. Toss to thoroughly coat. Pour into the gratin dish. Combine remaining Gruyere cheese, Parmesan and panko in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the gratin. Bake until golden on top and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Root Vegetable Gratin

If you are searching for holiday side dishes, this root veggie gratin is a fresh alternative to a traditional potato gratin. Layers of rutabaga and sweet potato alternate with red potatoes in this colorfully striated dish flecked with sage.  The root vegetables lend an extra dimension to this rustic winter gratin with their sweet earthy flavor, while adding a more nutritious alternative to the simple potato.

Root Vegetable Gratin
Serves 6-8

16 ounces sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 medium red potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1 large rutabaga, peeled
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, finely grated

Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Butter a gratin dish.
Combine sour cream, garlic, sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl and mix well. Thinly slice potatoes and rutabaga, preferably with a mandoline. Arrange 2 layers of red potatoes, overlapping, in bottom of gratin dish. Spread a thin layer of the sour cream over the potatoes. Sprinkle with a little Gruyere cheese. Cover with a double layer of sweet potatoes. Spread with a thin layer of sour cream and a sprinkling of Gruyere. Repeat with a layer of rutabaga. Repeat process until all of the vegetables have been incorporated. (There should be about 6 layers in all.) Thoroughly top gratin with remaining sour cream. Sprinkle a liberal amount of Gruyère over sour cream. Bake in oven until vegetables are tender and top of gratin is brown and bubbling, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Loosely cover gratin with buttered foil if browning too fast.) Serve garnished with fresh sage leaves.

Beet Gratin with Gruyère and Thyme

Beet Gratin
Beet Gratin with Gruyère and Thyme

I am a beet convert. It took a good long time for me to reconcile with their earthy taste. I gazed at beets from the sidelines, attracted to their vibrant magenta and ochre hues, cognizant of their nutrient-rich flesh, yet I shuddered at their redolence of dirt. As a cook, I wanted to love them. As a parent, I wanted to serve them. So, I willed myself to eat beets until I learned to appreciate them.

At first, I took baby steps. I nibbled small bites. I  paired them with limes and oranges, letting the acidity of the citrus tame their earthiness. I grew bolder and roasted beets in olive oil, discovering that fire and char nicely counteracted their dirt-like flavor. My go-to beet became the golden variety, which is pleasantly mild and nuttier in taste. And, eventually, I succeeded. Now, I am a fully fledged beet eater. I order beets in restaurants, and I cook with them. Yet while I no longer shudder at eating a completely naked beet, I continually craft recipes that embrace the beet while tempering their earthy nature.

This recipe for Beet Gratin does just that. It’s unambigous in its ingredients, allowing the beets to shine through in a cast of minimal characters. Yet 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. The layers of beets are thinly cloaked in olive oil. Gruyère cheese is sprinkled between the beets along with fresh thyme and a trace of nutmeg. The presentation is simple and absent of any gratin goopyness. The beets release their juices while cooking, saturating the gratin with their brilliant color, while the flavors meld together. When I made this, it was so good, everyone at the table was reaching for seconds. As a cook and a parent, I find that a very good thing.

Beet Gratin with Gruyère and Thyme

I prepared this recipe in individual ramekins. A gratin dish will also work for family style serving. Red beets, golden beets or a combination may be used.

Unsalted butter
4 medium-sized red beets, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
Ground nutmeg
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter 4 ramekins. Thinly slice beets with a mandoline. Arrange one layer of sliced beets in each ramekin (one slice may fit perfectly.) Lightly brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with cheese, a little thyme and a pinch of nutmeg. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat layering process until ramekins are full, pressing down lightly. Bake in oven until gratins are bubbling, cheese is golden and beets are tender, about 45 minutes. Serve warm with fresh thyme sprigs as garnish.