[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook or Livejournal. (Although he did succumb to the lure of Google+.) He hates cell-phones.

Gratin Côte-du-Matin
13 December 2010

[The Final Gratin]

As the palette of seasonal colors change, so does the palette (and palate, I suppose) on the table. The more one is eating seasonally and locally, the more the colors of one's food follow the seasons. The leafy greens of summer give way to the muted browns and whites of tubers and storage vegetables. This is usually fine by me, since the potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbages and the like are some of my favorites, although by the end of Lent, I'll be happy to see some bright green on my plate.

In these months, I also turn to a different kind of white food: dairy products. I love cream, crème fraiche and butter, and I make my own cheese, so the recipes of areas strong in those traditions speak to my culinary inclinations. Which brings us, of course, to the gratin.

A gratin Dauphinois, my model for almost all my gratins, is layered potatoes, cream, butter and very little else. Baked slowly for a long time it becomes a transcendently wonderful dish. It is also amenable to modification. A common modification chez nous is to add more and different root vegetables, often based on what arrived from the farm share. Since it is no longer a gratin Dauphinois, it needed a new name: gratin côte-du-matin.

Gratin Côte-du-Matin
[Gratin mis-en-place] Cut the vegetables into thin slices with a food processor or a mandolin. The thickness of the slices will affect the cooking time, so be prepared. Mix the cream, crème fraiche, salt and pepper.

Layer the vegetables into a baking dish. Starting and finishing with potatoes is usually a good idea, but as long as the onions are somewhere in the middle, it should be fine. Pour the cream mixture over the top. Place in a 350F oven and bake for at least an hour. The gratin is done when a fork or knife goes easily through the vegetables. If you feel resistance, put it back in for another ten minutes and test again.

[Layering the gratin] There are many variations. If I've got a little cheese, often I'll grate that or cut it up, and add it to the mix. I like crème fraiche so I often will add a bit more than the modest amount called for above. Other root vegetables make a nice change, as well. I've had good success with celery root, carrot, turnip and even rutabaga. If I'm in a hurry, I'll cube the vegetables and mix them all together; the result is less aesthetically pleasing but still tastes good.

The gratin as outlined above is really more of general technique than a recipe, and I rarely make it the same way twice, but the guidelines provide a good starting point for further experimentation.

Horseradish Slaw
With rich food like the gratin, something tangy goes well. This slaw is criminally easy and tasty, to boot.

Shred or grate the vegetables. Add the horseradish and salt. Let sit at least half an hour before serving.


© 2010 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite