Friday, March 6, 2009

Still time for wintry comfort food

While spring is not that far off there is still a definite chill in the Parisian air. Sandals and short sleeves will have to wait for just a bit longer. In the meantime it gives me a chance to still fire up the oven and indulge in some heavy creamy gratin (good for developing that extra layer of hibernation fat...well, sort of). The gratin in the photos could've been prettier if I had spent more time looking for produce of even circumference. Ideally one should end up with even striations, but it still tastes good no matter how you arrange it. This gratin is the first where I've ever incorporated pears. Sounds strange with all the savoury ingredients in the mix but they provide a nice light caramelized counterpoint to all that cream. The following recipe is translated from the french magazine Saveur.

Gratin of vegetables and pear with sage

Prep time 30 min.

Cook time 1 h 30
For 4/6 people

2 yams (approx. 1 kg)
2 potatoes (waxy, not floury, bintje if you can find them, approx. 500 g)
2 zucchini (approx. 500 g)
3 pears
1 1/2c half and half cream (40cl)
3 cloves garlic
a pinch of dried rosemary
10 leaves of fresh sage
3.5 oz comté, grated (100 g)
salt and pepper

one large casserole dish approx 8.5" x 12.5"

1. Heat the cream in a sauce pan with the chopped garlic, rosemary and whole sage leaves. Cut the heat once the cream begins to simmer and leave to infuse covered.

2. Peel the yams and potatoes. Steam them until tender (approx. 20 - 30 min.s). Let cool, then cut into thin slices.

3. Peel pears and cut them, as well as the zucchini, in similar fashion as the yams and potatoes.

4. Fill the casserole dish with the vegetables, alternating between 1 row of potatoes, then 1 row of pear, 2 rows of yams and 2 zucchini. Make sure the rows are snug so the slices stay upright.

5. Discard the sage leaves from the cream mixture and pass through a sieve (or just pick out the rosemary). Add 2 level teaspoons of salt and some pepper, then pour over the vegetables. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

6. Bake for about an hour in a pre-heated oven at 390F until the vegetables are well cooked and the cheese gold and bubbly.

The gratin is great as a vegetarian dish with a salad, or as a side dish with a white meat.
Serve with a nice pouilly-fuissé.

- It's prettier if you can get vegetables of a consistent and similar width.
- The gratin is liquidy, makes a dang fine tasty sauce.
- No need to core the pears.
- Keep the cut rows of vegetables and pear together. It makes transferring to the casserole dish easier.

Bon appetit!

No comments: