Wow, it sure got chilly this week. Perfect weather for a side dish like a potato gratin. I am catering a surprise birthday party for an octogenarian tomorrow and this family wanted something warm, comforting and old fashioned for a side dish with beef. This recipe is not only easy, it's delicious. I think they are going to love this!
Caramelized Onion-Potato Gratin
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 T good olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
2 lbs russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 1/4 c heavy cream, separated
2 1/2 c grated Gruyère cheese (1/2 pound) (expensive but worth it)
1/2 c Asiago cheese
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 T fresh thyme, stripped off the stem
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-by-15-by-2-inch (10-cup) baking dish, set aside. Sauté the onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until browned lightly and caramelized. Peel the potatoes and thinly slice them by hand or with a mandoline (one of my favorite kitchen tools). Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyère, 1/4 c Asiago, salt, and pepper. Add the sautéed onion and mix well. Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of cream, the rest of the asiago and Gruyère and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve. Serves 10-12.
Note: Add thinly sliced Black Forest ham and a handful of frozen peas and you have a single dish casserole dinner.
As a caterer, I am often asked to provide dishes that are vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten free. Paired with a gluten free bread or cracker and served with a vegan yogurt (think soy or almond milk) this dip fits the bill for all three. I don't have any dietary restrictions myself, so I often look for ideas in cookbooks, on the internet (blogs like mine) or from friends who cook. I found the idea for this dip from a favorite chef of mine, Yotam Ottolenghi in his cookbook, Plenty More. I might not usually use carrots as the centerpiece for an appetizer, but in this dip, they are magically transformed and taste incredible. The spicy carrots atop the lemon-y garlic yogurt is a perfect, winning combination. I took this dip to my last bocce game and heard nothing but rave reviews!
Smashed Carrots with Lemon-Garlic Yogurt
1 T olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 T unsalted butter
10 large carrots, peeled and cut into slices 3/4" thick
1 c vegetable stock
grated zest of 1 orange
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 t *harissa paste
grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 T lemon juice
1 c Greek yogurt
3 1/2 T shelled, salted or unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
salt and black pepper
Place the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring often; they need to soften and take on a bit of color. Add the stock, turn down the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook for another 25 minutes, until the carrots are completely soft and there is hardly any liquid left. Transfer the carrots to a food processor, add 3/4 teaspoon salt, and process briefly to form a coarse paste. Leave to cool and then add the orange zest, garlic, harissa, half the lemon zest, and some black pepper. Pulse briefly to combine.
Mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, the remaining lemon zest, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Spread the yogurt our on a serving platter and spoon the carrot mixture on top. Sprinkle with the pistachios, drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve with the pita chips. Serves 8-10 as an appetizer.
Zaatar Toasted Pitas
1 pkg plain or whole wheat pitas
4 T butter, melted
2 T **Zaatar seasoning
Cut the pitas into 8 triangles then pull apart to make 16. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the Zaatar. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees.
*Harissa is a North African and Middle Eastern condiment that is made from garlic, cumin, caraway, pounded chili peppers, salt and a dash of olive oil. Pretty much any chili-based hot sauce will work as a substitute.
** Zaatar is available at The Spice Tin in Murphys or by mail order.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"