After last week’s Thanksgiving dinner, I was left with one Yukon Gold potato, one orange sweet potato and one white sweet potato – orphaned potatoes looking for a home. I thought about making something healthy – simmering them in the remaining turkey stock for an autumn soup (Yawn, Borrrrring!), but soon, I was dreaming about layering them with Gruyere and tons of herbs for a rich, French-style gratin – hmm, delicious and comforting, but more of a side dish than entrée. And then I hit upon the winning gilded-lily combination…
Why not take something as decadent as a potato gratin and encase it in a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth, thyme-scented pastry crust? Oui!
A rich potato gratin encased in a flaky thyme-scented pastry.
1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
⅓ cup olive oil
3-4 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
2-3 potatoes, a mix of white and sweet, sliced very thin
⅔ cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 large egg
¾ cup heavy cream
⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and thyme. Combine canola oil and cream in a measuring cup. Pour oil mixture over flour mixture and mix well*. Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9” tart pan. Transfer to pan and press dough into pan. Chill for 30 minutes while oven preheats to 400 degrees. Cover tart shell with parchment paper and fill with rice, beans, or pie weights. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove parchment and rice and bake another 10 minutes until tart shell is light golden. Remove from oven.
Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of the tart shell, followed by ½ of the cheese and ½ of the rosemary and sage. Follow with another layer of potatoes, cheese and herbs. Finish with a layer of potatoes.
Whisk together egg, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper and pour over potato layers. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for an hour until potatoes are tender and golden brown and tart is bubbling. Cover with aluminum foil if top browns too quickly. Serve warm.
* This crust can be a bit crumbly. Don’t be afraid to mix it well to form a bit of structure.
I am a chunky monkey – the result of what I’ve been cooking lately. A diet of nothing but butter, sugar and flour for five months has taken its toll on my booty. I’ve been trying to get myself back in line – taste testing only a smidge of a recipe and freezing the rest – or giving it away to grateful neighbors.
But, you see, ‘just a taste’ is not enough for me because, well, I have dessert FOMO. If I don’t eat at least one confection each and every day, I’m convinced I’ve been deprived. So, I came up with this dessert that feels like decadence rather than depravation. There’s no butter, no refined sugar and no flour. That’s a triumph for me considering butter, sugar and flour are the Holy Trinity in my world. The Greek yogurt is as creamy as a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, but packed with protein. The apples and cinnamon provide classic holiday apple pie flavor and the healthy-fat walnuts add the necessary crunch. It’s simple, nourishing and satisfying – and a foil to dessert FOMO.
Cut apple into quarters and then cut quarters into 4 slices. In a medium sized skillet, combine apples with water, cinnamon and salt. Bring to boil over medium high heat then reduce to medium low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apple slices are tender, 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place yogurt on serving platter. I made a yogurt timbale by lining a ramekin with cheesecloth, pressing the yogurt into the ramekin and then inverting the timbale onto the plate, but you can also just scoop it prettily onto whatever dish you are using.
Arrange warm apple slices on and around yogurt and sprinkle with maple walnuts. Serve warm.
*Maple walnuts can be made by combining 2 Tablespoons walnuts with 1 Tablespoon maple syrup in a small sauté pan. Heat ingredients until maple syrup is vigorously bubbling, reduced and evenly coating nuts. Cool and break nuts apart before using.
Thanksgiving isn’t the time for experiments. The family gathered around our table crave the classics – the flavors from childhood Thanksgivings past. But, I’m never satisfied with the classics – even new classics. I want to play. When I hit upon “The Ultimate” sweet potato casserole recipe, I swear it will be my go-to recipe for all the years to come. Yet, by next November, there are three new recipes I want to try. I’m always experimenting, always trying something new…except for my Cranberry Sauce. What could possibly be special about cranberry sauce? The C-sauce doesn’t play starring role. Frankly, it’s not even a co-star. Cranberry sauce lands somewhere in the chorus, but I couldn’t imagine my Thanksgiving table without it. And it has to be this version. The warming spice and tart cherries pair perfectly with the cranberries – elevating the sauce just so, but not too much. Classic, with a twist. So, from my Thanksgiving table to yours…
For all of November, and most of October if I’m honest, I’ve had a terrible bout of writer’s block. It’s not lack of topics, the “what,” that has me flummoxed; there are plenty of topics – big topics, sensitive topics and juicy topics. However, approaching them, the “how,” has confounded me for weeks.
So, as we move into December, I find myself tardy on both this recipe’s relevancy and the announcement of my not-so-recent career resignation after 15 years. I’ve spent the majority of the last two and a half weeks in my bathrobe without any rush to return to the workforce (or post, obviously).