December 3, 2011

Bacon, Potato, Leek, Gruyere Cheese Gratin

Bacon, Potato, Leek, Gruyere Cheese Gratin.

This potato leek gratin is over the top. The Gruyere cheese lends a creamy smokey flavor and when coupled with thick cut bacon. Oh my.

Bacon, Potato, Leek, Gruyere Cheese Gratin

Makes: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 65 minutes

2 large stalks of leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup heavy cream, split into 1/2 cups
4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked till crispy & torn into pieces
3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced

  1. Clean leeks by cutting the white stalk into 2 inch lengths, and then slicing open the rounds to open up the leaves so you can wash soil that may have worked between the leaves. Then slice leeks lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips.
  2. Saute sliced leeks in olive oil till tender.
  3. Mix cooked leeks, shredded Gruyere cheese, and 1/2 cup heavy cream.
  4. Layer cooked leek mixture, sliced potatoes, and cooked bacon pieces in casserole dish.
  5. Pour last half cup of heavy cream over the top.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The heavy cream should bubble up and cook the upper layers of the potatoes. Be careful to not let the gratin bubble over the casserole dish.
This gratin was baked in a casserole dish made by me. If you are interested I have a ceramic pottery blog that tends to include poetry and the occasional book review:

December 2, 2011

Hard Freeze Coming to the Garden

Box of lettuce of Cimmaron, Grand Rapids and mixed parentage.
Icicle radish.
More gorgeous Icicle radishes.
Looks like Cherry Belle and Icicle have created a mutant radish, there's just a hint of blush on its shoulders.
There is a hard freeze predicted in the next few days so I went ahead and picked a giant box of the self-sowed lettuces and pulled up the rest of the radishes from the garden. The Icicle radishes had gotten huge with the longest at 12 inches and being that they were volunteer plants I was deeply pleased with their success. The green shoulders of the radishes were the parts growing above the soil. I remember reading a wonderful little gardening book of a man who had gardened in many regions of the United States. He had a photograph of radishes 3 foot long hanging off his fence in Alaska where daylight never ends in their long cool summers. He said the radishes would just grow and grow always sweetly tender and mild. I got the impression that the gardener turned writer was a straightforward military fellow who had a deep love for the earth and enjoyed experimenting with growing methods. I imagined that it was a nomadic military life that kept him moving while he continually tried to put down roots by planting things. A bit of fanciful thinking I am sure since he gave no reason in his book for the different places he gardened in.

I spent a couple of hours washing each lettuce leaf and drying them in the salad spinner before putting them up in a couple of lidded plastic tubs destined for the refrigerator. I keep the lid of the lettuce container cracked open. All this lettuce in the fridge begs to be paired with banh xeo a crispy Vietnamese crepe filled with meat and shrimp. Hot crispy fried food wrapped in lettuce with herbs and dipped in spicy sweet salty lime sauce also known as nuoc mam cham is a little bit of hot heaven. When I mentioned cooking banh xeo to my husband, his eyes got big and he said in a quiet voice how I should cook a large batch so we could freeze some for later. Heh heh. Good thinking.

December 1, 2011

Radish on Buttered Oat Bread

Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, and Icicle radishes.
Cherry Belle radish with a dash of salt on buttered oat bread.
Remember those beautiful giant radishes picked from the garden in early November. Well I've been eating the delectable beasts with the kind of enthusiasm that borders on avarice. Never before had I enjoyed such a radish.

Prior to this I might have glanced at them in the grocer with mild interest those little red balls offered up in the springtime when the weather too quickly turns warm. Perhaps I even purchased a small bunch, quickly regretting the impulse purchase with the first bite from this weird little vegetable whose flavor was an odd mixture of heat and bitterness harking to consuming raw horseradish. Uck, who would eat such a thing. But now. Now. I am a convert, it is as though a moment of clarity has come over me. Grown in the fall with long cool nights and the mildest of days the radish is soft and tender with a crispness reminiscent of the delicate nature of young cucumber which has a drier more fleeting quality then their over-watered and overgrown compatriots. Served on buttered oat bread with the lightest sprinkling of salt, makes this vegetable. A revelation.

I am a bit sad and remorseful that all I have are a few self-sown radishes still in the garden. I will be mourning their absence when they are gone. Wishing I had taken the initiative to plant a giant bed of these lovely plants.