Yesterday, I was in search of things to nurture, comfort and sooth and for me, cooking and baking are my sources of succor. What better way to lift up the spirit then a nourishing dish like the gratin dauphinois or a potato gratin. This variation, there are dozens of them, is simple. I rubbed my gratin dish with a split garlic clove, I layered the sliced potatoes with a layer of grated Swiss cheese and at each layer I seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg and I added the crushed garlic clove that I had rubbed the pan with, waste not, want not. I doused the potatoes with about a cup of heavy cream and I baked it for a little over an hour at 350. The house smelled so nice and homey with the aroma of nuttiness from the Swiss cheese, I could also smell the potatoes steaming in the heavy cream, you can tell the difference from potatoes cooked in cream from the aroma of fried potatoes in oil. I prefer the sweetness and richness of the cream induced aroma, it exudes comfort for me. The gratin is an amalgam of textures and flavors, all complimentary but important contrasts as well, giving the gratin its tasty nuance. My gratin did its intended job, it was a nice piece of comfort taken from a culinary tradition so very dear to me, the French home cooking tradition. It reminded us of eating with our family at our uncle’s, our aunt’s or our cousin’s tables sharing stories and laughter.
There is nothing better than the smell of swiss cheese melting and developing a golden crust from within the oven. The nuttiness that develops from the melting at high temperatures permeates the air and that is when you know that the gratin of whatever you like is done. Today I chose to make a gratin of cauliflower, complete with a béchamel sauce, to ward off the cold dreariness of the weather outside. Cold rain is depressing with all of the grayness enveloping Blandford from all around, so I use my oven and food to combat that oppressive external influence and brighten the mood with Mother Nature’s form of aromatherapy.
You have to appreciate a lady when she promises you rhubarb from her garden with a copy of her recipe for rhubarb chutney and the very next day, she delivers said rhubarb and recipe. Bonnie is a peach! I will have to make her recipe so that I can tell her at next month’s French club meeting that it was yummy. I should try to make something else and deliver her some of whatever I come up with. While she was at the door, I was in the process of peeling potatoes because I decided to make a gratin Dauphinois or gratin of potato. It has been the perfect weather for baking and roasting things because it’s either drizzling, cloudy or sunny at a cool 69 degrees. I am not complaining, I love the roasting and the baking, I am only getting concerned for my plants because there is such a thing as too much rain and they can drown. Tomorrow they are predicting between 3 and 5 inches of rain, the grass in the park behind my house is flooded already, tomorrow won’t be pretty for the water logged meadow. Theoretically the next time we are due for sun will be on Saturday. My plants and I will be looking forward to Saturday. I do have to say that this spring has been really great in one aspect, I haven’t been plagued by May flies at all, between the rain and the wind, they were nowhere to be found this season. Hooray for that!