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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Holy Gratin! Don't pass this up. You need it in your life.

Um. I feel really bad guys. I was supposed to be showing you this amazing picture of this amazing sweet potato and swiss chard gratin that I made yesterday. But see..the thing is... We kind of already ate it. All of it. In like-less than 24 hours.

But that's okay because you can head over to Smitten Kitchen and see her pics that are like ten times better than mine would have been anyway. Also there is a cute cute CUTE baby. Did you see him? OMG. Perfect, right? Those eyes. Delicious! And the Gratin?  It was like-there are no words. You have to make it. It has gruyere and a bechamel sauce. Guys. Don't make me spell this out for you go to the store. Pick up sweet potatoes, swiss chard, heavy cream and gruyere. I know you already have nutmeg. I know. I know you have some italian flat leaf parsley waiting for you to use it all up before it wilts. Thyme? Come on. This is child's play. I'm trying to rock your world here. Healthy, creamy veggie goodness. DO IT. Come on, DO IT. What are you waiting for?

This was pulled ver batim from her website ( hope she doesn't mind!) because I cannot match the amazing adorableness contained within (i mean yam-yam?) seriously? SO CUTE AHHH!

(Deb's- what is my obsession with food bloggers by the name of DEB?-)
"Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin"

I won’t lie, Swiss chard can be a real pain to prep, what with the rib-separation and rendering of unfathomable volumes down to a few measly cups of cooked greens. I like to chop, wash and dry mine the day before, but if you’re especially in a rush, I see no reason you can’t swap pre-washed (3 pounds) or even frozen spinach (about 5 to 6 cups). I also don’t see why you can’t swap the sweet potato for thin slices of butternut squash but then you will have less of an exuse to say “yam-yam” to the baby over and over again until he laughs.
Finally, if my gratin looks a little “wet” to you, don’t worry, yours — providing you squeeze your greens out well — should not. I just mindlessly baked mine for half the time covered with foil which is not a bad idea for all-potato gratins, not drying enough for greens.
Serves 12
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 pounds Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and both cut into 1-inch pieces
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese

Prep greens: Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add chard stems, pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add chard leaves by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.
Make sauce: Combine cream or milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a 1/4 cup of the cheese. Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and 1/4 cup of the cheese over it. Pour half of bechamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs and cheese and then the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup of cheese.
Bake gratin for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Do ahead: You can make the entire gratin but not bake it up to a day in advance and keep it in the fridge. You can also make and bake the gratin and reheat it. Gratins reheat well, but they take almost as much time to gently heat through as they do to bake in the first place, especially deep ones like this. As for reheating, already baked and frozen, I will find out very soon! But I am near-positive it will be fine.

And Finally I want to extend an apology to my amazing friend Emily who told me about this recipe weeks ago when I first started my food blog for waiting so long to make this amazing yummy comforting awesomeness. I am a douche. You were right. This is a gamechanger. C wants me to make it every week for an indefinite amount of time. I'm going to the market tomorrow to pick up more ingredients.

Post comments when you've had a chance to try this! And go visit deb over at Smitten Kitchen for more delicious food and snapshots of that adorable BABYYY *drool*

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Holy Fucking Shit! These cookies ARE GOOD! [Update-European conversions added!]

Okay, have you ever been to Debbie Koenig's blog words to eat by? It's amazing. You should look at it. Go now. Did you go? Amazing right? I told you so.

So C and I love chocolate chip cookies. Like we could eat them EVERY DAY. With whole milk. Because we are fatties. Did I mention that we LOVE C.C.Cookies!!! Debbie has these ahhh-mm-a-zing chocolate chip cookies. MM. Ahh! Oh my god. Usually we buy the crazy expensive Immaculate Baking All Natural Chocolate Chunk Cookie dough- that is until we tried these cookies from Debbie. Holy Fucking Shit, did I mention how good they are?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sacrificing Food for Function

So I've kind of been in a funk the last week or so. I realized shortly after the New Year that my food spending was out of control. But I love food! Chaley mentioned to me that we can't do everything right now. And I know she's right but it made me sad. Why does eating locally seasonally and consciously have to be so much? Why do we have so little? Granted a big part of the problem is that my eyes are always bigger than my stomach/ the situation/ how much is really needed. But beyond that, between genetically modified everything, high fructose corn syrup, and antibiotic miserable meat, the price to live and eat simple just keeps rising. I really love getting meat from the Farmer's Market, but money is tight right now. So no more. I am (temporarily I hope) going to have to make the best choice out of the meat at the supermarket/ fresh direct. My resistance to reality could only hold out for so long. But it made me think. If I have spent some substantial portion of my life eating factory mass produced food, what made me think that regressing into some of those foods in order to sustain myself and C would result in some catastrophic body meltdown? Perhaps I lost you there. In our newer cleaner food state I likened those foods in our past to- well, to death really. And the idea of consuming some of them again seemed to me to be dooming us for all eternity to a slow and unhealthy death. But is it? Don't we all regress in our food choices every now and then? Isn't it like yoga, always a journey? Never perfection but always working towards it? Am I crazy for likening the choice to buy antibiotic-free wings versus murrays all natural free range wings to the lifelong humble practice of yoga? I don't know, But I will write you when I get there.

In the meantime, I guess I will just try to remember the original purpose of food is to fuel the body. And I can't fuel my or C's body if I am always running out of the tools to make the fuel. What food compromises have you made lately that you felt uncomfortable with?

When Life turns your Lemons into Limes (and vice versa)

So I am notorious for ruining food. I just- cannot store certain foods for optimal shelf life. Take for instance, lemons. Limes. Flat leaf Italian Parsley. Oranges, bananas. Garlic, Onions, Shallots- you get the picture. So I am always reading up on how to store things properly. Somehow in spite of this I seem to have epic fails every time  I buy fresh produce. Take two weeks ago. I bought lemons, limes, potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic. And I was determined not to let anything spoil or go to waste. So, I put everything in my pantry (the bottom cupboard wedged between my fridge and my oven. The other day I went to grab a lemon and one of them had literally turned green. A powdery green film was covering one and a half lemons and spreading. I have had a lot of lemons grow bad on me but never quite like this. There was also some excess moisture in the grocery bag I left it in. So I pulled them all out of the cupboard and rinsed the green powder off the remaining lemons. Then today I pulled out my limes to go with the Carona that will accompany the wings that C is making tonight-- and my limes were turning yellow!

What did I do wrong guys? Was the cupboard a bad idea? Do you think the heat from the oven caused moisture in my tiny cupboard?

Please share your best food keeping secrets!
Thanks and have a great three day weekend!