Suzi's Blog

Easter Dinner Ideas [Or Other Spring and Summer Feasts]

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Yes, I know, Easter was last Sunday. But there will be an Easter again, short of a meteor strike. And there are other times during the spring and summer that you may be celebrating. Here is the menu we had on Sunday. The next few days will see a post with each recipe. Suzen and I spent Easter morning shopping and Easter afternoon in the kitchen. It was a perfect holiday, complete with dinner guests and our table set for this feast.

Menu for a Special Sunday Meal

  • Chipotle and Cheddar Biscuits with Honey Butter
  • Red Pepper Hummus with Toasted Home Made Bread
  • Shoulder of Lamb with Salsa Verde
  • Potato Gratin with Cauliflower and Cheese of Your Choice

Oh, no dessert? Our guests bought a fruit tart and we had some chocolate gelato on hand. I did have in mind a very special chocolate cookie that will appear here soon. Truth is, after four hours in the kitchen, Suzen and I were low on gas. Planning on doing this meal or another feast? Then you want to space out the effort, ideally over 2-3 days. Biscuits and hummus the day before, for example. We all want quality for our dinner parties and that quality quite simply takes a bit of time.

To conclude, about that meteor strike. I was not joking. Today is Earth Day and this evening in Seattle at the incredible Museum of Flight three astronauts will present evidence about the possibility of a major meteor strike that could wipe out a city. Remember that meteor over Siberia last year? That explosion is now calibrated at a half a megaton. Tonight, the presentation will show that the chances of a major disaster are 3 to 10 times more likely than previously thought. New sensor information, originally developed to detect man-made nuclear weapons tests, confirms that we have far more collisions with large objects from space. There are lots and lots of uncharted meteors in the 100-meter range out there. Close encounters are common, actual collisions much more likely than previously thought. More and more of a growing planet population is in urban areas that sprawl. Target creep.

If I were you, I would order up my lamb soon.

 

Three-Cheese Potato Gratin

2013_08_04_1648There are different kinds of comfort food, some simple, some complex. This rich potato gratin is something that delivers wonders in small doses. Just a few bites of this dish should satisfy your potato cravings. It takes a half hour to prep and the cooking time means that this dish will test your nostrils long before your actual palette.

I recently posted a Crab and Corn Bisque from The Domaine Chandon Cookbook and I mentioned that this soup deserved equally elegant dishes for the rest of the meal. This is one of those dishes, and from that same cookbook. The flavor is smooth, mellow, and just perfectly satisfying.

I’ve written the recipe below almost exactly as it appears in the cookbook, with one major change. I did add corn to my gratin, for flavor, color and because I had corn hanging around in my freezer and I was getting irritated with it. That said, the corn was a great addition.

The cheese amounts here are modest. You can increase any or all of them. Dividing ½ cup of the Havarti into four parts, and truly covering the potato layers each time, is a bit of a challenge.

The original cooking time was written as 45-50 minutes. I needed a full 85 minutes to get potatoes that were really cooked and not “chewy.” I sliced the potatoes by hand and did not use a mandolin. Why? I like my fingerprints. I’m terrified of mandolins. I don’t know if my “thicker” slices were the only reason for the longer cooking time, but I really did not mind. I had an open bottle of wine and time to wait. There are times to rush in life and then there are times to watch the sun going down.

Three-Cheese Potato Gratin

Yield: serves 4 as main course, 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 pounds white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh shredded Havarti cheese
  • 1 cup corn kernels [optional]
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with the butter.

In a bowl, whisk together the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. On the bottom of the prepared dish, p0lace one-fourth of the potato slices in a layer about ¼ inch thick. Top with one fourth of corn. Pour in ½ cup of the cream mixture. Sprinkle with one fourth of the Havarti cheese.

Repeat to make three more layers of potatoes, corn, cream and Havarti.

Sprinkle the top layer with Gruyere and Parmesan cheese as well.

Bake until the potatoes are tender and the top is bubbly and golden brown, 45 to 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the gratin to firm up. Serve warm.

Source: The Domaine Chandon Cookbook

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/50h second at ISO 3200