Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks for the Memories

Oh I have neglected this little online outpost of mine! I have no excuse, so I offer none, but I do offer profoundest apologies if you missed me.

I'm sure the [two] people who read this blog with any frequency are probably expecting some sort of Thanksgiving offering from me. All I can say is, tough. I got nothin'. This is due largely to the fact that I will not be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a number of years yet. If we're with Preston's family, my mother in law will cook, if we're with my family, my mother or grandmother will cook.

I confess myself a little saddened by this thought. I love to cook, and the Thanksgiving feast is a cook's pride and joy! Looking down the road I see that when Grandma no longer hosts Thanksgiving (perish the thought!), my mom will take over, and only after that will I really get to test my Thanksgiving mettle. But while I get to take the backseat, I'm delighted to be surrounded by such wonderful cooks! Grandma's gravy is legendary, and my Mom is always shaking things up in fun and unexpected ways.

This is my first Thanksgiving away from my own family, as we will be with my husband's family this year. I had been dreading it -- tradition is so entrenched in my little soul, and giving up the holiday with my parents and brother feels heavily like a betrayal -- but times, they are a-changing. My brother is heading to Baltimore to be with his girlfriend, and as a grown-up girl, I know that spending every holiday with my family would hurt my husband terribly. And I want to have good memories with Preston's family. We made great strides last weekend, when I undertook the adventure of riding all together to a wedding in Denver with Preston's parents, two siblings plus spouses, two unruly young boys and two babies in a fifteen passenger van. Now I feel so much more at home with my "new" family. (Doesn't sound like much fun, but I had a blast!)

I may be asked to bring a side or some-such to the upcoming festivities, and I will do my best to deliver something super-amazing. (If not a side, then perhaps a dessert -- check out this recipe for the perfect pumpkin pie.) Maybe this Potato-Fennel Gratin that I'm DYING to try.

I don't love fennel seed as a spice, but the bulb has a lovely light flavor and texture that would lend a freshness to your standard potato gratin. Sounds amazing, no?

Potato-Fennel Gratin
from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.
Grease a 10x15" baking dish.
Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise, making approximately 4 cups of sliced fennel. Saute the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender.
Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them (by hand or with a mandoline). Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyère, salt, and pepper. Add the sauteed fennel and onion and mix well.
Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and 1/2 cup of Gruyère and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.

1 comment :

  1. You know, I'm in your shoes about cooking Thanksgiving dinner. This year we are spending Thanksgiving with Z's Dad and his wife cooks such yummy food! But I had a turkey and wanted to see if I could handle cooking a turkey dinner all by myself... making it yummy and managing the crunch-time cooking so everything was hot. I invited the neighbors and Mr. Neighbor is an aspiring cook so the pressure was ON! Anyway, it turned out pretty well, only messed up a bit on my veggie dish and they couldn't tell.
    You are a MUCH better cook than I am so I'm sure that when the time comes, I will wish I was eating at your dinner, it will be so good!


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