Editor’s Note: Good morning readers! Today we are lucky to introduce you to another new OBE foodie addition. Food photographer and at-home gourmet Christine Buchholz’s column focused on savory – dare we even say gourmet – kid-friendly recipes launches today. Her first recipe is sure to please those tiny people in your life and give you an easy dinner option for those days where cooking is the last thing on your mind. Enjoy. Here she is:
You know those days where you and your kid(s) are sick and you cannot muster up the energy to leave the house to get a couple groceries, let alone make something other than macaroni and cheese or too salty chicken noodle soup from the package? Welcome to my week.
My head cold combined with wonderful seasonal allergies has lasted way too long, and now my young son has a runny nose and all that goes with it. I was hoping to embark on a seafood, turnip and kale odyssey, but those dishes would require ingredients from the docks and the market and I would have to look slightly presentable. Not an option. I can’t seem to get out of my pajamas.
So I’m taking a trip to my cold storage. There are always a couple of fun things hiding out in my garage that could be made into something interesting. I don’t have a lot to choose from anymore, seeing that it’s spring, my winter garden has been picked over and my root vegetable bin is close to empty. I find a couple of not so pretty but still good potatoes and a butternut squash wedged in behind some of my canning from the fall. And that’s it! It’s an amazing thing when you are able to grow, keep and enjoy these root vegetables all winter long.
As I rummage through my kitchen I come across a couple more good things – a handful of seasoned bread crumbs, a couple remnant blocks of cheese, a bit of cream and a bit of vegetable stock. This has all the makings of a delicious and easy gratin.
The great thing about gratins are that they can be made out of almost anything – celery root, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, potatoes, squash – whatever is in season or whatever you have lying around. Add some flavor and texture with onions or leeks and cheese and breadcrumbs, and that’s it. Its pretty much just layered vegetable with yummy stuff baked on top.
As luck would have it, my husband bought me a mandoline slicer for Christmas, a priceless little tool for gratins. A mandoline will cut your time (pun definitely intended!) down 10 minutes at least. Just make sure to use the hand guard (I’m sure you can google some results)! Otherwise, a sharp knife will do the trick.
I’m happy to say that after making this gratin I feel better. Better because I’ve made something yummy and delicious, better because the yellow sunshiny squash brightened my day and better because I realize how great boring root vegetables can be.
So grab your mandoline, or a knife, and get to it!
Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin
- 4-6 medium white potatoes,
- 1 medium butternut squash,
- 1 small yellow onion,
- 2 – 4 cups approx grated cheese (I used a mix of gruyere, farmers and parmesan),
- salt and pepper,
- fresh thyme, chopped (or dried if that’s all you have),
- 1/2 cup chicken stock,
- 3/4 cup cream,
- good handful of breadcrumbs, and
- Butter a baking dish, approx 8” by 11” and turn your oven to 350 F.
- Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice the potatoes and the peeled butternut squash, about 1/8th of an inch. Very thinly slice the onion. (Again, use the hand guard, please!)
- Start with a layer of potatoes, using about half the pile, overlapping to cover the bottom of your dish a couple of times. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add a layer of onions, half the pile and, if you want, add a layer of cheese – just a bit.
- Now layer on the butternut squash. Use it all. Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of fresh thyme.
- Add the rest of the onion and another small layer of cheese.
- Layer on the rest of the potatoes. You should have used up all the vegetables by this point. Season with salt and pepper and a bit of thyme.
- Add the chicken stock and cream to the dish. It should come up close to the potatoes.
- Add the rest of the cheese, more if you want, and throw the breadcrumbs on top.
- Bake for an hour or so until the top is golden and bubbly. If it browns too fast, put a piece of foil on top.
Note: Remember, you can substitute almost any vegetable for the potatoes and squash. Young kids can help with layering and seasoning. This is a great “warm up” meal on its own, with a salad or it can be used as a side to a protein. And, one more time – use the hand guard that came with your mandoline!