Three Cheese Root Vegetable Gratin

Thanksgiving week is upon us! I can’t contain my excitement!! My husband, Joshua, just returned home after almost 5 months of traveling to potential residency programs. Finally having him back means I have to start cooking for him again… but I could not be happier about it!!! Life is moving, fast. The older I get, the more real that becomes. Am I right? One day at a time, always. I am doing my best to slow down and enjoy each thing life throws at me. Big and small. Good and bad. All things work together for our good.

My wonderful friends at Sur la Table asked me to shoot a gratin recipe this month. I’ve always wanted to make one of these. All those crispy, cheesy layers. I’ve been itching to use my mandolin and this beautiful Staub pan. We made it happen! This gratin has everything going for it: three root veggies, three cheeses, all together perfect. Boring mashed potatoes, step aside.

Serves 6-8

  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pound large parsnips, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ½ teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the butter over the bottom and sides of a 2-quart gratin dish.
  2. In a large heavy pan, combine the milk, cream, salt, thyme, garlic and pepper. Place over medium heat and stir for 3 minutes, or until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Add the Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips. Stir to coat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes are partially cooked. Remove from the heat.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer half the vegetables to the gratin dish. Sprinkle with half each of the Gruyère, cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Add the remaining vegetables. Use two forks to arrange the top layer of potatoes in a slightly overlapping design, evenly distributing the different-colored potatoes. Ladle the hot cream mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle with all of the remaining cheeses.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a knife and the gratin is bubbling and golden. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing.

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Summer Cheese Board

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Happy Memorial Day! I’d like to tell you I’m currently lounging in the pool, sipping on a cold drink atop a float in the shape of a pineapple…but that simply would not be true.

I hope you are getting your fix of R&R this weekend. Believe it or not, my favorite thing to do with some extra time off is clean. Organize and clean. De-cludder, de-stress. They go hand in hand. Ever since I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve felt an urge to purge. To rid myself of the unnecessary “stuff.” I’ve always loved purging, but this book gave me a whole new outlook on it. Things I had been hoarding became easier to say goodbye to. It became more simple to let go of the things that did not bring me real joy. Organized home, organized life!

I’ve decided to curate a cheese board each season, starting with summer. Memorial Day, the un-offical official start! I could eat cheese and charcuterie every single night for dinner. It just never gets boring. Why? Because there are endless combinations and configurations and ways to make each bite different and exciting. Textures and flavors, salty and sweet, soft and crunchy. There are countless ways to adapt to your tastes, offering a new experience with each little pick and taste.

For the summer edition, I centered everything around a cheese I recently discovered: French Brie with Garlic & Herbs. Brie is wonderful all on its own. The addition of the dried herbs takes it to level 2, with new depth and freshness that wasn’t there before. Creamy and dreamy. From there, I selected an assortment of fruits, nuts, and meats that say summer to me. I can personally guarantee that if you show up to any gathering with this in toe (don’t forget a bottle of Riesling, chilled) you will be the instant life of the party. No questions asked. Get on it!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

  • Fresh burrata
  • French brie with garlic & herbs
  • Extra sharp cheddar
  • Black pepper salami
  • Prosciutto di Parma
  • Dried apricots
  • Red grapes
  • Blackberries
  • Sesame breadsticks
  • Black pepper water crackers
  • Parmesan crips
  • Walnuts
  1. Leave cheese and meats out at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to board assembly.
  2. Arrange cheeses, meats and remaining ingredients as you see fit. There is no wrong or right way in my book! Place things next to each other that you want your guest to experience together.
  3. Pair with chilled Riesling.

Walnut Basil Pesto Pizza

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

One of my biggest kitchen struggles has been good pizza crust. I have an old gas oven (love it) but my crusts had time after time come out soggy. I tried a pizza stone but to my despair, it left all crusts limp. All I want is some crispy, browned bottomed crust! Too much to ask? I tried my faithful cookie sheet and I think that was 50% of the crispy battle. This lovely pizza dough recipe comes from the amazing Andrea Bemis’s new cookbook, Dishing Up The Dirt!!! So excited for this girl! Get yourself a copy. It’s a treat for the eyes and the stomach. It makes my heart so happy to see her in her element, getting down and dirty with real food. She’s seriously inspired me to live on a farm. I will have chickens one day or my name isn’t Cuoco!

This crust is super!! Thin and crisp. It’s almost focaccia-like. My favorite part is that you can do it all from the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook, so there’s little to no mess. All you need is time! While the dough is rising you can get other tasks done, so don’t worry. Look at you go, you multi-tasker! Own it. Be wonder woman in the kitchen and don’t let anything scare you. Thank you Andrea for this tasty dough recipe!!! Congratulations, lady! #DishingUpTheDirt #DUTD

Yield: A little less than 2 pounds of dough, enough for 2 large thin crusts

For the Dough:

  • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water, more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
  • 1-1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For the Pesto & Cheese topping:

  • 1-1/2 cups packed basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • wild arugula
  1. In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and sugar in water warmed to 110 F. Give it a good stir. Proof for 10 minutes or until frothing.
  2. Mix in the salt, olive oil, and the flours until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment and knead it on low for 6 minutes. If the dough appears too dry, drizzle 2 tablespoons more water.
  3. Rinse out the large bowl, pat it dry, drizzle it with oil, and use a bowl to rub the oil all over the bowl. Return the dough to the large bowl and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Transfer the dough back to you stand missed and knead it on low for 3 minutes.
  5. Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover it with the damp towel, and set it aside to rise for an additional hour, or until it has doubled in size again.
  6. Slice the dough in half. Freeze one half for a rainy day! (see note below). Take the half you’re going to use and roll thinly onto a oiled baking sheet.
  7. Add basil, olive oil, walnuts, parmigiana region, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Grind until smooth, about 30 seconds. Taste it… devious all on it’s own! Spoon half of the mixture onto the pizza and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 500 F for 10 minutes. Top with wild arugula and serve.

*Be sure to transfer your frozen dough to the refrigerator the morning before you plan to use it. Remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you make your pizza so the dough can come to room temperature.

Dough recipe (Chesua’a Perfect Pizza Dough) is from Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up The Dirt, 2017. Pesto recipe is from Saveur Magazine.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

These are a staple on my family’s table. Mushrooms have that wonderful earthy, deep flavor. Organic white caps are perfect for stuffing. I love a good drizzle of olive oil and a light stuff with cheese, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. The more cheese, the merrier. Roasted nice and long so that the cheese and crumbs become crispy and golden brown. You can’t have just one.

When it comes to stuffed mushrooms, I like to keep it simple. I’m not into stuffing with crab or extra fluff. Let the mushroom shine. They’ll steal the show.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Servings: 24 mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 24 large mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I prefer a 50% parmesan, 50% pecorino blend)
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella for topping
  1. Clean mushrooms under running water to remove all dirt. Carefully remove stems from mushrooms and chop stems.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt butter and add garlic. Add chopped mushroom stems and saute until lightly brown. Add parsley stir, and remove from heat.
  3. Add cheese and stir to combine. Add bread crumbs, stirring until mixture is crumbly.
  4. Lightly fill each mushroom cap with the sauteed mixture, but don’t pack too tightly.
  5. Set on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400F degrees for about 24 minutes (if they’re smaller caps, check them after 20 minutes).

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin

4Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

This pleasant little dish is all the decadence you want from “macaroni and cheese” without the macaroni. Sub in roasted cauliflower for a gluten-free, vegetarian version. I was also so excited to use these little baking dishes– scored for $2/ea at a consignment shop. Oven-to-table cookware is the best! Cauliflower is such a nice vegetable. The smell of roasting it in salt, pepper and garlic is incredible. Alright: can we pause for a second and talk about gruyere? A Swiss cheese made from whole cow’s milk, it has a pale-yellow color and is wonderfully rich and creamy. It is perfect for melting and often used in fondue. It’s got a great little bite to it which I love. It’s not a exactly an everyday item (I’ve splurged at $19.99/lb for a the smallest block I could possibly find) but, when I have it in the kitchen I could eat it slice after slice till the block is gone. This is a bit like a casserole side dish, but would also make a nice lunch portion. It’s time to get steamy…close your eyes and picture this: you pour that gorgeous melted, creamy cheese over the roasted cauliflower and watching it seep into every nook and cranny. Then, you bake it until the top is browned and the cheese is hot and bubbly. If this doesn’t get your mouth watering I don’t know what will!! Don’t get me wrong: I’m a girl who loves her American mac and cheese. But I’m also a girl who loves roasted vegetables and fancy cheeses. The combo fulfils that guilty pleasure of eating a comforting mac and cheese, but guess what? Zero guilt. Eat your veggies, kids! No one ever said you couldn’t smother them in cheese.


Yield: 4-6 servings (depending on portion) — Prep time: 20 minutes — Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (panko, plain or Italian)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower, olive oil, salt, thyme, and pepper. Place onto a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, then roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 375 F degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.  Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the flour to the pan and stir constantly with a whisk for 1-2 minutes, or until the flour begins to turn golden. Pour the milk into the saucepan, continuing to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the nutmeg and gruyère cheese, reserving a 1/2 cup for topping.
  3. Spoon a little bit of the sauce into the bottom of a 2 quart glass baking dish (I filled four 6″ oven-to-table dishes). Pour the cauliflower into the dish and top with the remaining sauce. Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and the breadcrumbs. Spread evenly over the top and sprinkle with a little salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  4. Bake in the 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from The Two Bite Club & Ina Garten, www.foodnetwork.com

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