Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wishing for Snow + Potato-Fennel Gratin

When I get my act together in the morning and actually wake up before I must, the whole day feels lucky. In a perfect world, every one would be like today.

Peter brought me coffee in bed and I read for a while before throwing my robe on, plugging in my twinkle lights and doing the Reverb10 prompt for the day. Snow was falling softly outside, and I was thinking about how my recent eyelash wishes actually came true.  Do you wish on your stray eyelashes?  It's kind of a silly habit. But for the past week or so I've been wishing for snow, and there is now a light dusting covering the backyard!

In reality, these mornings happen about once a week (except for the snow falling softly part!).  But when they do, magic, I tell you!

Anyways! I really wanted to tell you about this gratin from last night. It's potato fennel from Ina Garten. I usually like fennel in salad or risotto, so I was curious about this recipe that has you saute the fennel until caramelized before layering it into the gratin. Like cooking a radish, that really takes the bite out of the fennel, turning it into this soft, lightly anise flavored pile of awesome. Highly recommended.

Potato-Fennel Gratin, based on Ina Gartin's recipe

You will need:
1 large fennel bulb
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 large potatoes (I like Yukon Gold, but Ina calls for Russet!)
1 cup cream
1 cup grated cheese (Gruy√®re would be great; I used a combo of cheddar and Parm)
1 teaspoon rosemary and thyme, if you have them
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 10-by-15 inch baking dish.
Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice. Saute the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender and just barely caramelized.
Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them by hand or with a mandoline. Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with cream, cheese (reserve about a handful), herbs, salt, and pepper. Add the sauteed fennel and onion and mix well.
Pour the potato mixture into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Sprinkle the reserved handful of cheese on top. Bake covered with foil for for 1 hour, and then 15 minutes uncovered until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.


  1. Yes! I wish on stray eyelashes (and on 11:11)!! :)

    And... that recipe sounds delicious!! I am going to have to try it out!!

  2. Sam, I wish on 11:11, too! Also 12:34 because it's such a great time. Never hurts to wish more often!


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