Monday, February 06, 2006


Potato Fennel Gratin

Oh my dear ones, how does this beautiful day find you? Thankfully, my champagne induced hangover has worn off (praised BE) and I am back to my own chipper self, but let me tell you, I had a few hard lessons this weekend, and I am compelled to share.

First, if you want a quality champagne (as in, sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France) go to a fine liquor store, but remember to bring your wallet. Should you be like me, and show up at the store without one, and without a charge account at that store, you will be (as I was) decidedly out of luck, leading you to the worst case scenario solution…a frantic stop into the exceedingly well-lit joint known as BevMo. Oh DEAR from BevMo. (Insert head shaking) You see kids, BevMo is all kinds of good if you are seeking commonplace wines and beers galore (though I prefer Cost Plus for interesting beers and pretty much anyplace else on earth for wine) at a deep discount, making it the ideal one-stop-shop if you are walletless and actually DO have an expense account there (which, thanks to my clever last minute claim that my dear friend The Ombudsman – who does have an account there – and I are really one and the same. An interesting ploy since I am 1. not male 2. had no id to back that up, and 3. had no idea what my phone number, address or account number was.) you can pick up a bottle of bubbly, so long as your price point (for a chilled bottle) is (Gasp) under $50, since their normal patrons tend to shop lift more expensive bottles. The manager told me that. Twice. Excellent promotion of their quality store, don’t you agree? Nothing says happy times like being surrounded by low end liquor and possible thieves. Charming stuff I say.

Joyfully, the bottle I did procure was delightful, dry and drinkable (It was Veuve Clicquot I seem to recall. Well, in my fervor I remember grabbing a bottle with a yellow label) and the company I drank it with made it that much better. The hang over cannot be blamed on the drink I should point out, but may have been due to the lack of food (other than some outright delectible caviar. Mmm. Salty) or the late night addition of several dirty martinis, but hey, it was all in the name of fun, and my lesson was learned. Namely, don't forget your wallet and even if you do have it, always check and see if a friend (who won't freak out) has a charge account! Hee.

So if you are like me, and find yourself in a similar day-after situation, you are going to need something starchy and divine to settle your stomach after such debauchery. I strongly urge you to try this gratin. The fennel is the perfect solution to an upset tum and the protein in the eggs is good for readjusting your chi. The results are smooth, and creamy, mellow and earthy and altogether fantasticness. Trust me. It's a great cure. Its also good pretty much any other time too! So please do try this, and enjoy.

4 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 large bulb fennel, sliced thin
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, grated
Tiny pinch of nutmeg
White pepper and salt
Butter, 1 teaspoon melted
2 slices day old bread
Dried herbs to taste

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Crumble the day old bread and toss with some melted butter (and the herbs) to coat. Season with some salt and pepper and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cheese, nutmeg, pepper and salt.

In a well buttered, oven proof dish, (that holds about 3 cups) layer the potato and fennel, pouring on some of the egg mixture until the dish is full.

Top the torte with your bread crumbs, cover with foil and bake on a baking sheet (to catch drips) for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 15 minutes.

Turn on the broiler and finish the torte by letting the top brown.

Remove from the oven, let cool, slice and serve.

Makes enough for 4-6 people


Gratin - A dish that is topped with cheese or breadcrumbs and grilled until golden and crispy.

In the UK , candy makers Cadbury and Masterfoods UK are to place the message ‘Be Treatwise’ on all of their confectionery products, in a response to calls for health labeling. The voluntary move is part of an attempt by confectionery companies to stave off anti-obesity laws as proposed by consumers and some legislators. Food manufacturers and retailers, along with the Institute of Grocery Distribution issued a voluntary code last November in an attempt to pre-empt moves by the Food Standards Agency to impose a rule on health labeling.– Food Navigator

On Feb. 6th A 100-pound woman ate 26 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes winning the World Grilled Cheese Eating Championship. Sonya Thomas won $8,000 US for the contest at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Times Square in NYC on Wednesday but said she was disappointed in her performance. "I could have done better," she said, adding that she was aiming for 30 sandwiches.

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That potato gratin sounds wonderful!

I heard that woman soaked those sandwhiches in water before eating them. Not so wonderful.
In water? Sounds...soggy. LOL
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