Foodiva's Kitchen: Bruce Lee and the Amazing Technicolor Gratin

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bruce Lee and the Amazing Technicolor Gratin

Update: This gratin made the Top 9 on Foodbuzz. Thank you for all the love-buzzes and more importantly, for stopping by with your kindest words about the loss of our Bruce Lee. I have the best friends, readers and followers!

The plan was to make this gratin completely potato-filled, but I couldn't get hold of regular (orange) sweet potatoes so I added carrots instead. Then the dilemma came up as to whether I should call this a potato gratin because of the presence of the carrots. Well, at least I can call it pretty, yes, that's it... a pretty, colorful sidekick to any entrĂ©e on a plate.

When I made this, I also ran out of fresh herbs (yes, it was one of those blaaah, bland days in the pantry), but if I'd had some, I would've sprinkled oregano or thyme along with the cheese and imagined this creamy gratin would've tasted even better than it already did.

Anyway, I do have to warn you that the hardest part about making this dish is the slicing involved. If you don't have a mandoline and you plan to make this, perhaps now's the time to invest in one! The vegetables have to be thin enough for the layers to sit together comfortably and elegantly. I alternated rows of carrots, regular potatoes and purple sweet potatoes until I reached the end of the baking pan. The pieces of chopped garlic at the bottom of the dish, hidden underneath all the potatoes, carrots, cream and cheese, provided the lovely savory flavor.

As soon as the dish came out of the oven, it dawned on me that the color of the purple sweet potatoes had surrepticiously seeped out and tainted the whole gratin slightly lilac. Oh well, it was still pretty and more importantly, tasted pretty darn good!

I know that the kids in this house will read this blog someday and because of that, I wanted to give a special mention of our beautiful, white cat. He died last night after a bout of illness, leaving the kids (and adults) distraught. He had only been with us for a little less than six months but even when we'd first brought him into our household, he was already a sickly little fellow. The kids adored him completely and on his good days, he eagerly awaited their return from school so they could play with him. Other than that, he was my constant companion in the kitchen, curling up quietly in the warmest spot on the rug. He was such a well-behaved cat, a complete anomaly in our experience with felines so far.

We named him Bruce Lee, perhaps subconciously wishing that he would be as strong as his superstar namesake. Like his namesake though, his passing was untimely. A million trips (it was a lot) to the vet couldn't fix what was raging inside his tiny broken body and when he finally took his last breath, he was wrapped in warm blankets, ironically, in the kitchen. This morning we buried Bruce Lee in our garden, under the shade of one of our many fruit trees. Before they left for school, the children picked some colorful tropical flowers to place carefully upon his burial site.

The house suddenly seems so quiet today. Yes, we're totally missing him.

Our beautiful Bruce Lee, RIP.

Technicolor Gratin with Potatoes, Carrots and Purple Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 4 to 6 people
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Unsalted butter, for baking dish
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced finely with a mandoline
1 large purple sweet potato, peeled and sliced finely with a mandoline
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced finely with a mandoline
Sea salt and pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Handful of shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Butter the inside of an ovenproof dish, around 12 x 8.5-inch, and at least 6cms deep. Rub dish with 2 halves of one garlic clove. Dice the garlic and place them at the bottom of the dish; set aside.
2. In a pot, heat the milk and heavy cream. Add the pinch of nutmeg and remaining garlic, which has been finely diced. Bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat.
3. Tightly arrange the potato and carrot slices inside the dish, alternating between 1 layer of potatoes, purple sweet potatoes and carrot. Repeat until you run out of ingredients.
4. Pour the milk/cream batter over the vegetables – mixture should cover the vegetables. Season with sea salt and pepper. Top with the grated Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake the gratin for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is a golden color. When the mixture bubbles while it is being baked, purple color will seep from the purple sweet potatos and the gratin will take on a lilac hue. Serve warm as a side dish.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. We get so attached to our four-legged loved ones... At least he was very loved and cared for by your family. He was lucky to have you.

Magic of Spice said...

I am so sorry for you and your families loss...he was very beautiful and sounds like a joy. You can see how loved he was.
This is such a great dish, very colorful and I am sure quite flavorful.

Foodiva said...

Thank you, Rocio and Alisha, your kind, kind words are very much appreciated. The support and kindness of other bloggers are more than I ever expected when I started this blog. It's truly a blessing!

Michael Toa said...

I am so sorry for you and your family loss. What a beautiful cat... Please accept my deep sympathy.
The gratin looks wonderful. love the colours.

Carolyn said...

I am so sorry for your sweet kitty. We had two that we had to put down within two months of each other last year. It was hard for all of us.
Love your technicolour gratin! Just beautiful.

Jennifurla said...

Great idea, everything you make is gorgeous. I am definiely going to layers colors next time!

Jennifurla said...

Also, please excuse me for not mentioning Bruce lee..What a gorgeous cat, I am so glad you were able to take care of him if only for a short time. Hugs

Foodiva said...

Michael, Carolyn & Jen, thanks and hugs. The three of you are incredibly talented in the kitchen, and now I find out, are incredibly caring people too. It's wonderful to be surrounded by the 'lights' of this world!

Cake Duchess said...

Oh sweetie-I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your gorgeous kitty. Pets are like children. We have two dogs and I get teary-eyed sometimes when I see their new grey hairs.

This gratin is gorgeous. The colors are AMAZING! hugs from me!

Koci said...

This gratin look so gorgeous! I love those purple sweet potatoes!

I also want to pass on my condolences for little Bruce Lee. Pets really do become a part of the family and I'm sure that he'll be missed. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Kimberly Peterson said...

Very pretty gratin indeed! And carrots are just as good as sweet potatoes, no need to rename, haha.

Really sorry for your loss. Bruce Lee looked so cute.. RIP Bruce Lee xoxo.

Terra said...

Congrats on making the Top 9!!! Love your picture, sounds amazing:) I always include pictures of my animals too, your kitty is adorable!!

Take Care,

Foodiva said...

Lora, the grey hairs on your dogs sound endearing and I can totally understand how seeing them can invoke misty-eyedness :-(. Thank you for your sweet hugs.

Koci, thank you for taking the time to leave your kind thoughts.

Kimberly, a gratin by any other vegetable is still a gratin, right? ;-)

Terra, thanks for coming by. I'm going to check out your blog now for those animal pics and recipes!

Velva said...

I am really sorry to hear about Bruce Lee-What a beautiful cat.

Your technicolor gratin rocks! What a wonderful layer of flavors. I think the carrots was a nice addition. Love the beets too.

Just discovered your blog. I am also your newest follower.


Anonymous said...

Oh My God I LOVE THIS! So much inspiration on foodbuzz! I love the combination. Can't wait to try it! I might mess around with using a lower fat or nondairy milk and cheese just cause I can't help it. YAY!

briarrose said...

Beautiful. I love the colors.

Spicie Foodie said...

Maya, I'm so sorry about the passing of your little Bruce Lee. He was so beautiful and so loved, my heart goes out to you and your family.

Your gratin is looks delicious and the colors are just beautiful.

Victoria said...

Maya, I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. Losing a pet is very difficult, even after a few months, you get so attached. I hope your kids are handling it okay. Your gratin is lovely, and I'm sure the perfect bit of comfort when it's needed most.

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

Sad about Bruce but happy to see your spectacular gratin. Exquisite taste I'm sure. I've got to make something with purple potatoes soon to add great color to my food. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

Foodiva said...

Thank you everyone, my family and I will treasure your kind thoughts always. In a way, the passing of Bruce Lee is a good life lesson for the kids not to ever take anything or anyone for granted, and that life should be lived to the fullest.

Trix said...

Oh, I am SO sorry. What a beautiful boy he was. I love my cats so much (they have been such a comfort since the passing of my dog) and know too well how different and changed a house feels when they're gone, no matter how long or short of a time they were with us. At least he had so much love in his short life.

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