Thursday, 18 March 2010

Flexible gratin

So I made it to Waitrose in the end and actually had a pretty nice time. I stopped to look at a cookbook I always see there, which is called "Do-Ahead Dishes for the Dinner Party Diva" or something. I had always thought it looked like my least favourite kind of cookbook - swirly cartoon drawings of stick-thin women on the front and then crappy boring recipes for roast chicken and salad dressings on the inside.

But actually, it was quite good. I flicked through and happened to land on a recipe for Pork and Ginger potstickers, which sound from the description like little Chinese dumpling things, which I've always been curious about. So, to hell with it, I thought - this book can't be that bad and I tossed it into my trolley.

Anyway, back to lunch. I decided to make a gratin. I love making gratins because they are a way of eating a meal consisting of mostly vegetables without wanting to hang yourself. I'm not one of those girls who thinks that fat and dairy are bad for you. I eat no processed food, nor do I often eat meals where carbohydrate is the focus (pasta, baked potato, rice), so I feel blithely entitled to cover everything I do eat in cream and cheese, fat and salt.

This particular gratin was a variation of one in Nigel Slater's Tender. He describes it as being a white cabbage gratin with cheese and mustard, although he then forgets to include the mustard in the recipe or the method. But it's okay, I forgave him. I'm not so mojo-less that I can't add a bit of mustard to a damned white sauce.

My take on Nigel's gratin was white cabbage based, but also included spinach, mushrooms and a lot of chopped up left over roast chicken covered with a pecorino/parmesan cheese sauce and topped off with two generous handfuls of breadcrumbs.

So, here we go:
1 pointed cabbage
6 chestnut mushrooms, chopped
2 large handfuls of spinach
chopped up leftover roast chicken (or anything if you have it and not if not)
pecorino and parmesan
salt and pepper
2 large handfuls breadcrumbs
enough white sauce to cover the lot. Have we talked about white sauce? I kind of assume that if I can make it, anyone can - but if you can't, just shout.

1 - Boil the cabbage for 2 mins in salted water
2 - melt some butter in a pan and briskly toss round the chopped mushrooms and spinach until wilted but not totally surrendered
2- Make up a white sauce, using about 300ml of milk and then throw in a very large handful of chopped or grated pecorino and two large pinches of parmesan, salt, pepper and some cream if you've got it
3 - Add a level teaspoon of dijon mustard and stir until the cheese has melted
4 - spread the cabbage out on the bottom of a gratin dish, then arrange over that the spinach and mushrooms, then over that the chicken if using, then the white sauce and finally the breadcrumbs.
5 - shove in a 180C oven for 20-25 mins


    I've had several disasters trying to make it in my horrible student flat.
    Foolproof suggestion please!

  2. EGADS! This won't do. I'm doing a post right now.