Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrsates it! I've been home for 2 days now and have some dishes cookig up in the oven, but I'm blogging to you about my little extra "weekend" in London.London's a good place to get stuck for 3 days, I must say. Once the British Airways clerk made a new reservation for me for Saturday (3 days after my arrival), I resigned myself, relaxed and decided to do a little tourism. Here you see Big Ben not really covered in fog... This was my breathtaking view just as I walked up from the Westminster underground stop. Sadly for me, Westminster Abbey and Parliament were closed to tourism for the Christmas holidays (re-opening after Epiphany, January 8th). So, I spent my two tourist days between the British Museum, Harrods, fish and chip shops and Indian restaurants on Brick Lane.

Here, you think you're seeing the famous and remarkably well-preserved bust of Egyptian pharaoh, Ramses II, but in actual fact, I took no photos in the British Museum, this is actually a bust of Mohammed Al Fayed, the father of Dodi Al Fayed, Princess Diana's last boyfriend, done up on Ancient Egyptian style. It sits at the top of the most elaborate Art Deco/Egyptian Revival style escalator anyone's ever seen. The escalator is reminiscent of "The Egyptian Theater" in my old college town of DeKalb, IL. They're both, I believe products of the 1930s. As far as Mr. Al Fayed is concerned, first I laughed out loud because it really is an incongruous thing to see his chubby, cute, obviously not ancient face on that bust, but then I was taken aback by his apparent narcissism. I mean, who does this guy fancy himself to be, anyway? There's a life-sized and lifelike Duane Hansen-style sculpture of him somewhere on the ground floor as well.

Now, as far as Indian food on Brick Lane is concerned. Don't bother. I had one mediocre meal of Chicken Masala there and another meal of paneer masala that was just awful. I hear that Southall, near Heathrow airport is a larger neighborhood, more diverse in its offerings and has better quality food. I'll remember that for next time.

Fish and Chips. Got some cod and chips wrapped in paper to go in some anonymous corner chippy and the fish was gorgeous, tender, super crispy on the outside and all-around heavenly. The chips were a sorry, hours-old, mushy mess. So the next day I googled "best fish and chips in London" and found Brady's in Wandsworth. It was a hike and a half from the East Putney underground stop. When I got there I found a lovely sit-down restaurant full of apparent locals. Got the fried haddock and chips and was underwhelmed. The chips were certainly better than the ones the day before but not very crispy (my benchmark) and the fish was a bit drier on the inside and less crispy on the outside than the corner chippy. So, the moral of the story is: get a personal reference both for Indian food and for fish and chips.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Surprise!! I'm in London!!!

Hi everybody. I was flying from Milan back home to Chicago with a 2 hour layover in London. Funny thing about London, as a city known for fog, it (we) is (are) experiencing a bit of foggy trouble. Airplanes have been able to arrive and depart at about 50% for the past 3 days. As I type there are thousands of stranded citizens of the world camping out at Heathrow and (I imagine Gatwick too) waiting just to go home. My 2 hour layover turned into a 3-day mini-vacation. I've decided to chuck the camping out and be a tourist for the time being. I head home on Saturday, that is if that flight isn't also cancelled. (AAAHHH!!!) So please pray for sun, pray for wind, 'cause I'd love to be back home before Santa comes down the chimney.

Note especially to June and a.c.t. or anyone else in/near London now: I'm at the Premier Travel Inn in Kew Bridge (sorry, have no number for that, but) if either/any of you wants to get lunch or dinner from now until Friday night, try calling the hotel.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Swiss Fondue Dinner

On Sunday, we had a great dinner party to celebrate 1.) Gabriel’s birthday earlier this week and 2.) the 404-year-old Geneva celebration called L'Escalade.

It was a very Swiss affair. We had 8 people and served them 2 cheese-filled fondue pots, the authentic Swiss “fendant” wine to go with, a veggie tray and a meat tray including the very Swiss “viande des Grisons” or “viande sechee” (which are dried, cured beef thinly sliced and similar to Italy's bresaola). Then for dessert, we smashed and ate two chocolate “marmittes” filled with marzipan veggies. Boy did my stomach hurt by the end - this is not for the faint of heart, or appetite!

Fondue Ingredients for 8 hungry people (or halve this recipe to serve 4 hungry people):
2 medium garlic cloves, sliced thin
3 cups dry white wine such as Swiss Fendant
1 pound of shredded Gruyere cheese
½ pound shredded Emmentaler cheese (the Swiss cheese with the holes)
½ pound of Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 tsp kirsch (actually we used grappa and it worked really well)

Fondue accompaniments:
Lots of crusty bread, cubed
1 cup tiny gherkin pickles (the vinegary kind, NOT sweet and sour)
an assortment of cured meats such as: (in the photo, starting clockwise at 6:00, culatello, prosciutto, salami, “viande sechee” and cooked ham.)
an assortment of crudité vegetables (in this photo you see carrots starting clockwise at 9:00, puntarelle, endive, fennel, radicchio, celery)

First place half the sliced garlic in each fondue pot. Add 1 ½ cups of wine to each pot and bring to a light simmer (not boiling, just a bubble or two coming to the surface every once in a while). Stir the cornstarch and kirsch or grappa together in a small cup, reserve. Mix the 3 types of shredded cheese together and slowly add them to the pots, little by little. Make sure the stove is at medium heat. As you add the cheese, stir in a figure 8 pattern rather than in a circle. This keeps the cheese from forming a ball in the middle of the pot. Once you have added all the cheese, stir to incorporate everything in a smooth, uniform consistency about 6-7 minutes. Then transfer to your heated fondue pot stand and enjoy!

One tip for guests: You have to WORK at this dinner! Every time someone dips a piece of bread on their long fork into the cheese, they must stir (again, figure 8, not circle) to keep the sauce going. You don’t want to burn the bottom. When the cheese is almost all eaten, the remaining layer at the bottom will “fry” (or sound like it’s frying) and turn a rich, medium brown color. This is the delicious “religieuse” (nun) probably named after the color of certain nuns’ habits. Once browned, it should be scooped out of the bottom of the pot and can be shared by any guest who loves rich, crispy cheese.

L’Escalade: Our dessert consisted of two chocolate pots emblazoned with Geneva's crest and full of “vegetables” fashioned out of marzipan. Every December 12th, Genevans celebrate their city’s victory over the forces of Savoy in 1602. Legend says that late that night, Madame Royaume was making vegetable soup in a huge pot and heard noises below. It was some scouts of the Savoy army. She got scared and dumped the boiling soup, pot and all out the window, on to the heads of the scouts. Those who survived, ran for their lives. Their advance was delayed long enough for the Geneva forces to prepare for the real attack and so they won and maintained their city free from Savoy control.

So, what do we do with the pots today? The oldest and youngest at the table hold fists on top of the pot and say, “Qu'ainsi perissent les ennemis de la Republique” (Thus perish the enemies of the Republic!) and they smash the pot to edible bits. Fun, huh? Music to smash your enemies in effigy by: "We Are the Champions" by Queen.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Italian Farmhouse Cheeses

I have a lot to apologize for. I have made some comments in the past about just how superior French (and French-speaking Swiss) cheeses are to Italian varieties. I even had the nerve to call Italian cheeses “uniformly pleasant and salty”. Talk about killing with faint praise. When I moved to Italy having spent the previous 6 weeks in Paris, I had expected cheese horizons in Milan to be as broad as those in Paris. They are not. This is a calculable fact. I can cite the 30-some Italian DOP cheese varieties but there are 30 French AOC varieties just made from cow's milk. I experienced only 2 cheese epiphanies in Italy: “sweet” gorgonzola and real buffalo mozzarella.
My perspective changed completely last Sunday and I’[m here to make my amends. On an afternoon drive through the country outside Turin (the Susa valley, to be exact) we stumbled upon an Agritourism farmhouse strangely named “Corbusier” (the cheese house is in the photo on the right) where they sold their own cheese. As we opened the door to the unheated cheese storage room, we were punched in the face by the heady, Frenchy, cheesiness of it all. We knew we had come to the right place. There on a huge, wooden table lay about 15 varieties of Tommes, Reblochons, and goats in various stages of ripeness. What you see above are the orange-rinded Reblochon (at 12:00), the "pura capra" (pure goat's milk cheese)at 2:00, a ripened goat cured in grappa at 4:00, a sublimely oozy cow's milk cheese called Paglierina at 6:00, and a cow's milk Toma aged under "vinaccia" (the squooshed grape skins after wine-making at 10:00. You can still see some of the dark grape skins on the rind.

They are as tasty as they are odiferous! In fact we learned on the way home that if you want enough elbow room on a crowded metro, a ripe Reblochon is your friend.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bollito Misto and Potato Gnocchi

When we came back from sightseeing Saturday evening, we found the meats already boiling in a pressure cooker, Claudio already mezzaluna-ing his salsa verde (which in Turin is called "bagnetta verde"-little green bath) and Annalisa elbow deep in potato gnocchi dough.

Here's a quick summary of Claudio's Bagnetta verde:

hard-boiled egg
olive oil

Claudio didn't specify quantities here but did say he added very little garlic so the sauce would be smoother, less punchy. He used the mezzaluna on the first 5 ingredients until he got the paste-like consistency you see here. He then added the last 4 ingredients to taste. The result looked everything like pesto sauce in color and consistency, if that gives you an idea, but tasted very different.
Get a load of this piece of meat! I swear to you it was at least 2 feet wide and 1-1/2 feet tall! Exactly what cuts went into the actual bollito, I'm not sure, except to say veal tongue was one element. All I can say was that ecerything was so tender, when Claudio tried to slice the meat, it fell apart before his knife could cut through anything. Here's a list of meats that would go well in a bollito: beef brisket, chuck, veal rump, stewing hen, cotechino sausage, or any other long boiling-braising meat you know of. The total cooking time is about 4 hours for beef or pork and about 2 for chicken or veal. Italians I know seem not to be interested in the broth that results from boiling these meats along with aromatic vegetables. So unlike with the Spanish "cocido" there is no first course of soup.

What we did have was potato gnocchi with a melted cheese sauce. I learned a couple things while helping Annalisa mane these gnocchi. In a previous recipe, I explained that to get the gnocchi to hold on to as much sauce as possible, you had to draw the tines of a fork across each gnocco. I had done this be putting the piece of dough on the table and pulling a fork across the top of it, thus making a rather flat oval shape with ridges on one side. Annalisa explained to me that gnocchi need not only the fork ridges but also an indentation on the other side made by your thumb. Here's how it works: Put a fork on the table and place a piece of dough on it. With your thumb, press into the dough and roll it down the fork tines. It will roll off the fork and be indented on one side and ridged on the other.

To top off this very satisfying meal, a guest brought Floating Islands (Oeufs a la Neige)! These are whipped egg whites poached in milk and then served with (in this case) a caramel creme anglaise. I have been wanting to make this ever since seeing Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery. The characters in the film made such a big deal of it that I figured Floating Islands were the most sophisticated dessert ever. In Italian they're called something like "peti di signora" (lady's farts) and so the guest who brought these didn't really think they were all that special. They were really tasty, though!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Un Weekend a Torino

This past long weekend, after going to the Sagra dei Obej Obej and doing the La Scala opening night fashion watch, Gabriel and I followed another Milanese tradition, namely leaving town. I swear, going elsewhere is the most Milanese thing to do on weekends. So we visited friends in Turin, the 2006 (well, January, 2006) Olympic capitol! It was sooo beautiful! Many Torinese buildings are Baroque in style (see left). Just by walking around, you get a sense of majesty from the architecture. This is where the old King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel was born. To the right is La Mole, an ex-synagogue (and the tallest building in the world before the Eiffel Tower was erected in 1889) now holds a very entertaining Cinema museum.

The city streets are full of public art and the most recent installations, during the sun-deprived winter months, are related to light. Here you see an entire poem illuminating a sea of shoppers on via Garibaldi. Incidentally, the poem is about escaping noise in a silent forest, a fabulous foil to the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas shopping!

I had never made any connection between Baroque architectural style and Art Nouveau (or its Italian incarnation, "Liberty" style)until I came to Turin. Examples of both styles abound in this city. On the left you have a galleria of shops downtown and on the right, one of many lush bars where you are invited to sip a coffee or a thick, rich "cioccolata", more like a dark chocolate pudding than a hot chocolate. On sale in many of these shops are the famous gianduiotti, (creamy, rich chocolate-ground hazelnut confections). This is NOT a town to be on a diet in.

Tomorrow, we get down to business with a Piedmontese "bollito misto" with gnocchi and a salsa verde.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy St. Ambrose Day!

In Milan, we celebrate the feast day of St. Ambrose, our patron Saint. He was a 4th-century Christian bishop of Milan, which means he came too early to have the pleasure of enjoying this fabulous cathedral. Today, some quite fun things happen:

1. Thousands (or it seems like thousands) flock to the grounds of the church of Sant'Ambrogio (his name in Italian) where they have a very large artisan fair called "Sagra dei Obej Obej" (in Milanese dialect, that's, "Oh beautiful, oh beautiful"). It's a great place to buy Christmas presents if you don't mind hustling and bustling crowds.

2. The elites of the city get to go to La Scala's opening night where this year they are playing Giuseppe Verdi's Aida in all it's ancient Egyptian glory. On TV tonight, we will get an Oscar-like view of all the fancy folks heading into the theater. Have a happy St. Ambrose Day, everybody!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Pinzimonio With Creamy New Umbrian Olive Oil and Winter Vegetable Crudités

Pinzimonio: An appetizer or side dish originating in Rome made of raw vegetables with a simple sauce of the best raw olive oil you can find, salt and pepper and sometimes vinegar. This is typically a summer dish since it’s served cold and needs no cooking. The thing is, the best creamy olive oil comes fresh and virgin from the (cold) presses in November, so I’m turning this into a late fall, early winter dish. The cold weather vegetables here are (starting at 7:00) Belgian endive, Radicchio di Treviso, celery, carrots, puntarelle and fennel.

Anyway, it seems many of you need a boost to your immune systems in this cold weather! I’ve been reading many very sad tales of blog-friends soldiering through their sniffles and worse. The nutritional impact of all these raw veggies in their rainbow of colors (evidently a sign of vitamin and mineral richness) should put your ever-battling immune systems in good stead this holiday season.

Here you have regular extra-virgin olive oil on the left; notice that it is transparent and newly pressed Umbrian olive oil (evoo, of course) on the right. See how much creamier it looks? It stays that way only for a while and Italians prize it's rich flavor and creaminess. (It is a fact that my Greek mother-in-law, thinks they're crazy and actually lets her family house oil rest until all the "sediment" has gone to the bottom and the oil is nice and clear! So to each his own.)

Probably because of it’s price, newly pressed Umbrian olive oil has become a symbol of all that’s wrong with the foodie movement these days, the culinary snobbery of “only the best ingredients will do”, the lack of actual cooking since the theory with this stuff is to “treat it with the respect it deserves” by doing as little as possible to it. I normally have more respect for cooks that can make carrots and potatoes taste really good through good cooking techniques and feel like the “treat great ingredients with respect” school is one step away from making reservations at a good restaurant. But we have Umbrian friends, and so they just brought us some of their good stuff from home recently. To Simone, Carlo and Teresa, this is comfort food. The beauty part for me? The oil was free. The beauty part for you? It’s elegant and really easy to do. And hell, it’s once a year, right?

New, creamy virgin olive oil from Umbria
Salt and pepper to taste
Vinegar (optional. Sherry vinegar if you don’t want sweetness, balsamic if you do; they’re both fab)
Your choice of any seasonal vegetable. Here are some suggestions for December:
Long, thin carrot sticks
Long, thin celery sticks
Long, thin radicchio di Treviso leaves
Long, thin slices of fennel bulb
Catalogna spigata, aka puntarelle (they come in spears)

I chose all raw, finger-food veggies, but you can choose to use forks for dipping and go for more round vegetables like par-boiled broccoli, cauliflower or brussels sprouts. You can serve this at a cocktail party on one large plate with a bowl of the sauce in the center or at the dinner table with small bowls of sauce and cups of tall, stalky veggies beside. The theory behind this is similar to the bagna cauda, which I really recommend for the cold winter nights ahead!

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Top 100 of 1987!

The meme goes like this: get a top 100 hits of the year you graduated high school and mark how you felt about each song. For me, red means I loved it, black means I hate it,blue means I liked it, tan reflects indifference, pink, guilty pleasure, orange, I've never heard of it/can't remember and green hated it then, like it now.

1. "Faith".....George Michael

2. "Alone".....Heart

3. "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" .....Whitney Houston

4. "C'est la Vie".....Robbie Nevil

5. "Shake You Down".....Gregory Abbott

6. "La Bamba".....Los Lobos

7. "Livin' On A Prayer".....Bon Jovi

8. "Here I Go Again".....Whitesnake

9. "Heaven Is A Place On Earth".....Belinda Carlisle

10. "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life".....Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

11. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now".....Starship

12. "I Think We're Alone Now".....Tiffany

13. "With Or Without You".....U2

14. "At This Moment".....Billy Vera and the Beaters

15. "Keep Your Hands To Yourself".....Georgia Satellites

16. "Heart And Soul".....T'Pau

17. "Open Your Heart".....Madonna

18. "Didn't We Almost Have It All".....Whitney Houston

19. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".....U2

20. "Looking For A New Love".....Jody Watley

21. "Don't Dream It's Over".....Crowded House

22. "Is This Love".....Whitesnake

23. "Shake Your Love".....Debbie Gibson

24. "Shakedown".....Bob Seger

25. "Notorious".....Duran Duran

26. "I Want Your Sex".....George Michael

27. "The Lady In Red".....Chris DeBurgh

28. "Always".....Atlantic Starr

29. "Head To Toe".....Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

30. "Mony Mony".....Billy Idol

31. "Only In My Dreams".....Debbie Gibson

32. "Land Of Confusion".....Genesis

33. "Lost In Emotion"....Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

34. "Should've Known Better".....Richard Marx

35. "You Keep Me Hanging On".....Kim Wilde

36. "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)".....Samantha Fox

37. "Lean On Me".....Club Nouveau

38. "Catch Me (I'm Falling)".....Poison

39. "I Knew You Were Waiting".....Aretha Franklin & George Michael

40. "(I Just) Died In Your Arms".....Cutting Crew

41. "Control".....Janet Jackson

42. "Somewhere Out There".....Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram

43. "U Got The Look".....Prince

44. "Don't You Want Me".....Jody Watley

45. "Jacob's Ladder".....Huey Lewis and the News

46. "I Heard A Rumour".....Bananarama

47. "Little Lies".....Fleetwood Mac

48. "Songbird".....Kenny G

49. "Breakout".....Swing Out Sister

50. "Someday".....Glass Tiger

51. "Bad".....Michael Jackson

52. "In Too Deep:.....Genesis

53. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You".....Michael Jackson & Siedah Garrett

54. "La Isla Bonita".....Madonna

cause it was in Spanish

55. "Let's Wait Awhile".....Janet Jackson

56. "Luka".....Suzanne Vega

57. "You Got It All".....The Jets

58. "Who's That Girl".....Madonna

59. "Don't Mean Nothing".....Richard Marx

60. "Come On With Me".....Expose

61. "Will You Still Love Me?".....Chicago

62. "Wanted Dead Or Alive".....Bon Jovi

63. "Don't Disturb This Groove".....The System

64. "Change Of Heart".....Cyndi Lauper

65. "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You".....Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine

66. "Casanova".....Levert

67. "When Smokey Sings".....ABC

68."Is This Love".....Survivor

69. "The Finer Things".....Steve Winwood

70. "Rock Steady".....The Whispers

71. "Big Time".....Peter Gabriel

72. "Point Of No Return".....Expose

73. "We'll Be Together".....Sting

74. "Something So Strong".....Crowded House

75. "Victory".....Kool and the Gang

76. "The One I Love"......R.E.M.

77. "Causing A Commotion".....Madonna

78. "Sign O' The Times".....Prince

79. "Carrie".....Europe

80. "Mandolin Rain".....Bruce Hornsby and the Range

81. "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight".....Genesis

82. "Can't We Try".....Dan Hill with Vonda Sheppard

Dan who? Vonda what?

83. "Diamonds".....Herb Albert

84. "Heart Of The Night".....Bryan Adams

85. "Let Me Be The One".....Expose

86. "Brilliant Disguise".....Bruce Springsteen

87. "Midnight Blue".....Lou Gramm

88. "Just To See Her".....Smokey Robinson

89. "Doing It All For My Baby".....Huey Lewis and the News


90. "Valerie".....Steve Winwood

91. "Cross My Broken Heart".....The Jets

92. "Ballerina Girl".....Lionel Richie

93. "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You".....Glenn Medeiros

94. "It's A Sin".....Pet Shop Boys

95. "I've Been In Love Before".....Cutting Crew

96. "Wipeout".....Fat Boys & Beach Boys

wow! I'd love to hear this!

97. "Big Love".....Fleetwood Mac

98. "Respect Yourself".....Bruce Willis

You're kidding!

99. "Who Will You Run To?.....Heart

100. "Right On Track".....Breakfast Club

What, like the movie?

Now, you might notice that there's a lot more orange for "Never heard of it" than there is red for "Loved it". This is probably because in high school, I was trying my damndest to be "alternative", which in the Chicago suburbs meant not only wearing all black and lots of eyeliner when not in Catholic School Uniform, but also listening to obscure music. The weirder the better. If you got into a concert that had fewer audience members than band members, you hit the jackpot of cool! Next day at school you could say, "I saw "The Disappointments" or "Afterbirth" just so everybody could say, "the who?, the what?" or "Eeeewww!" (So satisfying!) In any case, many of my own personal choice top 100 can be found at the left margin of this blog. Check it out if you're interested.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Papet Vaudois With Saucisse au Chou and Côtes de Bette

My favorite traditional winter-time Suisse Romande dinner is a potato-leek gratin baked with a whole saucisse au chou “cabbage sausage” (way better than it sounds) on the top. Imagine after a day of skiing the Alps, coming back to your small, cozy skiing chalet with a fireplace warming your boots, a couple of wine glasses to clink and a good, hearty après ski Papet Vaudois, mmm… Here’s my father-in-law cooking Papet Vaudois over a wood fire in the outdoor kitchen in Greece last winter.
Last weekend, my mother-in-law treated us to a delicious variation that replaced the leeks with a vegetable I’d never heard of before: “côtes de bette” translated awkwardly as “ribs of beet”. I’m thinking they are the kind of green that has long stems (ribs) similar to celery, cardoons, and chard. They tasted a lot like chard stems. Another particular thing about dinner that evening was that next to the saucisse au chou, we had a sausage made after the grape-crushing season, for it had squashed grapes inside! Now those of you who have not yet tasted this delicious dish are probably thinking, “What could be worse than sausage seasoned with bits of cabbage inside? Well I guess that would be sausage with grape skins in it!! Yep that sure would be worse!” But, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong! This dinner was fabulous! Swiss cuisine deserves more international attention than it gets and if the cheese is the #1 reason why, Papet Vaudois comes in a close second.

Here’s the recipe:

5 medium baking potatoes, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
1-1/2 pounds leeks or chard stems or if you’re lucky, “côtes de bette”, cleaned and sliced in 2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef stock
1 whole saucisse au chou, or if that’s not available, try a whole kielbasa
¾ cup half and half (Relax, it’s winter! You’ve been skiing! Don’t worry about it!)
½ tsp nutmeg
½ -1 cup grated gruyere cheese (optional but a delicious option!)

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and soften the onion in it. Add the potatoes, leeks (or substitute), salt and pepper. Add the wine and beef stock and simmer lightly covered for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just al dente. Par-boil the sausage whole in just enough water to cover for 15 minutes. Dump the potato-leek mixture into an oven-proof pan and add half and half, nutmeg, optional cheese and sausage on top. Bake at 400F for up to 30 minutes or until middle is bubbly and it’s getting brown along the sides. Music to bake Papet Vaudois by: Pipilotti Rist’s (Ok, she’s Swiss German, so sue me) “I’m Not a Girl Who Misses Much” This video would have even tripped out John Lennon. Nuf said.

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