Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Gratins


Some techniques improve a dish. Others “kick it up a notch”. When you create a browned crust on a casserole dish, it’s no longer a casserole (which tends to have that “I put everything left over in the refrigerator” casual meal sound) but a gratin (which says “I’m ready for the guests to arrive”). But you might not have cream sauces handy, whether it’s alfredo sauce from a package or béchamel made from scratch. Breadcrumbs dotted with melted butter can quickly dress up the top without the sauce, but for some reason I prefer the cheese sauces that bubble up and brown because overshooting it a few minutes more isn’t going to burn the top as quickly as the breadcrumbs and the dark spots on the cheese sauces can be yummy.

Here are two quick hacks:

  1. Cottage cheese top: use about 2 cups of cottage cheese (or 1 cup for a thinner layer of crust), mix with 2 or so tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese (if you have: if not, just add a 1/2 tsp of salt). Add some freshly ground pepper and mix with 1 egg (or if you want to be fancy, you can just use 1 yolk, and save the white to add to your omelet tomorrow. Blend with a fork. Spread over your casserole and bake in the oven until the crust browns.
  2. Fancier version: do the same as above but use goat cheese (about 3.5 oz to one egg would do). More mix and match options: grate some nutmeg, sprinkle some paprika.

Whomp! You cleaned out the refrigerator of some left over veggies and you can have a friend over…because life is too short to have crappy food, and we should maximize our time with friends.

Photo: Another type of crust that makes life better… deep dish pizza from Little Star Pizza in San Francisco, California.

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This entry was posted on October 2, 2015 by in Food, Recipes and tagged , , , .
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