Monday, November 12, 2012

Potato Fennel Gratin

Potato Fennel Gratin, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
This dish of dreamy, creamy, cheese slathered potatoes is as off-the-hook good as this picture is bad. This is the fate of night-time cookery in the little kitchen. The first bite is taken, then another and before I know it, the chances of anything sticking around until the next morning for the optimal photo-op is veryveryvery slim. I've found this to be a very good thing.
The Barefoot Contessa gets the credit for this little kitchen keeper.
<insert rant> I don't have much to do with her because more often than not, I'm put off by some elusive ingredient. She makes my pantry seem inadequate. She's a big tease, luring me in with a Simple Tomato Soup  only to be turned away by my lack of saffron threads. Don't get me started on that truffle butter. I love/hate The Barefoot Contessa. A while back I went all ADD in the cookbook aisle at the library and came home with a big stack including Back to Basics. I flipped through the book and found myself, as expected, going all bi-polar, engaged then enraged (too strong of a word but it sounds good).  That ginormous showcase barn kitchen? Jeez...I shudder to think of the damage I could do to that, unless I had a team of assistants cleaning up after me. Shoot, I don't even have a Kitchen Aid, much less a dishwasher. There's that gorgeous patio where she (some hidden catering staff) serves her fabulous friends at a table that's bigger than my kitchen?  There she is trotting around those charming little shops in East Hampton arms loaded with tulips, vanilla beans and truffle oil...yes I'm green with envy<end rant>
But every now and again I stumble across one of her recipes that gets me all churned me up and I can think of doing nothing else.
This wasn't one of those times.
I found myself with a couple of sprouting potatoes and a sadly drying fennel bulb, crying out to become something wonderful STAT! I plugged "fennel" into my Google search and ultimately landed on this: Potato Fennel Gratin. It's from my other guilty pleasure, The Food Network.
But back to Back to Basics: It inspires. I easily and immediately bookmarked more than 10 recipes (that's my cookbook quota) that might actually have a place in my un-Hampton-y, tulip-less world. 

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