My husband announced (rudely) the day after Easter brunch, “I’m cooking next year for Easter.” I guess his delicate French soul had just about enough of my American cooking considering for Easter brunch my caregiver and I made Blueberry French Toast Casserole, Eggs Benedict Casserole and a Potato Bacon Cheese Casserole. My husband is definitely American Casserole “fini.”
My excuse was “I did it for Grace” which is pretty much my excuse for everything. If my baby wants American food, my baby will get American food because that’s the kind of mother I am. However, in all fairness, we will go back to a French menu of roasted lamb with herbs, haricots blancs and the little potato purée next year… Out of respect. Sometimes I need to remind myself that I now live in France and not the grand ol’ United States of ‘merica.
My husband comes from a very traditional French family from the French Alps, the Haute Savoie region. They are known for a very famous dish called Gratin Dauphinois. My husband’s family makes this special dish as easily as I pour a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal. Let me tell you something, it is so delicious that it is sinful and all of us should have it in our repertoire. Think scalloped potatoes with class.
I found a great blog called French for Foodies, and the author, Rachel Bajada, wrote a wonderful piece about Gratin Dauphinois that you should all check out HERE. The article gives you a great history about which cream from the cow is used for Gratin Dauphinois and even how potatoes were introduced to the French (from Americans I might add, you’re welcome). A very interesting read!
Now, I am not an expert in Gratin Dauphinois, but my husband is and so is his mother, so here are some of their secrets to a perfect Gratin Dauphinois. I just want to state, for the record, that they were very reluctant to give up these secrets…
Use Bintje potatoes
Slice the potatoes very thin… Like a euro coin
Butter the dish but do not add butter
Use three fours crème fraîche to one fourth milk
Do not precook the potatoes
Don’t forget to salt-and-pepper each layer and add nutmeg to each layer
Cook the entire dish slowly, slowly, slowly
Stop asking so many questions (this last bit wasn’t so much said to me as it was implied)
David’s mother also said that people can also add cheese, garlic, herbs and/or ham.
Okay, now let’s look at some recipes…
Voilà! Gratin Dauphinois mastered!*Something you don’t know about me? In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a spaz. I worry about everything, I overthink everything and I also internalize everything. I will not let things “just be.” Everything affects me and I feel like I must do something about everything. I don’t let things slide as evident in my Instagram war a couple of weeks ago. Even though I’m a super happy person, I’m also a very stressful person… Sometimes that’s just the nature of the game. I have always, always thought that my nature has something to do with my illness. My self-diagnosis was proven correct lately as I came across a book by a brilliant doctor, Dr. John E. Sarno, titled The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mind-Body Disorders. Dr. John Sarno believes that, “The interaction between the generally reasonable, rational, ethical, moral conscious mind and the repressed feelings of emotional pain, hurt, sadness, and anger characteristic of the unconscious mind appears to be the basis for mindbody disorders.”
While I’m not sure if my symptoms are completely “psychosomatic” because I think that’s taking it a little bit too far but I do think that my genetics compounded with severe stress brought about my illness. What’s interesting though is that I also think that my positive attitude has kept the illness from killing me so far. Regardless, I think his book is definitely worth a read. The brain is a mighty mighty organ and the most complex, having the power, in my opinion, to do good or evil. If you want to purchase and read the book, click HERE. Let me know what you think… Let’s open a dialogue. Oh my God, did I just start a book club?