Remember me? Weekend in a French Kitchen? The project I started back in July where I ridiculously committed to cooking my way through two (2) French Cookbooks every week and then failed miserably the entire month of September and most of October. I admit it, I bit off more than I could chew. If I had kitchen staff and/or the ability to stay at home and cook all day instead of slaving away at the office it might not have been such a ludicrous project to start. But alas, that exists only in movies and the imaginary world in my head. At risk of shattering your image of a food blogger, reality the past two months has consisted of home delivery services, endless rubber chicken dinners and lunches, occasionally a frozen pizza and two kids (Coco & Rafa) that think they have become latchkey dogs.
I decided it was time to kick my food blogger rear back into gear and jumped back into Mimi’s book with full abandon two weeks ago. Mimi’s Apple Tart with Orange Flower Water was the ideal recipe to motivate me to turn the oven on. Apple tart is sort of my siren dessert that is constantly luring me into breaking my diet and willpower. This tart has the ideal balance floral citrus notes, combined with sweet and tart apples. Decadent comfort dessert! Do make this at home.
Next up was Mimi’s recipe for Butternut Squash Gratin. I have a love/hate relationship with Butternut Squash. I love it when it is cold and cloudy out aka weather appropriate. I hate it when restaurants are trying to shove it down our throats as the soup or vegetable when it is 95+ degrees out. There is nothing refreshing about Butternut Squash in those temperatures. This gratin should make an appearance on your Thanksgiving Table. Bubbly cheese and caramelized onions bring out the rich, creamy flavors of the hearty butternut squash. It should replace those disgusting sweet potatoes with marshmallows that you pretend to like so you don’t hurt your family members feelings. It could even replace that dry, tasteless stuffing if you add a little chopped sage and cooked Sweet Italian Sausage. (When you add the Sausage it make the dish sort of “lasagna-esque” and becomes a full meal when you add a salad.)
I was feeling no pain and my blogger mojo was pretty pumped up. Then I started the Daniel Boulud recipe for Grand Mere Francine’s Chicken. Easy, piece of cake, I had this all under control. Three (3) hours into it, still chopping and dicing, I poured myself a huge glass of wine (or bottle) to stop the tears from welling up. I was exhausted and had just spent most of my Saturday prepping for a meal that really was just roasted chicken with some fancy veggies. The veggies were amazing with a nice umami quality, but the chicken was lackluster. As much as I love cooking, I don’t enjoy spending 25% of my weekend cooking one dish. Perhaps some cookbooks are best for special occasion cooking when you have extra help in the kitchen.
Back to the kitchen to whip up more creations to share with you! Buy a cookbook, join the fun and cook with us at Weekend In a French Kitchen!
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1½ pounds butternut squash (about 1 large), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 nutmeg freshly grated
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¾ to 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1½ cup grated Comté, Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese (or a combination of all three)
- 2 Sweet Italian Sausages cooked & crumbled
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped sage
- A few fresh chives, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C. Butter a 10-inch/25-centimeter baking dish.
- Crumble and cook the Sweet Italian Sausage and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, 4 minutes. Add the squash slices and nutmeg and cook until slightly tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add Sweet Italian Sausage and sage to the butternut squash mixture and combine to your best ability.
- Transfer the squash mixture to the baking dish. Pour the cream all over, sprinkle the bread crumbs and cheese on top, and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.
- Bake until golden and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the chives