Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Food for the Holidays: Carrots Au Gratin

November 12, 2013

As my annoying wonderful housemate pointed out to me yesterday, we need to start planning Christmas dinner. I can't believe he said that, and ever worse, I just typed the words. Let it be known, he still lives.

The man then raised the footrest of his recliner, leaned back, and rather off-handedly informed me he wanted "that carrot and potato thing you did two years ago."  Let it also be known I didn't correct him that the dish consists of carrots and parsnips, a root veggie my mother and stepdad, having grown up poor in a different time when large home gardens were the norm, both dearly love. (Please don't report the previous long sentence to my editor. She doesn't like them.) 

Once upon a promo op, another author made a rather exceedingly cavalier remark that you'd never catch HER sharing a recipe went she had books to promote when one of the group participants posted a recipe. I still don't buy her books. I still don't buy her books. That remark always comes to mind when I think about sharing a recipe, but I've decided I need to get past that because I don't think she was correct in her attitude. We all need to eat and fixing a dish for parents and grandparents with foods they remember from childhood is an expression of love. Piss on any writer person who would look down on another for simply sharing a recipe.  

Sooooo, here's my recipe for Carrots Au Gratin with parsnips. I'll make it for Christmas dinner, but I won't tell Himself those white veggies are not potatoes.   

Cooking for family is all about how much you love them. And yes, you might have to teach them how to properly show their appreciation of your efforts. Case in point - the man taking up space in my living room. But he's worth it. 

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1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves (fresh is great if you have it)
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon low-smoking oil
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar (go more if you love cheese)
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
2 to 3 peeled and sliced large carrots
2 to 3 peeled and sliced parsnips (parsnips look like white carrots)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I like Panko)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and slice carrots and parsnips. Set aside. 

Heat the milk, thyme and garlic almost to boiling, then let sit for twenty minutes for the flavors to infuse. Strain out the thyme and garlic unless you want the stronger flavors in which case leave them in. Set milk aside.(My folks aren't fond of garlic so I strain it out of the milk.)

Melt the butter and oil. When hot, whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Take enough time to cook the flour. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Add Cheddar, spices and S&P. Warm until it thickens. 

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Layer in half the veggies. Pour in half the sauce. Layer in remaining veggies and then add the rest of the sauce. 

Mix the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan together then sprinkle evenly over the veggies. Bake at 350F until the veggies are tender when poked with a fork and the sauce gets bubbly - about an hour to an hour and a half depending on your oven. Resist the urge to turn up the heat. If the top starts to get over-brown, cover the dish with foil. After baking, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes for the sauce to stop bubbling and finish thickening. Garnish with parsley before serving. 

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