Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jade: Bitemygratin

Most people see the weekend as a chance to catch up with friends, do a spot of shopping, have a coffee with the girls...Much as I love doing that, after a week of making mindless small talk to coax out delusions and hallucinations, my inner hermit yearns for a little quiet time..No phones, no Christmas music courtesy of NHS outpatient receptions [which incidentally, isn't exactly the best idea when half the people in the waiting room are depressed because it's Christmas]; Just silence. And the smell of freshly laundered sheets, the cosy familiarity of my own room and who can forget..a home-cooked meal :)

Today's special:
Pan seared cod on a bed of sweet potato and spinach gratin

1 cod fillet
rock salt and freshly cracked black pepper

3 small sweet potatoes, sliced thinly
1 packet baby spinach
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
White wine
Dried thyme

300ml milk
3tbsp flour
50g butter
1tsp mustard
220g red leicester cheese, grated [any cheese will do, I just thought the fluorescent cheese would pair well with the beautifully orange sweet potatoes]
Breadcrumbs [optional; I left them out since I didn't have any..but I think a bit of crunch would've added a whole new dimension to the dish]

1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
2. Heat up some oil or butter and gently sauteed the garlic and onion until soft and transparent
3. Add a generous splosh of white wine and let it reduce
4. Stir in the spinach until just wilted, add the thyme and leave to cool
5. In a separate pot, combine milk, flour and butter, whisking over medium heat
6. Simmer for 2 minutes, add the mustard and 3/4 of the grated cheese and simmer for another minute.
7. Slice the sweet potatoes thinly and arrange half of it in a lightly greased oven-proof dish or roasting tin
8. Layer half the spinach mixture over the sweet potatoes
9. Pour half the cheese sauce over the spinach mix and repeat the layering.
10. When all that is done, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs if using
11. Bake for about 45 minutes.

* In the meantime, lightly butter a non stick pan, slap on the cod fillet, season with salt and pepper, and let it sear over medium heat

Now scoop up a generous portion of gratin, very very gently place the fish on top, and enjoy while it's still piping hot ~The creamy saltiness of the cheese sauce, delicate sweetness of the cod and sweet potatoes and that hint of acidity from the spinach and wine..I only wish every day were a Saturday..

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