Friday, January 15, 2010

Holiday Traditions

It started with Valentine's Day eight years ago.  My husband and I were still dating (although about two weeks away from getting married).  We couldn't decide where to go and what to do for the occasion and somehow ended up at Target buying a fondue pot, then on to the fancy grocery store for some good cheese, wine, and bread. We looked a recipe up online and ended up with a fantastic fondue dinner and a new tradition.

Now when it's just the two of us alone for a holiday, we usually end up making a really good meal, and sometimes hunt for new ingredients or buy new kitchen gadgets as well.  It makes the holiday a little more special, and being in the kitchen together usually brings us closer.

This New Year we were invited to a few parties, but ended up staying home to cook and watch movies.  What a fantastic idea it turned out to be!  We decided this year that we were going to try playing with truffles (after having truffled mac & cheese at Craftsteak in Vegas this summer we're a little obsessed with them).  We hunted for truffles (in the grocery store of course - I do live in Arizona) but finally settled on truffle oil.   I don't think the oil is as good, but it'll serve when you've had enough of the frantic New Year's Eve shopping.

What we ended up with was far better than anything we would have eaten out that night.  Filet Mignon wrapped in thick cut bacon with compound butter, a potato gratin with white cheddar and truffle oil, and a little salad and beautiful champagne.  What a meal!

The filet was very simple - just salt and pepper, wrapped in a piece of bacon, and thrown on the grill for a bit, until cooked just right.

The gratin required a little more effort but was absolutely worth every second.  I haven't tasted anything so like perfection in a very long time.  Especially not out of my own kitchen.  It was perfectly crispy and bubbly on top when it came out of the oven.


White Cheddar Potato Gratin

4 medium potatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
½ clove nutmeg grated
pepper and salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 c. sharp white cheddar, grated
about 1 Tbsp. white truffle oil (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice peeled potatoes with a mandolin or food processor into thin rounds.  Place potatoes in large saucepan with milk, cream, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, stirring well with a wooden spatula to keep potatoes from sticking togetherLet potatoes bubble for a minute or so after boiling then pour half into a buttered gratin dish.  Sprinkle with half the cheddar, add the rest of the potatoes, and sprinkle with remaining cheese and truffle oil.  Bake the gratin for about an hour until bubbly and crisp on top.  Let rest for several minutes after removing from the oven (so it can solidify a bit).

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