Onion Soup and Gruyère Crostini

Onion Soup and Gruyère Crostini
Epicurious | February 2009

1 pound yellow onions, halved and thinly cut lengthwise
3 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups beef stock
1 cup water
1 1/2-inch-thick slice of ciabatta bread cut in half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss Gruyère cheese

In a heavy 5-quart pot melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions are deep amber and exceedingly soft, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, increase the heat, and let the wine bubble away for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and water, and let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to broil. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Place the ciabatta on the middle rack of the oven and toast until crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the soup and discard. Pour the soup into two ovenproof bowls, float the toasted ciabatta on top, and cover it with a thick layer of the Gruyère. Put the soup bowls under the broiler on the middle rack and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and golden.

Cauliflower Gratin with Leeks and Gruyere

Cauliflower Gratin with Leeks and Gruyere

Bread Crumb Topping
4 slices white sandwich bread with crusts, each slice torn into quarters
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Filling
table salt
1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds), trimmed into 3/4-inch florets (see illustrations, below)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot , minced (about 2 tablespoons)
3 leeks, halved using white and light green parts only, rinsed, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
pinch fresh ground nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground
black pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup Gruyère cheese (2 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons

For the topping:
Pulse bread, butter, salt, and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses; set aside. For the filling: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cauliflower; cook until outsides are tender but insides are still slightly crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain cauliflower in colander and rinse under cold running tap water until no longer hot. Leave cauliflower in colander to drain.

Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat; when foam subsides, add shallot and leeks and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds; stir in flour until combined, about 1 minute. Whisk in cream and bring to boil. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, thyme, and 1/2 cup cheese until incorporated. Off heat, gently stir in cauliflower until evenly combined. Transfer mixture to 11- by 7-inch (2-quart) gratin dish. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons cheese evenly over surface, then sprinkle evenly with bread crumb topping. Bake until golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Potato and Leek Gratin

Potato and Leek Gratin

1 garlic clove and butter for the dish
3 pounds potatoes (the whole bag), peeled and thinly sliced
1 quart milk
1 bay leaf
2 T. chopped parsley
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated nutmeg
1 to 2 cups grated Gruyere
2 T. butter cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375F. Rub a 9×12 gratin dish thoroughly with the garlic, then with butter to coat well. Put the potatoes in a pot with the milk, herbs, sliced garlic, leeks and 2 t. salt. Slowly bring to a boil, then gently simmer until the potatoes are barely tender but not to the point of falling apart. Discard the bay leaf and drain, reserving the milk.

Make a single layer of potatoes, leeks and garlic in the dish. Season with pepper, a little nutmeg, and cover lightly with cheese. Repeat until all the potatoes and cheese are used up, ending with a layer of cheese. Add enough of the milk to come up to the last layer of potatoes (about 1 _ cups) dot with butter, then bake until a golden crust has formed on top, about an hour.