But guess what? There's one thing I am not sad about. And that thing is the thought of delicious warm dishes that are more suitable to colder seasons. In my head, there are thoughts of heartwarming vegetable soups, wonderful stews, weekends of scrumptious and indulgent roasts (I already had one of those meals yesterday, thanks C.!), and lots of warm desserts. And then, one thought is stronger than the others: butter, cream, cheese! More butter, more cream, more cheese!
Yes, in all my French-ness, colder months rhyme with indulgent months. And pulling out my favourite recipes of cheese fondues, tartiflettes, raclettes and anything and everything that involves cream and/or molten cheese covering the rest of the ingredients.
Before anyone worries about the high level of fat content in what I just wrote (it does feel calorific just reading this, I know!), I do balance this with a healthy diet of vegetarian soups and meals, a lot of grain based dishes, roast vegetables and fruit.
But more seriously (or not), let's go back to all that story of cream and let me tell you about a French classic and favourite of mine: the gratin dauphinois (also know as scalloped potatoes).
Let's face it, if I'm going to prepare and cook food for a project, it may as well be super delicious!
Not only I love gratin dauphinois because it has been a favourite since my childhood, but I also love preparing the dish and it was great photographing the steps involved in the recipe.
I used new potatoes but I have made it with different kinds and it worked every time. The texture might vary a bit depending on the flesh of the potatoes but that's about it, the delicious flavours remain!
I managed to sneak in a selfie in my series of images. This was mostly due to the fact that at that very moment, I did not have another human on hand to get that lovely lifestyle shot of food being eaten or held by someone. It took a while to get THE shot... And I very obviously had to wear a stripey top for that little French note.
And then the reward: I got to eat a steaming plate of delicious gratin dauphinois!
The recipe I make has a mixture of full fat milk and double cream instead of just cream (so I insist on full fat milk as it gives a certain richness and sweetness to the dish). And yes, there is no cheese because as it happens a proper gratin dauphinois does not have cheese in the recipe!
I have seen recipes that included grated gruyère or emmenthal cheese , and even sometimes parmesan cheese (??!) but for a classic version, there should be no cheese (and I really feel like all the cream and butter is enough indulgence for that dish already).
Ingredients* (for 4 to 6 people)
600g peeled and thinly sliced potatoes
250ml full fat milk
250ml double cream
3 peeled garlic cloves
pinch of grated nutmeg
1. Grease a gratin dish with a teaspoon of the butter (set the rest aside in the fridge for later).
2. Put the milk, cream, garlic cloves and sliced potatoes in a large saucepan. Coat the potatoes well with the milk/cream mixture. Put the saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and then take off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, take all the potato slices and line them in the buttered gratin dish.
3. Put the milk/cream mixture back on a low heat. Season with salt and a pinch of nutmeg, stir for another 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the garlic cloves and pour over the potatoes. Let it cool down completely, cover with clingfilm (I do this in a way that the clingfilm touches the surface to avoid condensation and a skin to form) and leave in the fridge to set for 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Dot the gratin with teaspoons of the remaining butter. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes until it is bubbling and nicely golden on top.
When cooked, let it cool down 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Serve it as it is as a main dish for 4 people. Accompany it by a little salad if you feel guilty about the abundance of cream and butter (I rarely do and even cheekily eat it with bread to sponge the delicious cream..).
It can also be served as a side to a nice roast.
* Note than apart from the seasoning, I have only used Irish ingredients. This dish can really be made anywhere sourcing local ingredients (as I did for this Irish croque-monsieur recipe).