Leek, Potato & Oyster Mushroom Gratin

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 pound oyster mushrooms, halved if large
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 4 large)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 3/4 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds (about 8 cups)
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (about 10 ounces)
 
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until mushrooms are tender and golden, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and thyme and sauté until leeks are tender and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add leek mixture to bowl with mushrooms. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Whisk broth, cream, wine, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Layer 1/3 of potatoes on bottom of prepared dish. Top with half of mushroom-leek mixture, then 3/4 cup cheese. Top with half of remaining potatoes. Pour half of cream mixture over. Top with remaining mushroom-leek mixture and 3/4 cup cheese. Cover with remaining potatoes. Pour remaining cream mixture over; sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake gratin uncovered until potatoes are tender and sauce bubbles thickly, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let gratin stand 30 minutes before serving.

Simple Tomato Sauce

This week and next at the farmers’ & artisans’ market we’re offering samples of the many different varieties of tomatoes! Pick your favorites, grab a box full, and try this mouth watering recipe that brings out their unique flavors! The two key steps in this recipe are to remove the water-filled seed pockets (which helps to deepen the flavor by removing water weight), and roasting (which further removes moisture). This recipe comes (slightly altered) from Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 medium leek
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 small bunch basil (about 1/4 pound)
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Cut out a cone at the stem end of the tomatoes to remove the core, and cut the tomatoes into quarters. If you have a grapefruit spoon or a strawberry topper, use it to remove about 50% of the water seed pockets. Toss with half the olive oil.  Put the tomatoes in a baking dish and roast them, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to encourage even cooking.  The tomatoes are cooked when the flesh is very soft and the skin separates easily from the flesh.
  3. Peel and slice the onion.  Trim, wash, and dice the leek.  Peel and dice the carrot.  Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally.
  4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a stainless steel or other nonreactive pot (aluminum reacts with the acid in tomatoes and spoils the flavor).  Add the vegetables and the garlic and cook the vegetables over medium heat until completely soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the roasted tomatoes and the herbs.  Simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the flavors come together, for 30 to 45 minutes.  Pass the sauce through a food mill and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 quart.