Dauphinoise Potatoes

This does enough Dauphinoise Potatoes for four people as a side dish. Or perhaps two as a main with some green vegetable sides.
This method where the creamy sauce and potatoes are pre-cooked together speeds the dish up a bit.

Ingredients

  • 500g peeled floury potatoes (Maris Pipers, King Edwards, Desiree etc.)
  • 300ml milk
  • 100ml double cream
  • Grated nutmeg (according to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove (reduce or increase according to taste)
  • 100g grated gruyere
  • Salt and pepper
A square 20cm baking tray is ideal to cook the dish

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to about 140C fan
  2. Peel the potatoes and keep them whole. For quickness, I slice them to about 2mm using my mandolin, but you can finely slice them with a sharp knife. Don’t rinse them, you want all the starch.
  3. Put the milk and cream in a pot, with grated nutmeg, crushed garlic, salt and pepper, and heat to boiling point. You will need a decent amount of salt with the potatoes, I use about 1 tsp.
  4. Add the sliced potatoes and simmer them gently in the creamy sauce for about 8-10 minutes, so the potatoes keep their sliced shape.
  5. Layer the sliced potatoes with the gruyere in the baking dish. I make about three layers, potato then cheese.
  6. Put it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are cooked, testing by probing with a knife tip.
  7. Then either turn the heat up to the maximum for 5-8 minutes until the top browns or put the dish under a hot grill.
The creamy Dauphinoise Potatoes will be scorching hot and it really benefits from sitting and cooling down for 10 minutes before serving.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is a delicious soup. It does take a fair amount of elapsed time because the onions can take 90 minutes plus to cook and then it simmers for about an hour once all the ingredients are in. Good to do if you are in the kitchen for something else anyway as the onions need occasional stirring.
Another tip of the hat to Felicity Cloake.
Depending on the cider or wine used the flavour can be more or less acidic. You might find that some wines will give an acidic edge and you would reduce or omit the vinegar.

Ingredients

  • 80g butter, plus a little extra for the toasts
  • 4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 sprigs thyme, just the leaves
  • A bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (vary this depending on the acidity of the wine/cider)
  • 400ml medium cider (or white wine)
  • 600ml good-quality beef stock
  • Dash of calvados or other brandy (optional)
  • 8 slices of baguette
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • 100g Gruyère, grated

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a low heat. Add the onions, season and cook, stirring regularly, until caramelised and deep brown. (Once they’ve softened, you can turn up the heat a little, but keep an eye on them.) This will probably take about 90 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour and thyme and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring the flour in, then add the vinegar and a third of the cider, stirring and scraping all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the rest of the cider and the stock, and bring to the boil. Add the bay leaf. Simmer for about an hour. Meanwhile, heat the grill and rub the baguette slices with the cut side of the garlic clove. Brush with melted butter, and toast on both sides.
  3. Add the brandy to the soup and check the seasoning.
  4. To serve, ladle into ovenproof dishes and top with 2 croutons and a mound of cheese. Grill until golden, then serve immediately.