16 October 2007

Another gratin with potatoes

I've never heard of Jansson's Temptation, but I'll look for recipes. Meanwhile, here's another classic French way to make potatoes au gratin. It's called Pommes Boulangère.

Instead of milk and cheese, you use broth and onions. Cut the potatoes into the same thin slices, and slice two or three onions. Make layers of potatoes and sliced onions in the oiled baking dish. Put a couple of bay leaves or some other herbs between the layers. Salt and pepper everything. Then barely cover the potatoes with hot broth: chicken, beef, or vegetable.

Fall scenes out in the vineyard

You can start it in the microwave or directly in the conventional oven. Let it cook for about an hour, lowering the heat as necessary so that it doesn't burn on the top but giving all the liquid a chance to evaporate. Actually, if there's a tiny bit left, tant mieux. The main thing is that the top layer needs to be golden brown.

Fall colors

Boulangère means the baker's wife. Why are these potatoes named after her? Because people didn't have ovens in their homes, and they would take their lunch dishes to the bakery to have them cooked in the hot oven after the day's bread finished baking. Or the baker's wife would cook her food this way. A lot of villages also used to have a community oven, called un four banal, which people could use to cook their roasts, casseroles, cakes, and pies — usually for a fee.

Wonder why these leaves are bright red,
while the others are yellow?

The weather here in Saint-Aignan is nice this week. It's fairly warm, sunny, and breezy. Good for drying the laundry on the clothesline outdoors, and good for doing gardening work. Walt is working on trimming the hedge around our yard, all 100 meters of it. I'm doing cleanup from all that clipping and starting to rip the plants out of the vegetable garden. It feels good.

In less than two weeks, I leave for my next trip to the U.S. I'll be spending three weeks in the Southeast, mostly in North Carolina. Hey, Miss Monet in San José, do you have any N.C. travel plans?


  1. be prepared for water rationing....it's horrendously dry everywhere in the southeast & no rain in sight ! leaves are turning brown & falling......some color, but mostly dead leaves....still in the 80's here in VA too

  2. Jansson's Temptation - this may be the dish that we have eaten with our Swedish friends and their recipe is as follows. To serve 4 people as a light supper dish:

    6 - 8 Potatoes
    2 Onions
    3 Tablespoons of butter
    2 cans of anchovy filets
    6 fl. oz. single cream

    Peel and cut potatoes into thin sticks (match sticks), slice onions and saute lightly in butter. Drain anchovies and cut in pieces (reserve oil). Put potatoes, onion and anchovies in layers in a buttered baking dish (first and last layer should be potatoes). Dot with butter. Pour liquid from anchovies and half of the cream over the mixture and bake for 20 minutes then pour the remainder of the cream over the dish and bake for a further 30 minutes.

    Hope thats helpful and maybe you will try it one day.



  3. I've made this one too. There are so many wonderful potato dishes in French cooking!

  4. My folks in Georgia were just talking to me about the water shortage, too. They've never seen anything like it. Their town said there's water till the end of this year, and then they don't know what's going to happen. Yikes!

  5. Are you planning on travelling inland any, to the Triad?

  6. Ginny, I just saw in the paper that the city of Raleigh is imposing tighter water restrictions now. They say they have 100 days of water left in their main reservoir, with no rain in sight. What they needed this year was a good drenching from a tropical storm, but they didn't get it.

    Emm, I don't have any plans to travel around much. I'm flying from Atlanta to New Bern and then pretty much staying put, as far as I know.

    Melinda, thanks for the warning, and Carol, thanks for the recipe. Betty, isn't it true about potatoes in France? And the thing is that the potatoes here are so varied and delicious.

  7. Ken, I would like to come to NC to see you -- maybe even a drive with my mother down to Morehead to see Ruth and your mom. When will you be there?


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