Ottolenghi

Addendum to Epic Pi Day:  My daughter, who I am going to assume was adopted, ended up memorizing Pi to 37 places past the decimal. Wonderful job, daughter. She was cheerfully resigned to a fellow student, V, being the winner, since he has made it his life’s work. Three cheers and a round of dumbfounded awe for V, who memorized 215 digits!  True story!

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Bill Gates said of the late Steve Jobs, “I can make it work, but only Steve can make it beautiful.” Well, sometimes I can’t do either.

A couple weeks ago we were under a kitchen curse, cast by a malevolent spirit who visits on occasion and conducts her malicious stoveside business. I call her Gladys. Maybe if I had Jobs’ crack design team, I could have gotten around her, and turned out some food that was at least aesthetically pleasing and user friendly. Things were looking grim, but then magic happened; a handsome Jewish man swooped down to save me.  No, not my husband this time:  Yotam Ottolenghi.  I love my husband, but this guy has a way better name.

plentyI am not always up on the current food scene, but I read Bon Appetit so I can look at pretty pictures of restaurants I can’t afford. Any foray into foodie news is sure to yield some tidbit about Israeli chef Ottolenghi and his Palestinian partner Sami Tamimi.

This sweet potato gratin was so delicious, it banished Gladys and impressed my mother. Yes, that was the same night she told me I wasn’t living up to my full potential, but keep in mind that was before she tasted the gratin. Every once in a while, I make it work and I make it beautiful.

This gratin has a cupful of cream!  I didn’t say you had to make it every day, just for Easter or something. Most of their vegetable recipes allow the plants to speak, without being smothered by cream. Still, what a way to go.

Danielle’s Sweet Potato Gratin from Ottolenghi

You can prepare everything a day in advance and have it ready in the fridge to pop in the oven. This recipe calls for sage but I used rosemary and it was wonderful.

ottolenghi6 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 1/4 pounds)
5 tbsp coarsely chopped sage, plus extra for garnish
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp coarse sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Wash the sweet potatoes (do not peel them) and cut them into disks ¼ inch / 5 mm thick. A mandoline is best for this job but you could use a sharp knife.

2. In a bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, sage, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the slices of sweet potato in a deep, medium-size ovenproof dish by taking tight packs of them and standing them up next to one another. They should fit together quite tightly so you get parallel lines of sweet potato slices (skins showing) along the length or width of the dish. Throw any remaining bits of garlic or sage from the bowl over the potatoes. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, place in the oven, and roast for 45 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and pour the cream evenly over the potatoes. Roast, uncovered, for a further 25 minutes. The cream should have thickened by now. Stick a sharp knife in different places in the dish to make sure the potatoes are cooked. They should be totally soft.

3. Serve immediately, or leave to cool down.

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