Sunday, 10 August 2008

That Cookbook Thing II: Rapee Morvandelle

It's time for another round of the Cookbook Review II! It's an event dedicated to exploring recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The event by initiated by Mike of Mel's Diner, joined by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast, Sara of I Like to Cook, Breadchick Marye, Deborah of What's in My Kitchen?, Mary of Cooking for Five, Elle of New England Kitchen, Shaun of Winter Skies, Kitchen Aglow - and, of course, me!

Last time we recreated Julia Child's Sauce au Cari - a light creamy curry sauce - this time our mission was to make a Rapee Morvandelle - a gratin of potato, onions and ham.

As my mum was on her way down to visit with a vegetarian friend, I decided to substitute mushrooms for the ham - throwing in a bit of porcini too to make sure it had the depth of flavour. I made up the mushroom mix the night before, then put it all together when I got home from work.

When the weary travellers finally got in after 10 hours of travelling (flooded rail tracks in Scotland...) it was just about ready to come out the oven. A crisp green salad and some corn on the cob made this a perfect summer dish.

Rapee Morvandelle
(avec Porcini et les Champignons sans Jambon!)

Ok, so I have quite a few little variations on Julia's recipe - not least the substitution of mushrooms for ham. However, most of these were to do with proportions... Maybe my potatoes were large... or my eggs small - but I had to add an extra egg to give it all a good binding. And a touch more cream. (Though it ended up being a touch more milk - I accidentally knocked the tub of cream all over my cooker... doh!)

The original recipe called for half a clove of garlic. Half. Hmmm... I'm sure it's because modern tastebuds are so desensitised... but this just wasn't going to be enough for me (Plus, what kind of garlic? My local shop sells 4 kinds - of varying strengths and sizes!!) So I used 2, and it was by no means overpowering!

I used two types of cheeses - half gruyere and half emmental... ummmm.... I think next time I might grate some over the top as well. It didn't need it, but I hardly ever treat myself to creamy cheesey dinners, so I want to make the most of it! (I like Ruth's idea of sprinkling some paprika over the top too!)

I used fresh tarragon when preparing the mushrooms, and fresh flat-leaf parsley in the egg mix.

To grate the potatoes quickyl and easily (and stop them going grey!) I peeled them all first, then grated them in my food processor. A quick rinse of water before squeezing them in a tea towel and straight into the egg mix!

  • 100g grated cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 tbsp single cream
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 300g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • small handful porcini, soaked in hot water for half an hour (reserve the water!)
  • 1 tsp chopped tarragon
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (i.e. much more that the original recipe!)
Preheat oven to 375f

Prepare the Mushrooms...
In a heavy based skillet, heat a knob of butter with a tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions and fry over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Now finely chop the porcini and add to the onions, cooking out for another couple of minutes before adding the chestnut mushies.

Now, when the chestnut mushrooms are almost cooked, they will start to release their juices. At this point, add half the garlic, seasoning and a couple of tablespoons of the porcini soaking liqueur.

Cook until the liquid is absorbed and set to one side.

Prepare the Egg Mixture...
Beat the eggs with the cream until smooth. Add the rest of the garlic, salt and pepper and beat again.

Gently fold in the mushroom mix, along with the cheese and parsley.

This is when you should grate your tatties - any earlier any you'll end up with a greytin... boom boom? Ok, so I'm not funny...

Mix the potato into the egg mix - this is where I had to add the extra egg as the potato was still too dry.

Heat a knob of butter in the skillet. Once it is foaming, add the potato mix - spread to the edges.

Dot the top of the gratin with some more butter and put into the over for 30-40 minutes.

Take out, slice and enjoy!

I really enjoyed this cheesy, creamy goodness! And it went down well with my guests too. I'd like to try it with ham - although the mushrooms were really good with it.

I have just under half of it left in the fridge... I haven't tried it yet - but I'm guessing it's going to be delicious cold when I get home after cocktails with my mum tonight!!

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Lore said...

Miam, j'aime les champignons, bien plus que le jambon! ;) I bet it was delicious even cold, straight from the fridge!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I always find myself going back to that book for inspiration--definitely something everybody who cooks with any regularity should have handy. This dish looks really delicious and I'm sure your guests appreciated it after a long day of travel. Cheesy, creamy mushroom anything sounds good to me. ;-)

Sara said...

That looks so great, I love the color. The mushrooms sound like a good addition, I will have to try your version!

glamah16 said...

Oh I like that with the mushrooms and even more garlic. I know your mother and freind loved this.

Ruth Daniels said...

Yours does look golden and crispy. I can't wait to do it again with mushrooms. Thanks for the inspiration.

PG said...

Looks delicious! I think I would add mushrooms in, even if I did include the ham. I just like mushrooms. I don't have a heavy skillet pan - but it's definitely on the "the list of things I have to buy when I get a bigger kitchen".

Adam said...

I think that looks delicious with the heavy pan. Such a nice crispy outside :) I agree with everyone on the mushrooms, it just adds a whole other layer of flavor. Those French knew what they were doing.

Laura Paterson said...

lore, me too - but maybe both next time? ;)

mike - I hadn't even heard of it until this challenge... but found myself reading it in bed the other day... Sad? Moi?? ;)

sara - and I'm going to try yours - for brunch!

coco - they definitely did!

ruth - I think is was serendipitous that my mum's veggie friend was coming to stay!!

psychgrad - oooo, good idea to use both =) (ps. my kitchen is teeny too... I use the oven for storage - so when I bake there are pans and ovenware all over the floor!)

I'd never really been into French cuisine before, adam - but am really enjoying discovering it now!

Dharm said...

OOh yumm! With mushrooms and garlic too - what could be better??!!!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Julia and Simka would be proud of your dish! Your choice of mushrooms was a fantastic substitution for the ham! And tarragon, I'm not sure I would have thought of that, but I bet it was just right for the earthy-ness of the mushrooms.

Jen said...

Zach would absolutely love this (not that I don't think it looks good but for him cheese covered potatoes are an entire food group). I think this will be making an appearance on our dinner table.

giz said...

I had to laugh at the spilled cream - sounds so like something I would do. It definitely looks amazing and would be happy with this tonight for dinner.

Deborah said...

Ok, i'm gonna have to try this again with mushrooms - that will have the added bonus of allowing me to feed it to my best friend!

Anonymous said...

That looks absolutely delicious. I think you've surpassed the original!

Laura Paterson said...

dharm: mushrooms... garlic... and CHEESE! =)

mike - I'm not actually a huge tarragon fan, so only used a little - but it did go just right with the mushrooms!

jen - Cheese covered potatoes was a food group for me too in my student days! Though this gratin was slightly nicer that the ol' chips n' cheese from the 4 in 1 ! ;)

Giz, it's tough being a clumsy cook, isn't it?!!

deborah - but then you have to share it!!

Oh, thanks tom - and thanks for stopping by!

Poonam said...

Looks fabulous!

Dee said...

that looks great kittie! cheese, cream, mushrooms are always a winner in my book.

thanks for the potato tip :)

Apples and Butter said...

That looks wonderful and who doesn't love Julia? Can everyone get in on the challenge?

Unknown said...

Yep it tasted as good as it looks and Iwould say even better after the cocktails! Kitty's Mum x

Shaun said...

Kittie ~ The substitutions appear to work brilliantly. While not a fan of mushrooms, I like your combination of the earthy fungi with various herbs (I love tarragon, which seems to be really hard to grow here). Your gratin looks substantial. A great adaptation of the recipe, as always.

Gill said...

Hi ! I'd like to use one of your pictures but couldn't find an email, can you write to me so that I could explain you ?
Thanks !

Laura Paterson said...

hey gill, i hardly ever log on here anymore - but you can reach me on kittieskitchen @ googlemail . com