Zucchini gratin

A beautiful bake of zucchini, rice and cheese

Sometimes you make something that forces you to slow down. For me that normally involves baking and I love it. You can’t rush yeast, a cake needs time, dough wants methodical kneading, pastry asks for, well, everything.

So I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and while I am not the greatest fan of zucchini I needed to make it instantly. What I didn’t realise was it was going to force me to go slow and follow a number of steps. I am, in reality, a much more ‘bung it all in and hope for the best’ cook.

Salting the zucchini
Salting the zucchini

It’s based on a Julia Child recipe and while I own her voluminous Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 and 2 I have never cooked from them. So I was, in effect, uninitiated.

You have no choice but to slow down but I was making it for dinner so didn’t want to slow down and got a bit cranky with the whole thing. Salting zucchinis, par-boiling rice, slowly sweating off onions, it doesn’t sound like much but for a weeknight #everyfuckingnight it was frustrating.

Stupidly labour and saucepan intensive zucchini gratin ready for the oven
Stupidly labour and saucepan intensive zucchini gratin ready for the oven

But dagnammit it tasted out of this world which annoyed me even more (and everyone except Felix inhaled it). So my advice is definitely make it but go into it with patience, a willingness to wash up a lot and the knowledge you will be handsomely rewarded.

Voila! Zucchini gratin for #everyfuckingnight (and probably never again).
Voila! Zucchini gratin for #everyfuckingnight (and probably never again).

Zucchini gratin
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1.1kg zucchini
  • 1½ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup white rice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tblsp plain flour
  • Milk, as needed, although broth of your choice would work just fine
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C and put your oven rack in the top third of your oven
Prepare the zucchini
  1. Halve lengthwise, and if seeds are particularly large, core them out. Grate using a food processor unless you're a masochist and want to do it by hand
  2. Place in a colander set over a bowl. Toss with kosher salt then let drain (according to Julia Child for 5 minutes). I weighted it and drained it for 30 minutes. Don't throw the liquid away
  3. Squeeze a little bit out and taste it. If it's really overly salty (mine was) rinse it under the tap and squeeze out (this water you don't save).
  4. Squeeze all of the zucchini in handfuls collecting the juices into the bowl of drained liquid. You really want to squeeze it out so you don't have soggy gratin.
Prepare rice
  1. Bring to the boil for just 5 minutes then drain and set aside.
Prepare the rest
  1. In a large frying pan, cook the onions slowly in 3 tablespoons oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent.
  2. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned.
  3. Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.
Assemble dish
  1. Measure the drained liquid from the zucchini. You want 2½ cups. I got that exactly (skill!) but if you don't add some milk to make up the difference.
  2. Stir into zucchini-onion mixture, return pan to stove over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the rice and all but 2 tablespoons cheese (I added all the cheese then sprinkled extra over the top because, cheese.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  5. Pour into a baking dish, sprinkle over more cheese and dot with butter
  6. Bake for 30 minutes (if it's browning too quickly cover with foil then uncover again for the last 5 minutes.

 

Onward.

Twice baked potatoes

One of my greatest failings as a parent is that I have produced children who don’t like mashed potato. How is that even possible? I mean potato, unholy amounts of butter and milk with plenty of salt and pepper, what is not to love. So, when I made these for #everyfuckingnight I was pretty nervous I’d be left eating them for days, but I totally tricked them with bacon, sourcream and cheese! Huzzah!

I based mine on a Pioneer Woman‘s recipe but used violently less butter and completely forgot to add the milk. I also didn’t have/couldn’t find the potatoes on steroids PW used.

While I’ve put some measures in this I strongly advise you to trust yourself and go largely by sight. PW used 8 super big potatoes, I used 6 smaller mid sized ones, probably about a kilo? So look, That’s what I did and they worked a treat.

Twice baked potatoes about to go back in the oven.
Twice baked potatoes about to go back in the oven.

 

Twice baked potatoes
 
Potatoes mashed with bacon, sour cream and cheese. Get onto it.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 5-6 mid sized potatoes (ideally use much bigger ones and follow PW's recipe linked to above)
  • oil
  • 4-6 slices streaky bacon, or 3-4 traditional rashers
  • 1 tbsp butter, I really think it's optional
  • about 125g or heaped ½cup sour cream, I just used a large tablespoon and used about ½ a 30ml tub
  • good pinch of salt and cracked pepper
  • 2 good handfuls of grated cheese
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200C
  2. Rub potatoes with oil, place on baking tray and bake for 45 minutes or until they're soft on the inside and the skins are slightly crisp
  3. While they're cooking, fry the bacon
  4. Place the bacon, sour cream, butter and seasonings in a bowl
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked, hold them in a tea-towel and cut down through the middle lengthways
  6. Scoop the potato into the bowl with the bacon and sour cream, don't be too precious here, just try not to scoop through the skin
  7. Use a masher and mash up the potato and bacon
  8. Stir in one good handful of cheese and the spring onions
  9. Spoon back into the potato skins, now, when I did this I had two potato skins left over, just so you know the same might happen to you
  10. Put back on the baking tray, sprinkle over more cheese and pop back in the oven
  11. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is all melty and golden

 

Twice baked potatoes
Twice baked potatoes