It was wonderful to have someone to cook dinner for last night. Wright had returned from the West Coast and my refrigerator was still brimming with vegetables from last week's load, so I thought I'd take the time to make a nice meal. It turned out to be vegetarian, but as Wright said, it was pretty hearty vegetarian.
I made a potato and turnip gratin - the simple version by Alice Waters (also described by Smitten Kitchen) with layers of potatoes and cheese and covered in cream (I used half and half). I alternated potato and turnip layers, and added some fresh thyme in the cheese layers, which consisted only of grated gruyere - no messy or complicated béchamel sauce! I baked at 375 for about an hour, and covered the top with more cheese for the last fifteen minutes or so.
To go with the potatoes, I sliced some baby bellas (not the most flavorful mushroom, but since I splurged on nice cheese, I thought this was a more affordable choice) and sauteed them in butter and olive oil. I did it over low heat for almost 30 minutes, which really helped bump up the flavor. For a salad, I tossed arugula, sliced almonds, tomatoes, and shallots into a champagne vinaigrette (honey, dijon, champagne vinegar, s/p, olive oil). It was flavorful but light - a good balance to the gratin.
For dessert, I made Ina Garten's Date Nut Spice Loaf, the first recipe I've made from her new book (not really new anymore!), Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. It was absolutely divine - tons of flavor in every bite. Though Ina recommends it for breakfast with an orange cream cheese, it was a little too heavy for that. Perfect with a scoop of ice cream for a decadent dessert.
If you don't have the book, see Smitten Kitchen's description for a recipe. I added 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract (added with the vanilla) and used walnuts instead of pecans. Though it looks like an intimidating amount of ingredients, it is a fairly simple recipe that even I could master!