The Barefoot Contessa Rules In My Home

 Another great result from writing my Morning Pages
in the past three weeks was deciding to get back into the
dinner party game and enjoy my friends and family.

My son's birthday was last week and I decided to cook a good
meal instead of going out for dinner.  When you live in a big city,
we spend a lot of time eating out at great restaurants.
I decided a quiet family birthday dinner and some good food
at home would be a lot more cozy and relaxing.

I found a neat little store that was selling dish towels
for $1.00 a piece and I thought that might be a fun touch
on my rustic farm table.  I brought out my dollar store tea
candle holders in pastel colors and filled my collection of
ink jars and small vases with Spring flowers that
would give us a little color.
I use to entertain more often and it was fun, but
I have been so lazy this winter.  
I will be so happy to see warmer days.

My GO-TO has always been The Barefoot Contessa.
Ina Garten's recipes are so good and so, so easy.
Even if I am trying the recipe for the first time 
for a dinner party, the recipe never fails to please.

This potato-fennel gratin was a big hit
at my son's birthday dinner.
Everyone around the table simultaneously
cooed ... "yummy".

And the next day, the gratin was
even better warmed up.

Thank goodness for Ina Garten.
Visit her website here
and buy all her books.
They are all you will ever need in the kitchen.

Potato-Fennel Gratin

Total Time:
2 hr 15 min
20 mi.

10 min
1 hr 45 min

10 servings 



2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter the inside of a 10-by-15-by-2-inch (10-cup) baking dish.

Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise.
Remove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise, 
making approximately 4 cups of sliced fennel. Saute the fennel 
and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat 
for 15 minutes, until tender.

Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them by hand or with a mandoline.
 Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 
2 cups of Gruyère, salt, and pepper. Add the sauteed fennel 
and onion and mix well.

Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to 
smooth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of 
cream and 1/2 cup of Gruyère and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 
1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top i
s browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.

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