We all know that decent French bread only lasts a day and as we haven’t yet managed to eat a whole one between us the bread bin occasionally fills with 6 inch lengths of left-over baguettes. So Steve decided that he would incorporate these into some of our meals. He had, in the past, used some breadcrumbs to coat a pork escalope and also some delicious breaded mushrooms but thought he could be a bit more inventive. Enter the gratin!!
Below are two of his latest creations (funnily enough they always seem to be my meals and not his?!)
Basic Gratin Topping
Grate 6 inches of stale baguette (much easier if you have a food processor as it protects your fingers!), grate a teaspoon of Parmesan (and cheddar if you like), add dried or fresh herbs of your choice, then make sure you have some extra virgin olive oil for assembly. Amalgamate all ingredients (except the oil) in a suitable container (we use a plastic bag!), mix thoroughly and set aside.
Prepare the fennel bulb, cut into 8 segments length-ways, ensuring the root holds each segment intact. Boil in salted water until stalk is tender, drain, place in a suitable deep sided baking dish, place a small knob of butter on each segment, cover with gratin mixture, drizzle lightly with the virgin olive oil and bake for approximately 20 minutes at 180 deg c (or thereabouts!!) until the topping is golden and piping hot.
Serve as a main dish or accompaniment. I had it with roasted vegetables.
Char the skins of 3 peppers (we use red or yellow for sweetness) using either a handheld blow-torch, gas top burner or grill. Once blackened place in a plastic bag or bowl with cling film over, leave to sweat. Once cool enough to handle, remove as much of the skin as possible. Chef’s tip – don’t rinse under water as the blackened bits add flavour. Cut peppers into strips and place in ovenproof dish (one or two layers is ok). For the darker looking gratin finish on this dish Steve added finely chopped capers and black olives. Place gratin topping over the peppers, drizzle with oil and again bake for about 20 minutes at 180 deg c. Serve as a main dish or accompaniment. I had sweet Marsala carrots (although we didn’t have Marsala so used sweet white wine instead!!)