Didn’t end things with your oven on the best terms back in the spring? So you wore each other out a little. We’ve all been there. Well, it’s seen the error of its ways and come a-crawlin’ back. Bearing gifts. Like an herbaceous chard gratin and a simple blueberry crisp. Aww, come on — you know you miss it.
Heyyyyy there, it’s your oven calling. I know! It’s been a while, right? Look, this is a little awkward. Obviously. I just, well, I don’t know. Probably I’ve been mulling this over in my head for too long, and now it’s gonna come out all weird. Blehhhhhhhh! Heh heh. Ahem.
No, it’s cool, I guess maybe you’re screening my call. Can you just pick up if you’re there? I know you probably don’t want to hear from me right now. In July, right? But I’ve got a couple of things I’ve been meaning to drop off for you. And — well — I know it’s not like we ended things perfectly back in April or whenever. I was tired. And, you were right, a little crabby. I can admit that now. But you with that lime-green Dutch oven, always knocking at the door. Le Creuset. Luh Khroo-sayyyy. Snooty. And so much all the time, with the braising and the stews and the no-knead bread and the winter squash. Can I just say that calling it “Delicata” does not make it any less hard to deal with? We should all be so thick-skinned. And then the baked rice and that Herbfarm polenta? I mean, do you really need an oven for stuff like that, or do you think you might’ve been taking advantage a little?
No no, I can totally see the look on your face right now, and you’re right. This is not what I called about. It’s in the past. We’re all good. It’s just, well, that’s the thing. We were all good. Man, we were so good when we were good. And I — I dunno, maybe I’m, like totally out of left field here. Kaphewwwww! Heheh — ahem. But. I miss us. I miss you.
Right, I know. My timing kind of sucks. But when did we ever play by the rules? So it’s summer! Where do you think berry crisps come from? Could anything scream “conceived on a beach blanket” louder? And gratins? I know for a fact that you don’t think they’re just for potatoes and butternuts. Not after that spectacular dinner in the summer of ’07. You know the one I mean.
Anyway, you’d never be so small-minded. You’re better than that. We’re better than that.
So. Please. Call me back. Just to talk. Or maybe I’ll swing by sometime with dinner and dessert, if you think that’d be okay.
Swiss Chard Gratin
Adapted from my memory of The Herbfarm’s recipe, because I don’t have the book with me today. If you like this sort of recipe, you should really consider buying the book. You’d love it.
Serve this as an accompaniment to meat, or with a couple of poached or fried eggs on top. It can be baked alongside the Blueberry Crisp on the same baking sheet.
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds chard, any variety
1 teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko
Special equipment: A 1 ¾-quart baking dish
1. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit with a rack in the center. Grease the bottom and sides of the baking dish with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
2. Prepare and cook the chard: Slice the chard leaves and stems crosswise into 1 ½-inch ribbons (for the leaves) and pieces (for the lower stems). Wash the chard and drain in a colander but do not dry. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in your largest Dutch oven or wide, shallow pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the chard, in batches if necessary, along with ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cover the pot tightly and steam the chard until it has wilted and reduced to less than half its original volume. Remove the cover and boil for a few additional minutes to cook off as much liquid as possible. If there is still liquid in the pot after a few minutes, drain the chard in a colander set over a large bowl, pressing out the excess liquid. Reserve the liquid for another use – it makes a fabulous addition to broth-based soups.
3. Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for a minute or so, until foamy but not browned. Pour in the milk all at once. Add the rosemary, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, raise the heat to high, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer and cook, whisking frequently, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1½ cups of the Gruyere cheese. Add the sautéed chard mixture to the sauce and stir to combine thoroughly.
4. Assemble and bake the gratin: Pour the chard and sauce into the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Gruyere, the Parmigiano and the breadcrumbs evenly over top. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly, the cheese is melted and the topping is nicely browned.
3 pints blueberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
Juice of ½ lemon
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Special equipment: A deep-dish pie plate
1. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit with a rack in the center. In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice and mix gently but thoroughly.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix thoroughly with a spoon. Add the melted butter and mix with the spoon until well combined.
3. Pour the blueberry mixture into the pie plate. Use your fingers to crumble the flour mixture evenly over top. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet. Bake the crisp for approximately 45 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is nicely browned in spots. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.