1. In a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium heat, sauté each variety of mushroom in just enough butter to keep the mushrooms from sticking. Season each batch with about one-eighth teaspoon salt and a pinch of white pepper and cook, stirring, just until the mushrooms are tender but not colored, a few minutes for each batch. When one type of mushroom is cooked, drain, turn it into a large bowl and repeat with the next type. You need to sauté the mushrooms separately because each type has a different cooking time.
2. Mix the cooked mushrooms together in the bowl. Stir in the garlic and thyme and set aside at room temperature until needed. (The mushrooms can be sautéed up to 2 hours ahead and kept covered with plastic wrap at room temperature.)
3. Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch baking dish.
4. Pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk in 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, one-half teaspoon white pepper and the nutmeg. (Add more salt than you might normally add because the potatoes will need it.)
5. Peel the potatoes and slice them into one-eighth-inch thick rounds using a mandoline, the thinnest slicing blade on the food processor or a knife. Toss the potatoes into the cream as you slice them.
6. Using your hands, remove enough potato slices from the cream to make a single layer on the bottom of the pan, arranging the slices in even, overlapping concentric circles. Make a second layer of potato slices and then pour some cream over the layers. Press down on the potatoes to compact the layers — when you do this, some of the cream should rise up between the slices.
7. Spread the mushrooms (minus whatever liquid may have accumulated in the bowl) over the potatoes and pour in more cream, again using your hands to press down on the ingredients and bring the cream to the top. Arrange the remaining potatoes in layers over the mushrooms, pouring in cream and pressing down as you finish each layer. You may not need all of the cream; you've added enough when, without pressing down, you see cream at the edges.
8. Dust the gratin evenly with the Parmesan cheese and place the gratin on a foil-lined baking sheet.
9. Bake the gratin 45 minutes, then check that it's not getting too brown. If necessary, lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees to keep the gratin from coloring too much. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until you can easily pass a slender knife through the layers.
10. Remove the gratin from the oven and keep it warm about 20 minutes to allow the potatoes to soak up more cream. To serve, cut into wedges.
Each of 8 servings: 522 calories; 9 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 37 grams fat; 23 grams saturated fat; 132 mg. cholesterol; 870 mg. sodium.
My father's cranberry sauce
Total time: 25 minutes, plus
2 hours chilling
Servings: Makes 6 cups
Note: From Lydia Shire
2 cinnamon sticks
30 whole cloves
8 whole allspice
3 cups water
3 (12-ounce) bags cranberries
3 cups sugar
1. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice in a cheesecloth bag and tie it shut.
2. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and add the spices and cranberries. Simmer until they are soft and beginning to jell, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Place a strainer over a large bowl. Remove the bag of spices and pour the cranberries into the strainer, pressing them through with the back of a spoon and scraping from time to time to clear the mesh. You may need to do this in 2 batches. Discard the solids in the strainer.
4. In a clean pot, combine the strained cranberries and the sugar and bring the mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it begins to set, about 2 minutes or so. Pour into a serving dish or dishes. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cool slightly, then refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Each tablespoon: 29 calories; 0 protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 0 sodium.
Duxelles-stuffed Savoy cabbage
Total time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Note: From Michel Richard
1 to 3 heads Savoy cabbage (enough for 12 large leaves)
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
(or olive oil)
2 pounds mixed mushrooms (button, shiitake and
portabello), finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, choosing 12 of the largest. Blanch the leaves in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water just until they soften, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove them from the water and shock them in a bowl full of ice water to stop the cooking. Press them dry between sheets of paper towel. Cut away the thick white spine from the centers of the leaves and set aside.
2. Chop enough of the inner leaves to make 2 cups.