After the warm welcomes and delightful comments I received after guest post at Chef’s Dennis blog I figured that maybe I should show you all who I was talking about. Having that in mind searched high and low for a pic of Nan and me. Flipped through tons of old pics and albums, and when I was in despaire of not finding any a memory came upon me which led me to another desperate search for an envelope with old pics… and I found it! What a joy when noticed that all good pics where kept there. So my Dears – here’s my Nan and Me somewhere on the beach in Międzyzdroje (at the sea side) where my Nan’s sister lived and where we used to go visiting as sea climate was always good for me. On this pic I must be probably around 3-4 years old, so still a baby.
Nan was a great cook, but most of all she was a mistress of quick fixes and not really worrying too much. I guess all had to do as well with times when she was living and I was growing up. Especially that Polish creativity seems to be unquestionable, as there was always way around everything – the famous art of substituting. Have you ever heard of artificial honey? We had it 😉 was made out of sugar and god knows of what else… one label said: sugar, artificial bees… and I’m so not kidding you! Or famous sweets made of rice cereals and chocolate-like coating from powdered milk and cocoa… but they were nice, seriously 😉 So enough of the memory lane and let’s go down to cooking…
….You may ask what on earth ogres, onions and gratins have in common?! yes onions and layers… loads of tiny layers of goodness… seriously… it’s all about layers…When I planned cooking for today my Mom came to me and said what we had in fridge and needed to be used. I always found it fascinating that my role seems to be the one of the inventor what to do with stuff Dad managed to buy too much or wrong… but voila, I never complain as cooking is cooking, right?
Does anyone remember the cartoon by Hanna Barbera called “The Jetsons”? It was about the family from the futuristic US and they had a robot as a maid she was called Rosie and she could cook. Her speciality was “The Memory of Yesterday”, which were simply leftovers made into sth edible…
After a quick check of the fridge and basement I agreed on my Mom’s report and decided that there’s only one way out of the situation – gratin. Gratin is a dish I become familiar with during my time with my Swiss bf and then Swiss-husband, who is now Swiss ex-husband. Swiss just like Poles, Irish and Germans love potatos in every form. Simply coz they were always cheap and always easy to get. And gratin is nothing more than a fancy French name for casserole, so a dish very common all around the world – simple and quick to make, plus (just as pizza or quiche) perfect way of using leftovers.
Dad bought too much bacon this time, and bacon was kind of edgy on expiry date, so it needed to be used asap. We had as well loads of potatos and onion and of course balkan cheese which is a great substitute for feta… so tasty 🙂 So the idea for a hearty meal for a rainy and windy day was born. Something to keep happy and warm through out the day…
(feeds at least 6)
8 big potatos
300g good quality smoked, cooked bacon
4 big onions (3 white, 1 red)
200g feta/balkan cheese
100g smoked cheese
200g sour cream 18%
200ml milk 2%
1 bag mushroom sauce by Knorr (or mushroom soup of your choice)
In the baking tray/dish of your choice pour some olive oil and coat the dish. Line the dish with thin slices of 1st onion, and bacon. Top with thin layer of potatos cut on mandoline. Now another layer of onion, sliced mushrooms and sliced thinly potatos. Next layer: onion, bacon, crumbeled feta/balkan cheese, mushrooms. Top with potatos, then a layer of red onion and potatos. Mix together cream, milk, eggs and sauce/soup. Spread evenly over the gratin. Cover the top with grated smoked cheese. Bake on 200C (or 180C with fan on) for about 40-50 mins. Might be up to an hour depending on potatos and oven.