Mack's Corner

This Week --

This week 3-08-16


In 2 weeks 3 busses full of kids will leave Hope going to ski camp. They ski at a place called Monarch. It's small, nice lodge, two lifts. It's perfect for us because we can take over the mountain. The first time I ever went there I had never skied before, but how hard can it be?? I got my skis and poles (no snowboards back then) and started falling down. It took me 20 minutes to get to the lift. I had a really bad feeling going up the mountain on the lift until I saw some people riding it down, at least I knew I could get back. I should have had a bad feeling about something else, getting off the lift. They tell you to "Just stand up and push off". I stood up and went face first in to the snow, skis straight up, poles at my side, perfect form. The guy in the lift chair behind me skied right over my back. From then on the lift operator watched for me so I didn't cause any pileups, he would stop it so I had time to get up. Everything about skiing feels unnatural. So for me to stay up, every muscle in my body was under stress and I had to concentrate on every single thing I did. Any distraction or lack of focus and I was on the ground. I fell down about every 50 feet. At one point a bunch of kids said "Hey Mack, go down Freeway with us!!" "OK, hard can it be?" .. Freeway is a big, very wide slope that goes right in to the lodge. From the lodge it doesn't look very steep, and everybody, even little kids, go down it. To get to it, there's a point of no return. You have to go down a little 200 foot slope. Then, there you are at the top of freeway, no going back! From the top it looks straight down, kinda like you were skiing down the side of a building. "Come on Mack it's fun!" and they all left... Lonely is not a good enough word to describe it, abandon, stranded, surrounded by water, but nothing to drink.. there I was, no place to go but down. As 3 year olds skied past me, I started down. Ski, fall, get up, ski, fall, get up, ski, fall, get up.. rest.. ski, fall, get up, ski, fall, get up.. 2 hours later I got to the bottom. The same people had passed me seven times, had lunch and then passed me 3 more times.. Then on the last day, in the last hour, everything clicked, everything relaxed. I could actually talk and ski at the same time. I still fell down a few times, but I made it down the easy slope 3 times without falling and I made it down Freeway only falling about 5 times. I had turned in to Shaun White (not really).. then it was time to go home..

God's like that: He's waiting for us, even till the last second, of the last minute, of the last hour of the last day. 2 minutes before he died the thief on the cross said "Jesus, remember me when you enter you kingdom." And Jesus said "Today you will be with me in paradise"..

I hear Snowboarding is easy. Maybe we could build a Half-pipe here at Hope. I know I could be a star, I used to have red hair, you know.


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

Gratin 2

Here's the real thing: Anything cooked "Gratin" is easy and it can add a bunch of flavor. One of the things you want to do is buy the best and most flavorful cheese you can. Go to Murray's cheese in Kroger and taste, ask questions. Get something good, you only need a little.  But it makes a big difference in the taste. I'll do some more Gratins next week.

Broccolini-Cheddar Gratin With Rye Breadcrumbs

¼ loaf seeded rye bread, torn into 1” pieces (about 2 cups)
4 dried chiles de árbol, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound broccolini, larger stalks halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, divided
4 ounces white cheddar, thinly sliced

Pulse bread and two chiles in a food processor until coarse crumbs form (make them about the size of chickpeas or smaller). You should have about 1½ cups. Transfer breadcrumbs to a small bowl. Toss with 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper.

Heat a medium skillet over medium and toast breadcrumb mixture, stirring often, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss broccolini on a rimmed baking sheet with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and bright green, 5–8 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer broccolini to a medium bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp. Parmesan and remaining 2 chiles; season with salt and pepper.

Place half of broccolini in a 2-qt. baking dish and top with half of cheddar. Add remaining broccolini and finish with remaining cheddar. Scatter breadcrumbs over and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan. Bake until breadcrumbs are browned and cheese is melted, 10–15 minutes.

Do Ahead: Breadcrumbs can be made 2 days ahead; store tightly wrapped at room temperature. Gratin can be assembled 6 hours ahead; cover and chill. Bake just before serving.

Classic Potato Gratin

5 garlic cloves, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
2 medium shallots, quartered through root ends
2½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, plus more
4 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
3 ounces Gruyère, finely grated
1 ounce Parmesan, finely grated

When simmering the cream, make sure it’s over gentle heat (if it over-reduces, it will break).

Preheat oven to 325°. Cut 1 garlic clove in half and rub the inside of a 3-qt. shallow baking dish with cut sides. Smear butter all over inside of dish. Bring shallots, cream, salt, pepper, 1 Tbsp. thyme, and remaining 4 garlic cloves to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat; cook until shallots and garlic are very soft, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender; blend until smooth. 

Arrange potato slices in prepared dish, fanning out a handful at a time and placing in dish at an angle (this ensures every scoop will have tender potatoes from the bottom and crisp edges from the top). Shingle as you work until bottom of dish is covered. Tuck smaller slices into any gaps to fill. Pour cream mixture over potatoes and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake potatoes until tender and creamy, 60–75 minutes. Let cool.

Place rack in highest position; heat broiler. Remove foil and top potatoes with Gruyère and Parmesan. Broil until cheese is bubbling and top of gratin is golden brown, 5–10 minutes. Serve topped with more thyme leaves. 

Do Ahead: Gratin can be baked 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before broiling.

Potato And Celery Root Gratin With Leeks

3 cups heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 sprig thyme plus 3 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, divided
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
Kosher Salt
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, very thinly sliced crosswise (1/8' thick)
1 pound celery root, peeled, very thinly sliced crosswise (1/8' thick)
2 cups grated Gruyère
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat to 350°. Heat cream, garlic, and thyme sprig in a medium saucepan just until bubbles begin to form around edge of pan. Remove from heat; set aside to steep.

Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; season with salt and cook, stirring often, until tender (do not brown), 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Butter a 3-qt. gratin dish with remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Layer 1/3 of potato slices and 1/3 of celery root slices evenly over bottom of baking dish. Cover with 1/3 of leeks, then 1/3 of Gruyère. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp. thyme leaves. Repeat layers twice more. Strain cream mixture into a medium pitcher and pour over vegetables.

Set gratin dish on a large rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Carefully remove foil; continue baking until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling, 25–30 minutes.

Do Ahead: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Tent with foil and rewarm in a 300° oven until hot, about 20 minutes


Posted by Mack Oates at 10:12 AM