Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Recipes for Potatoes Au Gratin, Linzer Torte from Ruth Reichl's 'My Kitchen Year'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Recipes for Potatoes Au Gratin, Linzer Torte from Ruth Reichl's 'My Kitchen Year'

Article excerpt

Reichl's recipes for potatoes au gratin, linzer torte

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To Ruth Reichl, recipes are a conversation and should serve as a stepping stone for readers to adapt them to their own taste.

In keeping with that, she uses a relaxed tone in her new cookbook "My Kitchen Year," directing home cooks to add a glug of olive oil, season with a shower of pepper or toss in a hefty dollop of bourbon.

"I was really clear that I wanted the whole book to have a narrative arc and that I wanted the recipes to be kind of like stories too," she says.

Rather than a standard list of ingredients common in most recipes, she includes a shopping list of items that likely need to be purchased and a list of staples most people probably have on hand.

"That's how I shop. When you go to the market you don't really need to know that you need sugar. You do need to know that you need a butternut squash. It's just done, for me, intuitively. It's how I cook," she says.

She also wants readers to experience the smells and feel of their ingredients, encouraging them to mix with their hands.

"There are things I love, like the butternut squash or when you're peeling a peach or there's this wonderful effect when you run the banana leaves across the flame where you can watch the colour ripple and change and I thought it would be a shame that people didn't stop to notice that."

"My Kitchen Year" is also available in an audio version.

"I thought they were crazy when they asked me to read it," says Reichl. But with the recipes written in a conversational style and the ingredients incorporated into the directions, "it really does work."

"In fact, AudioFile magazine put me on the cover because as a cookbook it really does work. You can stop it. It is like I'm standing there with you."

Here are some recipes from "A Kitchen Year" to try:

POTATOES AU GRATIN

Reichl calls this side dish an "extravagant classic," which she's served at Christmas with a prime rib roast.

She writes: "The secret to these potatoes is that they're cooked twice. First you plunk them into a big bath of milk and cream that's been infused with a touch of garlic and bring them gently to a boil. Then you dump them into a baking dish, grate a bit of fresh nutmeg over them, and sprinkle the entire top with Gruyere before putting them into the oven where they drink up all the liquid as the cheese turns into a crisp crust."

SHOPPING LIST

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) cream

1.15 kg (2 1/2 lb) boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)

250 g (1/2 lb) Gruyere cheese (grated)

STAPLES

500 ml (2 cups) milk

2 cloves garlic, smashed

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

Pepper

Whole nutmeg

Butter

Pour cream and milk into a large pot. Peel potatoes and slice as thinly as you can, putting them into the pot as they are ready. Add garlic, salt and a few good grinds of pepper and bring it all slowly to a boil. …

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