Savory and Sweet Recipes from Oven to Table

Savory and Sweet Recipes from Oven to Table
by Tina Salter 
Ten Speed Press, 2004

Gratin, in French, refers to the crust or top layer. In culinary terms, gratins are generally baked dishes with a crisp golden crust, like the ubiquitous Au Gratin Potatoes.

Gratins are not limited to potatoes, of course, and may be prepared with all sorts of vegetables as well as meats, seafood and even fruit, as is demonstrated in this savory volume by author Tina Salter. She demonstrates the range of the dish with recipes for Tomato and Chevre Gratin, Rhubarb and Raspberry Gratin, and Mexican Shredded Pork Gratin.

The gratineed dishes in this cookbook are based on the methods of northern France, where gratins are typically made with cream or a béchamel sauce. The cream caramelizes into the traditional crisp crust topping a deliciously moist interior. Some of Salter's dishes include nuts, seeds, bread crumbs or crushed tortilla chips in the crust; others use cheese or garlic moistened with olive oil.

"No matter how you prepare it or what you put in, a good gratin always produces the same result," says Salter. "When it's placed on the table, its golden crust is resplendent, promising a rich, tempting filling just below the surface, and people can't help themselves. 'Ahhhs' of anticipation are the usual effect."

Salter's book offers an inspiring selection of "upper crust" recipes for main dishes, sides, desserts and appetizers.

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Gratin Dishes
There aren't many tools necessary to make a gratin, but it's hard to make a gratin unless you have the right dish.

Kitchen Butane Torch
Small kitchen butane torches can be used in the final browning of some dishes.

Oven Mitts
Working with the oven and broiler to manage trays of bubbling hot gratins requires protection from the heat.

A mandoline, a flat, rectangular slicing tool, is a great aid for slicing foods quickly, thinly, and uniformly - a preparation commonly called for in a fast-cooking, attractive gratin.

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