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October 23, 2006


Lisa (Homesick Texan)


It was great meeting you on Saturday! Everthing you shared was such a scrumptious party on the palate (I loved the earthiness of the goat cheese mixed with the smoky ham and sweet dates), but I hold a special place in my heart for your Korova cookies. I couldn't stop eating them (and would have devoured the lot if hadn't been thwarted by other eager munchers)! Thanks for linking to the recipe.


I second Lisa! That homesick Texan has a great tooth for cookies - your Korova's were YUM, who can blame me for eating more than my fair share? When I got home I noticed that I had Laurie Colwin's "Home Cooking" on my 'To Read' shelf - I'm repositioning it to the "read next" spot. Wonderful to meet you, hope to do it again!


Julie, both of these recipes sound wonderful! Yum, yum. I'm a big squash fan, so you've got an eager reader in me.

Now, a question about cream in gratins, if you'll permit me: why does it separate sometimes? And is half-and-half even more likely to separate? Brandon makes a wonderful kale gratin that uses a ton of cream and some eggs, and in an effort to make it a wee bit healthier, we tried it this weekend with half-and-half - and with bad results. It separated and sort of curdled. Any ideas?



Thirded! There are no leftover Korova cookies. They were incredible. And that pumpkin bread was amazing, too! (In light of the recent picky eater posts, I'll confess that I picked out the nuts, but oh, it was entirely worth it to get at the rest of the bread! Yum.)

Squash is a beautiful thing.


Lisa, I really enjoyed meeting you too -- and as you can tell, I'm a real fan of your Texas Red. I'm going to win a lot of brownie points at home when I make it for G!

Vanessa, I know you're going to love Home Cooking. Laurie Colwin's humor and good sense have never let me down. I look forward to seeing you at another potluck, hopefully soon!

Molly, I don't have any real scientific backing on this, but it's my thinking that the thicker the cream, the less likely it is to separate. MFK Fisher talks about this in The Art of Eating -- she describes making cauliflower gratin (in FRANCE, of course) simply by putting lightly boiled cauliflower in a dish, covering it with thick cream and grated cheese, and having it become a perfect molten gratin after a few minutes in a hot oven. She then says that it didn't work when she came home to the U.S. The cauliflower was more watery, the cream wasn't as thick, and she had to add flour to make a good sauce.

I think there are other factors as well. If the gratin (particularly one containing eggs) is overcooked, it will definitely separate and become watery, and/or sometimes even greasy. I have had this unpleasant experience, where instead of vegetables suspended in the silken mass I had envisioned, I wound up with curds, whey and grease. Not appealing. Sometimes cheeses tend to cause this kind of separation, as do the enzymes in certain vegetables. The only ones I know for sure are potatoes when they're raw, rather than parboiled in the cream. It's all a matter of experimentation. The butternut gratin worked well, but then separated when I tried reheating it the second day, which would speak to the overcooking-the-cream factor. This is the best I can figure -- perhaps someone else can share more experience on this with us.

Danielle, I'm so glad you liked the cookies and the cake. Can't WAIT to get that chocolate cake recipe -- it was sublime. And I loved your onion soup dumplings as well. Mmmm -- already looking forward to the next potluck...


I peel butternut squash with a vegetable peeler I picked up at Ikea (round stainless handle, don't recall the name). This particular vegetable peeler tends to take thick slices of vegetable and is decently sharp. The thick slices are bad when I'm peeling carrots or potato (too much flesh being removed) but is just right for squash.


I lurve all squash but have a hard time finding new ways to eat it (probably b/c I love the old ways I eat it so much already). This is a double-bonus blog for me because I'm also going through a gratin obsession! Thanks!


I didn't really used to like squash, but I'm starting to love it now.


Thank you, dear Julie, for helping me start to figure out the mystery of curdled gratins! I had a feeling that there was something magical about cream. Harold McGee might have a chapter that addresses it; I'll have to look into that. Either way, it looks as though Brandon and I may not be able to make that kale gratin much healthier, eh? Oh well, cream certainly tastes good...


I too am a korova cookie addict. They are my very favorite among chocolate cookies. The salt thing. It's the best.
I am looking at 4 winter squashes from my CSA farmbox, and making some plans. I think I'm going to try your gratin.

I do a John Thorne tian which is pretty good, too. You dice the peeled squash into 3/4" cubes, toss it with olive oil , lots of chopped garlic, and a generous bunch of freshly grated parm, S and P. Then you cook it at 350F for a really long time, until the outside of the cubes are browned, and it's all kind of crusty. It's great- the inside of the cubes are a molten gold surprise.
i forget which of the thorne books it's from.


ooooo-i made this gratin for a dinner party this weekend and it was a mega-hit. (Even though it separated slightly-not completely). Note to self-read comments on blogs. Thanks again Julie!


Michelle, I'm due for an Ikea trip, so I'm going to keep an eye out for that peeler -- it took me ages to do the butternut for the gratin, so I clearly need a better tool. Thanks!

Duane, I'm glad you're joining the ranks of us squash lovers!

Molly, my dear, you're most welcome. I think a cream gratin has to be just that, made with real, heavy cream, the thickest you can find. A way to cut caloric corners would be to use a low-fat milk-based thin bechamel instead -- which could be very yummy too, in its way, but different from a cream gratin.

Lindy, I love that John Thorne tian of squash/pumpkin (which Laurie Colwin was a fan of also -- detailed in her description of a lovely meal for Halloween). I'm a great John Thorne fan. I've made it a few times, and I also take the step he recommends of tossing the chunks in flour, too. Hmmm. Maybe that bears thinking of for tonight's dinner, since it's the Hallowed Eve and all...

Sucar, I'm so glad the gratin was a hit. I think overcooking is the culprit in terms of possible separation in this dish -- it should be baked just until the squash is tender. Even if it looks like the sauce is too liquid, let it rest for 10 minutes or so out of the oven before serving, and the cream thickens up miraculously.


I'm so glad you reminded me about the flour! I had been making it from memory, and had forgotten about the flour- which will make it all the crustier.

Jessica "Su Good Eats"

Hey Julie, I'm still catching up on getting back to everyone, but everything you brought was absolutely delicious. I LOVED the streusel on your pumpkin bread. Thanks for sharing the recipes.

michael jones

This site is real miracle! Thank you for the great post! I think that this is approptiate for my picky eater recipes' pad!:))

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Hi people great blog I really enjoy reading this article
I too am a korova cookie addict. They are my very favorite among chocolate cookies. The salt thing. It's the best.
thanks for sharing

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But back to the squash-haters. Surely there's enough variety among acorn, butternut, hubbard, sweet dumpling, kabocha, cheese pumpkin and about a dozen others that everyone should be able to find at least one lovable squash-mate.

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I'd love to try that hazelnut/rye approach in our stored-dough method. First, I'll try to find the hazelnuts! Thanks for posting to Jaden's site, hope I answered your question...

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These are indeed helpful. Lets do it this Winter. I think that's great idea for this winter. Like the blog will wait for other ... Nice one.

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