Potato Leek Gratin & Blueberry Rice Pudding.

Lots and lots of fun farm cooking to share with you guys this week.  Yesterday was CSA sample day, and I was challenged with making two new recipes to share with our CSA members.  In case you missed them, here are some of my other CSA sample posts:

This week’s featured ingredients were red potatoes and fresh blueberries – YUM!  My first creation was a Potato and Leek Gratin – believe it or not, my first time baking this type of casserole-type dish.  Because I typically try to cook as healthy as possible, I’m not really used to layering things in cheese and milk and baking them, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…

I started with fresh leeks – washed and rinsed to get rid of the sand.

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And a big pile of kennebec potatoes – very similar to Yukon golds.

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I sliced the potatoes and tossed them generously with salt and pepper.  In this type of dish, you only get one shot at seasoning – go big or go home.

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I sautéed the leeks in a bit of olive oil on the stovetop…

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And added a tsp of ground cumin.  It was supposed to be cumin seeds, but I ran out, so I did a mixture of both and hoped that nobody noticed!

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Spiced leeks, softened and ready to go.

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The flavor punch in this recipe comes from the gruyere cheese – one of my favorites.

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I grated 3/4 cup…

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And added half of it to a bowl, along with the leeks and sliced potatoes.

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Then I loaded the entire mixture into a 2 quart baking dish.  It just barely fit!

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Now comes the fun part.  I poured 2 1/3 cups low-fat milk into the mixture, and set it in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.

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After time was up, I pulled the gratin back out to find the potatoes starting to brown and soften.

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Topped the mixture with the rest of the gooey cheese, and put it back into the oven for another 45 minutes.  Good thing I read my recipe ahead of time and started this bad boy nice and early!

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About 2 hours after I started, this bubbling bowl of deliciousness was ready…

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Brown, bubbly cheese.  Sooooo hard to resist!

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This recipe was a BIG HIT!  I can’t say I was surprised though – let’s get real.  Potatoes, milk, cheese… what’s not to like?  The CSA members (and staff members!) gobbled it up – always a good sign of a dish well done.

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But I assure you I did not just wait for potatoes to cook all afternoon.  I also made an amazing Vegan Chinese Black Rice Pudding with Blueberries.  Ohhhh yes.  I was pretty excited when the volunteers came in from the field and dropped off 6 pounds of blueberries in the kitchen.

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If I had to guess, I would estimate a 2 cups in the pudding to 2 cups in my mouth ratio.  :)

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I got started by cooking 1 cup of dry Chinese (Forbidden) black rice.  I am sure that any rice would have worked, but the recipe called for this particular black rice.  It gave a nice color effect, as it turned PURPLE when cooked!

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The rice went in to a simmering pot of 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup soy milk, and 1/4 cup of honey.

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Stir, stir, stir until it thickens and gets creamy.  As you can see, I took this job very seriously.

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Once it was thick enough, I added the star of the show – blueberries!

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Ten more minutes of stirring and simmering (and salivating)…

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Happy cook!  :)  I feel very lucky to do what I do every day.

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Finally finished, and poured into a bowl to cool before serving.

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Two hours later, cooled down for service.  100% amazing!

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The CSA customers couldn’t get enough of this stuff, and also couldn’t believe that it was vegan!  I think this would be really fun to take to a party.  Definitely one to make again!

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All set up and ready for customers.  Fancy – I know.  :)

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These were two totally different and fun recipes to make.  Now that it’s been a few weeks and I’m getting the hang of it, I find that I really enjoy talking to the members and showing them what their produce is each week.  It is fun to suggest ways for them to use it, and I am much more comfortable and natural talking about cooking and food than I realized.  Guess that culinary arts degree is getting put to good use!

More fun cooking coming up next!  I was BAKING all day long, mmmmmmm…