Monday, September 10, 2012
It's still summery warm outside, but I just couldn't help myself. On Sunday, I pretended autumn was already here and cranked up the oven, releasing all my pent-up baking energy. When I bake, I BAKE. A hot oven is a terrible thing to waste, so I roasted some veggies, made a batch of cookies, a few loaves of homemade bread, and, oh yes, this gorgeous gratin before finally shutting the oven off and starting a truly epic kitchen clean-up session.
We are swimming in corn and tomatoes right now and, like most produce that ripen in the same season, they pair beautifully together. For this dish, fresh corn kernels are simmered in cream and milk, then layered with fresh sliced tomatoes and basil-scented breadcrumbs, nestling little nobs of butter here and there to bring it all together. We're served it up with some grilled goose brats, and although the brats were good, I lingered over this dish, scooping up big pieces of tomato from the gratin with slices of that freshly made bread, letting the juices soak in the bread a bit, taking a messy bite, and then washing it all down with generous sips of white wine on the backyard patio, enjoying that perfect taste, that perfect moment, as a cool breeze swept in with a reminder that the true autumn is just a whisper away.
Corn and Tomato Gratin
Recipe here. Perhaps the best part about this recipe is the heavy cream - buy the little half pint of cream and you'll still have just enough left over for those last slices of the season's peaches.
4 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/2" thick
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4 cups fresh corn kernels (from 6-8 ears)
1 c. whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 c. fresh bread crumbs (I throw a few slices of bread in the blender and give it a quick buzz)
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
1/2 c. grated parmesan
3/4 stick (6 Tbls.) butter, cut into small pieces
Arrange tomato slices in one layer on a rack set over a shallow rimmed pan and sprinkle on both sides with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Let drain 30 mins.
Meanwhile, bring corn, milk, cream and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a saucepan over high heat (watch carefully so it doesn't boil over), then reduce heat and simmer until corn is tender, about 10 mins. Cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, toss together bread crumbs, basil, cheese, and 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Butter a shallor 2-quart baking dish. Arrange 1/3 of tomato slices in dish, then cover evenly with 1/3 of bread crumb mixture, then dot with 1/3 of the butter. Spoon half the corn mixture over the crumbs, then repeat, layering with half remaining tomotoes, crumbs, and butter, and all of the corn. Arrange remaining tomatoes over corn, then top with remaining bread crumbs and dot with remaining butter.
Bake uncovered in 375 degree overn until top is golden and gratin is bubbling, about 45 mins. Cool about 15 mins before serving.