OK, so it is Week 3 of me writing about foods that I am thankful for, and more importantly, it is eight days from Thanksgiving.
So far I have written about butter and sweet potatoes. I was going to go with one of my two favorite fruits, apples and blueberries, but I write about them all the time. So this week's food hero is cheese, or more specifically, Gruyere.
Gruyere is considered a hard yellow cheese and is named after a town in Switzerland, where it comes from, though it is very popular in France as well, I am told. A friend of mine who spent a semester in France told me Gruyere is the standard cheese in grilled cheese sandwiches there, which is probably the first thing that has ever made me want to go to France.
Gruyere's flavor can change with age and, of course, each maker produces a slightly different-tasting cheese, but I like it because I find it has an appealing gentle sweetness and saltiness, a creaminess without being too creamy or soft, and it can have a nutty or earthy flavor. It's not quite like Swiss cheese, though if you don't like Swiss cheese, you probably won't like Gruyere either.
It has such a strong flavor that you can often get away with using less of it in a recipe than you would of another type of cheese, kind of like Parmesan versus mozzarella.
I've used it with pastas and for my French onion soup and sometimes just as a complement to wine. And when I started looking for recipes to incorporate it into, I found two recipes within a minute that 1) seemed like an awesome way to incorporate it into a vegetable dish and 2) would also be perfect for Thanksgiving -- that is, if you have the oven space and time.
The first recipe is for a Brussels sprouts gratin. I had told my sister-in-law I was considering bringing a Brussels sprouts dish to Thanksgiving, probably with bacon, so this recipe for the gratin really caught my attention. It's a little richer than I was thinking, but then again, not everyone likes Brussels sprouts so it might be good to go heavy on the cheese sauce.
The second recipe is for a crispy baked kale with Gruyere, and this one looks even easier and like it wouldn't have to be piping hot to be enjoyed, either. You make your own croutons and then cook them and the kale together with the Gruyere in the oven - and it can even be made the night before and then just popped in the oven on the big day. With all the commotion of traveling with a baby, I really enjoy make-ahead recipes now.