The hardest part about coming back after being abroad (besides not having access to amazing pastries, roaming wild horses, gorgeous waterfalls, or simply not working) is adjusting to the jet lag. This morning I woke up at 4:32am. Yesterday morning a similar time. By the time I got home from work yesterday before 7ish, we cooked dinner, tried to watch The Bachelorette (ugh! forgot it wasn't playing this week!) and then I was asleep by 8pm. I've been told an easy way to get adjusted is to just begin eating meals at normal times. So this morning I resisted making breakfast until after 6am. It was so difficult!
Traveling is one of my most favorite things, ever. I would do most anything to travel. Copenhagen was just a beautiful city, and kind of put NYC to shame with how clean it was. No subway rats in sight! It had amazing pastries and coffee and everything just felt so bright and open. Iceland was just...a complete wonderland. It felt like a movie, the entire time, and I kept saying "I can't believe this is real," over and over again. I can't wait to share all of the photos I took while there!
Anyway, besides adjusting to the routine of things again, coming back wasn't so hard as I thought it would be. The weather has been really nice in NYC with a wonderful breeze that makes wearing pants and a light sweater totally do-able. We were able to get our laundry done and the apartment cleaned, and catch up on lost sleep. It's so nice to be cooking and eating real food again too, and food that doesn't cost an arm and a leg (Iceland gas station food was pretty expensive! But more on that later.)
Sometimes I really just need something creamy and cheesy and carb-filled in my life. When I saw these pretty leeks at Whole Foods, I knew I had to do something wit them. My first experience with leeks is somewhat embarrassing. It was when I used to play Neopets on the home computer with my brother. Please tell me you also played this game? It was basically like that feeding fish frenzy game or those hand-held tamagotchi games, where you have a little cartoon creature and you feed it food, it travels around, you can win points, and then it can get sick and you have to take care of it, virtually that is, until it gets better.
Leek soup was one of the foods you could buy to feed it!
So anyway, that's always been my association with leeks: NEOPETS!!!
This gratin was super flavorful and cheesy and potato-y. I was so absorbed in making this gratin the other day that I forgot to cook anything else with it, so what you see is literally all we ate for dinner one Sunday evening. It was delicious, and satisfied that craving for something hearty. Plus, it just felt fancy.
Leek and Potato Gratin
- 2-3 large leeks, washed and trimmed, halved lengthwise, and diced in 1/2 inch segments
- 5-7 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup freshly grated cheese, I used a mix of cheddar and swiss and a bit of parmesan on top, but traditionally Gruyere is used.
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart gratin dish, or similar sized baking dish with butter or olive oil.
Slice potatoes into even-sized rounds, about 1/8" thick. Layer in a baking dish, making sure to season with salt and pepper between each layer.
In a medium sized saucepan, heat 1-2 tbl. of butter over medium heat. Add prepared leeks and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks become soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Remove thyme. Pour leeks atop potatoes in baking dish.
Add heavy cream, garlic, bay leaf, and paprika to the same pan, and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf, and pour cream mixture over the leeks and potatoes and top with cheese(s). Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Uncover, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is golden!