Monday, October 16, 2006

Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Grilled Tuna and Potato-Tomato Gratin and Rouille


There are few people I'd rather dine with than my family (unfortunately J is on the road again so we missed him) - we all LOVE food, LOVE wine, and LOVE Dotchi No Ryori Show. You're probably wondering what that last one is. It's a Japanese game show based around food- it's a battle of food, actually. Each episode focuses on two foods that are kind of similar- the game show contestants (half celebs, half normal people) have to watch two chefs prepare the most gourmet version of these two foods and then choose which one they want to eat. The majority wins- so if you're in the minority, you have to watch the majority chow down while you sit there, starving. It's on every Saturday night on channel 18 and we watch it every chance we get.

Anyway, back to the point. My family came over on Saturday for dinner, ready for a night of food and TV! Initially I wanted to make stuffed eggplant but a trip to the Farmer's Market last Thursday made me change the menu completely. There wasn't a single eggplant in sight, so I decided to go with a Fall menu from the Sunday Suppers at Lucuqes cookbook- Grilled Tuna and Potato-Tomato Gratin and Rouille. Despite the fact that it's mid-October, tomatoes are still in abundance at the Farmer's Market so I picked up a few juicy ones along with a bag of yukon golds. Another fabulous find- the best, most peppery arugula which was so fragrant that it actually made my car smell like the leafy greens.

Uncooked gratin.........

Cooked gratin........

One of the things I love best about the Lucques cookbook is the notes on which parts of each dish you can make ahead. It's nice to hang out with your dinner guests and sip wine before a meal instead of sweating in the kitchen. Since the book stated that the gratin could be assembled ahead of time, I did just that. After slicing the potatoes with my mandoline, I soaked them in a mixture of cream, salt, pepper and thyme. I sliced 1 1/2 pounds of yellow onions (and cried like a baby!) and caramelized them until they turned a rich, golden brown. The gratin is made by simply layering the onions, tomato and potato slices and pouring the cream over the entire dish. After a sprinkle of salt, pepper and olive oil, the whole thing is garnished with julienned basil, covered, then baked.


I had purchased four beautiful ahi tuna steaks at How's Market and rubbed them in a mixture of grated lemon zest, chopped parsley and sliced chile de arbol and put them in the fridge. Now it was time to make the rouille, which is a mayonnaisey type of sauce. Here is where I made my mistake. I could swear that I've seen many a TV chef put their egg yolks in the food processor, turned it on, then poured a slow, steady stream of oil to make their mayonnaise. It works every time (at least on TV). Well, even though the cookbook said to put the egg yolk in a stainless steel bowl and whisk constantly while pouring in the oil, I decided to take a short cut and use the Cuisinart. Big mistake. I guess the blades cutting through the mixture instead of whisking it resulted in an oily liquid- it didn't look a thing like the mayonnaise-type sauce it was supposed to me. I had to chuck the whole thing and start over- this time following instructions. Sure enough, my hand-whisking created a nice, thick sauce. I'll never make that mistake again!!

The beginnings of the rouille- garlic, saffron & salt


About an hour before my family arrived, I popped the gratin into the oven and brought the tuna steaks up to room temperature. After brushing them with olive oil, I put them for a quick sear in the grill pan and everything was ready! The tuna and rouille went together beautifully but the real winner was the gratin. Who would have thought that tomatoes, potatoes and caramelized onions would go so well together? Tender, creamy and mellow.....and boy- did it make the house smell great while it was baking. I think it'd make a great vegetarian main course.

Tuna rubbed with herbs........

The finished tuna steaks.......

After we finished eating, we watched Dotchi No Ryori show- it was a battle between yakisoba (fried noodles) and takoyaki (egg balls w/ octopus). I know the latter sounds strange to most of you, but it's a very delicious and popular snack-type food in Japan. Man, after watching all of the close-ups of handmade noodles being fried on a huge griddle with sauce bubbling all around it, we all decided that we need to eat some yakisoba soon. And, in case you're wondering- yakisoba won!

Ready to eat!

I did make a Lucuqes dessert as well, but we'll save that for tomorrow's post!

PS- I'm also back to cooking for one, so I'll show you a few simple dishes made with the leftover tuna from this meal!

6 comments:

eatdrinknbmerry said...

I bought a small tin of saffron threads and have yet to use them. I was going to try them with clams w/ a wine/lemon/garlic butter sauce. I found a place that sells a large container of saffron for like $33. But I couldn't imagine using all of that before my death haha. Nice dinner. I'm going to have to pick up the Suzanne Goin book.

Carlyn said...

Tag;
...gosh, everything looks soooo good. and...I am intrigued by this television show.... I get AZN network in CT, but have never seen this show. Sounds like fun.. I would have picked the takoyaki...(My favorite)

Chubbypanda said...

I love that show!

I also love Trader Joe's, since they now sell saffron in corked glass containers portioned out to appeal to single home cooks. I might not plunk down my lucre for a $33 tin, but a $2 portion good for a paella or two is just about right.

That gratin with the tomatoes intrigues me. Baked tomatoes in cream. Huh. I prefer mine fresh, but still...

- Chubbypanda

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Eat: You have to buy the book- it's great. This was the first time I used the saffron I bought in Europe. I feel like I've had it forever!

Carlyn: Not sure where you can find the show but keep lookin- it is great.

Chubby: I, too, though the combination of tomatoes, potatoes and cream was weird, but it really tasted amazing. I thought the same of another gratin from the same cookbook- it was summer squash, cheese and a pesto made with mint. It ended up being the hit of the meal.

iturnedouttv said...

We love that show too! Tivo calls it Cooking Showdown, if that helps you search for it, carlyn.

tokyoastrogirl: Can you please tell me what the significance of all the "helicopter" talk is on the show? I swear, even with the subtitles, my boyfriend and I have a heck of time figuring out what's going on on that show! And what the heck does "dotch" mean, anyway?

Tokyoastrogirl said...

TV: Unfortunately, I don't know of the "helicopter" talk on the show...I'll have to keep my ears open next time. Dotch means "which one" in Japanese...as in "which one cooking" which they probably mean as "which one will you choose!"