I may have a prodigious memory, but when it comes to cooking for friends with various dietary restrictions I keep a database of likes, dislikes, and food allergies so I don’t make a potentially dangerous mistake when planning menus. I occasionally have to solve logic problems when I invite certain groups (“The vegan doesn’t eat broccoli. The person who keeps kosher is also a vegetarian. Of the two people who don’t eat shellfish, only one has a dairy allergy.”), but forÂ the most part I manage to find meals to cook that aren’t salads, vegetarian lasagna, or the dreaded “enchanted broccoli forest.” (I still break out in hives when I see that cookbook.)
When the vegetarian variables align I get to make my go-to dish, the gÃ¢teau of crÃªpes from Julia Child & More Company. It’s two casseroles and mushroom duxelles separated and wrapped in savory crepes. The recipe is simple – with good time management you can make the gÃ¢teauÂ in three hours.
Much chopping, blanching, grating, and sautÃ©eing ensued, but I had my fillings: broccoli, mushrooms, andÂ carrots with dill.
I re-learned myÂ crÃªpe-making skills quickly enough to bash out a dozen, complete with pan-flipping.
After making a custard from cream, eggs, and cream cheese (mixed in a blender to keep it smooth), it was time to start layering. Julia assumes everyone has a charlotte mold, but she’s the only cook I’ve ever seen use one. I substituted a large soufflÃ© dish, sacrificing height for additional width. After buttering the dish (crucial step), I lined it withÂ crÃªpes.
I layered in the vegetables, starting with the carrots and some of the cheese.
I ladled in some of the custard, then covered the carrots with aÂ crÃªpe. I added the mushrooms and anotherÂ crÃªpe before adding the final layer of broccoli, cheese, and custard.
After adding the last of the custard I folded over the top edges of theÂ crÃªpes, then topped the stack with a finalÂ crÃªpe. Note the drip pan under the soufflÃ© dish, which will catch any custard that bubbles over.
After an hour at 350 Â°F I increased the heat to 400 Â°F for another hour. After about 15 minutes of cooling I ran a thin spatula around the perimeter of the dish and inverted the contents onto a platter.
You can see a cross-section of theÂ gÃ¢teau at the top of the post, it’s a very firm assembly. I served individual slices with some quick tomato sauce.
The method for this dish is more important than the contents,Â because you can generate endless variations of fillings, cheese, and crÃªpes. Add herbs to theÂ crÃªpes, season the custard, change the sauce – you can create almost any flavor profile. You could even adapt the technique to make desserts with fruit fillings.Â I plan on trying some of the variations.
I just hope I don’t have to cook for gluten-free vegans any time soon. Salad, anyone?