This is what I got to wake up to every morning at the home of our friends in Germany.
I was perfectly happy and content in that space.
One evening, while sitting in the conservatory, we were treated to Maria playing her saxophone. Another evening, Maria and her flute instructor of many years serenaded us with Brahms and Handel duets.
When sitting outdoors I was surrounded by roses. Maria and Dieter have over 150 rose bushes in their yard!
This is what I passed, stepping out of my bedroom every morning.
Maria served DELICIOUS meals and Dieter baked desserts daily. One thing my daughter immediately asked for on our return was Maria's potato gratin. I'm posting Patricia Wells' recipe for Gratin Dauphinois. Maria, I believe, only used about a cup of heavy cream and none of the whole milk used in this recipe. Also, what made Maria's potatoes so wonderful was the generous addition of French olive oil. She poured some oil onto the bottom of the dish, layered potatoes, poured on the heavy cream and then more olive oil, finishing with a good sprinkling of Swiss Emmanthal cheese. What kept me taking spoonful after spoonful of Maria's potatoes was the incredible taste of the olive oil. Maria said she used her everyday oil instead of the "good stuff" that she saves for vinaigrettes. Well, Maria's everyday French olive oil is what I would compare to the best olive oil in my kitchen. If you decide to make the potato gratin as Maria did and use oil in this recipe (and eliminate the milk), try to use the most flavorful oil you have.
(from Patricia Wells at Home in Provence)
1 plump, fresh garlic clove, peeled and halved
2 pounds firm-fleshed potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin (I used Yukon Gold)
4 ounces Swiss Gruyere cheese, freshly grated (or Emmanthal)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Rub the inside of the baking dish with garlic
3. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, 3/4 of the cheese, the milk, cream, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish, pouring the liquid over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
4. Place in the center of the oven and bake until the potatoes are cooked through and the top is crisp and golden, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.