Food Daily Dish

Easy dinner recipes: Gratins, casseroles and puddings for fall

With the official start of fall, now's the perfect time to start breaking out those rustic one-dish dinner recipes. Gratins, casseroles and puddings are dishes made for this weather, and while the food itself is substantial and hearty, the recipes don't have to take forever. Nosh on these ideas:

Aromatic vegetables suspended in a rich sauce, maybe a little melted cheese, all of it hidden under a crisp golden brown crust. Behold the glory that is the gratin. One of the oldest dishes in the comfort-food playbook, the gratin is a celebration of lush creaminess and crisp crust that is often based on the simplest of ingredients. For a weeknight meal, combine crumbled Italian sausage with fresh kale in a creamy goat cheese sauce. Top the gratin with a seasoned breadcrumb topping before baking, and you've got dinner in just over an hour.

If you're looking for a fall-type dish that still makes use of the summer produce still in the markets, we have a corn pudding that is perfect. Fresh corn kernels are baked up with diced zucchini in a savory pudding.

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpu

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpuf

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpu

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpuf

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpu

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

Love bread pudding? In a savory take on the classic, this version is studded with chanterelle mushrooms, enriched with Gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses and seasoned with aromatic fresh thyme and sage.

You can find all three recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND KALE GRATIN

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Servings: 6 to 8

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound fresh mild Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled

1/3 cup dry white wine

2 bunches (about 1 pound) kale, stemmed and torn into large pieces

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

8 ounces fresh goat cheese

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (such as a combination of parsley, oregano and basil)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large, heavy-bottom saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the crumbled sausage and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the wine and cook, scraping the flavoring from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the wine reduces and is mostly evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium.

4. Stir in the kale, one handful at a time. Cook the kale, stirring it in with the sausage, until it begins to wilt and turn a bright green. Continue adding kale by the handful until it is all added to the saute pan and is just wilted. Do not overcook the kale. Remove from heat and set the pan aside.

5. In a large saucepan, melt one-half cup (1 stick) butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to get rid of any lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

6. Crumble the goat cheese to the sauce and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth, then stir in the sausage and kale. Remove from heat.

7. Spoon the mixture into a shallow, 2-quart gratin dish.

8. In a medium bowl, combine the Parmigiano-Reggiano, bread crumbs and minced fresh herbs. Pour over the 3 tablespoons melted butter and stir until the butter is evenly distributed to form the topping.

9. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sausage and kale mixture.

10. Bake the gratin until the topping is golden-brown and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

11. Cool slightly before serving.

Each of 8 servings: 494 calories; 14 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 40 grams fat; 21 grams saturated fat; 85 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 600 mg sodium.

BUDIN DE ELOTE (CORN PUDDING WITH ZUCCHINI)

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, plus 10 to 15 minutes for settling

Servings: 8 to 10

Note: From "Doña Tomás" by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky

Butter for pan

3 cups fresh corn kernels (3 to 4 ears)

1 1/2 cups zucchini cut into 1/4-inch dice (3 to 4 slender zucchini)

1/3 cup flour

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

3 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack positioned in the center. Butter a 9-inch casserole.

2. Place the corn and zucchini in a bowl and toss with the flour to evenly cover. Spread into the casserole.

3. Wipe the bowl clean and combine the eggs and yolks and whisk briefly. Add the cream and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Pour over the vegetables.

4. Bake about 1 hour, until lightly browned on top; it should feel like a firm pillow. Allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Each of 10 servings: 342 calories; 6 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 30 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 223 mg. cholesterol; 283 mg. sodium.

CHANTERELLE-SAGE BREAD PUDDING

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: From Amy Scattergood. Use a 1-pound loaf of any high-quality country-white bread.

3 cups whole milk

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus 1/8 cup small whole sage leaves, divided

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 pounds chanterelle

mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

5 eggs

8 cups stale country white bread, crust on, cut or torn into about 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 cup grated Emmentaler cheese

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, garlic, sage, thyme and black pepper. Heat over high heat until just before the milk reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and salt and saute, stirring often, until the mushrooms are soft and fragrant and beginning to caramelize, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the cooled milk. Add the bread pieces, cheeses and sauteed mushrooms and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, pressing down on the bread to make sure it is submerged. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes while the bread absorbs the liquid.

4. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown, rotating once for even cooking. Serve immediately.

Each of 8 servings: 374 calories; 20 grams protein; 26 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 176 mg. cholesterol; 533 mg. sodium.

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