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Madames et Messieurs, I bring you shocking news.

Je ne suis pas Cream Puff! I am not Cream Puff!

Ze girl that you know as Cream Puff has gone out of ze house. She has gone to ze … ummm … magasin??? How do you say that in English … oh yes … store. Cream Puff has gone to ze store.

And this is my opportunity! Allow me to introduce myself.

Je suis Monsieur Mandoline. My name is Mr. Mandoline.

I was born in France, to ze family de Buyer. Several years ago, I made my way across ze ocean to a very fancy magasin … I mean store. And there, ze Cream Puff, she found me and brought me to her home.

Au début, j’étais heureux. At first, I was happy. Ze Cream Puff, she was very nice. She used me … in a good way. I sliced ze potatoes and ze onions and ze carrots. Ah oui … j’aime les carottes!

Ze Cream Puff would use me often, and when she was finished, she would wash me and dry me and make sure that I was shiny like new. I had a very special place in ze Cream Puff kitchen.

But then, something terrible happend. Ze maman of Cream Puff, she bought her a food processor for Christmas.

Oh l’horreur!

Ze Cream Puff, she forgot about me. Slowly, slowly … I began to lose my place. At first I went from ze counter to ze cupboard. And then I went to ze cupboard even higher up. And then … on a day most sad … ze Cream Puff she put me in ze wood cabinet in ze basement.

Quelle angoisse! What anguish!

There, in ze wood cabinet, I was forced to live with ze lowly baking pans, ze discarded trays, ze empty Christmas tins and ze other appliances ze Cream Puff forgot.

My days were spent in darkness, as were my nights. Occasionally, ze Cream Puff, she would come and open ze cabinet doors and take me out. But all too rarely!

But today, mes amis, hope has entered my life! Ze Cream Puff, she went out, but she was sloppy. She left ze wooden cabinet door open. My chance had arrived!

Comme une gazelle, I jumped out of ze cabinet and sprinted up ze stairs. I made my way dans la cuisine and before me, on ze kitchen counter, was ze most beautiful butternut squash! I remembered my maman and my papa telling me of ze times that they were used to prepare butternut squash, and how beautiful it was. I longed for this feeling.

Pics_015 Boldly, I took ze squash and made it mine. Quelle merveille! What wonder! Ze golden, silky flesh of ze butternut was ze best medicine against my loneliness. Having sliced ze butternut squash, I remembered ze recipe ze Cream Puff used to make.

I mixed cooked ze onion dans le beurre. I added ze cream and milk. I cooked ze squash in ze mixture for only a little bit. And then I put it in ze oven with goat cheese and walnuts. What a beautiful aroma! Once out of ze oven, I helped myself to a big spoonful. And now, I am sending this gratin to you for ze Weekend Cookbook Challenge #10, hosted by Sara of I Like to Cook (moi aussi!) and Mary of The Sour Dough.

So this is my story, mes amis. For a few short hours, I have tasted freedom again. And it has been magnifique. But soon, ze Cream Puff, she will return. So I must go back to the wooden cupboard. But do not fear, Monsieur Mandoline shall return!

Vive la liberté!

Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Adapted from Gratins by Tina Salter.

  • 1 large butternut squash or several small butternut squashes (2 to 3 pounds in total), peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. sage, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 4 to 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a gratin dish that has a 3-quart capacity. I use a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.
  2. In a large pan, melt the butter, add the onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
  3. Add the cream, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and sage. Bring to the boil.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add the butternut squash and half the walnuts. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the squash becomes just tender.
  5. Place half the butternut squash/walnut mixture in the baking dish. Sprinkle half the crumbled goat cheese on top.
  6. Top with the remaining butternut squash/walnut mixture.
  7. Sprinkle with the remaining goat cheese.
  8. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is completely cooked through.
  9. Remove from the oven and let sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and the remaining walnuts.
  10. Enjoy!

Note:  This gratin will serve 6 to 8 people. It’s wonderful for parties. It can be made ahead of time and then reheated.

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