FLAVOR / Out & About
EDITED BY LYNDA BALSLEV
Root Vegetable Gratin
Root vegetables are available year round, but their peak season is smack
in the middle of winter. This is good news for vegetable fans who want
to stay healthy in cold weather. Rutabaga, sweet potatoes, parsnips and
celery root are deeply flavorful, sweet, and packed with vitamins, nutrients and fiber; after all, as storehouses of natural sugars, they’re the
vital roots of growing plants. All of which translates to wholesome satisfaction on the dinner plate. (Although who says you can’t mix them with
a little cheese and cream?) Feel free to use your favorite root vegetables
in this recipe. You will need about 3 pounds total.
Meet Your Local Baker
Samuel Schwartz has always liked working with his hands. He
became interested in baking when he lived in London and visited
neighborhood bakeries and farmers markets. Now it’s a passion
and has inspired Portside Bakery, where Schwartz handcrafts
croissants, pastries and sourdough bread to sell every Thursday
at the Civic Center farmers market.
2 cups sour cream
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1½ pounds medium Yukon Gold or red
1 large sweet potato, peeled, about
1 medium rutabaga, peeled, about
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, finely grated
L cup heavy cream, or more as needed
1 Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter
an 8-by-10-inch gratin dish.
2 Whisk the sour cream, garlic, sage,
thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl.
3 Thinly slice the vegetables, about an
inch thick, preferably with a mandoline.
Arrange half of the Yukon or red potatoes, overlapping in concentric circles, in
the bottom of the gratin dish. Spread ½
cup of the sour cream over the potatoes
and sprinkle with some of the Gruyère.
Cover with a layer of the sweet potatoes,
overlapping in concentric circles. Spread
with ½ cup of the sour cream and some
of the Gruyère. Repeat with the rutabaga,
½ cup more sour cream and the Gruyère.
Finish with the remaining Yukon or red
potatoes, sour cream and Gruyère.
Drizzle the cream in and around the
edges, corners and gaps in the gratin.
4 Cover the gratin with lightly buttered
foil. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue to bake
until the vegetables are tender when
pierced with a knife and the top is golden
brown, 15 to 25 minutes. Let stand for
5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Farmers Market Finds
Where did you learn your craft?
I started learning first out of
cookbooks and then staging with
bakers around the bay, including at
Pizzaiolo in Oakland and Parkside
Cafe in Stinson.
Where do you do your baking?
We’re building out a new bakery
kitchen space in Sausalito, and
until that’s finished, we’re baking out of the makers’ space at
Kitchen Town in San Mateo.
It seems that your business is a family
affair. Yes, our wonderful and talented
sales crew largely consists of my
mother, my mother-in-law and my
wife. In the kitchen, we’re a small crew,
consisting of two bakers: my partner in
the trenches and pastry chef, Kristina,
and me, self-appointed bread-head and
Is it true that bakers work all night?
I’d say the border bet ween day and night is just a little different for
bakers. For me, 1 a.m. is morning, 9 a.m. is lunch and 7 p.m. is bedtime.
Between 6 and 7 p.m., I reacquaint myself with my wife and cat before
collapsing with my clogs on.
Do you have a favorite bakery you like to frequent? I love this question. If you come to the market I can be found giving unsolicited bakery
recommendations. One of my all-time favorites is Neighbor Bakehouse
in San Francisco’s Dogpatch. Greg, the owner and head baker, has been
making some of the best croissants and pastry in the Bay Area.
Where do you source your products from? We source all of our produce
from the Thursday Civic Center farmers market and all of our flour, grain
and dairy from just over the county line, in Petaluma.