Elements of Food

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Bacon

I love Brussels Sprouts and I don’t need them to be covered in a cheese sauce to entice me…I am, however, certainly not opposed to it! As a side to my lemon, thyme and garlic roasted pork tenderloin, I served these delectable little sprouts and we just loved them…It’s hard to beat the cheesey, gooey goodness and the tender, crunchy little sprouts. The sprouts roast in the oven for about 30 minutes and you would think after this long they would be soft…but they remained crunchy and delicious and the sauce soaked into all the leaf layers of the sprouts. These didn’t last long…

brussels sprouts gratin


  • 1 pound of Brussels Sprouts, outer leaves taken off and cut in half
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of flour
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Gruyere cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Freshly Ground Pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil and add in the sprouts. Blanch for one minute, they should turn bright green. Do not “cook” the sprouts, you do not want them to be soft.

Remove the sprouts from the water, place in a bowl and set aside.

In the same sauce pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Stir until blended. Do not let the flour burn. Add in the milk, mayo, cheese, bacon and pepper. Whisk until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are combined.

Combine the sprouts and the cheese sauce and mix until combined. Place the mixture into a baking dish and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the sprouts are tender. During the last 5 minutes of baking, add additional cheese on top and allow to brown slightly in the oven.

Elements of Food

Chicken and Spinach Crepe with Mushroom Bechamel Sauce

My husband and I both LOVE crepes…both sweet and savory varieties. Just like my stance on risotto…you can throw any variety of ingredients in them and they will taste delicious! I first fell in love with crepes when I was living in San Diego for school. My family has spent countless summer vacations on Coronado Island, and so I would frequently spend my free time away from school, visiting the Island to relax. There was this incredible little crepe shop not too far from the Hotel Del called Bino’s. They created incredible crepes and I couldn’t get enough! I brought friends from school almost every Sunday to introduce them to this culinary delight. Nutella Banana…Berries and Cream, and savory crepes such as ham and Gruyere…yum!

My husband, who I met after college, had been consuming crepes since he was in grade school. He and his family have lived, and spent a lot of time in France. Before we were married, or even engaged, Brendan took me on my first trip to Paris. I was in love with the city from the second I set foot out of the taxi. It was this trip that I had my very first true French crepe at Creperie des Arts…and I loved it. I watched in amazement as they made a perfect crepe on their crepe maker…and I knew I had to figure out how to do this at home. It was no wonder that when my husband proposed and we started creating our registries…the first item to go on was an electric crepe maker!

This recipe was created using Julia Child’s traditional crepe batter, and a mixture of a couple of my favorite flavors: Spinach, shallots, garlic and Gruyere cheese…I mean, can you really go wrong?!

Note* If you don’t have an electric crepe maker, you can usea crepe pan. They are a little trickier to use, but they still create a light, delicate crepe.

Crepe Batter Ingredients for Savory Crepes

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 4 T butter, melted

Put the liquids, eggs and salt into a blender jar. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend on high speed for 1 minute. Occasionally scrape the sides of the jar to get all the flour down into the blender. Blend for 1 more minute. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Make 10 inch crepes using an electric crepe maker or crepe pan on the stove. Stack them on top of each other as you  make them, to keep them warm and soft. Cover with foil to keep warm until you are ready to assemble.

crepe pan

crepe progress complete

Spinach & Chicken Filling

  • 2 T shallot, minced
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 Pound of Spinach
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken, pulled apart into bit sized shreds
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (or Swiss, whatever you can find)

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and saute the shallots until softened. Add in the spinach, and stir until vibrant green and wilted. Stir in the shredded chicken to combine. Remove from the heat, and set aside.



Crepe Ingredients Final

Sauce Bechamel Aux Champignons (Mushroom cream sauce)

  • 5 T Butter, divided
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup of milk (whole is best)
  • 6 ounces of chopped fresh mushrooms (baby bellas, button, whatever you like!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg

In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add in chopped mushrooms and salt, and cook until tender and water has evaporated. Remove from heat.

In a heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and stir, cooking for a couple minutes. Make sure the flour doesn’t brown or burn.

Add the milk to the flour and butter, and bring to a soft boil. Lightly boil until thickened, add salt to taste. Keep at a low simmer to keep warm. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. If you find the sauce has become to thick by the time you are ready to use it, simply add in a little more milk until thinned.

Add the mushrooms to the sauce. Just before serving, add in the last tablespoon of butter.

Assembling your Crepe

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Using both hands, fold a crepe in half and place down on on a cookie sheet. Place 1/3 cup of chicken and spinach filling on one side of the half circle. Top with a couple tablespoons of shredded Gruyere.
  3. Fold the other half of the crepe over the filling to create a triangle.
  4. Repeat with your other crepes until you have assembled all crepes.
  5. Place finished crepes in a 400 degree oven for 3-4 minutes or until cheese has melted inside each crepe and is warmed through.
  6. Place finished crepe on a plate and top with the mushroom bechamel sauce. Garnish with fresh chives or green onions.

crepe assembly

Filled Crepe Photo

Folded Crepe

Final Crepe Photo

finished crepe

Elements of Home

French Onion Soup Gratinee

On a trip to Paris a few years ago, I had the most amazing french onion soup at Le Grand Colbert. I was in heaven. The perfect ambiance and the incredible soup topped with bubbling Gruyere cheese. Amazing. Ever since then, I was hooked. I’ve tried making it a few times. I’ve tried everything from Julia Childs’ recipe, to mix and match concoctions trying to find the perfect balance of ingredients and flavors. I finally settled on the recipe below and my husband gave me the mother of all compliments saying it we no longer need to go to out dinner to find great French onion soup! The key to fabulous french onion soup is perfectly caramelized onions, not too much salt and perfectly hardened french baguette slices for the gratinee…and a really good Gruyere cheese. But, you can use regular Swiss if you’re not keen on spending 20 dollars on cheese. Oh, and good news! I got a new camera for my birthday yesterday! So, no more iPhone photos 🙂


  • 4 thinly sliced onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 Cup of white wine
  • 6-7 cups of Beef Broth or a mixture of Beef and Chicken Broth if you prefer a lighter soup
  • Fresh Thyme springs (3-4)
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • French baguette sliced into 3/4 inch rounds
  • Gruyere cheese or Swiss, shredded. I won’t tell you how much to shred…because personally, I’d tell you to shred the whole block:) But you can put as much or as little as you want.
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded


  1. In a large dutch oven, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, fresh thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Cook on medium/low heat for 45 minutes or until onions are golden brown and caramelized. Do not stir often, or the onions won’t caramelize. Caramelizing the onions before hand gives your soup incredible flavor. It’s a slow process, but worth every minute.
  2. Once the onions are caramelized, add in the white wine. simmer until the wine is absorbed into the onions.
  3. Remove the bay leaves and Thyme sprigs.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees for the baguette
  5. Add the broth, and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes to incorporate the flavors.
  6. Cut the baguette into 3/4 inch round slices and arrange on a cookie sheet. bake until toasted, but not too brown.
  7. Preheat the broiler.
  8. Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls. Float 3-4 slices of baguette in each bowl and top with as much Gruyere and Parmesan cheese as you want.
  9. Place bowls on a cookie sheet and put under the broiler for 4-5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
  10. Add salt and pepper as desired.


french onion soup gratinee