February 2nd, 2013

Cure The Blues With Au Gratin Potatoes


Every person has their own way of fighting the blues. I cook. That’s right, I start chopping vegetables and making sauces. At the end, of course, I eat. I am no stranger to the concept of comfort food.

Buying a bag of potatoes late in the afternoon gave me all the inspiration I needed. Think of it – you put some music on, you peel potatoes, you munch on carrot sticks. Soon you’re not feeling blue, right?


Unpack the flowers, let’s add a little color to this place. Depressing thoughts vanish like high clouds on a sunny day. And we get to work as follows:


Peel a pound or so of potatoes. Boil them for about 20 minutes.


While the potatoes are draining, sautée one large onion and 3 cloves of garlic in 1/3 of a stick of butter in the potato pan.


I used Tilsiter cheese for tonight’s au gratin potatoes, but you can use any tasty cheese that melts decently. (Tilsiter is a mountain cheese found in Swiss supermarkets.) Add 2 cups of ½” cubes of cheese to the sautée mixture and stir it around after a couple of minutes.


While the cheese is melting, start laying potato disks in the bottom of your baking dish, which you have greased with butter. (All this butter – that’s right, real butter! So crucify me! But have an ambulance waiting.)


I had some broccoli in the fridge, so I cut up broccoli pieces and added them to the potatoes. Broccoli haters not invited! Substitute any other vegetable. If you’re French, or some kind of purist, you would never contaminate au gratin potatoes with another vegetable, but I am not French. I like to mess around.


Once you have a complete layer, dribble some of the cheese mixture on it. You don’t have to slather it on. A little here and there goes a long way.


Add another layer of potato disks and broccoli pieces, and dribble the rest of the cheese sauce on top of this.


Lay mozzarella pieces on top of everything. This will net you a nice crispy crust.


Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F or 215 C.


Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.





Cure The Blues With Au Gratin Potatoes

Unless I missed something, I am feeling much better now. I am alone, which is the principal reason why people feel blue in the first place, but I have a little masterpiece on my table, and I know it’s going to taste good. I have to eat, don’t I?

Readers, you may have noticed that I did not add any salt or other spices to this recipe. This was not an oversight. The cheese tends to be very salty, so for some people the dish comes out salty enough. I like my pepper, but I’m quite happy to grind it right at the table.

Bring me a glass of Coke Zero with lots of ice, and we’ve got ourselves a meal. I could eat at the table, or since I’m alone I could sneak another peak at my WIP. You know (he whispers), work-in-progress? My WIP is the third installment in the Annie Ogden mystery series. I can’t resist.

Eating in front of the computer is not exactly my idea of paradise. But you can’t have everything, can you now. So till next time, bon appetit! I’m going to stop writing for a few minutes, now (mouth full, chewing). I can’t really eat and write at the same time. Your turn, folks, I wanna eat! How about leaving a comment and letting me know what you do to cure the blues?



Frederick Lee Brooke launched the Annie Ogden Mystery Series in 2011 with Doing Max Vinyl and followed with Zombie Candy in 2012, a book that is neither about zombies nor sweets. The third mystery in the series, Collateral Damage, appeared in 2013. Saving Raine, the first book in Fred's entirely new series, The Drone Wars, appeared in December 2013, and was followed by its sequel, Inferno, in June 2014.

A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He has three boys and two cats and recently had to learn how to operate both washing machine and dryer. He makes frequent trips back to his native Chicago.

When not writing or doing the washing, Fred can be found walking along the banks of the Rhine River, sitting in a local cafe, or visiting all the local pubs in search of his lost umbrella.

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8 thoughts on “Cure The Blues With Au Gratin Potatoes

  1. Salome

    Hahaha thats awesome! I do the same thing when I`m blue! Well actually I bake. From scratch. I`m sorry but i had to make the experience that americans don`t know how to do that anymore… I guess it`s because it really does take a lot more time… A pie chrust dough for example has to lay in the fridge for at least 1 hour! So you prepare it, put it away and then you have to wait and do nothing before you can start with the actual baking. Noone does this anymore although it is totally worth it, for your taste buds will tell you the difference emediately =)

    Its funny how it happens, one moment ago I didn`t know what to do with myself and then, I get off the couch, go to the kitchen and it all just falls off.
    In the end i get my special little kicks as i can watch it rise and get brown in the oven. And finally i have a little perfect masterpiece standing in front of me and it makes me happy! But the wierd thing is, after all the work, I just don`t feel like eating anymore! So sometimes i just give it away and this is great thing to do, because giving makes me even happier and i get a lot of appreciation from my people! And guess what! This makes me even happier 😉

    1. Fred Post author

      Looks like you and I have something in common. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Fred Post author

      Just don’t overdo it, Bert. Takes a lot of walking to burn off these calories …

  2. Simon Jenner

    I love to eat but cooking doesn’t cure my blues – perhaps if I was more proficient at it?

    I do enjoy writing my pet hates into characters and have them come to grizzly ends. Really, it’s so therapeutic. If I’m not writing my blues away, then it’s got to be time with the family. Chatting, watching TV or just hanging about together. They put up with me when they deserve so much more, and they preserve my sanity when the blues threaten to overwhelm me.

    By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Doing Max Vinyl’ and wish you good luck with the new book.

  3. gina valley

    That sounds delicious.
    I deal with the blues in lots of different ways. My favorite is talking and laughing with a friend. A good, hard workout runs a close second.
    What was causing your blues?

  4. Small Footprints

    Mmm … these potatoes look wonderful. I’m vegan but I’m thinking that I could veganize this recipe. 🙂

    When I feel blue, I head out for a walk and I breathe deeply for at least 5 full breaths. Works like a charm. May not be as comforting as your potatoes but … it works! Glad you’re feeling better!

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