In class, we discussed the importance of communal meals such as those we share on Shabbat. We briefly discussed this passage:
"Whether or not one is religious, we still hold many rituals and traditions in our lives as sacred...communal meals transform the movement into something more unique and meaningful. Those who participate [in the meal] become part of something greater than themselves as individuals. Charles Camp notes that "Often the exceptional behavior characteristic of important occasions represents a purposeful departure from honored norms, a disruption of routine that deliberately creates distance from the mundane."
Whatever your observance of Shabbat may be (and certainly with our busy schedules, we noted that it can vary drastically from week to week), this week might be a good time to focus in on the aspects of eating with friends or loved ones that create a departure from the mundane - whether it's taking a break from homework, looking up from your phone or computer, or sharing a quick update from your day. Enjoy those moments - they can be quite short, but certainly fulfilling.
(SIDE NOTE: If you liked the Oreo Cheesecake Cookies I brought in, the recipe can be found here! I omitted the chocolate chips, but you should certainly leave them in if you're a fan).
Apple-Onion Cheese Gratin
(serves 8-10 as a side; 4-6 as a main)
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
4 cups sliced apples (about 4 medium apples)
4 cups sliced potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 cups chopped onion (for a savory alternative, caramelize these before adding to the dish)
4 cups grated gruyere or cheddar
2 cups bread crumbs
4 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil baking dish.
2) Scald the milk over medium heat, bringing almost but not quite to a boil.
3) Melt butter over medium heat; whisk in the flour (creating a roux).
4) Slowly add the scalded milk to the flour, whisking continuously until the sauce starts to thicken (creating our bechamel sauce).
5) Add the nutmeg and salt, stir until thick. Remove from heat.
6) Spread apples and potatoes into prepared dish; arrange so it alternates. After each layer, sprinkle chopped onions and grated cheese on top.
7) Pour sauce over the top. Scatter bread crumbs on top.
8) Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, until top is golden and crisp and potatoes are tender.