Au Four

Growing up at the fringes of a Taiwanese table, personalized dishes were a rare occurrence. Quite naturally, this rarity made me cherish small dishes and single-serves perhaps slightly beyond the level I ought to. To me, having my own plate gives me an illusory feeling of being a VIP, and also a heightened sense of care and innateness that went into the dish. Basically, it makes me feel extra-special! You know, that warm, fuzzy feeling? (Laugh, but I always feel so loved that I do a happy waltz with a concerto of my own humming when I take the dish between my hot little mitts to the set table.)

As I ate, saturating my soul with tremendous enjoyment, I suddenly realized a rosy grin on the face of my mother.

“Why’re you smiling like that?” I asked.

“M-mm, you just look so happy, like when you were four.”


Ingredients for the chevre bechamel:

2 tbsp grape seed oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tbsp rice flour

1~1/4 c organic milk

dash of thyme, nutmeg, and black pepper

1/2 c fresh goat cheese

sea salt

To make the bechamel, heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, then stir in the rice flour to form a paste. Gradually pour in half of the milk, whisking to rid of lumps. Incorporate the thyme, nutmeg, and pepper, adjusting freely to taste. Stir in the goat cheese and remaining milk, to achieve a rich, creamy consistency. Season well.

Ingredients for the casserole:

1 large bunch spinach, blanched, then squeezed dry

2 small sweet potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds

1/2 cup soft mozzarella, shredded

2 small free range eggs

2 tbsp finely shredded/grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To assemble, layer loosely into two small, oval oven-safe dishes half of the spinach. Spread half of the sauce on top, then arrange the thinly sliced sweet potatoes tightly to cover. Spread the remaining sauce over, then finish with the remaining spinach. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Uncover, and add the mozzarella before returning it to the oven for 1o minutes more.

Adjust the temperature to 475 degrees F, crack the eggs right on top, in the center, and sprinkle with the parmesan. Bake for a final 7~8 minutes, or until the egg is done, but with a gloriously runny yolk.


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