Eating for pleasure

I don't know about you, but thinly sliced potatoes baked in cream until bubbly have the power to woo me any time of the day. There's something downright sexy about a potato dauphinoise or cheesy potato gratin. Served along side roast lamb or beef and you've got the makings of a truly glorious Sunday meal.

This version requires no addition of cheese and allegedly comes from a 19th century Swedish missionary named Jansson who founded a sect in Illinois, of all places. Where the story turns interesting is that this particular sect forbade eating for pleasure, yet this was the one dish he refused to give up. If that were true, then this seductive dish could lure any man or woman to yield to desire.

The addition of anchovies adds a serious depth of flavor and they literally melt while cooking, leaving behind nothing but a piquant bite to the humble potato.

I know I'm rather obsessed with serving anything and everything with a green salad, particularly one with a zingy, mustardy, vinaigrette that cuts right through anything rich that you're serving it with, but this dish is supper in itself. You don't need to make it as an accompaniment to meat, and it's perfect with a little salad on the side.

If you believe the story of Jansson, he served this as a midnight snack after late night opera performances. Trust me. You don't need anyone to break into a ballad to enjoy this.

Jansson's Temptation
Adapted from Living and Eating by John Pawson and Annie Bell
Serves 2

2 very large potatoes or 4 medium potatoes, peeled and finely sliced into chips
1 large onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced into half moons
1 can of anchovies in oil plus 2 teaspoons of the oil
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups double cream
1/2 cup vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a small to medium gratin dish (see picture) with the butter. Lay half of the potatoes in the dish. Scatter the onions over the potatoes and then lay the anchovies over the onions.

Top with the remaining potatoes. Mix together the cream, stock and season with pepper.

Pour the liquid over the potatoes to half cover them. Spoon the anchovy oil over the potatoes and cover with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for another 25 -30 minutes until the top potatoes are golden brown and crisp and the sauce is bubbling up along the sides.


  1. i have to say this looks absolutely delicious!

  2. This sounds and look FAB!

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  4. "Janssons frestelse" in Sweden has somthing to do with Pelle Janzon at the opera in Stockholm. He was an operasinger living 1844-1889 and is said to had this dish after work in the evening or night. In my book it says "if he had had a more disciplined life he could have gone a long way". It´s very delicious and in Sweden we often have it at the "Christmas table" (julbordet)and also at "smörgåsbordet".