Individual Turnip Gratins with Toast Fingers

This recipe comes from "The Greens Cook Book" by Deborah Madison with Edward Espe Brown. These gratins can be slid onto a plate and served with toast fingers to soak up the cream.  The nutty flavour of the Gruyere and the savory thyme balance the sweetness of the turnips.  The turnip greens, which are slightly peppery, would also be good stewed in butter and served with the gratins.

Ingredients 1 1/2 pounds medium turnips Salt Pepper 1 1/2 tsps thyme leaves, chopped 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated 1 1/2 cups heavy cream 2 to 3 slices Country French Bread Chervil or thyme leaves to garnish

Method 1. Peel the turnips, and slice them into thin rounds.  Bring 3 to 4 quarts of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, and cook the turnips for a minute to remove any bitterness.  Pour them into a colander to drain. 2. Preheat oven to 375F (230C). Butter shallow, round gratin dishes that are about 5-6 inches across.  Cover the bottom of each with an overlapping layer of turnips, and season with salt, freshly ground pepper and some of the thyme.Make a second layer of turnips and seasonings, ending with cheese.  Pour the cream over the top and bake. 3. Check after 15 minutes and baste some of the cream over the top if it has not yet begun to boil.  Remove gratins when most of the cream has been absorbed and there is a golden crust over the top, about 30 minutes in all.  Set them aside to cool for a few minutes. 4. Toast the bread and slice it into lengths about 1/2 inch wide. 5.  Slide a rubber spatula around the edge of each gratin, reaching across the bottom, then slide it out carefully onto a serving plate.  Garnish with the fresh herbs and the toast fingers.