Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cauliflower Gratin

Although no one can be certain what Twain meant by that, perhaps he was implying that cabbage tended to be eaten more by the working class whereas cauliflower was not. Or another way to look at this quote is that Twain was extolling the virtues of a college education. The cauliflower was the most expensive festive and glamorous of the vegetables found on the Victorian table, and cabbage is more or less a sturdy staple of everyday cooking.
Any way you look at it cauliflower is is rich in vitamin C, a good source of folate and vitamin B6. It can stand alone as steamed whole or elaborately garnished. 
Cauliflower Gratin
Cook's notes: This gratin dish is classic Provencal. The nuttiness of Gruyere pairs well with the subtle flavor of cauliflower. The crisp breadcrumb topping adds a nice texture to the dish.
recipe adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten
  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 3 TB, butter
  • 2 cups hot 2% milk
  • 4 TB flour
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 cup diced green onion
  • 1-1/2 cup Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or Panko (Japanese) crumbs
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Cook cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 min, until slightly tender but still firm, drain
  • In a large saucepan melt 2 TB. butter over low heat, add in flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes
  • Pour in hot milk and whisk into butter and flour mixture
  • Whisk till thickened about 1 minute, lower heat and add in pepper, salt, thyme, nutmeg, onion, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 cup Gruyere 
  • Stir till smooth and place 1/3 cup cheese sauce in bottom of a lightly greased 2-1/2 qt. baking dish
  • Place drained cauliflower florets over sauce and add rest of sauce over the top
  • Combine 1 TB. melted butter, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and remaining Gruyere  (could use a food processor or blender for this step)
  • Sprinkle crumb mixture over top of cauliflower 
  • Bake uncovered 25 minutes or until top is browned   

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