Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cauliflower Gratin

Mrs. Big City Eater bought a head of cauliflower a few days before she started nagging me to make Cauliflower Gratin. "Cook it before it goes bad in the fridge!" she kept saying. Well, you can't just brush off your spouses needs and wants that easily, especially when it comes to something like this. Cauliflower is very high in vitamin C and is loaded with vitamin K, folate, dietary fiber and a host of other vitamins and minerals which help your body maintain itself in a healthy manor. It helps your bodies detox system, it's inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system and it's antioxidant system. This is huge when trying to ward off any cancer issues. It's also part of the cruciferous vegetable family of which we should all be eating some of at least a couple of times a week, namely broccoli, bok choy, Rapini and of course brussel sprouts. My wife grew up on brussel sprouts, and I still have to keep trying to like them, but I have found ways to make them more palatable and I will talk about how to do that here soon.

I have been looking around for a couple of years for different ways to make this dish. I have put together this recipe with flavor and health in mind. When making this, be careful how you cook it and how long you cook it for. If you cook it the wrong way or overcook it, it's health benefits dissipate rapidly and it won't do you any good, or at least not as much. I have read it's best to saute it it instead of boiling or steaming as it weighs it down with water. I figured it'll add a little more flavor as well if I saute it.

Preheat your oven to  400 F (205 C)

Baking time approximately 25 minutes

Ingredients

- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

- 2 tbsp butter, preferably unsalted
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cup (355 ml) 1% milk
- 1/2 Tsp fresh or ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) Gruyere, grated
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) old white cheddar, grated
- 1.75 oz (50 g) goats cheese
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed but not chopped
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) panko crumbs
- coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- EVOO

Directions

1. Crush the turmeric up in a mortar and pestle. It's extremely hard, but also very brittle. Be careful while crushing it as little bits will fly all over the place. Try not to get any on anything nice as it will stain.


Add the butter to a sauce pot over medium heat. When melted, add the flour and stir around to incorporate the flour into the butter, making a paste called a roux.


Add the milk and stir. You can use either a wooden spoon to stir or a whisk. Either way, keep stirring as to not let any lumps form. Add the Gruyere and the cheddar slowly, a little at a time while still stirring.


When all the cheese has been added, keep stirring for another minute and then add the turmeric. Stir to incorporate into the cheese sauce. When finished, turn heat to low and get started on the cauliflower. Stir the sauce once every minute or so as to not let it stick to the bottom of the pot.
2. Put some EVOO in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic to flavor the oil. Then add the cauliflower and sprinkle with a little salt to get some of the juices to come out.


Stir constantly so the cauliflower doesn't burn. Some of the florets will start to turn a little brown, but this is a good thing. It shows the cauliflower is cooking and it also adds a little extra color and flavor to the dish. After five minutes the cauliflower should be ready to be transferred to a baking dish. Pull the garlic out. You only want to cook the florets just to the point where they are starting to be fork tender. Remember, it still keeps cooking after you take it off the heat and you are putting it straight into the oven. Don't overcook it on the stove.
3. Lightly grease a baking dish with EVOO. Pour the florets into the baking dish and pour the cheese sauce over top. Take the roll of goat cheese and pinch off little bits to spread it around over the mixture.


Sprinkle the Parmesan over the mixture followed by the panko. Place in oven until it gets brown, about 25 minutes. If it doesn't turn brown for you, turn the broiler on high for 2 minutes. Pull out of the oven and let cool for 3-4 minutes. Serve.
Yield: Serves 2


While you are eating this, you will slightly taste the turmeric in the background. It's a nice addition and is a very healthy one as well. Every now and again you will get a nice hit of the goat cheese and the panko adds a nice crunchy texture. A nice meal if you want something for Meatless Monday or just a nice side dish to accompany a main. Don't let the color put you off, it's just turmeric. My wife said it kind of freaked her out a little, but she still loved the flavor.

Little O's Menu

Her ever increasing appetite is allowing her to start eating strawberries again, along with raspberries without them being integrated into her oatmeal. She used to eat them raw all of the time, but lately has been turning her nose up to them. Glad to see she is coming around again as they are a good part of her healthy diet. Today at the Kingsland Farmers Market, she ate some banana bread which was given to us as a sample. Loved it. She never seems to dislike bananas. And, while we were there the other day, she ate half of an organic apple which was also given to us by one the the vendors. I should take her there all of the time. She eats for free!

Quote Of The Day

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."
~ Mark Twain (1835-1910) American humorist, writer and lecturer


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

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