Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cauliflower Au Gratin and so much more

These recipes are courtesy of my brother, Chad. In my dream world we would live close enough to one another that we could collaborate on dinners together. He would be dancing around the kitchen, singing a goofy tune and taking long gulps from his Guinness - all the while effortlessly throwing together a delicious meal. I would be sitting back, taking notes.

one word: Cauliflower Au Gratin
simple, hearty vegetable side dish popular in southern France.

1 head of cauliflower.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups hot milk
4 ounces cubed Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mornay Sauce:
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook slowly for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. The mixture should get foamy or frothy but not brown. Add the hot milk and whisk vigorously until smooth. Season and return to the heat and boil for about 1 minute over medium high heat. Remove from heat, add cheese and stir until incorporated completely. Makes about 2 1/4 cup.

Cut a head of cauliflower into florets. Steam until it falls apart, drain. Mash cauliflower in a casserole dish and sitr in Mornay Sauce. Sprinkle shredded parmesan and crisp under a broiler for 2-3 minutes.

two more words: Cazuela de Cabra
Warm tomato and goat cheese tappas dish (or appetizer) popular in Spain.

6 medium juicy tomatoes
1/3 c. dried basil - (or 1/4 c. fresh minced basil)
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into pats
8 oz plain white goat cheese, softened and mixed with 1/4 c. dried chervil
1 loaf crusty french bread, cut on the bias into 1/2 inch slices
1 small jar prepared pesto

Tomato basil beurre-blanc sauce:
Blanch tomatoes in a heavy sauce pan for about 1 minute (until skins become loose). Drain tomatoes and shock with ice, remove skins and return to heavy sauce pan
Add basil (if dried, wait if fresh) and cook over medium heat, about 10 minutes or until tomatoes have broken down - remove from heat (if you're using fresh basil, add it now). Wisk in pats of butter until it is all incorporated, and the sauce turns from reddish to pinkish.

Pesto toast:
Brush bread with pesto and flash under a broiler until crisp

Final prep:
Place cheese/herb blend in a mound in the middle a gratin, or shallow casserole dish. Pour tomato basil beurre-blanc sauce around the perimeter of the cheese mound (like a moat). Broil for 2 minutes, serve with pesto toast.

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