New Toys!

Someone I love very much was just sprung from a 2nd round of chemo treatments for ovarian cancer.  She lives a good distance away, making it difficult for me to help her when there are daily needs (taking her to appointments, housekeeping, etc.).  Both times during treatment, I’d regularly stock her freezer with food so she had something nutritious and (hopefully!) delicious when she wasn’t feeling strong enough to cook.  I loved receiving text or email updates as she tried different meals and gave me her feedback– it made me feel like I was really doing something to assist in her struggle.  A couple of weeks ago (before we knew she’d be finished with chemo/back in remission), I received a text saying to keep my eyes out for a package to be delivered later in the week.  Mysterious!!!

I was floored to receive a giant Amazon box containing the Kitchen Aid Mixer attachments for the spiralizer and the sausage grinder as a thank you for all the food!  I couldn’t wait to get started using these babies!  The spiralizer makes me want to zoodle everything, and there will be recipes and posts about that before long.  But the sausage grinder also has slicers and graters, which were perfect for this recipe that follows, from the Better Homes and Gardens March 2016 issue.

http://www.bhg.com/recipe/cauliflower-gratin/

Cauliflower Gratin

Ingredients

1 pound purple potatoes, peeled and sliced*
1 1/4cups whipping cream
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1  1/4teaspoons kosher salt, divided
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
1 – 1 3/4 pound head purple cauliflower, sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 shallots, peeled and halved
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Thyme sprigs and lemon zest

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange potatoes in the bottom of a 2-quart au gratin or baking dish. In a small bowl stir together the cream, 1 teaspoon of the herbes de Provence, and 1 teaspoon of the salt; pour over potatoes. Sprinkle potato layer with 1/2 cup of the cheese. Top with cauliflower slices and any pieces that break off, shallots, and remaining salt. Cover with foil; bake 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, stir together the remaining cheese, panko, remaining herbes de Provence, and butter. Uncover cauliflower; sprinkle with panko mixture. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes more or until golden. Remove; let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with thyme and lemon zest.

*If desired, substitute 8 ounces Japanese eggplant, trimmed and sliced, for the potatoes.

Nutrition Facts (Cauliflower Gratin)

      Per serving:

310 cal., 24 g fat (15 g sat. fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 7 g monounsatured fat),
82 mg chol., 374 mgsodium, 16 g carb., 2 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 8 g pro.

 

Now, I didn’t have purple cauliflower or potatoes for this preparation, but we do get purple potatoes from the CSA later in the season, so I’ll likely try again.  If you didn’t click the link up there to the original recipe, you should, because the purple cauliflower is stunning.  I’ve seen it at farmer’s markets and I will keep my eyes open for it. I did have red potatoes and clearance caluiflower, so I used a pound and 30 ounces, respectively (the cauliflower was in 10 ounce steamer bags).

Another disclaimer– this is not a particularly healthy recipe, and I didn’t try to make it so.  I like butter, and I had heavy cream in the house, so there it is.  We all deserve to splurge once in a while.  I had 2 ounces of smoked Gouda I wanted to use up, so I threw that in the grater attachment and used that in the first cheese layer (step 1). 3 ounces of pre-shredded cheddar-jack went in the bread crumb mixture.  I had to google a homemade blend of herbes de Provence, and I made enough to start our own little spice jar of it.

20160628_095525-1 (1)

Luckily, we’ve a had a long spell of cool weather here, so I didn’t mind the hour it took to bake this baby– all the windows were open and there was a perfect breeze pushing through the house.  The times listed were accurate– everything went as suggested for the 2 steps, but I did let the dish stay in the oven an extra 5 minutes or so to get a deeper browning.

Verdict:  mixed.  The flavors were great.  I think this dish could stand up to stronger cheese– a pungent raclette or extra sharp cheddar comes to mind.  I was about to freeze half of it because I thought we’d never be able to eat it all, but Husband raved and said he could eat a side of it every day.  The cauliflower had a smooth, buttery texture and the potatoes on the very bottom had a gorgeous caramelization, possibly because that slicer attachment made them paper-thin.  But the melted butter left most bites overly greasy, and not in a good way.  I would try reducing the butter by a tablespoon, or possibly using half butter and half olive oil to see if that lightened the texture without sacrificing flavor (see, that’s what I get for saying healthy cooking be occasionally ignored!).  Other than that critique, this gratin was really good.  I can easily see it as a Thanksgiving or other holiday side.  If you wanted to try to lighten it up even more, I’m sure you could use reduced- or fat-free half and half in place of the cream; I’d consider swapping out half the cream for 1 or 2 % milk, too.  Those ideas alone make this a dish worth revisiting– though I might cut the recipe in half and cook it in an 8 x 8 so we aren’t eating gratin for the next month!

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