Cauliflower Gratin

February 26, 2011

Have you ever gotten so caught up with cooking and baking both new and old recipes that sometimes you forget to blog about it? I am pretty sure that my fellow blogger readers can relate to this. It happens to me frequently! Probably more frequently than it should. I would try new recipes and find great ones–and make them a few more times before I get to even blog about it and share with the rest of the world!  The good thing about that is that I get to try it several times before my readers know, so if it flops the second or third time around, I’d probably skip blogging about it all together. But if it continues to impress me, then you will know that the recipe is true and tried.

This dish was one of them. I wanted to add a new vegetable dish for our holiday dinner; and wasn’t sure what to make. And then I had my Barefoot in Paris cookbook laying on the floor, so I flipped through it, and saw this dish. It’s really simple to make, and can be prepared ahead of time, which is a huge bonus for entertaining and great time saver during the holidays. You can prepare everything except the topping, and refrigerate them just until you are ready to bake them. As you heat up the oven, prep the topping and sprinkle them just before putting it into the oven. It is a very rich dish so if you’re looking for something “light”, this isn’t it. However, it is flexible, so you can substitute a couple of the cheeses listed below with other types as well although it may not be as authentic as what the recipe intended.

I added bacon bits in mine for the second time I made them, and it was a hit. I preferred mine piping hot from the oven, and slightly warm so I could still enjoy the goey cheese melting :)!  Happy cooking!

Adapted from Barefoot in Paris

1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 4-6 servings


Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Garlic Mayonaisse

November 13, 2010

I have always been a fan of sweet potato fries. Normally, I just slice them, toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake them in the oven. So when my CSA box included a recipe from Giada that includes basil salt with garlic mayo, I decided to give it a try. The garlic mayonaisse really turned me off at first, but actually, it turned out to be so delicious that I used them to dip my roasted carrot sticks. I really loved how the subtle lemon juice and garlic really gave the mayo a tangy flavor that cuts the sweetness of the sweet potatoes; it was a well-balanced pairing. The fresh basil also added brightness to the fries and the mayo together. I don’t think that I can go back to my simple sweet potato fries without the fresh basil and garlic mayonaisse now! I hope you give this one a try, happy eating!

Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis, as seen on Food Network

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.

Grown up Mac ‘n Cheese

July 7, 2010

Pasta can be considered a main staple at our house. Along with pizza, this is a dish that shows up on our menu every week almost all year long. We love the little blue box of macaroni and cheese that takes less than 10 minutes to whip up, but also appreciate the grown up version like this one. The bacon (who doesn’t love them!), blue cheese, gruyere and cheddar really add nice complex flavors to the everyday macaroni and cheese. I’d say that this is something that is worth turning on your oven for in the summer. Happy eating!

Adapted from Ina Garten, as seen on Food Network

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 tablespoons of fresh unseasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Mix the bread crumbs with chopped basil. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Yield: 2-4 servings

Baked Butternut Squash

September 21, 2009

When the weather started to get chilly this weekend, my shopping mood at the grocery store usually changes with the season as well. I also love picking up new ingredients that I don’t normally cook, to expand my taste bud’s adventure.

This time, I picked up a butternut squash that I had planned on using for a side dish I saw on a magazine. The main ingredient in this side dish was cranberry beans, and it looks delicious–with broccoli rabe, bacon, and dried cranberries. After hunting for cranberry beans for a few days and had no luck, I made an executive decision to switch gear and maybe just enjoy this squash on its own.

I have never done this before, but figured that I can just bake this in a shallow dish with water until it turns soft. Voila! So delicious! And aah… so simple. Red and I looked at each other and wonder why we don’t do this more frequently. Of course, this recipe won’t qualify as a “quick” dish, since you need at least a full hour in the oven, depending on how large your squash is. But we love how tender the flesh was, and how the crispy and saltiness of the bacon crumbles added such a nice contrast to the sweetness of the squash. Bon Appetit!


1 large butternut squash, about 2 lbs
Pepper & Salt to season
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of crumbled cooked bacon

Slice squash lengthwise, and put them face side down on a shallow baking dish filled with 1/4 inch of water.
Season generously with pepper and salt.
Bake, covered in aluminum foil for about an hour at 350 degree, or until it’s soft.
When they are soft, mash it together with spoon, while trying to keep the shell intact.
Add butter, season with pepper and salt. Add topping of choice, mine was bacon. In the future, I thought about adding fried shallots. Yum!
Serve it in the shell.

Source: Blissfully Delicious

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

April 7, 2009

This is another fave recipe at the Red household. We love red potatoes, and always in the look for a new delicious way to prepare them. Here’s a recipe from Ina Garten which we go back to over and over again! Please don’t skimp on the salt, they really bring out the potatoes flavor. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
2 yellow onions
3 TBS good olive oil
2 TBS whole-grain mustard
Kosher Salt
1 TSP freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degree.

Cut the potatoes in halves, or quarters, depending on their size, and place them on a sheet pan. Remove the ends of the onions, peel them, and cut them in half. Slice them cross-wide in 1/4-thick slices to make half rounds. Toss the onions and potatoes together on the sheet pan.

Add the olive oil, mustard, 2 tsp salt, and pepper and toss them together.
Bake for 50 mins to an hour, until the potatoes are lightly browned on the outside, but tender on the inside. Toss the potatoes from time to time with metal spatula so they brow evenly.

Serve hot sprinkled with the chopped parsley and a little extra salt.