Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cauliflower au Gratin #recipe from @DarylWoodGerber

From  Daryl aka Avery:

As I continue to make recipes with a French theme, I simply had to make one that is a favorite of mine--cauliflower au gratin. Actually, anything au gratin is a favorite of mine. That is not a holdover from writing the Cheese Shop Mysteries. I have always loved cheese: mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers with cheese, broccoli smothered in a cheese sauce. Comfort food.

This au gratin recipe utilizes a French sauce that is divine.

What is a French sauce?

While writing the first French Bistro Mystery, A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, I had to find out the answer. Why? Because I wanted my protagonist Mimi Rousseau to fall in love with cooking at an early age. What made that happen? When her mother taught her how to make the five mother sauces of France. These are basic sauces that get the ball rolling. What particularly won Mimi over was when she learned that a chef could add a variety of ingredients to the sauces and transform them into entirely different sauces. Creativity matters to Mimi.

As you probably know, a sauce is essentially a liquid plus some sort of thickening agent plus other flavoring ingredients. 

Each of the five mother sauces of France is made with a different liquid as well as a different thickening agent — although three are thickened with roux.  [Roux is flour and fat cooked together to thicken sauces.]   In each case, the roux is cooked for different amounts of time to make a sauce lighter or darker in color.

Here are the names of the 5 basic sauces:
  • Béchamel = milk, flour, butter  (easiest to make)
  • Velouté = white stock with roux (flour and butter)
  • Espagnole = brown stock with roux
  • Hollandaise = butter and eggs (no flour)
  • Tomate Sauce = tomatoes, stock, vegetables, ham bone (also no flour necessary)

As mentioned above, if you "add" something to a sauce, it can become a different sauce. For example,  chicken velouté is made with chicken stock; veal velouté is made with veal stock, and so on.  But get this! If you add cream to the chicken velouté sauce, it becomes the "supreme sauce," while if you add cream and egg yolks to the veal velouté, it comes Allemende sauce. Fun, right?

So...take a look at this cauliflower au gratin recipe, and you'll notice it's basically a béchamel sauce that we add cheese to...which makes it a Mornay sauce.

Too much education? Okay, I'm done. Enjoy!

If you want to learn more, in simple terms, I love this site. It has great info and beautiful pictures:  The Spruce

Cauliflower au gratin

Regular and Gluten-free versions
(serves 6-8)

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons flour (FOR GLUTEN-FREE, use sweet rice flour OR cornstarch)
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated, divided
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper, as needed (I recommend ½ teaspoon each)
1/2 cup regular bread crumbs (FOR GLUTEN-FREE, use GF panko)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Trim the cauliflower. Set aside.

Place a six-quart pot filled with 2-3 inches of water on a medium heat. Bring it to boil, add a dash of salt and drop the chopped cauliflower into it. Blanch the florets till they have softened, about 2-3 minutes. Strain them in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for later use.

Next, pre-pour the milk. Set aside. Now, place a non-stick pan on the heat. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in it and add flour (or gluten-free substitute). Turn the heat down and keep stirring. You want to avoid any lumps. When the flour (or GF substitute) smells “toasted”, pour in the milk and keep stirring to avoid lumps. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the white sauce thickens and gets glossy.

Take the white sauce off the heat and add 1/2 cup of Cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour half the white sauce into a glass or ceramic oven-safe baking dish (equivalent of 9” x 13”) and top with the blanched cauliflower florets. Pour the remaining white sauce over the cauliflower florets.

Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of Cheddar cheese and bread crumbs (or GF panko crumbs) and sprinkle all over the cauliflower.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle all over the breadcrumbs (or GF panko crumbs). Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until the top is crusty and golden. Take the dish out, allow it to cool only slightly and serve warm.

Savor the mystery!

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  1. I love this recipe! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Can't wait to try it. Love cauliflower. Love French cooking! Thanks, Daryl.

    1. Thanks, MJ. Doing more French cooking has "upped my game." ~ Daryl

  3. I love recipes that can be built up, thanks for the info on the sauces! This looks like an easy recipe to add to the repertoire.

    1. Aren't the sauces an amazing thing? Basic but so tasty. Thanks Lil ~ Daryl

  4. That looks scrumptious! My husband is going to love it - he has been cooking some wonderfully imaginative cauliflower dishes lately. I miss your Cheese Shop books - you taught me so much about cheese, and what better food is there?

    1. Laine, I miss the books, too. I loved spending time with Charlotte. But I "spend time with her" when I cook with cheese. :) ~ Daryl

  5. I love au gratin anything! I will set this recipe aside to try soon.

  6. This looks like it would be great for Thanksgiving! One question--is that zucchini in the one frying pan?

    1. Ha! Not any more it's not! Sneaky pete photographs tried to get in on the action. Obviously I copied and pasted a lot of them. Bad me for not seeing that. And they were GREEN! Thanks, Peg. Sorry to everyone else for my error. No zucchini in this recipe. LOL ~ Daryl

  7. Yum! The French really enjoy their taste delights. I made something simpler by just mixing butter, cream and cheese with the blanched cauliflower. I like the idea of putting it in a casserole, adding more cheese and baking. I’m not sure I have the patience for French cooking. Thanks for gluten free options. Greatly appreciated.

  8. Don't be intimidated by the sauces.
    Keep whisking as you mix the flour and milk.
    If all else fails, there is always a blender and/or a sieve to deal with lumps!

    This looks lovely.