Last night was my first all vegetarian dinner party... if you don't count my several forays into pasta making last fall. I used two recipes out of magazines, which has its drawbacks. I find that when I cook with a recipe, which is almost never, I totally lose perspective on what I am actually doing.
Without the pressure of having to think on my feet, I become sort of a cooking automaton, and don't think about what I'm trying to achieve. Additionally, for some reason, when I cook to a recipe it takes me for_ever. I think it's this sense that the recipe writer is lurking somewhere, waiting to see if I miss a step.
You can imagine that I enjoy cooking quite a bit more if it's done without a recipe.
That said, a lot of the food I cook I consider too homey for a dinner party. So, out came the cauliflower gratin recipe.
Besides being intrigued by how well 2% milk thickens up in a sauce, I can't recommend this recipe. It could have used some spice- a touch of nutmeg, or clove even. As written, I found it to be a bit flat and lacking in depth. For 8 people (as a side), I prepared 1 1/2 times this recipe.... and we barely had leftovers.
Additionally, I used probably twice the recommended amount of cheese. Otherwise, the dish would have felt a little bit light, shall we say. Finally, be sure to roast the cauliflower just short of done. Too long and you're left with some mighty limp cruciferae.
Gratin of Cauliflower with Gruyere (from Cooking Light)
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets (about 2 lbs)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 tsp butter
1/3 c Panko
2 TB finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 c (2 oz) shredded Gruyere, divided
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3 TB all purpose flour
2 c 2% reduced-fat milk
3 TB chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Place cauliflower in a 2 qt broiler safe baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; coat cauliflower with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt; toss. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until almost tender. Cool 5 minutes.
Preheat broiler. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Stir in Panko. Stir in 1/4 c cheese and chives.
Heat medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until almost tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, or until thick, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 c cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, parsley, and pepper. Pour milk mixture over cauliflower mixture; toss. Top evenly with cheese mixture. Broil 3 minutes or until golden brown and thoroughly heated. Serves 6.