Tag Archive | James Beard

Fall Foods recipe #1: Cauliflower au gratin

A little background info on making this recipe:

Recently I’ve been immersed in Julia Child‘s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes 1 & 2. I figured that if I’m going to make cooking a large priority in my life right now, I might as well learn what is arguably the true foundation of today’s American cuisine. European cuisine, specifically French cuisine, has been said by James Beard to be the most influential style of cooking for American’s in the 20th century. I mean, it was he who brought french culinary dishes to America in the first place, followed closely by Mrs. Child.  As such, my homemade culinary-school lesson plans are primarily being derived from these 2 authors.

My first french recipe was Julia’s Cauliflower au gratin. With the month of September passing by quicker than ever, I’ve been at the farm gathering as much cauliflower as I can to make this recipe (and another separate recipe).

The official report from my food critic?

“Wow, this is amazing! It is really good, mmmmm…..   You know, I really don’t like cauliflower, yet this tastes great.”

I respond, “Oh that’s awesome! I just made my first dish from Julia Child! Perhaps I can really do this cooking thing after all!

At this point I was feeling higher than life as I sat down next to him to try it myself, confirming his exact thoughts on it. That quickly subsided when he stopped, looked at me, lifted his eyebrows and asked me if I could eat a little less like a voracious animal from the wild who hadn’t had a meal in days.

Maybe Julia Child has an etiquette book I could read as well??

Cauliflower au gratin     (would taste great with fish or chicken)

  • 1 large (8-10″) cauliflower crown
  • 2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. melted butter

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of pepper
  • 3/4 cup Gruyère or other Swiss cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare the cauliflower be removing all the leaves and cutting it into small florets. In a saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil and add blanch the cauliflower by boiling it for 10 minutes over medium-high heat. immediately remove from the heat, drain, and place the cauliflower in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and then add in flour. Stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, until it is covered with tiny bubbles and has a beige color to it. This is your roux for the sauce.

Meanwhile, pour milk into a glass measuring cup and heat in microwave for 2-2 1/2 minutes, or until hot to touch and steaming. Add the milk slowly into the flour mixture, whisking to mix all the components together.

Turn heat up to medium and continue whisking while the liquid turns into a thick sauce. Do not let it boil. Once the thickness is achieved, take off heat and add in nutmeg and pepper to taste.

Stir in cheeses until melted. Set aside.

In a lightly buttered round 8″ by 2″ tall casserole dish, pour 1/3 of the sauce onto the bottom. Add in cauliflower and sprinkle some more pepper, if desired.

Pour the remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs (I also added in some extra Gruyère cheese) on top and drizzle with melted butter (or olive oil).

Place uncovered in the top 1/3 part of the oven and bake until heated through, with a slight “golden crust” on top. Serve immediately.