Cauliflower Au Gratin

A great side dish or even a meal if you add hard-boiled eggs.  This specific photo is without the eggs.

cauwlflower au gratin

The first step is to cut up one whole cauliflower and blanch the florets or steam for just a bit, don’t cook entirely.  Put the semi cooked cauliflower in a nice pan or casserole dish to bake.  Turn the oven on to 350 F.

Next make a home-made bechamel sauce.  This requires a lot of attention and stirring.  Once your bechamel sauce is done, pour it into the pan with the cauliflower.  Top off the dish with some grated Gruyère cheese and a bit of grated parmesan.  Bake for 30 mins and turn the heat up to 400 bake for 10 more minutes so the cheese gets browned.  If you want to turn this into a meal you can place 4 hard-boiled eggs cut in half on top of the cauliflower mixture and then add cheese.

 

Cauliflower
Cauliflower (Photo credit: Indiana Public Media)

Ingredients:  1 head of cauliflower

1 cup grated Gruyère Cheese

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Parmesan Cheese (or more accurately, Parmigian...
Parmesan Cheese (or more accurately, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

For the béchamel: 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons fresh grated nutmeg, 3 cups whole milk, 4 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons flour.

To make the béchamel.  Put the 3 cups of milk to heat in a pot keep warm and don’t let it boil, turn as heat as low as possible.  In a pot melt the butter and add the 3 tablespoons of flour, stirring constantly until you form a nice colored roux.  approximately 3 mins of stirring.  Add little by little the warm milk by constantly stirring. Once all the milk is mixed in, continue to stir and get the bechamel bubbling.  If it’s thin at first, don’t worry, it will eventually thicken.  Once it’s the consistency of heavy cream you can remove from heat.  Stir in the salt, Nutmeg and mix in about 1/2 cup of the grated Gruyère cheese ( or a good swiss cheese).  Poor it over your cauliflower.  Make sure all the florets  are covered.  Then add the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyère and sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.  Bake!  It’s a great dish to bring to  pot luck, to have as a side with meat, fish, poultry, great for Thanksgiving and other holiday dinners.  And again, you can make this the main dish by added hard-boiled eggs cut in half.  Enjoy-yum

 

 

Luscious Lasagne Bolognese

Pastasorten Lasagne
Pastasorten Lasagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was one of the best meals I made and also froze.  One lasagna has lasted our small family of 3 over a month.  I decided to make a Bolognese sauce and a summer sauce a week prior.  I now have any pasta lovers freezer, with different pasta sauces as well as delicious lasagna.  After living in Italy 2.5 years I realized that the real way to make lasagna is to use Bechamel instead of Ricotta Cheese between the layers.

The Bolognese was already made, I just defrosted a giant tub, about 8 cups worth.  Meanwhile, I started on the Bechamel.   I usually just wing the recipe as I know what the consistency is supposed to be and the outcome always more or less is what I want.  However, for you to follow I’ve tried to get the ingredients down.  Mario Batalli’s Recipe is also a great one to follow if you want something more comprehensive.  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/bechamel-sauce-recipe/index.html

My recipe is very similar.

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

2 teaspoons salt

1teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 4-5 minutes.

I add milk about 1 cup at a time while whisking continuously until very smooth. What differs from my recipe is I don’t heat the milk separately and add heated milk.  I think I will try this technique next time.  I also didn’t cook it to a boil…. either way, it needs to be a thick, smooth consistency.  I do love to add tons of freshly grated nutmeg.  Invest in a nutmeg mill and you will be thrilled with the results.  The flavor from freshly ground nutmeg is amazing.  So much I felt like eating the bechamel with a spoon, like a nice soup.

IMG_0630

https://karinemeals.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/bolognese-sauce/

Recipe for the lasagna:

1 package of nice lasagna noodles

3 fresh tomatoes

1 big bunch of fresh basil

1 big ball of burrata-this was a splurge and is not necessary

1 pack of fresh mozzarella cheese

5-6 cups of Bolognese sauce. Vegetarians can use another sauce if they like, such as my Summer Sauce.

IMG_0856

I then just started with a big lasagna pan.  Make sure at this point you pre-heat the oven to 325 F.  I first put a healthy layer of bolognaise sauce, I then added uncooked pasta, another layer of bechamel and bolognaise mixed, then pasta, then I tour apart the burrata and added chopped basil, the whole bunch.  I then added more pasta, another layer of sauce, another layer of pasta, then more bechamel, sauce, pasta and then I ran out of everything.  I sliced 3 fresh tomatoes, cut up some fresh mozzarella cheese and then layered the top of the last layer of pasta.  I covered the lasagna with tin foil and let cook at 325 F for about 45 minutes.  I uncovered it and turned up the oven to 350 F and let the rest cook and bubble.  It was delicious and will be again tonight.  I suggest you serve with a side salad.  I used a mix of greens, romaine lettuce and arugula with a simple Dijon vinaigrette.

Dijon vinaigrette Recipe:

2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.

Mix the mustard and olive oil to a nice thick consistency, slowly add the vinegar while constantly whisking… and voila, a great dressing.

Bolognese sauce

 

Olive oil-about 3 tablespoons

1 yellow onion

2 small carrots

2 small celery stalks

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground pork

4lbs Roma/plum tomatoes or use 18oz canned tomatoes

ground nutmeg

salt/pepper

red pepper flakes

 

This was for my husband.  He is a pasta lover and we both like a good Bolognese sauce, otherwise known as “ragu” in Italy.  It is an easy sauce to make, yet it requires many steps.  The first step is chop, chop and chop some more.  You will need to chop carrots, celery and onions as finely as possible.  The onions are chopped separately.  I have opted to use fresh tomatoes, you need a lot more, but the results are better.  You will get a fresh sauce without all the additives of a canned tomato.  I used to blanch my tomatoes to peel them until my mom who swore by this, bought me the zyliss tomato peeler.  It is a life saver.  I just peel the tomatoes, de-seed them, buy cutting them in half and squeezing out the seeds out over the sink.  Then I dice them.  Add a bit of olive oil to a pot and cook the onions for about 3 mins.  Add the carrot and celery mix, let cook for a bit, maybe 10 mins.  Now all I need is some white wine, a glass for me and about a cup for the sauce.  Actually, I also need a wholesome glass of milk, about a cup.  Once the carrots, celery and onions are cooked, add in about a pound of beef.  I like to actually use about 1/2 lb beef and 1/2 lb ground pork.  I think it adds depth to the sauce.  Cook the beef/pork till the pink is gone.  Add about 1 cup milk and cook till almost evaporated.  Then you add about 1 cup dry white wine.  Try to use a good quality wine, one that you would want to drink as well, while cooking.  After the wine is evaporated add your tomatoes.  I use about 4lbs of Roma Tomatoes.  You can also use two large cans of whole tomatoes.  Add some pepper flakes, not too much, just a few pinches.  My friend added about 2 tablespoon full and we spent the evening trying the sauce, adding more tomatoes, trying the sauce again, finding it too hot, added more tomatoes. By the end, we still had a very spicy sauce, but about 6 times the amount, she had enough to feed a small army!  Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.  You will want to cook your sauce on medium for a bit then reduce to low and simmer for about 2 to 3 hours.  This is a great sauce to freeze, but it will also last up to one week in the fridge.  I plan to use our left-over sauce to make a Bolognese lasagna with a bechamel sauce.  The bechamel is easy to make and more common in Italy than using ricotta, which I feel dries out the lasagna.  For those of you following the Dukan diet, this is a great recipe for all phases minus attack.  If you are doing the second phase, this is even delicious just alone!  This sauce is delicious on pasta and polenta.  Enjoy!    Yum.