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

 

 

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Baked tomatoes

Various heirloom tomato cultivars
Various heirloom tomato cultivars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Deutsch: Parmigiano Reggiano in der Markthalle...
Deutsch: Parmigiano Reggiano in der Markthalle Stuttgart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Small tomatoes in Korea
Small tomatoes in Korea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is such a simple dish.  They are not stuffed or cut in half.  They are just simple baked tomatoes at 350 F for 30 mins then 375 F for 20 more minutes.  I love this dish.  I started making it over the summer when tomatoes were in season.  I just cut the tops off the tomatoes, enough to sprinkle salt, pepper and whatever herbs I have along with a good dose of extra virgin olive oil.  Sometimes I add chopped garlic, too.  At the last part of cooking, grated parmesan cheese is great on this, too.

The great thing about this dish is it makes a great accompanyment to just about anything.  It can be used as a sauce  as well.  Serve it on a big bowl of rice or pasta and it’s simple and delicious.  I could eat this everyday.  The tomatoes really make a difference, but it’s still good if you jazz up bland tomatoes with a bunch of garlic, basil, oregano, cheese… whatever.  Enjoy!

July's Tomato Haul
July’s Tomato Haul (Photo credit: statelyenglishmanor)

Sauteed garlic shrimp with pasta al pesto

For tonight I decided to satisfy my husbands love for pasta and give a good recipe for those who want pasta during their 3rd phase of the Dukan diet.  I was tired of grilling, so I just sautéed a few wild caught shrimp, previously frozen.  I sautéed them in a bit of basil garlic infused olive oil that I had made a few days ago, until the shrimp  were pink and  looked less opaque.  In the mean time, the water was boiling and ready to add my lovely pasta I brought back from Italy.  It’s a semolina based pasta called “Trecce Dell’orto.  It’s delicious and perfect for pesto but, unfortunately, I’ve not found it here yet.  Once my pasta was cooked, I just added one hefty scoop of pesto I had previously made and tossed it in.  I tossed in a few cherry tomatoes halves to add texture, color and freshness to this dish.  Finish it off with a few sprinkles of Sel de Cali, for taste and presentation, as well as a bit of grated parmesan cheese.  The dish takes about 20 mins to prepare, if you make the pesto ahead of time.  You can use any type of pasta, but good ones with this are farfalle, bow tie, orcetta, basically any type of pasta works.  I find that it’s not the greatest with angel hair pasta because it tends to clump up, but it’s still tasty.  Enjoy.  YUM

Pesto

I love pesto but store-bought isn’t as good.  It’s so easy to make, by the time you pick out which brand of pesto you want to try, you could have already made this sumptuous sauce.  If you make a lot it can be frozen in small portion ready containers to freeze.  In Italy I used to just store it in the fridge with a bed of olive oil on top to conserve it, but for some reason, here it’s not keeping as well, so I freeze it.  Triple the recipe if you’d like to have several meals. This meal isn’t exactly part of the Dukan diet, but it works for a splurge meal.

1 big bunch of cleaned basil leaves, you can use stems if you are low on basil

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 garlic clove chopped

tons and tons of olive oil.

I usually do this in the food processor but if you are feeling particularly Italian, that of an old Sicilian woman, do this with a mortar and pestle, but you’ll need a large one.  I put the pine nuts in, give it a spin, add chopped garlic, give it a spin, add basil leaves, give it a spin.  Then I add the parm cheese… yes, you guessed it give it a spin. Take the small top off while spinning and add a stream of olive oil till it’s the consistency you like.

A great way to serve this dish is tossed with cherry tomatoes, some basil leaves and some sort of protein.  Grilled chicken, grilled shrimp or seared scallops are excellent with this.  Enjoy.  It’s a great dish to make for friends.  I usually use a fun shaped pasta with this, but also enjoy fettucine.