Sunday, October 09, 2011

Cauliflower Gratin

Well, it's that time of year again... I'm on the hunt for new Thanksgiving sides to bring to my Mom's.  Of course, I still make the traditional sides that have become holiday staples for our family, but I also like to bring one new dish each year.  As I said in my previous post, it was a perfect stay inside and cook weekend, so I started with this recipe.  The original is from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris, but I changed a few things to suit my taste.  I have to say this was one of the best side dishes I've had in a long time... the texture and slight sweetness from the cauliflower is a nice fit with the creamy saltiness of the cheese sauce.  The best part... it's really easy to make!

2 heads cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/3 cup panko
1/3 cup french fried onions

Preheat the oven to 375ยบ. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add cauliflower and cook for about 3 minutes.  Cauliflower should be just starting to get tender, but not cooked all the way through.  Drain, and set aside. 

In a medium sauce pan, melt 2 Tbs butter over medium heat. Whisk flour into melted butter and cook, stirring constantly for a minute or two.  Slowly add milk and half and half, whisking constantly until smooth.  Heat to a simmer, continuing to stir the whole time, mixture should thicken slightly. Mix in onion powder, garlic powder, nutmeg and pepper and reduce heat to low.  Stir in cheeses a little at time until smooth.

Put drained cauliflower into a 9x13" baking dish and pour cheese sauce over, stirring to coat. Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes.

Place french fried onions in a ziploc bag and crush into small crumbs.  Add panko and remaining 2 Tbs melted butter.  Close bag and shake well to coat all crumbs.  Sprinkle evenly over the top of the cauliflower and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until topping is browned and crisp. 

Serves 6-8 as a side.

Pork Medallions in Dijon Cream Sauce

It's been raining here non-stop the whole weekend.  For a lot of people a rainy weekend is a bad thing, but for me it was a chance to slow down and do some cooking!  It was nice to get back in the kitchen, and I'm looking forward to sharing more recipes here now that the weather is starting to cool down a bit.

1 whole pork tenderloin, cut into medallions and slightly flattened
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
salt, garlic salt, onion salt and pepper
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup of dry white wine (or chicken stock)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs country style/whole grain Dijon mustard
1 Tbs honey

Cut each tenderloin (there are usually 2 per package) into 4 -5 medallions, flattening each piece slightly with your fingers.  Season both sides to taste with salt, garlic salt, onion salt and pepper. 

Heat olive oil and butter in large frying pan over medium high heat, until butter foams.  Add in pork medallions and brown on each side, about 3 minutes each.  Remove pork and set aside.

Lower heat to medium. To the same pan add chopped shallots and saute until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and saute 1 more minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and stir in mustard until well mixed.  Add in remaining ingredients and simmer 3-5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Adjust seasoning to taste.  Add pork back to the pan, cover and simmer until pork is cooked through. 

Serves 6.