A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
It seems like the Flu just can't stop from visiting us this winter : our poor daughter is running around blowing bubbles with her runny nose - she finds it very interesting (sigh!) and a nasty cough. Though it doesn't like it is bothering her too much. Now she likes to share her dirty hanky ... first she will wipe her nose and then she insists on wiping my nose and then Pierre's. Ugh!
Back to something more appetizing : one of the most classic French gratin is gratin dauphinois (originated from Dauphiné), made up of mainly potatoes and heavy cream (crème fraîche). There are many different ways of cooking it, some cook the potatoes with milk first before baking it, some just bake it with milk or just plain cream. Some (to the food snobs horror) even add grated cheese to it, making it something called gratin savoyard.
Well cooked, the potatoes litteraly melt in your mouth and the cream makes it even more smooth! It's a nice side dish to go with some red meat.
You can either spread the milk-cream mixture on top of the potatoes or you can spread a bit of the mixture on each layer of potatoes.
You can do different variations with this dish like sprinkling grated cheese and bread crumbs on top of it, however it will not be called gratin dauphinois anymore.
Cauliflower Gratin (Gratin de Chou-fleur) is one of the classic French gratin dish - a casual dish in every French family. It's another great way to eat this veggie besides eating it simply boiled, fried, steamed or even raw.
Cauliflower has very high nutritional density: obviously low in fat, it's also high in dietary fiber and an excellent source of vitamin B5, B6, C and folate. It also contains sulforaphane, which has anti-cancer properities. So to make it short, it's supposed to be healthier than fries and you should eat some. There, I said it
How to Select and Store
Season: December to March. Look for clean, creamy white and compact curd, while avoiding spotted or dull-coloured ones or those that have small flowers on them. Uncooked cauliflower can be stored up to a week if kept in a paper or plastic bag, preferably upside down to get any moisture out of it.
To prepare the Béchamel sauce
I'm a big fan of cauliflower, I love the naturally sweet, milky and slightly nutty flavor of the plant. Combine this with the béchamel sauce and grilled cheesy top and you get some extra 'oomph' that will encourage children (or adults who aren't keen on eating vegetetables) to give it a go. My picky 1 year old loves it very much.
For an additional crunch, sprinkle some bread crumbs on top of the grated cheese before baking it in the oven.
Heat up the leftover in the oven at 180°C for about 10 minutes. I usually do it the lazy way - just pop it in the microwave oven.