Unit converter



The BloggerAid Cookbook

Cauliflower Gratin

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:-p

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.

This recipe is also an entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by The Expatriate's Kitchen.

Cauliflower Gratin
Ingredients
  • 1 cauliflower (trimmed and separated into florets)
  • For the Béchamel Sauce :
    • 30 g plain flour
    • 30 g butter or margarine
    • ½ litre milk
    • salt, nutmeg & pepper

Directions
  1. Cook the cauliflower in a pot of boiling salted water for about 20 minutes or until soft (according to your preference). Drained and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4)
  3. Spread the cauliflower in a baking dish, pour the béchamel sauce all over it. Sprinkle generously grated cheese on top.
  4. Bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes or just 5 minutes under grill mode until the top is golden brown.

To prepare the Béchamel sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan at medium heat. Make sure that the butter doesn't turn brown.
  2. Add the flour into the melted butter and stir it vigorously with a whisk. Continue to stir vigorously until you obtain a mousse like mixture.
  3. Stir in the milk a little at a time (make sure it's well incorporated), vigorously to avoid getting lumps.
  4. When about half the milk is in, switch to a balloon whisk and start adding large amounts of milk instead, but always whisking briskly. Your reward will be a smooth, glossy, creamy sauce.
  5. Whisk it until it thickens, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting.
  6. Season it with salt, nutmeg and pepper.
  7. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes (whisk it from time to time) and then remove from heat.
Cauliflower Gratin
The Verdict

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.

Notes

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.:-p

Cauliflower Gratin
15 comments on this post.

Gratin d'endives au jambon

We were at the supermarket doing our usual weekly shopping. I paused by the vegetable section trying to figure out what to cook and buy... Finding something that both Pierre and I likes and that is a bit new isn't easy since he doesn't like most of the vegetables and our taste are so different. Suddenly Pierre came by and suggested : 'how about we make gratin d'endives au jambon?' ... I wasn't very enthusiastic about it at first as I don't like anything bitter and endives have a very bitter taste however Pierre assured me that it wasn't that bitter once baked and drowned in sauce. OK, why not?

Endives (Cichorium endivia) was, like so many other things, invented by accident. The technique for growing endives was discovered in the 1830s by a Belgian farmer, Jan Lammers in Schaerbeek, Belgium. Upon returning from war, he found his stored chicory had sprouted white leaves, and that it still tasted OK.

Nowadays the plant is grown underground or indoors away from sunlight, to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up. As such, it is also often sold wrapped in a protective opaque paper or plastic to protect it from the light. The whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste; but to make it easy in the mouth it's recommended to cut out the harder inner-part at the bottom before cooking. Today France is the largest producer of endives (yay!).

Rich in vitamins, minerals, especially in folate and vitamin A & K, the endives are also high in fiber. They can be eaten raw as salad (great with dices of blue cheese and walnuts), or cooked in various ways: stuffed, baked, boiled, steamed or fried.

How to choose and store Endives?

Select those that have crisp, firm, tightly pack heads no longer than 15 cm (or 6 inches). Good endives are creamy white with a yellowy green tinge to the leaf edges. To avoid them from turning green and becoming bitter, store them in the refrigerator wrapped in kitchen paper and placed in a plastic bag.

Here's my entry for this week Weekend Herb Blogging host by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.

Gratin d'endives au jambon
Ingredients
  • 4 endives
  • 4 slices ham
  • grated cheese

Béchamel Sauce

  • 30 g plain flour
  • 30 g butter or margarine
  • ½ litre milk
  • salt, nutmeg & pepper
Endives and ham
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven at 220°C.
  2. Wash the endives and cut off the base. Using a small sharp knife, carve out the middle bitter cone-shaped part at the base of the endives.
  3. Cook them in a steamer for about 8 minutes or in a pot of salted water for about 15 minutes. Then drain them well in a strainer.
  4. Wrap a slice of ham around each endives and lay them on a baking dish.
  5. Pour the béchamel sauce on top of the wrapped endives and sprinkle some grated cheese on top of it.
  6. Bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Béchamel sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan at medium heat. Make sure that the butter doesn't turn brown.
  2. Add the flour into the melted butter and stir it vigorously with a whisk. Continue to stir vigorously until you obtain a mousse like mixture.
  3. Stir in the milk a little at a time (make sure it's well incorporated), vigorously to avoid getting lumps.
  4. When about half the milk is in, switch to a balloon whisk and start adding large amounts of milk instead, but always whisking briskly. Your reward will be a smooth, glossy, creamy sauce.
  5. Whisk it until it thickens, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting.
  6. Season it with salt, nutmeg and pepper.
  7. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes (whisk it from time to time) and then remove from heat.
Gratin d'endives au jambon
The Verdict

All I can say is that this one is a keeper. I love it - the taste of the ham and endives with béchamel sauce is delicious - salty, creamy ... the endives just melt in my mouth. There was no taste of bitterness at all except at the base - just a tint of bitterness. Even my little daughter loves it, it looks like a great way to get kids to eat some veggies.

Gratin d'endives au jambon, cut
30 comments on this post.

Bibimbap

Bibimbap (literally means "mixed rice" or "mixed meal" ) is one of most popular dish in Korea - a simple yet highly nutritious meal incorporating a variety of different vegetables along with beef and egg. In many parts of Korea, they also serve a vegetarian version, as well as another variation called dolsot bibimbap ("dolsot" meaning "stone pot" ) - served in an iron or stone pot or bowl with a raw egg on top of it. The bottom of the pot is then coated with sesame oil making the layer of the rice touching the bowl golden brown and crispy.

My Korean friend Sol-Yi, who introduced me to Gochujang Bulgoki, also prepared Bibimbap for my Japanese friend Yumi and I for lunch in her tiny student apartment. It was simple yet filling, nutritious and delicious. Both of us loved this dish immediately. Since then, I have made it a few times at home and as I change the ingredients, each time the taste of my Bibimbap is unique and different.

Bibimbap

(Sol-Yi's receipe)

Serves: 2

Ingredients
  • 1 carrot (cut in thin sticks)
  • 1 zucchini (cut into thin sticks)
  • ½ yellow bell pepper (sliced)
  • 125 g ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • Gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
  • Salt, pepper & sesame Oil
  • a pot of Japanese or round rice
Bibimbap ingredients
Directions
  1. Marinate the ground beef with a bit of sesame oil and salt or light soya sauce and pepper.
  2. Heat the wok with a bit of oil, stir-fry the carrot till cooked. Do the same with zucchini and bell pepper.
  3. Heat the wok with some oil, fry the eggs sunny side up.
  4. Lastly stir-fry the ground beef with a bit of oil.
  5. Scoop some cooked rice in a large bowl, put the egg in the centre, then arrange the vegetables and the meat around the egg.
  6. Serve it hot with a spoonful of Gochujang and a drop of sesame oil (optional). Mix (stir) them all together well and enjoy !
  7. Add more Gochujang if needed according to one's taste.
Conclusions

Hehehe... when you mix it up, it really doesn't look that appetizing but it is truly delicious. Normally I always put some bean sprouts in my Bibimbap but this time, I decided to try out with the bell pepper. It gives a different taste but still delicious. I have yet to try it with mushrooms and other chinese vegetables.

Notes

What I like about this dish is its versatility - you can use any type of vegetables. You can turn this dish into totally vegetarian or you can include some meat. Some of the vegetables commonly used in bibimbap include julienned cucumber, zucchini, carrot, mu (white radish), mushrooms, doraji(bellflower root), and nori, as well as spinach, bean sprouts, and gosari (bracken fern stems). Dubu (tofu), either plain or sauteed, or a leaf of lettuce may also be added, and beef can be substituted with chicken or seafood.

Bibimbap
25 comments on this post.

Tourte aux pommes de terre - Potato Pie

This is another French recipe from my mother-in-law, Michèle. This big potato pie is rather delicious, and as often in this case, not the best thing for your diet ! It goes well as a side with some meat, but we also like to eat it as a main course (with salad) since you are unlikely to end up hungry after downing a portion;-)

Tourte aux pommes de terre

Ingredients
  • 1 kg potatoes (peeled and sliced in thin rounds using a vegetable slicer machine)
  • 1 big onion (sliced)
  • 200 to 220 g bacon (cut in match sticks)
  • 2 puff/flaky pastry (pâte feuilletée dough)
  • 1 egg yolk slightly beaten with a bit of milk
  • 40 cl sour cream (crème fraîche)
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg for seasoning
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven at 170°C (325°F - gas mark 3).
  2. Stir-fry the sliced onions with a bit of oil till they are a bit transparent and soft.
  3. Lay 1 puff/flaky pastry in a deep pie dish or round baking pan laid with baking paper.
  4. Spread a layer of sliced potato in the pie, then spread some bacon and onion on it. Season it with a bit of salt, pepper and nutmeg powder.
  5. Repeat the above step till all is finished.
  6. Fold in the side border of the dough (towards the potato) and brush it with water (this helps to seal the two pastry). Then cover it with another puff pastry, pressing on the border a little to make sure it is sealed to the bottom pastry. Fold in whatever is left on the side.
  7. Cut a tiny hole in the middle of the pie to make a chimney and place a small cone on the chimney.
  8. Brush the surface of the pie with the beaten yolk-milk mixture.
  9. Bake it at 170°C (325°F - gas mark 3) for about 60 minutes or till the potato is cooked.
  10. Once the pie is cooked, cut a bigger circle on the top crust and put aside the cover. Pour in the crème fraîche. Put back the cover on the pie and leave the pie inside the warm oven (switched off) for a few minutes to let the cream melt and spread down the pie.
Tourte aux pommes de terre ingredientsPotato Pie
The Verdict

Well my first attempt at it turned out to be a masterpiece, although a bit by accident: I added a bit more bacon then normal (the "official" recipe use only 150 g) to finish a box, and the potatoes were well cooked to the point of melting in your mouth. With the cream, the result is a very delicious (and rich) texture, smooth in the mouth and with that tasty smoky bacon flavour. Yummy ! The crunchy crust around makes the whole experience even better. This is definitely one of Pierre's favorite recipe as well:-)

Note

Some variants skip the bacon but use a lot of parsley to enhance the flavor. We are not a big fan of parsley but if that's your thing, you might like to have a go at it.

Tourte aux pommes de terre - potato pieTourte aux pommes de terre
25 comments on this post.