Cauliflower Gratin with South Asian Spices

I spent a fair amount of time, experimenting with this recipe. I was in a cheesy mood but didn’t want to include pasta. I’m learning about and loving Middle Eastern and South Asian spices. I know that goat cheese and yogurt are used a lot but wasn’t sure how good these spices would be with typical Western cheeses. Hence, the need to experiment a lot. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This experiment had less cheddar, but just as good. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Ingredients 

1 onion, chopped

2 scallions, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

15 fresh garlic cloves, sliced

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, well chopped

1 heaping teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, toasted

2 heads cauliflower, steam for 5 minutes, then break into bite size pieces

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup almond or chickpea flour

1 cup almond milk, warmed

2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese

3 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup grated muenster

2 cups ricotta

1 pinch black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs. Mix separately, the panko with the parmesan. Set aside.

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tablespoons butter, melted, then add to Panko topping

 

Wonderful fresh ingredients. The seasonings are on a long shelf in the above left corner, conveniently located next to the stove. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Directions 

1. Chop, slice, cut everything that needs this initial preparation.

 

Chopping everything on the same cutting board. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

2. Preheat oven to 350o

3. Oil a very large baking dish

4. Sautee in olive oil, the onion, scallion, shallots, jalapeno, garlic. When onion and garlic are soft, add all other spices and seasoning and stir together well.

 

Cooking all the chopped veggies. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

  

5. Toast the mustard seeds, then add them to the onion mixture.

 

In photo above, the mustard seeds are toasting. I love using toasted mustards seeds; they pack a huge amount of flavor in any recipe. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Adding seasoning, spices, seeds, etc. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Adding all chopped herbs to the pot – stir, cook and blend. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Add the grated cheese. Stir it in well. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here the roux with added ricotta is ready to scrape into the large skillet. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

6. Steam the cauliflower for 5 minutes or less. It needs to stay crisp. Drain; return to pot. When completely drained, pat with paper towel and put into the large oiled baking dish

 

Cauliflower was steamed and is now draining in the sink. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

7. In a saucepan, melt 3 Tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth and make your roux; whisk in the warmed milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Now, lower heat and stir in the ricotta very well.

8. Stir into the saucepan everything from the onion mixture. Make sure to mix very well into all of the milky ingredients.

9. Stir in muenster and cheddar cheeses.

10. Finally, pour all of the cheesy mixture over the cauliflower and toss well so that the vegetables are all covered with the cheesy mixture.

 

The above photo is just before sprinkling the mixture of panko, melted butter and parmesan, all over the top of the casserole. Then it goes into the oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

11. In a separate bowl, toss bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese and melted butter; sprinkle over top of casserole.

12. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden brown.

 

One version with lots of cheddar cheese. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Above is another version. I cut down on the cheese and added precooked slices of turkey sausage. Yummy! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Same recipe but I left all cheddar out. Very delicious. I added the spot of broccoli, just to get some color when serving, and also with the photo in mind. This version was served with baked halibut. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This recipe goes extremely well with fish and seafood. Here it’s served with velvety wild salmon, and a ginger/garlic topping. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

A dinner guest brought this chardonnay, The Vice. During the following week, we chilled then sampled it. We could not believe how delicious it was. We rarely order chardonnay. It’s usually too dry and tastes like it’s been stored in slate; we know that many like it for that very reason. But, back to The Vice: we liked it so much we wanted to order more. I tried my two, go-to wine stores in Manhattan, but they didn’t carry it. I knew our guest had bought it in the Sutton Place area, so used Google Maps to track a wine store and found Ambassador Wines. They had 4 bottles left and delivered them that day. You will not believe the price! I asked how anyone could make a profit and charge so little. I put in an order for 2 more cases, which arrived about two weeks later. The person who answers the phone at Ambassador Wine is knowledgeable. He agreed with my theory that this smooth wine was one of the sleepers that restaurants favor, for their assortment of house wines, served by the glass. Le Volte is another low cost tasty red Tuscan blend, used by many restaurants as their house wine-by-the-glass. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

The Big Apple always loved Edward Albee, who passed away just a few years ago. This year NYC is honoring the great playwright, with two revivals: Three Tall Women, on B’way and At Home At The Zoo, off-B’way at Signature Theater, where we are patrons. We’re seeing the B’way production later this Spring. Saturday we saw the off-B’way production and loved it. The acting is superb. If you like Theater of the Absurd, you shouldn’t miss either of these Albee revivals.

 

We discovered a new seafood restaurant connected to the W Hotel on B’way and 47th Street, Blue Fin. The food was excellent, service was very good, casual dress— not fancy; we would go again.

 

Have a great week everyone!

 

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

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