Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Cauliflower Conundrum

As I discussed last week on my Facebook Page , I had an over abundance of veggies at the end of the week yet to be used for meals.  I finally decided after hemming and hawing to make Cauliflower Gratin, a recipe from my sisters blog Plant Food Fabulous .  Now, Julia Childs I am not... we all know this.  But I figured, it's cauliflower, some cheese and some breadcrumbs ... how hard can it be.  Yeah... that was mistake #1.

The recipe is as follows:

Cauliflower Gratin 

2 tablespoons butter- I used Olive Oil Instead
1 yellow onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, mined
1 large head of cauliflower, cored and diced in 1" cubes- I think mine was more a "medium" head, possibly even a "smallish" head.

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour- No Flour- so instead I used Hemp Protein (which in my defense is labeled a "flour substitute")
2 cups cream- Omitted, opted for 4 cups of milk instead
2 cups milk
8 ounces sharp cheddar
6 ounces smoked cheddar- I only had a Shredded Mixture of some form, so used that instead
1/4 cup grated parmesan- at least I had this 
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup parsley, minced
a pinch of salt and pepper 

Considering that food pretty much hates me, therefore, I have to constantly be mindful of pesky things like calories and fat, I immediately omitted the cream and most of the butter (except where absolutely necessary), opting instead of olive oil.  I am admittedly the most germ a phobic person when it comes to food and how long things can be kept without them going bad.  Therefore, things don't last very long in my fridge.  As a result of that, I'm not a person who just has items on the fly to use or utilize- because I never know how long things truly last before going bad.  So, Im not the kind of person that has tons of cheeses or lots of vegetables to use on a whim  or even an over abundance of butter or milk, or flour.  Which is how I get into these situations a lot of times of not having all of the ingredients and making do with what Ive got.  

Anyway, the instructions referenced utilizing a linked cheese sauce from a previous recipe.  But, I didn't actually follow the link to figure out exactly how to make it-  I just figured it was a matter of combining the butter and the flour and the cheese and the milk to make a sauce.  Which-  I did.  I think the fact that I had four cups of milk and not 2 of milk 2 of cream probably resulted in a less than thick sauce.  Perhaps also the fact that I used Hemp instead of Flour may have been the case as well.  But regardless, the sauce did not really thicken to anything more than the consistency of a soup.  I figured though it would distribute more in the baking.  I followed the rest of the instructions with the onions and the garlic and the cauliflower and combined everything into a dish.  I don't have a fancy gratin pan.. so I used a casserole dish instead.  Covered it and baked it.  Fifty minutes later, it essentially looked like Cauliflower Soup.  Or- really, cauliflower floating in a cheesy, green soup. (Yes mine was green because of the Hemp...)  Instead of actually presenting it as it to my husband for dinner (which would have resulted in copious amounts of laughter Im sure).. I decided instead to blend it up and turn it into a soup.  Which helped to thicken it into a nice consistency, and despite the green color actually tasted quite wonderful.    Obviously, since it was soup I omitted the breadcrumbs.  While I could consider this a "Dinner Disaster"  since I failed to produce a beautiful bubbly Gratin like Ms. Plant Food Fabulous has on her site... I was able to rescue this from dinner obscurity into a very delicious, and satisfying (especially since it was cold and snowy)  soup.  I paired it with some boxed cornbread from Trader Joe's and made it a very delicious meal.  :)

I therefore, am putting this one in the "win" column.  :)  No pictures unfortunately.. I forgot to take one of the soup, and really the before pictures of my attempt at gratin would only make you laugh :)


Big Life, Little Blog said...

The issue was definitely the omit of cream and/or no flour. The part that thickens these types of sauces is making a sort of roux out of the butter + flour. Though, I have no idea what hemp protein is, I'm assuming it just doesn't have the consistency of flour. I'd suggest keeping flour or cornstarch on hand. If kept in an airtight container it should last for months and months with no risk of going bad. Also, since you subbed milk for the cream, there was not enough milk fat to thicken the sauce properly. I learned this the hard way with some beer cheese soup once - my chef friend had to come to the rescue with butter and flour. :)

Lynzhi said...

fat free cottage cheese also works well in lieu of cream. protein add on, thickener, and casein protein makes you feel fuller longer. i hate me some cottage cheese by itself, but it comes in *super* handy when youre cooking.

The Tubby Triathlete said...

Thanks ladies :) I def will keep some flower on hand for next time.. and Lynzhi Im with you on the cottage cheese.. but perhaps I shall try it in lieu of cream bext time :-D And its good to know that flour lasts for a long time in an airtight container! :-D

KLA said...

They're are no mistakes in life, looks like you discovered a new recipe for cauliflower soup au gratin!

We've recently discovered that cauliflower roasts really well. Hubby adds a little bit of oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, tosses in a bowl. Spread cauliflower on a cookie sheet, cook at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes (watch oven near the end to make sure it doesn't burn). Soo good.