What I had for dinner:

Cauliflower au Gratin

[ Previous ] 13 May 1994 20:42:00 -0400 [   Next   ]

The secret of a smooth white sauce (aka Béchamel) is to add the boiling milk to a cold roux. First, one pint of milk is set to simmer with a bay leaf, some ground mace and a pinch of clove, and salt to taste. The roux is prepared with 1/2 stick of butter and 1/4 cup of flour. Even though in a traditional white sauce the roux is not supposed to take any color, I like to let it brown just a bit, for the nuttiness this adds to the sauce. The roux is cooled by placing the pan in a bowl of cold water, then the boiling milk is added all at once through a sieve to catch the bay leaf. Brought back to boiling, the sauce is cooked for a few minutes, then used immediately.

Meanwhile, the cauliflower is separated into roughly even flowerlets, and parboiled for 5 minutes.

Half of the sauce goes into an oven-proof dish, then the cauliflower is arranged tightly in the dish, and the whole is covered with the rest of the sauce. A sprinkling of bread crumbs and grated cheese, and it goes into the oven at 350F until the crumbs get toasted and the sauce bubbles.

That much white sauce makes two generous servings, by the way.

While the cauliflower was baking, I started with an appetizer of grated carrots with oil and vinegar, a childhood favorite. I've always hated cooked carrots, but amply made up for it with raw ones, so my parents had a hard time arguing vitamin A...

And to that, a tall glass of homebrewed amber ale. For the vitamin B complex, of course.

Then I started preparing for the picnic, but that is another story for another day.

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