Friday, April 5, 2013

(Vegetarian) Cooking at home: Cauliflower au gratin

I was asked to do a recipe series for some vegetarian dishes for a local magazine recently. Given I am not a vegetarian myself, I found it a bit ironic but nonetheless I wanted to take this up as a challenge, to come up with something decent yet easy to make for fellow home cooks. At the end I made a 4-course dinner with salad, pasta, main and dessert which can be done within one hour if you prepare some steps in advance - at least that was the plan.

It's kind of fun having people coming over watch me work in the kitchen, take pictures and all. I learned quite a bit in food photography from the pros as well and how to make good use of light sources from my apartment and kitchen. It's a Saturday afternoon well spent and given I am usually not the most organized person in terms of cooking, hopefully I didn't mess up with the recipes that I needed to write up for sharing. I even made that into a bilingual recipe which was another challenge that I had to overcome.

Anyway, here's the first of the four - which was published last week. It's a cauliflower au gratin with béchamel sauce - an adaptation of a similar dish from Ferran Adria's The Family Meal cookbook. It's a simple home-style dish but went back to the fundamentals of western cooking - using béchamel sauce, one of the "mother" sauces in classical French cuisine that every chef should learn. Hopefully, next time when people look for a simple vegetarian dish to make with readily available ingredients, they can come up with something other than a spaghetti alla marinara (from a jar of ready-made sauce).

I think this is by itself substantial enough to be a vegetarian main course, or as a proper side dish for any meal.

Cauliflower au gratin (with béchamel sauce)


Half a cauliflower
120g cheddar cheese - grated
1.5 cup of whole milk
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
Salt, Pepper and Olive oil to taste


1. To make the béchamel sauce, boil milk in a sauce pan. Put butter in another frying pan in medium heat until melted. Stir in flour rigorously so it's turned into a roux. While frying pan is in low heat, pour hot milk into the pan while stirring the roux. Do that until all milk is in the pan and the roux mixed with the milk completely. Boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes to reduce and thicken. Set aside.
2. Cut off the stem and leaves of the cauliflower. Separate the florets into small pieces.
3. Cook the cauliflower florets in a pot with boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain the cauliflower after it has become tender.
4. Seasoned with salt, peppers and olive oil
5. Put cooked cauliflower into an ovenproof deep dish, then cover with sauce. Repeat with another layer if necessary.
6. Sprinkle grated cheese onto cauliflower.
7. Put the oven in broiler mode. Cook under the broiler until cheese was melted and turn golden and the sauce is bubbling.

1 comment :

India Food Network said...

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