Gratin au Choufleur avec Noisettes – aka Cauliflower Gratin with Hazelnuts

I finally bought a new cookbook. First time in about two years, so I bought the French Market Cookbook, which I have been lusting after for about six months now. So lust eventually won, as it always does, and I have a new cookbook to play with! The cool thing about this cookbook is that it’s divided up not by recipe type, but by season. So I looked up various winter recipes, and found “Cauliflower Gratin with Hazelnuts and Turmeric.” A few adjustments based on what I had in my fridge, and a lovely new recipe was made.

Gratin
1/2 a head of cauliflower
1/3 head of broccoli
1/2 cup of hazelnuts
Bread crumbs
Cheese sauce (below)

Take the hazelnuts and spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or so. Pull them out of the oven and, once cooled a bit, rub the skins off the nuts. Roughly chop and set aside for later. In the meantime, chop the cauliflower and broccoli into florets, and steam until slightly tender but still a bit on the crunchy side. Set aside.

Cheese Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup and a bit of milk
Salt
Pepper
Nutmeg
1/2 cup or so strong French cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Once its melted add the flour and mix it in. Pour in the milk and whisk continuously – making sure the butter-flour mixture melts completely into the milk. Its important to stir constantly, to prevent any sticking on the bottom, or lumps. Once the sauce has thickened, add the salt, pepper and nutmeg – a pinch or two of each, according to your taste. Then add the cheese, as stir it in until it is all melted into the sauce. The recipe suggests Gruyere or Comte, but I used raclette. Pour the hazelnuts in as well and mix. Put the veggies in a baking dish, and pour the cheese-hazelnut sauce on it. Mix so that the veggies are coated. Pour bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Forgot to take a picture til after I started eating ... oops

Forgot to take a picture til after I started eating … oops

Tasty! Less guilt than one would normally feel because the cheese sauce is on vegetables, not pasta or bread or anything. The recipe called for turmeric, which I actually have, but couldn’t bring myself to use as the sauce just tasted so good already. I didn’t want to mess with that. I served this with a French red bordeaux, naturally. I’m sure a California red would have worked too, but I felt the need to go with a French wine for authenticity’s sake. Song of the week: Coin Operated Boy by Dresden Dolls. We’ve all been there – it’d be so much easier that the messiness and confusion that comes with real boys and girls. Bonus – this comes as a fun Buffy fanvid!

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