I like to cook. It’s taken years for me to get to the point where I can say that and actually mean it. I remember begrudgingly learning the basics from my mom, experimenting with cooking in my first real apartment, and the many meals I’ve made for J and myself that have turned out terribly.
Sometime during the past few years, I’ve gone from being afraid to cook to being excited about it. I regularly ask for new cookbooks and kitchen paraphernalia for Christmas and birthdays, and I actually look forward to trying new recipes.
While that’s all well and good, I’ve never really felt like a chef (and I know I’m still technically nowhere close to that title). Sure, I experimented with my own “recipes,” but those were mostly basic things like quinoa salads, where I felt I couldn’t really screw up. When following a recipe, I often don’t measure too closely, but I still follow the directions and don’t change the basic flavors.
Last weekend I decided to try a gratin recipe, but I ended up not having most of the ingredients. I went through my cupboards, subbing as needed, and I ended up with something truly amazing. This is the first time I’ve really felt like I know what I’m doing, that I understand what flavors go well together. And so, I present to you, the following recipe.
Cauliflower and Brussels Sprout Gratin (highly adapted from this epicurious recipe.)
- 1.5 lbs trimmed, quartered brussels sprouts
- large head cauliflower
- 2 cups heavy cream
- .75 cups light cream
- 4 small shallots (about half cup), chopped coarsely
- 1 tbs dried sage
- 1.5 tbs olive oil
- .5 cups panko
- .5 cups slivered almonds
- 2 tbs dried thyme
- 2 cups parm, divided
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the trimmed and quartered sprouts and boil for 2 minutes.
- Separate the cauliflower into small florets, add to boiling water, and boil for an additional 3 minutes.
- Drain the veggies and put them into some ice water to stop cooking. Drain and set aside when cool.
- Combine cream, shallots, and sage in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until it reduces a bit, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch or it’ll boil over!
- Add almonds to small pan over medium heat until they toast slightly, then remove and add to a large bowl.
- Add olive oil to same pan, return to heat, and add panko, stirring until it browns. Add to bowl with almonds and thyme, stirring together.
- Butter large casserole dish (I used my lasagna pan). Add 1/2 veggies, salt and pepper, and 1 cup parm. Repeat for second layer.
- Pour cream mixture over the entire casserole evenly, pushing down slightly so the cream gets to all layers.
- Cover casserole with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove foil, sprinkle panko and almond mixture overtop, then bake uncovered an additional 15 minutes.
This gratin is seriously delicious. I made it for Thanksgiving and people were literally raving about it. Not too shabby for my first really modified recipe, especially one involving brussels sprouts.