Posted by: mick | November 28, 2010

On becoming a chef

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
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil.  Add the trimmed and quartered sprouts and boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Separate the cauliflower into small florets, add to boiling water, and boil for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Drain the veggies and put them into some ice water to stop cooking.  Drain and set aside when cool.
  5. 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!
  6. Add almonds to small pan over medium heat until they toast slightly, then remove and add to a large bowl.
  7. 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.
  8. Butter large casserole dish (I used my lasagna pan).  Add 1/2 veggies, salt and pepper, and 1 cup parm.  Repeat for second layer.
  9. Pour cream mixture over the entire casserole evenly, pushing down slightly so the cream gets to all layers.
  10. Cover casserole with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  11. 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.




  1. yum! i’m totally going to try your recipe.

  2. Oh. My. God. This looks truly delicious, definitely the work of a chef! x

  3. this sounds super tasty. i love winter gratins. adding this to my list of comfort foods!

  4. That looks amazing! I will definitely be making it!

  5. Look forward to cook this recipe – great hit @ Thanksgiving!
    Love the Gziedi pix!

  6. i love both these veggies… i’d like to say i’ll try it, but more than likely i’ll make ruggy make it 🙂 i bet those beautiful colors in your new kitchen are inspiring!

    and, i love it when you make it snow on your blog…

  7. Oooh, I’m so going to try this! I’ve been looking for a a yummy comfort gratin … this just might fit the bill.

  8. Hurray for cooking! As long as I’m not too swamped for time and have access to a good grocery store, I’m very happy to cook. My cookbook collection is getting out of control, though!

  9. […] Cauliflower and Brussel Sprout Gratin […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: