Monday, May 22, 2006

Baking really mellows you out

My dinner tonight was a result of scavenging through my fridge - no ingredients were purchased expressly for this meal. Therefore, I don't think that my recipe is the best way to do it. It's just a result of what was on hand, and a lot of the ingredients can be replaced with other similar ones.

Having said that, don't think mine is not special. The particular mix of ingredients is kind of interesting -- take a bunch of really strong flavors, pour cheese on them and stick them in the oven. They come out and they're all like, "Duuuude... you got any Doritos?" Super mellow.

Green Gratin (If you want it to be fancier, you can call it Gratin Vert... all French and stuff)

So, this recipe is really a theme and variations. Pretty much everything is interchangeable with whatever you have in the fridge, and the portions can be modified as well... be adventurous! I particurly like the beet/red cabbage idea -- you'd have a gratin rouge! Note that these proportions don't make too cheesy a gratin -- it's pretty light. Up the cheese and milk proportions for a richer end result.

1/4 C 2% milk (or milk of any other fatness, or soy/rice/almond milk, or cream (you might want to water down the cream))
1/2 tsp cake flour (or regular flour, or 1/4 tsp corn starch, or in a pinch, nothing)
3/4 C grated mozzerella cheese (i used the dense melty supermarket kind, not the juicy fresh kind) (or any other melty cheese - gruyere, fontina, cheddar, jack, swiss, crumbled blue, etc.)
1 tsp creamed horseradish (use more if you're not a wimp like me)
salt and pepper

2 C broccoflower pieces (or broccoli, cauliflower, chinese broccoli, zucchini, beets (peeled), or carrots (peeled))
1 C arugula leaves (or spinach, (red) cabbage, or chard)
2 Tbs grated parmesan cheese (or romano or any of the melty cheeses above)
1 Tbs breadcrumbs (or cracker or corn flake crumbs)
1 Tbs flax meal (this is in here for the omega-3 fatty acids, so the only substitution is ground-up oily fish like salmon or mackerel... yeah... let me know how that goes)
salt and pepper

Prehead oven to 325.

Pour milk in small saucepan over low heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk. When the mixture thickens slightly, add mozzerella and keep whisking until you have a thick, slightly stretchy sauce. If it's too thick, add more milk. Add horseradish and salt and pepper.

Cover the bottom of a small ovenproof dish with the arugula. Place broccoflower over arugula in an even layer. Pour cheese sauce over top, covering as evenly as possible. Sprinkle parmesan, breadcrumbs, and flax meal over the whole thing; season with salt and pepper.

Baking time varies depending on the vegetables you use. Bake until vegetables are at desired softness, cheese sauce is bubbling, and top is golden brown. If the top browns too quickly, cover it with foil and continue baking. For my particular combination, it took about 35 min, no foil -- and my broccoflower still had a bit of crunch.

Serves 2 as a side, or 1 as a main course.

Here is a work-in-progress pic and a finished-product one:

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