Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratinAbout a month ago, I received an email invite to a September 30th dinner party at Dana Cowin’s apartment.

In case you live under a rock, Dana is the editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine, and she is the Beyoncé of the food world. Like Queen B, I am Queen D’s biggest fangirl, and I was therefore convinced that I had received the invitation in error.

I hadn’t. (OHMAHGOD.)

The dinner was in honor of Dana’s new cookbook Mastering My Mistakes in The Kitchen, which is an absolutely beautiful compilation of recipes, stories, and tips for overcoming kitchen conundrums of all kinds (many of which come from some of the world’s most talented chefs). The book is informative, hilarious and heartwarming, and I was pee-my-pants excited appropriately thrilled to celebrate it. Duh.

In keeping with the book’s theme, Dana asked that everyone bring a dish that they once struggled with and had since mastered. We would have a potluck dinner, and then each person would tell the story behind her dish. For the record, the guest list included Deb(!!!), Phoebe, Julia, Amanda, MerrillAnna, Ali and several of my other culinary heroines. (OH. MAH. GOD.)

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-2Naturally, I spent the past several weeks full-blown panicking about what to make for this momentous occasion. In an effort to inspire myself, I went back through my old Le Cordon Bleu binders in search of dishes that had initially made me cry. Sadly, I realized the majority of the recipes that had traumatized me the first time around were never mastered because they involved stuffing fish with other fish. (The French love of stuffing fish continues to upset and confound me.) And being the girl that brings fish-stuffed-fish to a potluck would probably not bode well for my future in the food world, so I had to think outside the box…

I considered all of my best recipes, trying to remember which ones had caused me significant pain and heartache over the years. Although there were an embarrassing amount of dishes that fell into that category, Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin stood out from the pack.

In its current incarnation, this gratin is a revelation. Tender roasted cauliflower is bathed in a cauliflower-based sauce that calls for fresh herbs, garlic and a heady blend of Gruyère, Parmesan, and goat cheeses. The casserole is then baked with a topping of cheesy toasted breadcrumbs, and the resulting flavor party is pretty mind-blowing. (I’m confident in that statement, as I made it three times last weekend just to be 100% sure.)

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-3However, back in the day, I made all kinds of mistakes with this recipe that can be boiled down to three major issues:

1. The cheese sauce. I used to have a really tough time with cheese sauces due to my regular struggles with béchamel at LCB. For those of you who don’t know (no judgment), béchamel is the simple cream sauce that’s used as a base for countless other sauces. It’s made by cooking flour and butter together and then whisking in milk, which isn’t overly complicated, but you have to whisk/cook the sauce for several minutes (sometimes as long as 8-10) before it thickens.

As you can imagine, the anxiety I experienced pre-thickening was extreme and all-consuming. I’d be standing over my stove, whisking and sweating in my hairnet, feeling the eyes of the mean French man my esteemed culinary instructor bore into the back of my head as I whispered prayers to any god that would listen. There were a few occasions where my béchamel never came together (for reasons still unknown), but I try very hard not to think about those terrifying experiences.

Funnily enough, there was a time after my first term at school that I thought maybe I could skip the béchamel step altogether. Why not just dump some milk and cheese in pot and boil the whole shebang together? Genius! (Dana said at dinner that most good cooks have good instincts. I have NO instincts.)

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-4Needless to say, boiling milk and cheese together does not, in fact, have a delicious outcome. And as I watched everything in the pot separate in a chunky, watery mess, I felt both confused and defeated. The fact that I had chosen to conduct this experiment while attempting a fancy gratin for Logan’s parents (it was my first time meeting them, and I planned to be the most impressive girlfriend ever!) only made the situation worse. Sneaking out of the kitchen with a giant pot and surreptitiously dumping its contents in a corner of their backyard was very stressful. (John and Linda, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.)

Over the years, I have mastered making béchamel, but I’ve also discovered a fun hack for sauces that require it: cauliflower purée. Puréed cauliflower is foolproof, super creamy, gluten-free, and it’s the ideal base for this gratin’s magical three-cheese sauce. Cauliflower on cauliflower is perfection.

Three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-52. Par-boiling the cauliflower. Most vegetable gratin recipes suggest par-boiling (boiling the veggies until they’re just slightly undercooked) prior to assembling the casserole. The first time I made a cauliflower gratin, I skipped this step because I’m lazy, which led to an uncomfortably crunchy final product. Not good.

The next few times I attempted the recipe, I included the par-boiling step, but I got a little distracted and ended up cooking the florets far beyond “al dente.” They were very soft going into the gratin, and absolute mush when they came out. I like to call that dish, “Crushed Cauliflower Brick.” Also not good.

Thanks to the aforementioned mistakes, I finally came up with a solution. For an ideally textured cauliflower gratin, one must quickly roast the florets in a 400 degree oven. As long as you set a timer, you’ll end up with perfectly tender (not mushy) cauliflower in the final dish. Masterful.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-63. Seasoning. Since we’re being honest today, I’ll admit that I used to be shamelessly lax about seasoning every element in a dish. I’d tend to focus on making a really good sauce and hope that it would flavor everything else involved. This sort of worked with my early cauliflower gratins, especially once I nailed the cheese sauce, but there was always something missing. No matter how tasty the sauce, or how perfectly roasted the florets, things were just a little bit bland.

Don’t worry, I fixed it! The cauliflower gratin you see on your screen is layer-upon-layer of flavor, as it should be. The roasted cauliflower itself is seasoned generously with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. The lightly golden florets get smothered in sauce (which I’ve already told you is impeccable), and then the whole thing is topped with a breadcrumb mixture that involves Parmesan, salt and smoked paprika. BOOM.

Incredibly long story short: I used to make really shitty cauliflower gratin. But through a lot of trial and error cooking (and countless heads of cauliflower), I’ve mastered my mistakes and learned to make one truly fabulous dish.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-7Yes, admitting all of the above to a room full of my food idols was slightly humiliating, but it was also empowering. Much to my delight, all of these amazingly talented women laughed, commiserated, and shared their own ridiculous culinary mishaps, which reinforced a truth that I have always suspected: Kitchen failures are bound to happen, but they ultimately help you become a better cook and make for excellent party stories. Hallelujah.

matering-my-mistakes-in-the-kitchen-dana-cowinIn the spirit of inspiring all of you to face your culinary fears and master your mistakes, I’m giving away copies of Dana’s gorgeous cookbook to TWO lucky readers. All you have to do is leave a comment with a dish you’ve mastered or your biggest culinary fail (or BOTH), and you’ll be entered to win. Do it.

The giveaway will close on Wednesday, October 8, at 11:59pm EST. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Thursday, October 9. This giveaway is now closed.

In case you don’t win, you’re going to need to order a copy of this book ASAP. Dana is dropping all kinds of knowledge bombs, and you don’t want to be the only one missing out. (Peer pressure.)

p.s. Make this gratin.

Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin: (Serves 6)

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-8Ingredients:
2 heads cauliflower, florets removed, divided
2½ tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
5 fresh sage leaves (plus extra for garnish)
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ cup grated Parmesan, divided
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Gruyère cheese
3 ounces goat cheese

Preparing your Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin:

-Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

-Arrange the florets from 1½ heads of cauliflower on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and coarse black pepper, and toss to coat.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-step-1-Roast for 20 minutes until lightly brown and just tender.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-step-2-Meanwhile, melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When melted and foamy add the shallot and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes until the shallots become translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-step-3-Add the thyme and sage and cook for another minute. Add the florets from the remaining ½ head of cauliflower and milk. Simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is very tender.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-step-4-While all your various cauliflower situations are cooking, toast the breadcrumbs. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat with the butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the breadcrumbs darken slightly and literally smell like toast. Transfer to a bowl to cool and then stir in the paprika, ¼ cup Parmesan, and a pinch of salt. Set aside until ready to use.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-step-5-Now you’re going to make the cheese sauce! Use a fork to fish the sage leaves and time from the milk. (You can throw those out.) Transfer the cauliflower and cooking liquid to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-step-6-Return the cauliflower puree to the saucepan over low heat and slowly stir in the remaining Parmesan, Gruyère, and goat cheese until well combined. Season with salt and coarse black pepper to taste.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-step-7-Pour 1/3 of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a gratin dish (or whatever medium baking dish you happen to have). Add the roasted cauliflower in an even layer and top with the remaining cheese sauce. Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumb mixture over the cheese. YESSSS.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-step-9-Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese sauce is bubbling around the sides. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-9*I like to top my gratin with some crispy fried sage leaves. This is obviously optional, but it does look very pretty and impressive. If you’d like to follow my lead, simply heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add 6-8 sage leaves and fry for a few seconds until they darken and crisp up. (I’m literally talking like 3-6 seconds, peeps. Be careful). Transfer them to a paper towel and sprinkle with a little salt.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-10Masterful.

three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin-11

Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 heads cauliflower, florets removed, divided
  • 2½ tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Coarse black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 fresh sage leaves (plus extra for garnish)
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups freshly grated Gruyère cheese
  • 3 ounces goat cheese

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Arrange the florets from 1½ heads of cauliflower on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and coarse black pepper, and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes until lightly brown and just tender.
  3. Meanwhile, melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When melted and foamy add the shallot and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes until the shallots become translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the thyme and sage and cook for another minute. Add the florets from the remaining ½ head of cauliflower and milk. Simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is very tender.
  4. While your two cauliflower situations are cooking, toast the breadcrumbs. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat with the butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the breadcrumbs darken slightly and literally smell like toast.Transfer to a bowl to cool and then stir in the paprika, ¼ cup Parmesan, and a pinch of salt. Set aside until ready to use.
  5. Now you’re going to make the cheese sauce! Use a fork to fish the sage leaves and time from the milk. (You can throw those out.) Transfer the cauliflower and cooking liquid to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
  6. Return the cauliflower puree to the saucepan over low heat and slowly stir in the remaining Parmesan, Gruyère, and goat cheese until well combined. Season with salt and coarse black pepper to taste.
  7. Pour 1/3 of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a gratin dish (or whatever medium baking dish you happen to have). Add the roasted cauliflower in an even layer and top with the remaining cheese sauce. Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumb mixture over the cheese.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese sauce is bubbling around the sides. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Notes

I like to top my gratin with some crispy fried sage leaves. This is obviously optional, but it does look very pretty and impressive. If you’d like to follow my lead, simply heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add 6-8 sage leaves and fry for a few seconds until they darken and crisp up. (I’m literally talking like 3-6 seconds, peeps. Be careful). Transfer them to a paper towel and sprinkle with a little salt.

http://domesticate-me.com/three-cheese-cauliflower-gratin/

 

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  • Eliza

    Hi! I have mastered by mom’s (and her mom’s and her mom’s) oh-so-delicious apple cake! I heart Domesticate Me!

  • Kristen

    On the topic of cauliflower failures…my first attempt at a cauliflower pizza was an UTTER fail. Didn’t get enough water out of the cauliflower, floppy crust, stuck to alumnium foil. Fail.

  • Annie

    I have never been that great at following recipes, but I learned my lesson pretty intensely when making the chipotle turkey burgers (http://www.domesticate-me.com/the-dude-diet-burger-bust/) – apparently, just throwing in the whole can of chipotle peppers instead of the recommended two is a bad idea… I was on Logan’s Zantac level that night.

  • Julia

    Not to toot my own horn, but I make a really good homemade spaghetti sauce. I’m making it for dinner in fact. I love your website!

  • Daphne

    I started cooking this year (thanks to DM!) and early on started to get a little to big for my britches. While cavalierly chopping veggies for the delicious Quinoa Bake (http://www.domesticate-me.com/roasted-broccoli-chicken-and-cheddar-quinoa-bake/) I sliced my thumb badddly. I had to rush out to CVS to buy them out of gauze, but I persevered and finished the dish when I returned. And it turned out splendidly. (And my thumb healed eventually). Always ‘spect the knives.

  • Lia

    After much trial and error (too mushy! too crispy! not cooked through!) I’ve finally nailed down the perfect roasted brussels sprouts recipe that doesn’t involve blanching or anything except a hot oven, 21 minutes and one little shake around the pan. Also, it’s amazing that you got to meet Dana and Deb! You’ve officially made it

  • Daniel

    Thank you Serena for this wonderful recipe. The great thing about this dish is you can than enjoy dessert and a glass of Port guilt free.

  • Jill

    Attempting to make pizza dough from scratch has left my kitchen covered in flour and myself in tears. After wasting countless packets of yeast and finding the perfectly warm spot in my kitchen I’ve finally been enjoying grilled pizza. PS love your blog and everything you do. Seriously.

  • Mary

    I had a really hard time with cauliflower pizza crust. I massively failed x3 times before mastering it and making a good crust was probably one of the best feelings! I am still in the process of mastering a good cold qiuona salad.. Everytime I make it, it comes out like mush.. I’ll keep working on it!

    • Serena_Wolf

      Mary, you WON! I’m very excited to send you your very own copy of Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen. Please email me at serenawolf@domesticate-me.com with your address (or use the contact form) and I’ll send it to you stat. And congrats on the pizza crust! xo

  • Catherine

    I live and work on a conservancy in rural Zimbabwe. There is a volunteer programme on the property, and the volunteers are provided three delicious meals a day excluding Sunday dinner, which they must cook for themselves. One Sunday evening I passed through the volunteer house with my dog to see what scraps we could steal when no one was looking. Instead, the volunteers, looking up to me as extremely knowledgable and important since I work there and am responsible enough to have a dog, asked where they could find flour for the pizza they were making. In my infinite wisdom and almightiness, I provided them with the white powdery ingredient instantly, and then set them to work on their dough. They kneaded and kneaded, but something was not right. “Are you sure this is flour?” “110%, no question” (confidence is key). “Add water!” (wrong). “Add milk!” (more wrong). “Try some salt!” (why?). “Keep kneading!” Finally, a perceptive (read mutinous) volunteer had the instinct to look in the tin she had seen our chef, Stocks, using while he made fritters that morning. Not only had she found the flour, but she had “110%” confirmed that I had given the volunteers mielie-meal, aka ground maize, and forced them to battle with it for close to 30 minutes before they were set on the right course. Thankfully, they were able to save the meal once I was properly banished from the kitchen, and although I have yet to master pizza-making, I have mastered having wine for dinner on Sunday nights.

  • Natasha C

    Creme brulee evaded me for a while (the eggs would curdle in the final product and it was never thick enough) – until I realized my oven temp was too high, that fixed it!

    P.S. Love your blog!

  • em

    Can my mastery be something as simple as an omelette? I used to be the worst at making them, always turning them into scrambled eggs. Now I am a pro!

  • Steph

    Hi Serena, your blog is fantastic! Your photos never fail to make me drool 🙂 One thing I’ve mastered is making creamed chard. Yum! One of my most epic fails was a gluten free bread that didn’t rise 🙁

  • Colyn Squires

    Wow this sounds amazing! My biggest challenge has been making grilled pizzas. Over my trials I’ve had soggy crust (the worst), undercooked toppings and sometimes things have just fallen apart. But, I learned that my best bet is to grill the dough for maximum crispness, sauté all my veggies and toppings separately then top the crust and throw it under the broiler to get it all melty and yummy. Yum!

  • jessica z

    I have mastered the eggplant-chickpea vegan burgers! I love them and my dad can’t get enough of them!!!

  • Teresa Ambra

    Looks wonderful.

  • briana stanley rosmarin

    I make awesome chocolate fudge cookies. My biggest failure is probably mashed potatoes for last Thanksgiving. I don’t actually like mashed potatoes (and I am a lazy masher) so they were chunky and flavorless before my mother took pity on the rest of the family and fixed them. That being said, she was partially responsible for my failure because she assigned the mashed potatoes to me despite knowing I have no idea what they are supposed to taste like.

    • Serena_Wolf

      Congratulations, Briana! You are ze winner of your very own copy of Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen! If you could email me your address at serenawolf@domesticate-me.com (or just use the contact form), I’ll send it out stat! (Also, mashed potatoes are a tricky beast…)

  • FIFI

    I tried your Chicken Ricotta Meatballs on Tuesday and (for the first time ever) didn’t mess it up (!). Perhaps it’s because I just got a new oven, or more likely because I actually paid attention to measurements and detail (reallllly wanted to pan sear those babies but held back). Regardless, they were delicious and will be a ‘go-to’ next time I’m feeling ambitious (aka not order delivery). Also, I’m a wimp when it comes to spiciness and found that you put the perfect amount of crushed chili peppers into the recipe. Thank you for not burning my tongue, GF!

  • nataliehere

    The first time I tried to make gravy was ROUGH – it tasted like flour. My gravies are way better now thanks to patience and good quality broth!

  • Alix

    I’m a pretty great cook (patting myself on the back) but I STILL have not mastered rice! Every time I try – brown rice, white rice, instant rice, every rice – it’s either too hard or super mushy… except for the time I burned it so badly I had to throw out my friend’s pot because there was no way to save the rice or the cookware. If I see a recipe that calls for rice, I immediately know I’ll substitute quinoa and pretend it’s for the health benefits instead of my inabilities!

  • Randi Goodies

    My epic fail would be when I forgot to remove the bag from the turkey! It was quite embarrassing!

  • Kathy Anderson

    My failure-to-success story is about creampuffs. I make a really rocking cream puff…now. But the first time I tried to make them actually involved an ambulance!

    When I was in high school, my dad, brother and I were living in a rental house that had an older gas oven. You know the kind – after a while, the pilot light refuses to work. No big
    deal; you just light it when you want to use it. So I started the oven pre-heating and went to work on the choux paste. It was looking really good, when I suddenly remembered – I hadn’t lit the pilot light. So then I turned off the oven and ran out of the kitchen, right? Not exactly.

    *I lit the pilot light.* That is to say: I lit the gas that had built up inside the oven. Fortunately, it all caught at once and nothing blew up. Unfortunately, my right arm was pretty burned, and I found out later that I had just about burned off my right eyebrow. Fortunately, there was an awesome burn unit nearby, and since dad wasn’t home, my brother and I got to ride in an ambulance! Unfortunately, I learned what the treatment is for really bad burns. It isn’t pleasant.

    Fortunately, before we ran out to the ambulance, I threw the paste into the fridge. And when we got home, I darn well got back up on that horse and made the creampuffs! I
    knew if I didn’t do it right away, I might never approach the oven again. Were they perfect? Heck, no! But they were sufficiently tasty. And I went on to make really good creampuffs…eventually. 🙂

  • Logan Unland

    I’ve mastered cooking smores and cooking bacon. Might want to throw in my affinity for making and crushing really dank sandos as well.

  • Michele LeFave

    Sometimes my kitchen mistakes happen when I try to make meals TOO healthy. It took me a while to master meatballs, and I think the trick was finally using the non 99% fat free ground turkey…health is balance!

    Also- have you tried this cauliflower dish with frozen cauliflower? Any tips or warnings?

  • Meredith

    Wow does this look yummy! And so much healthier than its potato counterpart 🙂 My biggest fail, consistently, is cooking chicken breasts. I never bake them long enough for their size, cut into it, return to oven, and end up with very dry chicken. I’ve finally caved and purchased a kitchen scale AND a meat thermometer, so maybe I will master it someday! And my greatest kitchen triumph by far was a three-layer carrot cake, completely from scratch. I am not a strong baker and it took all night, but boy were they impressed!

  • nora

    biggest fail was attempting to make gougeres at the end of a long cooking day before a big party.. screwing up the first batch and then serving the second batch that didn’t rise and were like sad little cheese pancake crackers. i don’t know if it counts as a specialty, but i’m really into making mini pitas and tzatziki from scratch – both super easy but seem way more impressive than they are.

  • Emilie

    Quinoa. Now that I have your tips it comes out perfect every time. Previously, It was mushy because I used too much liquid.

  • Stefani

    This recipe sounds delicious. I definitely appreciate your tip about the cauliflower puree, because my biggest cooking failure also involves a bechamel sauce for my mom’s “famous” baked mac & cheese. Maybe it was a lack of patience for stirring/whisking the flour and butter, but when I added in the milk, it would always be a chunky mess. Mastering the thick, creamy sauce was a great accomplishment in my house!

  • Kelly

    I made Ina’s easy tomato soup and used fine salt instead of kosher. Needless to say it was a disgusting salt bomb the first time around

  • Toni McCann

    My biggest kitchen failure so far probably has to be the time I made my first baked cheesecake. I thought i would impress the people at work (to whom I had boasted about my baking abilities) with a baked ricotta cheesecake. Long story short, I overworked it, undercooked it and ended up with a scrambled-egg mess. It was horrible. Since then I have mastered the baked cheesecake and it has become my go-to dessert for special occasions. Even attempted – and successfully – made a baked blueberry and lemon curd cheesecake, which was amaze-balls (if I do say so myself)!

  • Oh my… the time I tossed some spinach into my favorite cucumber dill soup. After it was pureed, both the taste and texture were so off-putting, I threw away the whole batch. Lesson learned!

  • Amy

    My culinary nemesis for the longest time was polenta. No matter how I much or how little I stirred or whisked while SLOWLY adding the polenta to the liquid it came out as some sort of icky, sticky gelatinous yellow mess. No amount of butter or parmesan cheese could save it… and that says a lot. Over time I’ve found a favorite brand of corn meal and perfected my mixture of liquid and herbs to create
    the base and then I and don’t get so worked up about the measurements but
    rather eyeball it based on the consistency I’m aiming for VOILA perfect
    polenta!!

    I absolutely love your blog – I laugh/gethungry every time I read it and DIE over your dinner with Dana! Amazingness!

  • Stephanie Lovell Thurlow

    I like to think that I am a great home cook but when it comes to Indian food . . . let’s just say I will be leaving this cuisine to the Indians. I made a whole baked cauliflower that was dipped in yogurt and spices along with a dish of lentils and potatoes. What a huge disappointment the whole meal was. My man glared at me (like I did this on purpose!) then he slowly stood up and walked away from the table. This whole meal was bound for the trash. I am still attempting Indian food, but he will look at me as if to say “Are you trying to poison me?”

  • Marion

    Chicken chilaquiles is my go-to winner. I started making them in college from a recipe I found in Cooking Light and it never disappoints. And who doesn’t love topping – basically – a cheesy chicken casserole with salsa? Btw, love your blog! I’ve made several of your recipes and they have all been great… The chicken quinoa bake is a rotating favorite.

  • Melinda Biocchi

    I used to be a terrible, terrible cook. The worst thing I ever did? I roasted a ham WITH THE PLASTIC WRAPPING ON IT… who knew there were two layers of plastic? But now I know. I always say, making mistakes in the kitchen is the best way to learn — it’s how I became a legit cook (and by watching all of Julia Child’s pbs shows on DVD)

  • lara nadosy

    I want to eat this dish all day. This will be my next conquest. Char and I need to step up our game, but i have most definitely conquered the quinoa green goddess deliciousness since i make it easily every week. Also the butternut squash kale spicy chicken stew was the best thing i’ve ever tasted in my whole life. I will be making it every night this week.

  • Megan

    I had a boyfriend come visit me in the city during a summer internship and I made a huge deal out of making him dinner. Suffice to say I served a pasta dish with spinach in it that was still frozen, and he broke up with me that night. I still choose to blame the spinach

  • Emily Fender

    While leading a group of youth on a backpacking trip I was making mac and cheese. Sounds easy enough right? Well I got distracted and overcooked the noodles- like bad.. FAIL. Ended up telling the kids that they were organic noodles HA and they believed me.. WIN.

  • Lauren

    I attempted to bake your Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries and Sea Salt, and it was a sad day. They still tasted great, don’t get me wrong. But they were no where near as moist (sorry) and delicious looking as what you produced. Instead, they crumbled to pieces as soon as you tried to pick them. That didn’t stop me from eating them all anyways. PS. LOVE your blog!!

  • It took me TEN YEARS of countless failed attempts to make a loaf of bread. I’m more of a cook than a baker and not very good at being precise. Sometimes the failed bread would be edible, but just so dense because I could never get it to rise. More often though, it just came out of the oven this gluey flour blob. Not a good look. Thankfully I can now pretty reliably make some awesome bread products (although I still have no idea what I was doing wrong for ten years)

  • Alice Henderson

    I love your blog, Serena! That gratin is totally going to go on my must-try list! My personal culinary Everest is poached eggs. I am still working to master it, but I refuse to give up!

  • Sherry Greene-Starr

    So I make this killer peach pie for some people I really didn’t know all that well. Everyone is eating away and all of a sudden it gets really quiet. I notice that everyone is trying to casually pull something out of their mouths. I’m thinking what’s up with that?! And then I get something in my mouth- and it is the exact size and consistency of a mouse whisker. Dear god….And I see that everyone has a pile of little mouse whiskers on their plates, and they are trying to work up some nice comments about this pie and just really can’t do it. I finally realize that an entire army of mice did not die in the pie, but my pastry brush had shed most of it bristles while brushing the bottom crust before adding the peaches…Never made it again..

  • I tend to mess up anything with yeast, but I had a disaster making pizza crust recently.

  • Amy Cantando

    This looks great and I’d love to make it for Thanksgiving! Is there any portion of it you can make ahead? Could you prep ahead and then just add the breadcrumbs before baking?

    • Serena_Wolf

      You can definitely prep this ahead of time! I’d try to do it the morning of, but I think you could get away with a full 24 hours if you have to. Then just bake it until bubbly right before dinner, and you’ll be good to go!

      • amycan

        Great, thanks for the quick reply!! Look forward to adding this to the menu this year along with the shaved Brussels sprouts and cauliflower salad. We’ll go crazy with the cauliflower! 🙂

      • amycan

        Great, thanks for the quick reply!! Look forward to adding this to the menu this year along with the shaved Brussels sprouts and cauliflower salad. We’ll go crazy with the cauliflower! 🙂

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