16 June 2016

Greens and cheese for the season

You know, the air-conditioning in the Peugeot — climate control, really, because it is a climatisation automatique unit on which all you have to do is set the temperature you want and it does everything else — doesn't seem to be working right. It doesn't really blow cool, dry air right now. The car is 15 years old... I ought to take it to a shop and have the clim' recharged, but why bother?

Not really summertime fare, but then...

Yesterday morning the boiler fired itself up and heated up the radiators all through the house. On June 15! And with the thermostat set for about 65ºF (18.5ºC)! This reminds me of San Francisco weather. Why spend 100 € on the car's AC when what you really need is just a little heat. Well, some dry air might be a good thing, because it just won't stop raining outside.

Steaming cauliflower leaves

It's not steady rain, but it rains for a while pretty much every day. We have collected 70 mm, nearly 3 inches, or water in the rain gauge since June 1, and that doesn't count what fell last night. Remember how much rain we were afflicted with in May? It rained a flood — literally.

Florets, but not many

So I'm cooking wintertime comfort foods for our lunches. Like gratin de chou-fleur — cauliflower au gratin, we might call it in good English. Here's a recipe. I cooked this a few days ago and we enjoyed it for a couple of meals.

And here's what I learned: if you buy a head of cauliflower the way it did, completely wrapped in a thick layer of pretty green leaves with fat white ribs, don't throw those out. The leaves and their ribs are really good in the gratin along with the flower head. It's another way to eat your greens, and you know I advocate that as an important part of a healthy diet.

The leaf ribs steamed and cut into pieces

Actually, the cauliflower I bought turned out to have a fairly small flower head. Once I had broken or cut all the leaves off of it, there wasn't much left. That's what motivated me to cook and eat the leaves too. I steamed them in the steamer first, and then I steamed the florets the way I usually do. I figured I could taste the leaves after they had steamed and then decide what to do with them.

Ready for the oven — leaves, ribs and all

What I did with them was to cut the leafy green parts off the ribs. I cut the ribs up into pieces and added them in with the steamed florets. Then I chopped the green parts finely and mixed those into the cheese sauce before I poured it over the florets and ribs and baked it all in the oven. I think you can see from the photos what I'm talking about. I made the cheese sauce using some Cantal cheese and some white cheddar that Walt brought back from his recent trip to New York state. It was all good.


  1. I'm never sure what I should throw away. Next time I cook cauliflower, I'll remember to keep the leaves and cook them with the florets. Good advice.

    1. Your cauliflower comfort food would surely suit me, today!

      I checked out your link, Ken! Merci. Great advice for using the rest of the cauliflower. I have been buying more of it lately, especially after reading that it has omega 3 in it! News to me!

      Here in Oregon, we've been having cool, cloudy and some rainy days after jumping up to 97-99 for 3 days in early June. I don't want to complain too loudly about this weather, in case Mother Nature is listening. I like sunshine but it was just unbearable...

      Mary in Oregon

  2. Great advice about caulidlower

  3. The only part of the cauliflower that gets thrown away here are the badly damaged bits....
    I really like the idea of mixing the chopped leaf into the sauce...it looks very attractive!
    Normally, they get cooked like cabbage and served separately!!

  4. How interesting. I chop up broccoli stems and slip them into soups or stir-fry, but I have been tossing cauliflower leaves willy-nilly. Until now! Waste not.
    Cauliflower is the new kale, you know. People are chopping it up finely and using it instead of rice. I read somewhere (NYT probably) that there are even shortages in certain hipster parts of the U.S.

    1. There was a restaurant we liked in Half Moon Bay, California, that made a cheese sauce with shaved cauliflower florets in it, served over pasta. It was delicious.

    2. Well, it was either that place or Mezza Luna, back when that restaurant was on the coast highway (HWY 1), before it moved down to the harbor area. We enjoyed the food at both places over the years. Oh, and I tried to make the shaved or "crumbled" cauliflower dish a few years back, in 2008. And look, I first blogged about cauliflower leaves five years ago.

      I don't have a clear memory of the Pasta Moon restaurant.

    3. If I recall correctly, we had lunch once in that restaurant in Half Moon Bay on HWY 1 (probably Mezza Luna) on our way to Santa Cruz. On two other occasions, we had lunch at that fish place in Davenport. All three times were enjoyable. That was more than twenty years ago!

  5. Ken, I learned to make cauliflower in a Mornay sauce san leaves, but I think from now on I will be adding the leaves and putting it in the oven. I feel badly that I have been wasting the leaves.

    Wish we could take some of that rain off your hands. We are in such a scary drought.

  6. I will certainly use the leaves now that you have shown us they can be used. One of my daughters uses finely chopped carrot tops in her vegetable soup which I now do. I'm a bit sad I've been wasting all this food for so long!And I like the idea of cheese sauce with shaved cauliflower florets over pasta. I like cauliflower. My mother used to make a sauce of mayonnaise and ketchup into which we'd dip raw cauliflower for a snack. It's better than it sounds.

  7. Sometimes the leaves are in pretty sad shape by the time you get the cauliflower, or they have almost all been removed. The ones I cooked were exceptionally nice and fresh.

    Wish I could send you some rain. We're not getting the worst of it today, but it is raining. The ground is so saturated that nothing can soak in — it all has to run off.

  8. €100 doesn't sound too bad for a regassing of car aircon. I will inform household management of the benefits of using the stalk and as I note from the comment above, the fresh leaves around the caulie. We have cauliflower au gratin often enough.

  9. It has been about 99° F here in St. Louis for several days... crazy for mid June. We "cool off" to the mid 80s starting tomorrow. Humid as heck.
    Love the cauliflower gratin photos :)

  10. If that was here , right now, I would have it for breakfast :)
    I am currently living in Florida ... it is sunny and warm everyday... very boring after a while. But I will take sunshine over snow.

  11. Ken

    You are like the chefs at "Joe Beef" in Montréal - nothing goes to waste since they are all edible :-)

  12. June in LA has been gray and cool with temps in the low 60s. Many days of "misting," but no real, meaningful rain. You can watch the heavy marine layer roll in every evening around 6 pm. By Monday, we are expected to be near 100 degrees though.

    Cauliflower looks scrumptious.

  13. We are having a lot of rain today too (Florida) but it is sort of a nice break from all that sunshine lol
    A definite soup day. Except I had a leak in a pipe upstairs and the plumbers were here all day fixing things so dinner might be made by someone else .. I will call around and see who has soup to deliver :)


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