Thursday, September 24, 2015

cauliflower cheese hash brown casserole

About a week ago, we had a lovely sunny day, with just a bit of fall in the breeze and I had a few quiet moments to myself so I curled up on my newish outdoor loveseat under a blanket and read a bit of Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries.

I was reading January, February - all about cold, grey, bitter weather and lovely things to cook then. I adore his roasted onion soup and I began to get quite hungry under my blanket out in the sunshine. I did have a strong hankering for mashed potato when I put my book down.

I had a cauliflower hanging out in my veggie drawer for a bit and so I decided to do cauliflower cheese hash brown casserole. As I had a pile of chard from the garden as well,

 I threw that into the mix for a bit of green. To balance out the greens, I added bacon. Actually it was the other way around, I added bacon, because..well, bacon. And then added the greens.

Cauliflower Cheese Hash Brown Casserole
1 head of cauliflower florets, roasted
2 large shallots, sliced
4 rashers thick cut bacon, sliced
1 big pile of chard, cut into ribbons
4 tbsp flour
560 mL milk (or broth and milk combined)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 small package of frozen diced hash brown potatoes
1 1/2 c grated cheddar or other hard cheese (I used a combination of old cheddar and goat)

Preheat your oven to 375 deg F. Add the cauliflower florets to a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes until slightly browned at the edges.

Add the shallots and bacon to a dutch oven over medium heat and cook until the bacon is mostly cooked and the shallots are tender.

Add the chard and saute for a couple of minutes until the chard is wilted. Remove the vegetable mixture from the pan, leaving the bacon fat behind. Add the flour and milk to the pan, stirring until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and the dijon mustard. Add back the vegetable mixture, add in the roasted cauliflower and mix well. Add in the hash brown potatoes and the cheese and mix to blend.

 Bake for 30 minutes at 350 deg F until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the edges of the dish are browing. Serve warm.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

back to the rain

Last week we had a family reunion and of course it rained.

 We've had so many sunny days since the beginning of the year and this summer has been tinder dry.

Water restrictions, etc. So the one day we could have used some lovely warm weather, it rained. We had fun anyway and the rain let up for us to have a trip to the beach - although it was very windy so apart from my nephew throwing himself into the waves, no one went swimming.

 We very much enjoyed the kite surfers in the bay as well.

The huge wind and rain storm seems to have marked the turning of the season - it's been cool and grey since the weekend even though I am loathe to give up my summer wear, I've added big sweaters on top to keep warm and have been snuggling under blankets of an evening while reading. Last night I made this lovely supper thanks to Luisa at Wednesday Chef. It seemed perfect for a cool, rainy evening. And it was.

Baked Sicilian Rice (adapted from the Wednesday Chef)

I used only red peppers as that is what I had, no pepper flakes or basil as my husband can't eat chili and my basil plant didn't survive our vacation. Instead of plum tomatoes, I used a bunch of cherry tomatoes cut up that came from my cousin's garden.

320 gms arborio rice
3 tbsp olive oil, plus some for the dish
150 gm provolone, grated
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 small onions, thinly sliced (I used some red onion and shallot)
2 red peppers, sliced into thin strips
1 large eggplant, halved and sliced
handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced into thin strips (equivalent to 3 plum tomatoes)
2 tbsp salted capers, soaked and rinsed
1/4 c cured black olives, pitted

Boil a large amount of salted water in a saucepan; once boiling add the rice and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain well and add 1 tbsp olive oil and 50 g of cheese and stir, Put aside.

Meanwhile heat the rest of the oil in a saute pan, add the garlic, onion, peppers and eggplant and cook over medium-high for 5 minutes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, add the tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the capers, olives and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Oil a baking dish. Spread half the rice over the bottom of the dish. Add half the vegetables evenly over the top and sprinkle half of the remaining cheese over the top. Repeat once more. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutees and serve.