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Bring-Your-Own-Chair Easter Event or “I don’t normally like cauliflower, but I like this Cauliflower”

Marinated Barbecue Lamb with Mint Chimichuri Sauce and Cauliflower Gratin

Marinated Barbecue Lamb with Mint Chimichuri Sauce and Cauliflower Gratin

We are still waiting to move in to the Mid Century Modern home (affectionately known as The Money Pit) that we are remodeling.  The only items left are putting together the Easy Closet System  (looks complicated) and getting our brand new Induction Range working.  We haven’t even had a chance to use it yet (except once when we boiled water.)  And now it doesn’t work, even though the repairman has been there three times and plans on coming out this week.  Sigh.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  (If you want to read about our remodeling “adventures” you can find it here.)

We were really hoping to be in the house by Easter because we wanted to have the entire family at the house for dinner.  Our last straw was when the oven repairman finally arrived at the house Friday evening, worked on the range for about 2 hours and then advised that he couldn’t fix it without tech support and by then they were closed.

Undaunted, we decided to have Easter Dinner at the Money Pit anyway.  Yes!Chef! had been wanting to do some creative cooking for quite a while, but our situation with working on the house and his travel schedule had made it very difficult.

So, he was excited to do a little cooking for the family.  He decided to marinate a piece of lamb and barbecue it.  He also decided that he would make the things that needed to be cooked at the house where we live, and then haul it down to the Money Pit, which is only 1/2 hour away.  I would make the appetizers at The Money Pit, which does have a working sink, refrigerator and dishwasher.  However, it does not have any furniture in the house, thus the “Bring-Your-Own-Chair Easter event” was born.

We worked all Saturday on the front and back yard since the Easter Event would be held outside.  In the end it looked pretty good, considering what it looked like before we started.

Before: back yard April, 2013

Before: back yard April, 2013

After: Back yard April, 2014

After: Back yard April, 2014

We were pretty pooped after working in the yard all day, hauling mulch and plants around and planting a bunch of plants.  When we got home, we pretty much fell into bed.

The next day I went down to the Money Pit early to finish tidying up the patio and the inside of the house.  Yes!Chef! stayed at the other house to make the food that needed to be cooked in the oven…the Cauliflower Gratin and parboiling the asparagus.

When he arrived, I thought things looked pretty good.

Looking North

Looking North

I got busy making a few hors d’ouevres like boursin stuffed cucumbers,

Boursin Stuffed Cucumbers with basil leaf and sun dried tomatoes.

Boursin Stuffed Cucumbers with basil leaf and sun dried tomatoes.

…blue cheese dip with vegetable dippers and our family hot artichoke dip with pretzel chips.

The family arrived and we ate and drank and made merry.

Looking outside at the patio and the fam

Looking outside at the patio and the fam

A few of my children’s friends came along and we had a wonderful evening.  The food was delicious and even though we didn’t have a table and everyone had to bring their own chairs and the mosquitoes were biting, we had a great time.

Top: Oldest son and Yes!Chef!; Lower left: daughter (pepper eyes) and friend; Lower right: Youngest son

Top: Oldest son and Yes!Chef!; Lower left: daughter (pepper eyes) and friend; Lower right: Youngest son

Yes!Chef! barbecued

Yes!Chef! barbecuing the lamb

We served marinated barbecue lamb with a mint/parsley/lemon chimichuri sauce and Cauliflower Gratin and roasted lemon scented asparagus, roasted potatoes and a green salad with balsamic vinegar dressing.  We were supposed to have berries with cream on Angel Food Cake for dessert, but everyone was pretty full after appetizers and dinner.

Lamb with chimichuri sauce

Lamb with chimichuri sauce

Cauliflower Gratin and roasted potatoes

Cauliflower Gratin and roasted potatoes

Although the lamb with the mint chimichuri sauce was a big hit, the cauliflower was a real close second.  One of our guests commented that he doesn’t normally like Cauliflower, but he liked this dish.

Cauliflower Gratin with lamb.

Cauliflower Gratin with lamb.

I mentioned in my last post that Yes!Chef! and I had embarked on a Low Carbohydrate Diet because of some health issues we were experiencing.  I’m happy to say that Yes!Chef! and I have both lost about 20 pounds each and many of our health issues have gone away.  I am not recommending this diet because I am not a doctor.  I am just mentioning this because the recipes we make will probably mostly tend towards low carb fare.  We will try to include substitutes for non-low carb when possible.

This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe found here.

Cauliflower Gratin

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons almond flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 2 1/2 cups hot heavy cream (or hot milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup freshly grated Smoked Gruyere, divided
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup Panko (or fresh bread crumbs)
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped chives (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the almond flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes or so until well combined.  Add in the hot cream and stir until mixed well. Heat and stir until cream is reduced and thickened. Remove from heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 3/4 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan. (If you are using flour, follow the instructions at Food Network at the above link to make the sauce.)
  4. Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Put cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the Panko or bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cauliflower-gratin-recipe.html?oc=linkback

This is a great recipe whether you are watching your carbs or not.

Enjoy!

PS:  If you are at all interested in some of the diet wars going on between low carb and low fat, here is a very interesting article in The New York Times which was written over 12 years ago about how the Low Fat diet was instituted into the American Life.  People are slowly changing their mind on the benefits of Low Carb diets and the health pitfalls of being on a Low Fat Diet.  It’s a long article, but very enlightening and informative.  I am not suggesting that you change your diet because I am not a nutritionist nor a doctor.  I have been studying low carb eating for quite a while and decided that it was best for me and my husband.  The biggest plus for us (aside from losing weight) is that we feel much better, sleep better, have more energy and are not constantly hungry.  Anyway, here’s the article: What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?   

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m excited to try the cauliflower. I have two heads in my refrigerator right now. I think you pulled off an excellent Easter get-together, and I hope your “money pit” continues to offer you many wonderful opportunities to gather with family and friends.

    April 26, 2014
  2. I love cauliflower gratin, though I admit I don’t make it much! You also did a beautiful job with your backyard,- I give you credit for tackling it, with everything else you have going on. What a lovely family you have – it looks like you all had a wonderful day!

    April 27, 2014
    • Thank you so much. We look forward to cooking meals in the new house.

      April 27, 2014
      • I bet you do! I know how much remodeling can take over your life…and your pocketbook. I hope your stove issue gets resolved quickly.

        April 27, 2014
  3. Hi, Karen–For some reason my comment kept being rejected last week, so I’m trying again. Cauliflower is a much neglected/maligned/vegetable that now seems to be getting it’s day in the sun. It makes a wonderful gratin. Glad to hear you guys have found something in a diet that works for you. Personally I’d rather put the miles in on my bike than give up bread, but if it floats your boat, good for you! Ken

    April 28, 2014
    • I must admit that I am not a big cauliflower lover mostly because it was always served to me as a boiled veggie. Plus, it smells funky. I love it roasted and also pureed. As far as giving up bread, it wasn’t really a choice. For several years I’ve discovered that bread and other starches do not agree with me. Pain and indigestion followed eating bread, potatoes or even pasta. Then, I discovered I was insulin resistant, which necessitated a diet change. And because of a knee injury, I do not have the luxury heavy exercise, outside of walking. So, I made the switch. Hubster was also having problems with sleep apnea and terrible indigestion. Both of his problems, plus about 20 pounds are gone. He sleeps like a baby most nights, I don’t have to poke him to start him breathing and he looks very fit. Many of my symptoms disappeared when I removed all forms of sugar (including wheat, potatoes and other high carb veggies.) I do not plan on never eating bread again (that would be a foolish plan for me), but until I see total improvement and more weight lost, I will continue with this diet. Plus, I have a lot more energy at this point. I will continue to drool over your recipes (bread or no bread.)

      April 28, 2014

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