Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cafe Constant

One of my favorite restaurants in Paris is Cafe Constant, a tiny place mere steps from the Eiffel Tower (take a moment to get over just how snooty I sound name dropping my favorite Parisian restaurant).  We've been there twice now and it was wonderful both times.  Our first trip there, I noticed that not only did the chef have a cookbook, but it was in English called Everyday French Cooking.  I mean this is nothing short of miraculous in Paris.  But in a moment of frugality, I decided I didn't need it.  Which of course meant that I promptly spent several years wishing that I had bought it.  Finally Santa took mercy on me and delivered it.

It is (unsurprisingly) full of French recipes, many quite traditional, and many involving fois gras or duck liver.  This weekend I whipped up a Cauliflower and Broccoli Gratin.  Not quite as intended in the book, I made quite a few adjustments due to my usual issue: sheer laziness.  But the result was delicious nonetheless.  (You should probably also know that the original recipe called for a pound (a POUND!) each of broccoli and cauliflower, as well as slices of baked ham, so it would be a whole dinner, for certain, or one of the most elaborate, substantial sides known to man).

Verdict:  I need to use this cookbook more.  Why don't I use this cookbook more?


2 C broccoli
2 C cauliflower
2 T butter
2 T plus 2 t flour
1 1/3 C milk
2 egg yolks
2/3 C cheese (the recipe called for gruyere, I used 1/3 C cheddar, 1/3 C parm) PLUS extra for sprinkling
about 1/4 C bread crumbs
salt and pepper
sprinkle of nutmeg

Set a large pot of water to boil (add a sprinkle of salt).  Cut your broccoli and cauliflower into florets. When the water boils, drop the broccoli and cauliflower in and blanche for 1 minute (blanche just means let it cook in the boiling water).  Then quickly remove it.  You might even want to shock it by quickly putting it in ice water.  Set it aside.  It might be easiest to just put them in the baking dish you've already prepared by greasing with butter.

Preheat your oven to 400 F.  In another pot (or you know, the same one if you washed it first), melt the butter.  Add the flour and stir (or whisk) until the flour is all sludgy and golden (you know, make a roux).  Very slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.  If you add the milk quickly, you will have lots of lumps, so go very slowly.

Remove the pan from the heat and add your egg yolks one at a time, again, whisking constantly (this time to avoid making scrambled eggs.)  Add the cheese and keep stirring!  Add salt and pepper to taste. You really do have to taste because how much salt you need really depends on how salty your cheese was.  Add the sprinkle of nutmeg and you're set!

Pour your sauce evenly all over the broccoli and cauliflower.  Then top that with your breadcrumbs mixed with the extra sprinkling cheese.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until thoroughly warm, golden and bubbly.  I made mine in the toaster oven.


JMLC said...

This looks so yum. Plus, I happen to have both broccoli and cauliflower in my fridge right now! And maybe even some ham. Hmm...

Carrietracy said...

The original recipe suggest layering ham, broccoli, cauliflower, then spooning over the sauce. I will always be too lazy a human to separate out the broccoli and cauliflower, but I do like the idea of layering the veggies and ham.

Also, although I was initially skeptical (as you know) about the egg yolks, I thought the sauce was wonderfully rich and held together well. But I also have a husband who will use up the egg whites in an omelet...

laughcooklove said...

Made it last night, added cubed ham which had been crisped on the stove first, did not layer but simply mixed and used different cheese (based on what I had in the house). It was divine. I agree 6000% about the egg yolks.


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