Yesterday was a wonderful Christmas day. After gathering around the tree for gifts in the morning, we attended church with mixed feelings, as we bade farewell to our senior minister and organist, both of whom are retiring after 23 years with the congregation. The girls have grown up in the Sunday School and youth choir, and it’s been home to our family since we joined 19 years ago. We’re sad to see Mark and John leave, but we look forward to welcoming our new senior minister, Maya, in January.
In the afternoon, we visited my sister Gwen and her family, who hosted Christmas dinner this year. The meal was fantastic, but the highlight was the cookie house that my mom has made every year since I was a kid. It’s a part of the holidays my kids can’t imagine being without, and they’re still happy to pose with the cookie house on Christmas day.
Today’s recipe can’t compete with a cookie house! But this kale and cauliflower gratin is a terrific side dish for holiday meals. Served with a salad, it would make a complete vegetarian meal.
Wishing all my readers a happy Christmas season, and much joy in 2017.
Cauliflower Kale Gratin
(slightly adapted from Goodness, by Peter Neal and Chris Neal)
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2” to 2” florets
1 1/2 cups kale, stems removed and leaves sliced into 1/2 inch ribbons
2 Tbsp butter (first amount)
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup skim (fat-free) milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions, green part only
1/2 tsp kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (second amount)
20 square (2-inch) saltine crackers
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish.
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook cauliflower 5 minutes. Add kale, stir well, and cook another 2 minutes. Using a colander, drain cauliflower and kale and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Whisk in flour to create a roux, then add milk in a slow stream, constantly whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and stir until thickened.
Remove milk mixture from heat and add cheese, green onions, salt and paper, whisking until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over cooked vegetables and stir gently to combine. Set aside.
Coarsely crumble crackers into a bowl. In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Pour over crumbs and toss to coat.
Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over vegetables. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 10 minutes.
|Cousins at the Cookie House, December 2001|
|Decorating the Cookie House with Gwen when we were kids|