But sometimes, even the most open-minded and open-mouthed of us get homesick. And food can play a big role in that. When I'm in the US and I get a craving for some thin crust pizza or some Ben and Jerry's, well, most of the time I talk myself out of it. But sometimes, of course, I indulge. And it's nice to have that option. Because when I'm in rural China and a craving like that strikes, it just acts as another reminder of the fact that I am really, really far away from home. And the Whole Foods salad bar. (Which is actually my favorite food.)
It was so good to be home. And the holidays this year were the best. My only complaint is that they passed far too quickly for me to fully take in the magical, sparkly feelings of Christmas and New Year's before they were gone. But let's be serious . . . No amount of time is ever enough for that.
And now, my fair readers, I have an announcement.
(No, I am not engaged. But I did pick out a ring while I was home! Eek!)
I have officially upgraded from the camera on an iPhone 4S to a Canon Rebel T3. Quite an upgrade indeed. Thanks, mom and dad, for the incredible birthday present!
I love the way the onion, bay leaves and cloves are used to infuse the milk with flavor. This recipe was a keeper!
Recipe for Broccoli Cauliflower Gratin
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Makes 12 servings.
2 bay leaves
1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
6 whole cloves
6 cups milk
1 large head cauliflower, rinsed and cut into florets
1 large head broccoli, rinsed and cut into florets
10 tbsp butter, divided
4 tbsp minced shallots
4 tsp minced garlic
6 tbsp flour
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup freshly grated Gruyere
1 cup coarse breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
4 tsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Lay the bay leaves over the cut sides of the onion and poke 3 cloves through each to secure leaves to onion. Put the onion halves in a 2-quart saucepan and pour the milk over them. Over medium heat, bring to a gentle simmer. Cook--do not boil--for ten minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Steam the cauliflower until just tender, 10 minutes. Halfway through, add the broccoli. Arrange florets in a shallow casserole dish and set aside while you make the sauce.
In a saucepan, melt 6 tbsp butter. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to form a blonde roux. Do not allow mixture to brown. Add the simmered, strained milk and whisk till smooth. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer for ten minutes or until thick, smooth and creamy. Remove pan from heat and add the Gruyere and nutmeg; stir until cheese has melted. Emeril recommends that you strain the sauce, but I left mine as is. Pour strained or un-strained sauce evenly over florets. Melt the remaining 4 tbsp butter in a saucepan and add breadcrumbs. Toss well to coat. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and add the chopped parsley. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over casserole and bake until golden and bubbly, 30-45 minutes.