Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyère and Goat Cheese

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Call me a freak, but I get excited about cauliflower. It’s got great texture and, when cooked properly, can yield lots of big flavor. Most often I roast it in the oven or I caramelize it in a pan; not very often do I boil it, but even boiled cauliflower can hold its own.

On Sunday, I was asked to bring a “vegetable side” to Craig’s aunt and uncle’s Easter brunch. I imagine most people, when presented with this request, would make a crowd-pleaser like mashed potatoes or roasted carrots or mashed potatoes with roasted carrots mashed up in there too which actually sounds kind of good but no one really makes that. Me? I went for a cauliflower gratin.

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Freedom From Spending Fries (I Still Call Them French Fries)

[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Today we’ve got my funky friend Emily Farris, who I met when I judged her casserole contest in the days of yore. Emily is the author of “Casserole Crazy: Hot Stuff for Your Oven“, she edits Nerve.com’s pop culture blog Scanner and contributes to AOL’s food blog, Slashfood. Her newest project is Eating Well on $50 a Week, in which she and two other writers try to do just that: eat well while spending only $50 a week. Take it away, Emily!]

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Like most Americans, the economic climate is inspiring me pinch pennies and even (gasp!) put away some money. While more responsible parties may have been doing this for years, this is all very new to me. And though I was never good at keeping track of what I spent, when I was forced to take a step back and look at where the majority of my money was going, it was safe to say: food. As of just a few months ago, I would mindlessly and happily throw expensive granola, perfectly aged cheese and ten different kinds of greens into my grocery cart without thinking twice about how much any of it cost. And those groceries would sit in my kitchen while I went out and spent $40, $50 or even $60 on dinner with friends. In many cases, I was literally throwing away money. So when a friend in Brooklyn mentioned he was going to start limiting his food expenditures to $50 a week and planned to write a blog about it, I immediately jumped on board.

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Tuna Noodle Casserole

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The chat went something like this.

Craig-At-Work: What’s for dinner?

Me-At-Home: I’m thinking of making a tuna noodle casserole.

Craig-At-Work: Ugh. If I never eat a tuna noodle casserole again for the rest of my life, that’d be ok.

Me-At-Home: Well I’ve never had one before so I’m going to make it, just for the sake of writing about it.

[Silence.]

Me-At-Home: Are you there? Hello? HELLO?

Craig-At-Work is no longer online.

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Great Late Summer Bake: Zucchini and Sweet Corn

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. Last year, Adam met Emily Farris when she asked him to be a judge at her Annual Casserole Party in Brooklyn. You can check out her blog Casserole Crazy or pre-order her book, also called Casserole Crazy, which comes out October 7th! Here’s a quick summer casserole to enjoy before it’s truly fall.]

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I’m probably one of the few crazies who bake in the summer time. The idea is made even crazier by the fact that I have no air conditioning in my tiny kitchen. Luckily I have some friends who indulge me in my desire to crank up the oven to 400 degrees in late August, and are willing to have impromptu dinner parties on my less-than-glamorous roof.

Last summer, one friend, who lived Uptown, stopped by the Union Square Greenmarket on her way to my Brooklyn apartment every Friday and called to tell me what was available. At that point, I would make up the bare bones of a casserole recipe.

Unfortunately, that friend has since moved back to California, and I’ve been in New Hampshire working at a camp for the past five weeks, but last August this Greenmarket charade, and an abundance of sweet corn and zucchini, led to one of my favorite seasonal recipes. The result was an amazingly fresh, savory—yet sweet from the corn—simple summer casserole.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

the corn of two cobs

1 large white onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

8 oz. sour cream

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp sea salt

2 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 400º.

In a 2 to 2 1/2 qt casserole dish, mix the zucchini and corn.

In a mixing bowl mix the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture over the casserole, cover and bake 35-40 minutes. Remove the cover, stir and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Let sit 10 minutes before serving.