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Cauliflower Au Gratin

July 22, 2011

Dorie Greenspan is a great inspiration for traditional French cooking.  Her cook and bake books are very popular in the US, bringing French cuisine to the American reader.  The Cauliflower Gratin in a Bram I had stumbled upon a few weeks ago was truly cream-delicious.  I had made it for the first time for a friend who was visiting and just today wanted to recreated the experience but could not find the recipe.  I was searching for ‘cauliflower au gratin’ and various other combinations, including the French translation for cauliflower, but none of the hits I was getting mentioned bacon in the recipe or heavy cream, essential ingredients that Dorie had specified.  The mind works in unusual ways: I finally remembered that she had said somewhere on her blog that she commutes between her New York and Paris kitchen, and when I included the phrase in the search field, I got a perfect result!


  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 1 onion
  • 200-250g bacon* (omit for a vegetarian version)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • nutmeg
  • curry powder (optional)
  • 1/2-1 cup soft cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • spring onion (optional)




Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook cauliflower cut into florets for about 10 mins.  Do not overcook.  When you poke them with a fork, they should feel tender but not fall apart.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Arrange florets in a clay dish.

In a small pan over medium heat, saute onion lightly.  Add the bacon* cut into small pieces and cook for 3-5 mins.  Spread onion and bacon bits over cauliflower.  *Omit bacon for a vegetarian version.

Mix flour and eggs in a deep bowl, then add the cream and milk.   Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and curry powder to taste.  Stir in the cheese, grated or cut in small pieces.  (I used gouda for the mixture and slices of cheddar cheese to put on top during the last 15 minutes of baking.)  Pour the mixed ingredients on top of the cauliflower and bake for 1 hour.  Cover with aluminum foil (or a second clay dish if you don’t have foil) to prevent top from burning and bake for another 15 mins or until center of gratin is firm.  If you think your dish might be ready sooner due to oven variations, poke center with a fork – if no creamy liquid runs out, it should be done.  Serve garnished with spring onion and extra spices on the side.

Tips:  Dorie recommends you use products at room temperature to make this meal.  Also, this is best consumed the day of making it.  It can be served either warm or cold as an appetizer.  I wait for it to cool 15 mins because the overall consistency of the dish seems to retain a lot of heat for a long while after it’s out of the oven.

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