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June 21, 2011
As some of you may know, I have three kitchens; and as some you may not know, I’m a nut about kitchen gear. Actually, I’m not nearly as nutty about the stuff as my husband is. He’s convinced that I need everything, and that I don’t only need it in triplicate, but that sometimes I need multiples of whatever it is and that I need those multiples in triplicate, too. This explains why even in my small Paris kitchen, I’ve got 18 tartlet tins. Never mind that my oven is so tiny I’d never be able to bake 18 tartlets at a time.
Every so often I declare a moratorium on new stuff and then, just as often, I forget my moratorium and squeeze something new into my cupboards. And so, when I ‘met’ the Bram, a clay baker I’d never seen before, I rearranged my shelves and found a home for it. The Bram I've got is living in Connecticut, but since the baker will be sold on Open Sky tomorrow, I just might spring for a couple more. After all, good mom that I am, I'd hate for my other kitchens to be jealous.
The Bram has a capacity of 4 1/2 quarts – it’s a party baker – and it was just the size I needed for an expanded version of my cauliflower gratin. Here’s the recipe for the pumped up version.
CAULIFLOWER-BACON GRATIN for the 4 1/2-Quart Bram
Adapted from Around My French Table
Because the Bram is made of clay, it’s sensitive to rapid temperature changes. For this reason, it’s important to have your ingredients at room temperature – you don’t want the mixture to chill the Bram before it goes into the hot oven.
Makes about 15 servings
2 heads cauliflower
1/2 pound bacon, cut into short, slender strips
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
Freshly grated nutmeg
6 to 8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese (you can use Emmenthal, Swiss or even Cheddar)
Salt and freshly grated pepper
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the Bram on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Put a large pot of salted water up to the boil. Pull or cut the florets from the cauliflower, leaving about an inch or so of stem. You won’t be using the rest of the stems or the heavy base branch, but you might want to save them for soup. Drop the florets into the water and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse the cauliflower under cold running water to cool it down, then pat it dry. Alternatively, you can steam the florets over salted water. When they’re fork tender, drain and pat dry.
While the cauliflower is blanching, toss the bacon strips into a heavy skillet, put the skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon just until it’s browned, but not crisp. Drain and pat the bacon dry; save or discard the fat.
Pile the cauliflower into the Bram and scatter over the bacon bits.
Put the flour in a mixing bowl and gradually whisk in the eggs. When the flour and eggs are blended, whisk in the cream and milk. Season the mixture generously with salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir in most of (about two-thirds of) the cheese. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower, shake the Bram a little, so that the liquid settles between the florets, and scatter over the remaining cheese.
Bake the gratin for about 1 hour, and then put a foil tent over the top to keep it from browning too much. Continue baking for another 15 to 30 minutes, or until the gratin is puffed and golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Serving: The gratin is best a little less than hot or still warm, but, like a quiche, it can be enjoyed at room temperature. Serve it alongside anything roasted – it’s nice to have something a little rich with a roast – or have it with a salad and call it supper.
Storing: You really should try to eat the gratin the day it is made, but if you’ve got leftovers, cover and refrigerate them and either let them come to room temperature or warm them quickly and gently in the oven or microwave.
Bonne idée: A recipe as basic as this one is easily played with. You can replace the bacon with cubes of ham; you can certainly add herbs to the mix – thyme would be good, but so would curry; and you can add a companion vegetable – quickly sautéed onions come to mind immediately, but there’s no reason not to have the cauliflower share the stage with its more colorful cousin, broccoli.
Tags: Around My French Table
, Open Sky
, side dish
Salads & Sides
| June 21, 2011 10:44 AM
What a beautiful cooking vessel! I'm the same way with kitchen gear (although my collection is probably not as extensive of yours, and for that - I am quite jealous, hehe)
| June 21, 2011 2:37 PM
Any idea why it's called a 'bram'? Just curious...
| June 21, 2011 2:57 PM
Peggy --don't be jealous. I bet you've got some stuff that I don't and that I'd envy. Okay, covet.
Marie, 'bram' is Egyptian for clay pot, and this type of pot has been used as a baker for centuries.
| June 21, 2011 3:08 PM
Lovely! (I'm a "gadget girl" too and I'm nearly addicted to Open Sky!) Lovely post, as always, Dorie. I just love AMFT so much.
| June 21, 2011 6:13 PM
I love cauliflower, it is one of my favorites! I make a similar dish without bacon but I think I will start with bacon tradition, sounds so yummy. I wish I could have some for dinner tonight.
You know what I love, when you first take the cauliflower from the boiling water and let it cool, I could eat the whole thing just like that, little salt and voila. YUm
| June 22, 2011 10:30 AM
I have been using a covered clay pot for 27 years of my marriage as it was a wedding gift. You soak it in water for 15 minutes and place ingredients in it and put in a cold oven. I have made chicken of the 40 cloves of garlic, chicken paprikash and many other recipes in it and I love it! Thanks for the recipe!
| June 22, 2011 6:52 PM
I'm like you with the kitchen gadgets. Your recipes looks great. I will have to try this. Thanks for sharing.
Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood
| June 22, 2011 11:59 PM
Interesting. I found, after I completed culinary school that I use less pots and pans and gadgets than I used to. Give me a good knife and a saute pan and I can do nearly anything.
| June 23, 2011 12:34 PM
The recipe sounds delicious. I have not heard about The Bram before so thanks for sharing.
What else do you make in it or what do you suggest? Where is it available to buy-who makes it?
| June 23, 2011 2:21 PM
Nice way of preparing the cauliflower. I find it often difficult to add some taste to it.
| June 24, 2011 12:33 PM
This looks so delicious! Thanks for introducing me to the Bram. I love adding new dishes to my already overflowing kitchen.
| June 25, 2011 2:27 AM
This looks delicious and the bram is very cool.
My problem with all the kitchen gear is trying to remember where I put something that I don't use often. I don't have much storage space and sometimes I forget. That's how I get multiples. Sad, I know.
| June 25, 2011 12:25 PM
I love kitchen gadgets..can never have enough. This looks great!
| June 25, 2011 3:32 PM
I adore cauliflower, and this gratin looks so much like something my mom used to make when I was a kid. And she had this big ceramic baking dish, too. I love the one your featuring... might have to get it, but where to put it? My kitchen is already stuffed!
| June 25, 2011 6:42 PM
Wow! Just took this out of the oven and my family raved over it. We are at our second home and the only pot I could use here was an old Crueset pot and I only had one cauliflower,so I halved the recipe. It worked! My family thanks you!
| June 26, 2011 4:58 AM
This time of the year it's hard to get potatoes which are good for making dauphinois or a good potato gratin. As the new potatoes enter, gratin exits for a couple of months. I think this recipe could be a great substitute! Cauliflower has a nice sweetness so I bet the bacon ia a nice counter balance : )
| June 26, 2011 5:54 AM
This looks really yummy, but my doctor would have a heart attack if I ate this.
| June 26, 2011 8:38 AM
What a fun way to prepare cauliflower. I'm always one to buy way more produce than I could ever possibly eat on my own and am constantly looking for new ways to prepare veggies.
| June 27, 2011 7:23 PM
Made this yesterday and it was delicious. But, alas, I forgot the nutmeg which I suspect gives a nice surprise taste. It was good, nevertheless... Thanks for all your good recipes!
| June 28, 2011 5:45 PM
Thanks for the cauliflower-bacon gratin recipe. I think the nutmeg would add a nice zest to this dish.
| July 11, 2011 2:02 PM
Even without a Bram, this recipe is fantastic. My husband halved the recipe and it turned out amazing...puffed and browned almost like a soufflÃ©. A keeper. Merci b-c Dori!
Chef Bunky replied to comment from Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood
| February 21, 2012 1:13 PM
While culinary school is a great place to learn the basics, it is only a beginning in the mastery of cooking. When you do master the art of cooking, you will find that you need more than a set of knives and a saute pan. Clay pots: tangia pots, Romertopfs, cazuelas, La Chamba casseroles, sandpots, guvecs, and tagines among others are well suited to the kitchen once you really learn how to cook. Oh, we can't forget the French Diable, it will bake your potatoes on the stovetop like you never had before.
replied to comment from Chef Bunky
| February 21, 2012 7:43 PM
Chef Bunky- Thanks for your comment. You could fill many kitchen cabinets with all these much-needed supplies!
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