We had a quick weekend trip to New York to celebrate my son’s thirtieth birthday. Even though I love the serenity of our home nestled in the mountains of Colorado, I adore New York and Brooklyn.
The cacophony of sights, sounds and smells is so dynamic that I can’t help but feel very alive when I am there. Beginning with the insane white-knuckle taxi ride from the airport to the hotel, to strolling lower Manhattan, shopping and sight-seeing, these little New York getaways turn into a blitz of fun and nonstop action.
As crowded as this city is, serendipity lives. Shortly after arriving at our hotel, we grabbed our coats and jumped on a subway train, making our way to dinner in Brooklyn. We stepped off the train and ran into my niece who, unbeknownst to us, had been on the same train as us. Turns out that she was on her way to have dinner with her parents and my ex-husband. In a city of over eight million people, what are the odds?
Over in Brooklyn we had a cozy dinner in Williamsburg at Allswell, which is a brilliant tavern serving up amazingly flavorful dishes.
The following morning we walked, walked and walked. It was a beautiful day so we went to the Tribeca Green Market where I was inspired by the fresh veggies, especially the multi colored cauliflower that I saw.
We shopped a bit and then later in the evening, we headed to the Bowery where we hosted a party for my son and niece, who were celebrating their birthdays.
It was a motley crew of our modern family together for a fun and festive party. My ex-husband, his wife and young son, as well as my ex’s brother and sister and their children. My brother flew in from Colorado, as did a couple of my son’s friends from California. We are a blessed family and I have always felt so fortunate that we have all remained close throughout the years.
When I returned home, I found some chartreuse and purple cauliflower at Wholefoods. I decided to make a delicious au gratin with it which was perfect for a cold Colorado evening by the fire.
Chartreuse and Purple Cauliflower au Gratin
2 small heads of cauliflower, washed and broken into large florets
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups hot milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyere, plus 1/4 cup for the topping
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for topping
1/3 cup bread crumbs
Makes 6-8 servings
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast in a 475 degree oven for 15-20 minutes turning occasionally, until tender but slightly firm.
Reduce the over temperature to 375 degrees F.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and then the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Little by little, pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture while whisking. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly for 1 minute, or until thickened. Turn off the heat. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1 cup of the Gruyere, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Stir until the cheeses are melted and are incorporated into the sauce.
Fill the baking dish with half of the sauce and then arrange the cauliflower with the flower ends up (use an 8 x 11 inch rectangle, a 8 inch round or you can use individual ramekins). Drizzle the remaining sauce in the nooks and crannies between the florets.
Place the baking dish in the oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cheese topping and drizzle with the melted butter. Return to the oven for the remaining 15-20 minutes until the top is browned.