Crunchy Southern Cauliflower Casserole

Crunchy Southern Cauliflower Casserole on http://www.theculinarylife.com

I’m total a sucker for anything involving a cheesy sauce. And while pasta may be an ideal receptacle, sometimes you have to cut back on your carb intake. What’s a girl to do when she’s already eaten her weight in wheat this week? Turn to the next best thing: cauliflower.

Cauliflower is a great vegetable because its starchiness mimics carb-y foods that we love but shouldn’t eat so much of: namely, pasta and potatoes. In fact, I’d argue that you can substitute cauliflower in 75% of pasta and potato dishes. Have you ever tried buttered mashed cauliflower? Cauliflower with pesto sauce? Or baked, cheesy cauliflower casserole? Turns out cauliflower is an ideal delivery device for all sorts of comforting ingredients, like butter, meat sauce, and of course, cheese.

This dish is lovely for many reasons, including its cream and cheese content, but what I love most about this recipe is that it provides a huge helping of comforting richness while still getting in a mega-serving of vegetables. You could just as easily make this dish with macaroni, but cauliflower allows you to skip the pesky food-coma that sets in after indulging. Then there’s the toasty, crunchy topping, which I adore on a cold winter night; it really makes the dish, so don’t skip bread crumbs. In fact, trying using your own homemade breadcrumbs for an even homier effect.

Southern breaded cauliflower is cheesy and creamy, with a few spices added to make things interesting. If you like, you can leave out the nutmeg and cumin, but they really do take the dish from standard to sensational. You could even add a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon if you like to amp up the sweetness, or a few pinches of cayenne to up the spice.

Tell me in the comments: What are your favorite ways to cut back on carbs but still enjoy the foods you love most? Do you have a favorite tip on how to make your favorite comfort foods healthier? Let me know in the comments!

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Playing Around in Photoshop – Cheese Photography

French Hoofbeats – A Capricious Winter Cheese Plate

French Hoofbeats - A Capricious Winter Cheese Plate on http://www.theculinarylife.com

- A French cheese plate that channels cheerful little hoofbeats. -

The dark weeks after the holidays always seem harder than the weeks before, don’t you think? For me January comes in like a freezing wet blanket, with its biting chill and blank, bewildered skies. The frenetic pleasure run of December is gone now. Maybe what I’m feeling is an activity hangover, or perhaps it’s grief over the sudden loss of holiday cheer. The world has traded its vivacious reds and greens for a more muted palette: dark gray, light gray, and that indescribably depressing color of dirty snow.

I’m not one to linger in apathy, though. I subscribe to the “feed a cold” line of thinking, and I treat bouts of seasonal lethargy the same way. And can you think of a better way to dispel the winter doldrums than with an inspired cheese plate?

These four French goat cheeses make up a lively cheese plate, each in their own individual way. Some are tart, others are more subdued. At least one prances between both camps, leaving little hoof prints across both your palate and your heart. If you’re feeling down, I recommend digging up a handful of almonds, a few fresh apples, and a bowl of dried cranberries — then faceplant straight into the middle of this cheese plate, no holds barred.

Just what the doctor ordered. [Read more...]

Two Goats + Two Sheep = One Fabulous New Years Cheese Plate

Two Goats + Two Sheep = One Fabulous New Years Cheese Plate on http://www.theculinarylife.com

- An whimsical cheese plate for an epic new year. -

We’re about a week into 2014 and I’m determined to make this The Year of Artisan Cheese (with this delightful book as my text). Americans spend a lot of time worrying about how their meat was raised, where their eggs came from, whether to not their veggies have an organic stamp of approval. But what about the cheese we eat? Folks spend so much money and effort making sure they’re eating high quality food, and then I watch them snack on cheap, processed cheese, cobbling together a cheese plate of generic deli slices. I’m not judging, I swear. Rather, I find the situation baffling. If you care where your meat, eggs, and vegetables come from, how does the cheese you eat not warrant a questioning glance?

Just like meat and vegetables, cheese can be produced cheaply, like the stuff you find sliced at a huge box store — or it can be hand-crafted locally, seasonally, and of high quality milks. Along with responsibly produced milk, cheese makes up another corner of the Unprocessed Food Triangle.

To kick off 2014, here’s a quirky little cheese plate, not one that many cheesemongers would sit together, but they work surprisingly well. Two sheep, two goats, all fun, all flavor. Here you’ll find grassy Chèvre d’ Argental; salty, creamy Fromager d’Affinois de Brebis; Little Miss Manners Melodie, who is wise beyond her years; and rich, bubbly Lamb Chopper, who’s always down for a party. [Read more...]

Cheese Tips from Madame Fromage

Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese on http://www.theculinarylife.com

A few days ago I posted a review of Tenaya Darlington’s Di Bruno Brothers House of Cheese, the cheese book to end all cheese books. Since it’s officially December and I’ve been receiving a ton of emails from you folks about what you can do with cheese during the holidays, Tenaya herself was kind enough to offer up a little advice for my favorite cheese lovers out there in Internet Land. Here you go – a handful of stellar cheese tips straight from the Madame Fromage herself: [Read more...]

Very Dairy Literary: Di Bruno Brothers House of Cheese

Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese on http://www.theculinarylife.com

- Di Bruno Brothers House of Cheese – an epic cheese tome. -

The past few years have seen a lot of new cheese books in bookstores, due to the fact that cheese is becoming a hot topic here in the United States. As Americans, we’re finally waking up to an idea that the rest of the world has been keen on for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years. Cheese is an art form, and it should not be taken for granted.

To celebrate this awakening, I’m very excited to introduce you to one book in particular: Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings. Written with wit and candor by cheese writer Tenaya Darlington (of Madame Fromage fame) and the legion of cheese knowledge behind Philadelphia-based gourmet grocery shop Di Bruno Brothers, this relatively new release is a testament to dairy appreciation. Here you will find 170 of the world’s most beloved cheeses, divided into categories as charming as the cheeses themselves; think of anthropomorphized personality types, such as Mountain Men (alpine cheeses), Sugar Mamas (sweeter, desserty varieties), Wise Guys (cheeses that have been celebrated for ages), and Stinkers (not for the faint of olfactory sensibilities). Tenaya’s descriptions share all you wish you knew about each cheese, such as its origin, what milk it is made from, its overall personality, and a list of pairings that include wine, beer, and nibblings. With this book in hand, it’s like having a little cheesemonger in your pocket, whispering advice whenever you need it. [Read more...]

Turkey Mac-and-Cheeselets on KATU – Turkey Leftovers (Video)

Turkey Mac-and-Cheeselets on AM Northwest - Turkey Leftovers Video on http://www.theculinarylife.com

 

A few days ago I posted the recipe for our Turkey and Gouda Mac & Cheeselets, a great way to use up those turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving. In the few days since then, KATU in Portland aired a segment I filmed on how to make these cute little portable baked macaroni and cheese dumplings. It’s a long segment that essentially shows the entire turkey leftovers recipe from beginning to end. To print the recipe, go here.

Enjoy!