Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas with a French Twist

My dear office mate and friend, Lee Ann, very kindly invited me for Christmas dinner this year, and it was truly an incredible feast! Her husband and daughter took a trip to France this year, so the theme of the dinner was decidedly French. I asked the hostess what I could bring, but she didn't text me back until this morning...after all of the shops were closed. Of course, she said I didn't have to bring anything, but my momma raised me right. Under duress, she said I could bring a salad or vegetable. The problem was that I had to make due with what I had on hand, and keep in mind, the culinary theme of the dinner is FRENCH! YIKES!

So I went searching, and found a (frozen) head of cauliflower in the garage fridge, and I still have kale left from the garden (you heard me!), and I always have bacon. So I steamed the cauliflower florets in my magic pot, and then made a creamy, cheesy, mashed cauliflower and kale gratin with smoky bacon bits. Anything "gratin" is French, right?  I think the kale and bacon make it look Christmassy with the red and green bits, non? (This picture is before I topped it with panko and more cheese.)

Here is a more detailed description of my methodology: First, I Googled how others steam a cauliflower in the IP and did that (four minutes on steam mode in a wire basket over a cup of water). While the cauliflower was cooking, I browned some bacon on the stove, removed it, and then sautéed a couple of cups of chopped kale in a few tablespoons of the bacon fat. 

When the cauliflower was done, I drained it and mashed it in the pot with four tablespoons of butter, four oz. of cream cheese, half a cup of shredded Swiss cheese, seasoned salt, pepper, one teaspoon of dried thyme, a half teaspoon of granulated garlic, and a grating of nutmeg. Then I stirred in the sautéed kale and about eight pieces of the cooked bacon (chopped). I put this mixture in a casserole dish, topped with half a cup of panko tossed with another couple tablespoons of Swiss cheese, and dash of garlic powder. I baked this uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes, and then topped it with another two slices of crumbled bacon before serving. VOILA!

 The Christmas dinner guests all assembled.
The appetizer was French onion soup...with a homemade bread crouton.
 Homemade French bread.
 The Christmas feast!
 Three French, err, Cornish hens.
 Lamb chops and mashed potatoes.
Asparagus with Hollandaise.
 Spinach souffle and my cauliflower kale mash.
 Roasted leeks and fennel.
 Cream puffs.
Crepes made to order with sugar, berries, and/or Nutella.
 Pear amandine tart.
 A toast to the memory of loved ones.
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!


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