The French girl goes home tomorrow. Eilene is planning to have a bunch of her friends over for dinner, because Jan is teaching tonight. The question is what to feed them.
Eilene suggested mac&cheese. I suggested using Gruyére, instead of the orange stuff out of the box. Eilene said, “How about curry power?” I remembering how much people liked the Gobi Musallam au Gratin and suggested adding cauliflower. Eilene said that except for the one who would pick out the vegetable that this was a good idea. All of Eilene’s friends like bacon, so in it goes. Thus a new dish is born.
Yes, the title is in four languages, but fusion cooking is all American. This is not for Jan, who doesn’t like mac&cheese and needs something low fat. This is not for Chris, so I do not have to make it without starches. With the exception of the one who may pick out the vegetables, Eilene’s friends will happily eat pretty much anything I put in front of them.
After Feeding Frenzy: I did get a taste, but 6 teenage girls licked the plate clean. In the afternoon the French Girl and Eilene baked a chocolate cake for dessert. A word on the frosting: Eilene’s friends call our home a LBGT safe house.
Karl’s Gobi Pasta au Gratin with Bacon
1 cauliflower, small
6 cloves garlic crushed
2 sprigs lemon thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. black pepper, fresh ground
½ esp. Kosher salt
¾ lb. macaroni (about 2½ cups dry)
½ lb. thin sliced smoky bacon
Karl’s au Gratin Sauce
3 Tbs. reserves bacon grease (or butter)
3 Tbs. flour
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1¾ cup milk
4 tsp. curry power
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ lb. Gruyére, grated, separate uses
Pinch nutmeg, fresh grated, separate uses
Pinch black pepper
Pinch Kosher salt
2 Tbs. snipped chives
1. Remove the leaves and toughest part of the stem from the cauliflower, break it into large florets.
2. Put the cauliflower in a large pot and add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, pepper, and water to cover.
3. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the temperature to medium low. Simmer until the cauliflower is ¾ done (about 15 minutes).
4. Transfer the cauliflower to a plate to cool slightly. Reserve and strain the cooking liquid.
5. Return the liquid to the pot and add the macaroni. Simmer until al dente (about 8 minutes).
Tip: It is OK if they are slightly less than al dente, because they will be cooked a second time.
6. Fry the bacon crisp in a skillet and set aside to cool. Reserve 3 tablespoons of bacon grease.
7. In a small pot, add the reserved bacon grease and flour and cook stirring constantly until lightly browned.
Tip: Cooking grease and flour is called a roux. Although this is usually done with butter you can use any form of fat.
8. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more.
9. Add the milk, a bit at a time, and continue stirring until the sauce has started to thicken.
10. Stir in the mustard.
11. Reserve ½ cup of the cheese and add the rest, a bit at a time, stirring constantly.
12. When the cheese is almost completely melted, add the nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Continue stirring to mix.
13. Chop the cauliflower into small florets and mix it with the macaroni in a large bowl.
14. Crumble the bacon and add it to the pasta mixture.
15. Pour ¾ of the cheese sauce over all and stir to mix.
16. Pour the mixture into a large Pam-ed baking dish.
17. Spread the last of the cheese sauce over all and put the baking dish into a 500º F for about 10 minutes.
18. Remove the baking dish from the oven and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.
19. Return it to the oven and switch the oven from bake to broil. Broil until the cheese is starting to brown well (about another 10 minutes).
20. Garnish with the chives and a few gratings of fresh nutmeg and serve.