Cauliflower Gratin

Another nice winter dish, this gratin is easy to make and can be prepared in advance.

1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream (or use 1/2 and 1/2)
2 T. flour
2 T. butter
2 oz. onion (1/4 wedge)
1 clove
1 small bay leaf
5 oz. grated Gruyere cheese (or use cheddar cheese if you prefer)1 large head cauliflower

Begin by making the cheese sauce to top the cauliflower.


Heat the milk and cream over medium heat to a simmer. Combine the flour and butter in a separate pan.


While the milk and cream are heating, cook the butter and flour over medium heat, whisking to combine.


When the butter and flour are simmering nicely, add the hot liquids.


Whisk steadily while all of the liquid is added.


Continue whisking until the mixture begins to simmer and any lumps are mixed smooth. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.


Poke the clove through the bay leaf into the onion quarter, then add it to the pot.


Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove the onion, clove and bay leaf. Whisk the cheese in, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.


Separate the florettes from the core of the cauliflower.


Cut the larger florettes in half so all pieces roughly the same size.


Boil in salted water until softened, but still firm.


Drain and allow to cool.


Arrange in an oven-proof gratin dish, then pour the cheese sauce over the top. At this point, you can cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate if desired.


Bake at 350 F. until the sauce is bubbling and the tops of the cauliflower begin to brown.

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David Gingrass is a food and beverage operations professional with a career spanning more than three decades. His fascination with and love for food, wine and entertaining allows him to view his work as both a vocation and an avocation. Gingrass graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York then cooked in the Bay Area for two years before landing a job at Wolfgang Puck’s original Spago Restaurant in West Hollywood. There he learned to make the signature breads and sausages that he became known for at Postrio and Hawthorne Lane. He was soon promoted to kitchen manager and managed the operational and expense control aspects of Puck’s iconic restaurant for the next four years. Gingrass returned to San Francisco in 1989 when Puck tapped him and his then-wife Anne to open Postrio, Puck’s third restaurant and his first outside of Los Angeles. Postrio opened to rave reviews and soon became the #1 popular Bay Area restaurant in the prestigious Zagat survey. Five and a half years later, the opportunity to open a restaurant of his own presented itself. Hawthorne Lane opened in 1995 and was a San Francisco dining institution for over twelve years, catering to the likes of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Mayor Willie Brown, James Carville, President Clinton and First Lady Hilary Clinton. He closed Hawthorne Lane at the end of its fifteen-year lease in 2009 to build a consulting practice for the hospitality industry, sharing his wealth of culinary and operational experiences with new and existing restaurants, assisting them to become successful and profitable.