Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Repast from the Past

The summer after my sophomore year was marked by yet more adventures in independence. For the first time, I was living in an apartment with friends (Eli and Hillary). We sublet a place on Noyes, or at least that was the closest stop on the El station in Evanston. I was still dating Brendan. Eli started flirting with and then dating Jason Gross, a relationship that lasted until I left for New York in 2001!! I worked nights at Giordano's Pizza, and held two internships... it was a fun, busy summer.

But by far, the most memorable moment of the summer was when Hillary discovered this Cauliflower Pie recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook. Don't make a face... I know it doesn't sound all that appetizing. But holy crap, we couldn't get enough of it. Even though it was stinkin' hot, just like all summers in Chicago are, we still fired up that oven and baked this sucka because we loved it that much.

I re-discovered the recipe the other night, scribbled on a yellow piece of paper, so folded, unfolded and folded again that it's soft... and with a sweet little cauliflower crying out to me in the fridge, decided to make it. What I love about this recipe is its unfussy ingredients: the humble potato, the equally humble cauliflower, and the quintessential root veggie, the onion. And a few eggs. But my how it sings. Especially since the crust itself is made of potato -- it ends up kinda tasting like IHOP hash browns. And I must say that I make it a damn sight better now than we did in college. And that makes me feel good.

For you Weight Watchers folks, this apparently works out to 5 point for a quarter of the pie! DAAAAAMN! Whattah baaaahhhgin! (Oh, but you must use low-fat cheese)

Cauliflower Cheese Pie

2 cups packed, grated raw potato
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated onion

1 heaping packed up, grated cheddar
I medium cauliflower, cut into SMALL florets
1 clove garlic, crushed
I cup onion, chopped
3 tbsp butter (or use a combo of oil and butter to lighten it up)
dash of thyme
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs and 1/4 cup milk beaten together
pepper and paprika

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Set potato in colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 10 minutes. Squeeze out water well.
- Add egg and onion to grated potato, pat into well-oiled 9" pan, build up sides of crust.
- Bake 30 mins, and brush crust with oil. Bake another 10-15 minutes.

- Lower oven temp to 375 degrees F
- Saute onions and garlic in butter, 5 minutes
- Add herbs, cauliflower and salt. Cook, covered for about 10 minutes until tenderish. You can add a little water if you like so that the cauliflower doesn't burn while it's cooking.

- To assemble the pie: sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese into crust, then pour over cauliflower, then rest of cheese.
- Pour egg/milk mixture over, dust with paprika and pepper.
- Bake 35-40 minutes until set. I found that the rim of the crust tends to burn a little after the first baking, so I covered it with a line of foil so it wouldn't burn more. Your oven may behave itself better.




sarah said...

Yummmmmm, that cauliflower pie looks delish. How is your week going?

elizabeth said...

oh, the moosewood cookbook! sweet memories...

elizabeth said...

Oh, and by the way - WE worked at Giordano's - WE. We both served the vodka lady, got in trouble for drinking sam adam's summer ale at "staff meetings", learned to make chicken alfredo pizza, listened to "closing time" on the way home in the jeep, and generally reaked of pizza all summer...

aartilla the fun said...

hahahaaaa, yes of course! WE did work at giordano's all summer. WE did!!! i will always think of you when i eat deep dish pizza. and that manager -- what the heck was her name? remember how she always used to say, "don't be confused!!" i think she made me cry times.

elizabeth said...

Katie. Katie and... John.

aartilla the fun said...

oh my god. john. holy crap. brain explosion. (me, not him.)

Hillary said...

What a crazy memory, and I do remember how long it took us to make that cauliflower pie. I can't say I've tried it since. It was a lot of work grating the potatoes. However, I do love Farmers' markets, but now have even taken the plunge to go with a local CSA. I love it. We know the folks and go out to work on their small farm once a month. It's a great break from life in the "big" city that Madison is. Gotta love lots of green veggies. Love ya aarti! - Hill

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