Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As Thanksgiving approaches, most parts of the country are finally feeling a bit of a nip in the air, and some parts have already had snow. Today it's 76 degrees here in San Diego, and although I know it's November, it feels like summer.  I love the Thanksgiving holiday, and have taught many Do-Ahead Thanksgiving classes in my day.  This is the first year I won't be teaching Thanksgiving, and since I'm not teaching, I thought I'd start giving some helpful hints and a few recipes for the holidays.
Last Friday night, I taught the Specialty Produce Farmer's Market Box class at Great News.  It's one of my favorite classes to teach, and this was the box we got that night.  One of my favorite recipes from the class is a baked cauliflower and goat cheese dip that I developed after having it at a local restaurant.  It is delicious, and a nice start to any evening, but might be a great start for your Thanksgiving meal.  It can be made ahead, and then baked when you are ready.  Make sure to have plenty of baguette slices because this one will go fast!  Buon appetito!

Baked Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Dip
Serves 6

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
Toasted baguette slices or fresh vegetables to dip

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a gratin dish with non-stick cooking spray. 
  2. In a 5-quart saucepan, heat 3 quarts of salted water. Add the cauliflower, and simmer until the cauliflower is crisp/tender, about 6 minutes. 
  3. Drain thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. 
  4. In a small skillet, melt the butter, and sauté the garlic and shallot for 2 minutes, until fragrant, add the red pepper flakes, and swirl in the pan for 10 seconds. Set aside to cool.
  5. Place the cauliflower, garlic butter, Dijon mustard, cream cheese and goat cheese in a food processor, and process on and off until the mixture is smooth, with a few chunks of cauliflower. 
  6. Taste for seasoning and adjust using salt or pepper. 
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. 
  8. Do-Ahead:  At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dip for 2 days. Before baking, remove the baking dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking, and proceed as directed. 
  9. In a small bowl, combine the Parmigiano, bread crumbs, oil and parsley, and stir until the crumbs are moistened. Sprinkle over top of the cauliflower mixture, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dip is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Spread on crackers, baguette slices, or use as a dip for vegetables. 

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