Your pathway to healthy food, ethics, beer, and how these things can (and should!) come together in daily life.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Potato, Artichoke, and Cauliflower Four Cheese Casserole

I reckon the three best vegetables to eat with cheese are, hands down, potatoes, artichokes, and cauliflower. So all three in a casserole with four cheeses, so I reasoned yesterday, is a pretty ingenious idea.

I was totally right.

I saw a similar recipe in my favorite cook book, "Vegetarian Practical Cooking" last night, so I made this casserole for dinner. It has Gruyère, Gorgongonzola, Parmesan, and sharp Cheddar cheese both in the sauce and on top.

And it was amazing.

Serve this over rice and with a salad. I made brown rice and a pear, Gorgonzola, and pecan salad.

Potato, Artichoke, and Cauliflower Four Cheese Casserole
Start boiling some salted water in a medium or large pot. Get out some baby red potatoes.
Chop them up into uniform pieces so they'll cook fast and evenly. Plop potatoes into boiling water. But don't forget about them.

While those puppies are cooking, cut up about 2 cups of cauliflower. I tried to make mine uniformly sized...
Next chop up 1/2 a red onion. I tried a new technique this time, I chopped the onion in half and cut off the end. Then cut it in one direction, rotate 90 degrees, and cut it again.
Next, smash three cloves of garlic and mince.
And finally, open up a can of quartered artichokes. My casserole had one can of artichokes, minus one.
But don't cut yourself on the can. I usually manage to at least once. But this time, I didn't at all!

Boil potatoes until tender but still firm. This usually takes about 15 minutes. I usually test if they're done by poking them with a knife.

Drain these guys when they're done and set them aside, or do as I did and dump them in your 9 inch casserole dish.

Next, steam the cauliflower. Cook until tender, this took about 10 minutes.
Dump these in your casserole dish on top of your baby red potatoes.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in your good ol' rusty trusty cast iron skillet.
And start cookin' your onions and garlic. Mmmmmmm... Sautee until almost done.
Now here's the hard part. Add 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) of flour to the butter. Cook the roux (butter/flour mix) for about a minute. I had my boyfriend help on this part. It's really hard to stir and pour the flour at the same time. It should start to look like this:
After you let it cook for a minute, turn down the heat a little and start adding the milk, a cup at a time, and bring milk to a boil. Right after it starts boiling, dump in the artichokes.
Reduce heat and simmer until mixture gets a little thicker, maybe about 7 minutes, stirring regularly.

Here are all the cheeses I used:
Add in half of the cheese, or about 1/2 cup of Gruyère, Gorgonzola, and sharp cheddar, and 1/4 cup parmesan. The sauce will start to look like this. This is definitely done.

Now the roux is finished. I use variations of this recipe for mac 'n cheese and other cheesy veggie casseroles...
Dump this sauce over potatoes and cauliflower.
Then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top with 1 tablespoon thyme.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

And now it's time to clean up my mess...
And take out the veggie scraps to the compost pile!
And finally, its done!!
Mine turned out a little brown, just perfect for my liking!

Garnish with a couple sprigs of thyme and serve on rice!

Potato, Artichoke, and Cauliflower Four Cheese Casserole

2 1/2 cups cubed baby red potatoes
2 cups cubed cauliflower
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can quartered artichokes
4 tbl. butter
4 tbl. flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup each Gruyère, Gorgonzola, and sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 tablespoon thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil baby red potatoes until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Steam cauliflower, about 10 minutes. Dump potatoes into 9 inch casserole dish, and layer cauliflower on top. Melt butter in pan, and sautee garlic and onion until almost cooked through. Next, slowly add in 4 tablespoons of flour to make a roux. Cook for a minute, then turn down the heat and add the milk slowly, mixing to dissolve butter and flour. Add artichokes, and bring milk to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce heat and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 7 minutes or so. Add half the cheeses and stir to melt into sauce. Pour sauce over potatoes and cauliflower, and sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped thyme. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with sprigs of thyme

Friday, January 29, 2010

First Post!

So I'm doing THIS instead of doing homework today.... Much more fun!!

Since I don't have any specific topic or recipe to share today, I'll use this time to shamelessly promote my Do It Green! U of M club and share some pictures of food and kitties. This week at Do It Green, we talked about campaigns for teaching dorm residents about what they can do to reduce their environmental impact. My expertise is in sustainable food, but the dorms already have a great sustainable food program through UDS (university dining services). Check out their program here

So we are going to focus on other topics, such as recycling, transportation, and water and energy conservation. I'll post pictures of these parts of the campaign later.

Lately, I've been trying to eat according to Michael Pollan's suggestions (Author of Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food), which includes following his food rules: Eat food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. I've been successful thus far, and I thought I'd share some photos and recipes of things I've made.

First, here's a recipe from Do It Green! Minnesota, who partnered with Chef Heather Hartman from Spoonriver, which is a sustainable and mostly vegetarian restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. Do It Green partnered with local chefs last year to develop recipes to help average people lower their carbon "food-print". Pretty clever, huh?

Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Bisque with Cider Syrup

Butternut Apple Bisque with Cider Syrup
and Puffed Wild Rice Chef Heather Hartman, SpoonRiver
serves 8
4 c. apple cider, divided

2 c. wild rice
6 c. water

2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 in. cubes
3 c. water or stock
2½ c. thinly sliced leeks
4 Tbl. butter
²⁄³ tsp. salt
1 c. whole milk
3 apples, peeled and diced

Bring 2½ cups cider to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook until reduced to ½ cup (about 20 minutes). Cool, place in small jar, cover and chill.

In a large sauce pan, bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add 2 cups wild rice, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Boil wild rice for 50-60 minutes or until rice puffs open. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the 1½ c. cider, squash, water or stock, and apples. Cook covered for 20 minutes or until squash is soft. Stir in the milk and the salt. Cool slightly and blend in a blender until smooth. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Pour back into large sauce pan and bring back to a simmer. Add wild rice. Drizzle 1 Tbl. of cider syrup on top. Serve hot.

This soup has an absolutely gorgeous color... This is before we stirred in the rice. I'd suggest halving this recipe, just because you end up with A LOT of soup.

Also, with all of the squash seeds we removed, we made roasted seeds!

Allright, I have time to show off one more recipe I've made lately...

Bread machine calzones with artichokes, red peppers, and sun dried tomato alfredo.

So I have a tendency to cheat sometimes, and here is an example. I used the bread machine to make my dough, and I used a jar of sauce instead of making my own (oops!)

Calzone recipe is from Allrecipes, the rest is my own.


  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Fillin' (for two calzones)
Artichokes (canned is fine), about 1 cup
Red Onion, diced, about 1/2 cup
One red pepper, diced
one clove of garlic, minced
LOTS of feta cheese, crumbled
olive oil
... and feel free to add any other ingredients, mushrooms, olives, parmesan cheese, asparagus... whatever you have on hand!

Sautee red onion and garlic, and add rest of veggies. Sautee until cooked to a little before done. Remember, they'll get a little more cooking in the oven.


  1. To Make Dough: Place water, yeast, sugar, flour, and salt in the pan of the bread machine, in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Dough cycle. After cycle is completed, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Split dough in half and shape into two rectangles using a rolling pin. Transfer to a lightly greased cookie sheet, and spoon sun dried tomato alfredo sauce lengthwise down the center of the dough, followed by sauteed veggies and feta cheese. Make diagonal cuts 1 1/2 inches apart down each long side of the dough rectangle, cutting to within 1/2 inch of the filling (Don't get too close or the sauce will spill out!) . Criss-cross cut strips of dough over the filling and seal edges with water. Brush top of calzone with melted butter.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Gorgeous, huh?
Mine was the one on the right... Derrick made the other one.

I win.

Here are a few other pics of things I've made, and I plan to make again!
Cauliflower, potato, and cherry tomato casserole with a smoked cheddar cheese sauce

Home Made English Muffins
A Happy Man!

Eggplant Parmesan for me and Chicken Parmesan for Derrick!

Vegetable Dumpling Soup (Potato, celery, carrots, onion)
And Last, but of course not least, here's my kitty posing next to a packet of catnip seeds. She looks just like the cat on the package! I'm such a nerd.
Until next time,