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Happy Pancakes

Making crepes

I don’t think Pancake Day really became a part of my life until I lived in the U.K. I thought it was a sweet, whimsical holiday that the Brits invented (they didn’t, by the way. More info on the origins here). But very quickly, it became an annual thing. And then after our kids were born, it became a tasty tradition — one that annually takes us by surprise (I actually didn’t realize it was Pancake Day until yesterday morning), but part of the tradition includes that fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants scramble to get ingredients on a school night and pull this thing off.

I’m happy to report we had success yesterday — and even better, my husband made the pancakes this year.

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Cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust

A few months ago, we got “The Little Paris Kitchen” cookbook by Rachel Khoo and after a long summer of not feeling terribly interested in spending time in the kitchen, I’ve finally gotten around to cooking from it – Cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust.

I like the simplicity of her recipes and the French flair (Khoo is a Brit who now lives in Paris and adds some Britishness to her French dishes). It’s seasonal, fresh and easy and the results speak for themselves – my cauliflower bake was gone in a day and it was a great recipe to get the kids to eat their veggies.

If you haven’t seen Khoo’s show before, it’s currently on the Cooking Channel in the states, showing every Friday at 12:30 p.m. EST.

Cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust

3 lbs heads cauliflower, trimmed and separated into florets
1/3 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 slice of extra crunchy toast, roughly chopped

Mornay sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, slightly warmed
1/4 onion, skin removed
1 clove
1 bay leaf
1 pinch salt and pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
7 ounces gruyere cheese, grated (can also use Comte or Parmesan)

To begin with, steam the cauliflower in a colander fitted inside a pan. Steam for around 15 minutes so the cauliflower still has some bite left in it.

Cauliflower Bake

For the sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add the flour and stir hard until a smooth paste is achieved. Take off the heat and leave for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the milk, mixing all the time. Place it back on the heat and add the clove, bay leaf and leek. Simmer for 10 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove the leek, bay leaf and clove. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cauliflower Bake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the cheese into the warm sauce, saving a bit to sprinkle on top. Mix the cauliflower into the sauce and give it a good stir. Pour into a baking tin.

Cauliflower Bake

Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and top with the crushed hazelnuts and broken up pieces of toast. Bake for 20 minutes and then place under the broiler for a few minutes to get a golden and bubbling crust.

We dug in so quickly after I took it out of the oven that I later realized that I had forgotten to take a photo of this golden brown and bubbling goodness! Trust me when I say it looked and tasted divine!

Top 10 highlights from Paris, part une

So many things we loved in Paris. Here’s the proverbial greatest hits over the four days we spent!

1. Love padlocks on all of the Paris bridges. They really are a stunning sight. Couples buy padlocks as a symbol of their love, add their initials and lock it to the bridge! And they say romance is dead?!

locks

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