I am 24 years old. I was born in Canada but have lived in the US for 12 years. Another passion of mine is hockey which I have played since the age of 5. I love to cook obviously. I work at Firebirds in Stonecrest as a server/bartender where I have worked for the past 7 years. I am a student at UNCC but am not currently enrolled. I love to cook when I have the time, and have been doing it for many years because my mom taught me at a young age. My mom is the best cook I know as cooking is a big thing in my family so I have been lucky to be around it to learn. Everybody seems to be surprised that I know how to cook, which I think is funny because I love to cook and have done it since I was 14. I had an obsession of cooked broccoli with warm cheese whiz on top at a young age, so I had to come up with my adult version of this. I cooked it quite often until I decided to make it a thanksgiving dish. Every year for thanksgiving for the past couple years, it has become my tradition to make broccoli and cauliflower au gratin which is the recipe I will share. I found a recipe online a few years ago that I tested out and loved. I fooled around with the recipe and added some ingredients over the years to make it my own. I am big on Thanksgiving dinner and never feel bad taking in a few more calories by adding a little more to my vegetables. The recipe is as follows:
Broccoli and Cauliflower Au Gratin
1 ½ head broccoli
1 head cauliflower
1 ½ sticks of salted butter
½ cup flour
4 cups of half and half
2 cups whole milk
4 ounces cream cheese
12 ounces grated cheddar cheese, about 4 cups
1 cup of Ritz crackers fine crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cayenne
In a large pot bring water and salt to a boil. Add the large head of cauliflower (cut into large fluerettes). Cook for approx 2 minutes or when tender/crisp (do not overcook). Remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water.
Bring water back to a boil and add the head and a half of broccoli. Cook for 1-2 minutes or when broccoli is tender/firm (again do not overcook). Strain and rinse under cold water.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Grease a baking pan (3 or 5 quart) with Pam. Transfer veggies to the baking pan.
In a heavy saute pan: make a roux
Melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat and whisk in ½ cup flour. Whisk constantly over the medium heat until thickened and it has a light/blondish color. Approx 4 minutes.
Add: ½ teaspoon cayenne and the salt, then gradually add the 4 cups of ½ and ½ and the 2 cups of whole milk then whisk until a smooth even consistency. Turn heat to low and let simmer until sauce thickens approx 4 minutes. Add the 4 ounces of cream cheese and let melt in the liquid. Then add the cheddar cheese and whisk until cheese is melted.
Remove from the heat and pour cheese sauce over the vegetables in the baking dish. In a medium sized bowl add 1 cup crumbles Ritz Crackers (put in a Ziploc bag and pound until fine crumbs), add 3 tablespoons melted butter, add a pinch of optional seasonings (salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder). Sprinkle the cracker mixture on top of the vegetables and bake for approx 30 minutes or golden brown on top. Do not overcook.