A Trio of Winter Vegetables- and a Recipe for Cauliflower in Brown Butter
For my own family's Christmas dinner this year, I served a big platter of three winter vegetables, each pan roasted with slightly different ingredients- the brussels sprouts with cream, garlic and mixed herbs, the broccoli with olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and rosemary, and this lovely cauliflower in brown butter. It 's a beautiful monochromatic platter, which by the way, is a color style I like to utilize in crudités platter, as well.
I ran across this recipe in Susan Spicer's wonderful cookbook Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans. Ms Spicer tells a story, while traveling with friends through Provence, of stopping late at night and dead tired, at a rather unpromising looking inn. They asked the proprietess if they could possibly have a meal with their room, not expecting much. The inn keeper told them to take a walk, and return in 15 minutes, when she would be ready. They were delighted to be greeted with a lovely French country-style meal which included this dish. Ms. Spicer says she dreamed about for long after. I can understand why.
The technique of cooking in a what is essentially a beurre fondue (literally melted butter)- a butter melted and stirred into water until creamy, is a classic French technique overlooked by many home cooks. In this case, the beurre fondue is cooked until it's brown creating another classic sauce, a beurre noisette. I think after tasting this simple, yet elegant dish, you might agree that it's time to resurrect these neglected methods and sauces. Oh- and I topped the vegetables with a light grating of Parmesan cheese, but really, that was gilding the lily. It's perfectly delicious without that. Recipe follows…