Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Cauliflower "Mac" and Cheese and Putting up the Garden

I'm not a big gardener, I plant just enough to make me feel like a gardener.  I have 4 raised beds I use to grow some veggies and I like lots of flowers.

This year I planted 12 cauliflower plants, 6 of broccoli, 6 cabbages, 2 eggplant (for the first time), Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes, 4 green zucchini and 2 yellow squash, 2 cucumber plants and the tomatoes in the greenhouse.

Now, this year it rained a lot, so watering was pretty easy...I didn't have to do it much, which is a good thing because my dad isn't here to water for me.  But the problem with my garden is that everything is ready at the same time! I put harvesting off as long as possible (you can see in the picture below, one of my cauliflowers started to spread), but I finally had to deal with all that broccoli and cauliflower.

Freezing broccoli and cauliflower doesn't take a lot of work, just be organized and follow the steps.

Why does it all have to be ready at the same time?
Freezing Cauliflower and Broccoli

1) Cut cauliflower (and Broccoli) from garden, bring inside and wash.

2) Place large stock 2/3 full of water on stove and heat to a roiling boil.

3) While water is heating, cut cauliflower into desired sized florets.

4) Set up ice bath in sink, cold water and lots of ice (in Fairbanks we can skip the ice, our water comes out of the tap that cold)

5) Place several layers of towels on a table or big counter.

6) Once water is boiling, generously salt the water (this is optional)

7) Place about 4-6 cups of florets in the boiling water and set timer for 5 minutes for cauliflower or 3 minutes for broccoli.

8) When the time beeps, remove the florets from the boiling water (I use a big skimmer) and place in the ice bath until all the florets are cold. While one batch of florets are cooling, I start another batch in the boiling water.

9) Once the florets are cold, remove them from the ice bath to a colander to drain.

10) Once drained, tip them onto the layers of towels to dry further. I use a towel to GENTLY dry the tops, you don't want squished florets.

11) Place dried florets in sheet pans lined with parchment and freeze.

12) Once frozen transfer florets to ziplock bags and return to freezer until needed.
Blanched, dried and frozen for packaging.
I got some giant broccoli too.
Blanched broccoli drying, almost ready for the freezer.

So that is the way I blanched and froze 9 gallon bags of cauliflower and 3 gallon bags of broccoli.  The nice thing about freezing the florets this way is the florets don't freeze together and you can take out as much as you want and return the rest of the bag to the freezer.

But 9 gallons of cauliflower is a lot for Dave and me so I need to get a little creative in ways to fix it so Dave doesn't get too tired of it.  He loves mac and cheese, so I decided to give the "cauli and cheese" a try.  It was a hit! He even ate left-overs for lunch the next day.  

Cauliflower and Cheese

1 med. head cauliflower
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, or use 1/4 c. cream and 1/4 c. almond milk or water
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup ground pork rinds, or pork panko

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray a baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

Wash the cauliflower and break into small florets.  Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  

Meanwhile, make sauce. In a medium saucepan or a microwave safe bowl, mix whipping cream, cream cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, cheddar, mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.  Heat until melted and completely mixed and smooth.  
Gently mix cauliflower into the cheese sauce and pour into prepared baking dish.  
Mix remaining 1/4 cup parmesan and the ground pork rinds and sprinkle over the top of the cauliflower.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden on top and bubbly.  

1 year ago:    Birthday Cupcakes and Learning to Decorate
3 years ago:   Layered Panna Cotta and Dave's New Puppy
5 years ago:   Tazlina Wedding
7 years ago:   Lemon Bars

August 19, 2020   Sunrise 5:52 am  Sunset 9:53 pm  Temp. H 72/L 50°F

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