carlsbad greens

True southern collard greens—a must for the New Year’s Day dinner—is made with fatty smoked ham hocks to which oil is added at the end to add texture. My recipe uses lean ham and no oil, and permits use of either collard, mustard, or turnip greens, and is much more readily made.

  • 1 tsp <butter>
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup turkey ham, in ½” cubes
  • 1 lb frozen chopped greens: collard, mustard, or turnip
  • ¼ tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 low-salt chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp <sugar>
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • <salt>, to taste

In a stockpot, use the <butter> to sweat the onion and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, and bring to a gentle boil. Let boil for the time recommended on the greens package. Pour off excess liquid into another pot and reduce at high heat to half volume. Add back into the pot of greens. Serve hot.

cauliflower gratiné

The Azul Restaurant in La Jolla, CA, has window seats revealing what seems to be about 270° of the La Jolla cove and a menu that has never ceased to please our palates whenever we have eaten there. Once I ordered Cauliflower Gratiné as a side dish and I must say it was outstanding. Maybe it was because they used real butter and real cream and real salt, and lots of it.

But when I make it at home, of course, I have to omit those ingredients in favor of healthier alternatives. To tell the truth, I am beginning to like mine better because I have at last become accustomed to the taste of my alternative style after so many years of practice.

  • 1 head cauliflower, sliced 3/8”
  • 4 tbsp light unsalted <butter>
  • 3 tbsp gravy flour
  • 2 cups nonfat half and half cream, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¾ cup Swiss cheese, in ¼: dice
  • ½ cup Asiago cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup lower G. I. flour tortilla crumbs

Blanch the cauliflower in boiling water 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Make the sauce using the ingredients, in the order listed, up to the tortilla crumbs. Add the flour to the <butter>, mix thoroughly and heat to make a blond roux. Slowly add the cream, whisking rapidly all the while. Add the pepper, nutmeg, and cheeses, continuing to whisk to incorporate all the ingredients. Stop when the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Layer the cauliflower and sauce in an ovenproof dish, top with the crumbs, and bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top begins to brown.

Serve immediately.