Monday, January 16, 2017

15 January 2017

What a difference a week makes. Last weekend, we were salting and shoveling the snow and ice off of our back drive. This weekend, we were hiking in shorts and enjoying temperatures in the upper seventies. I have a feeling our weather will continue to be fickle, so we must be ready to adapt to what comes our way, just like the other parts of our lives.

In addition to the unpredictable weather, we also had a full moon last week. I am convinced this phenomena must have contributed to some of the nuttiness. We were very busy at Grant Design Collaborative, and some of our clients seemed a bit unorganized. However, we simply wrote it off to the usual new year madness, but then the craziness extended to the City of Canton as well. After days of clearing roads of snow and ice and responding to weather-related incidents, we had to deal with a major water main break and two contractors who struck another water line in Great Sky and a gas line off of North Street. As usual, our City Manager, Billy Peppers, and our staff were very responsive in resolving these matters, and I hope things will go a little smoother this week – now that the full moon has waned.

In spite of a crazy week, the Spring like weather offered a nice respite over the weekend. On Sunday, we were invited to a brunch at the home of our friends, Meghan and Ryan Quinlan. In addition to the delicious food, we were treated to some quality time with their handsome new son, Nolan. After a hectic holiday season and busy start to the new year, it was wonderful to spend time catching up with friends. After indulging in a hearty frittata and French toast casserole, we decided to take a long hike to walk off some of the calories. We ventured over to Boling Park to hike along the Etowah River on the trails built and maintained by the Boy Scouts. While we encountered several others enjoying the trails, I think they are a well kept secret. They are very natural and some are more strenuous than others, but they all are very enjoyable and well marked. The trails begin at the entrance closest to the picnic pavilion in the very back corner of Boling, just to the right and up the hill from the gate. Once on the trail, it is very well marked along the way by paint on the trees, and various paths are color-coded for reference. We primarily stuck with the white trail which meanders along the Etowah River, and it is really beautiful.

After walking off some of our brunch, I decided to prepare a scaled-down Sunday Supper for Jeff and me. I had made a cauliflower gratin to take to brunch and had enough ingredients left to make another, so I had an opportunity to change the recipe a bit. I added some garlic and extra cheese to the dish, and it really made a difference. If you are craving baked macaroni and cheese but want something a little healthier, this dish really hits the spot. To accompany the gratin, I marinated some chicken in garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and rosemary for around 45 minutes. I then pounded the boneless breasts slightly and lightly coated them with flour. I sauteed the chicken for 2 minutes on each side in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and set them aside. I then sauteed some mushrooms in the same pan with some white wine, thyme, and lemon juice for around 5 minutes, and I poured the mushrooms over the chicken to serve. It was simple, healthy and very tasty. For color, I also sliced some organic cabbage in very thin strips and sauteed it in a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. I love cooking cabbage this way. It is very easy and healthy.

So, I hope you also enjoyed a weekend filled with warm weather, friendship, great food and a couple of awesome football games! I was excited to see the Falcons Rise Up to defeat the Seahawks, and I am very excited about the possibility of preparing a very special Atlanta-themed Superbowl Sunday Supper in the very near future.

The Menu:

- Lemon and Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms

- Cauliflower Gratin

- Sauteed Cabbage

The Recipe – Cauliflower Gratin


1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole or 2% milk, heated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere or sharp white cheddar
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Steam the cauliflower florets in a steamer basket over a large pot of boiling water for 4-5 minutes until tender but still firm.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the garlic and saute for 30 sec to 1 minute until fragrant. Add the flour, whisking constantly for 2 minutes to avoid a raw taste. Pour the hot milk into the flour mixture, and stir until it comes to a slight boil, whisking constantly for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt or more to taste, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyere, and 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano.

Butter a 11 by 2-inch casserole dish, and pour 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom. Place the drained cauliflower on top of the sauce, and pour the rest of the sauce evenly over the top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano and sprinkle evenly over the top of the gratin. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and drizzle it over the top. Sprinkle with course salt and ground pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let gratin stand 5 minutes before serving.

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