The cookie house

Monday, December 26, 2016
Three cousins
Yesterday was a wonderful Christmas day. After gathering around the tree for gifts in the morning, we attended church with mixed feelings, as we bade farewell to our senior minister and organist, both of whom are retiring after 23 years with the congregation. The girls have grown up in the Sunday School and youth choir, and it's been home to our family since we joined 19 years ago. We're sad to see Mark and John leave, but we look forward to welcoming our new senior minister, Maya, in January.

In the afternoon, we visited my sister Gwen and her family, who hosted Christmas dinner this year. The meal was fantastic, but the highlight was the cookie house that my mom has made every year since I was a kid.  It's a part of the holidays my kids can't imagine being without, and they're still happy to pose with the cookie house on Christmas day. 

Today's recipe can't compete with a cookie house! But this kale and cauliflower gratin is a terrific side dish for holiday meals. Served with a salad, it would make a complete vegetarian meal. 

Wishing all my readers a happy Christmas season, and much joy in 2017.

Cauliflower Kale Gratin
(slightly adapted from Goodness, by Peter Neal and Chris Neal)

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2” to 2” florets
1 1/2 cups kale, stems removed and leaves sliced into 1/2 inch ribbons
2 Tbsp butter (first amount)
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup skim (fat-free) milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions, green part only
1/2 tsp kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (second amount)
20 square (2-inch) saltine crackers

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish.

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook cauliflower 5 minutes. Add kale, stir well, and cook another 2 minutes. Using a colander, drain cauliflower and kale and transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Whisk in flour to create a roux, then add milk in a slow stream, constantly whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and stir until thickened.

Remove milk mixture from heat and add cheese, green onions, salt and paper, whisking until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over cooked vegetables and stir gently to combine. Set aside.

Coarsely crumble crackers into a bowl. In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Pour over crumbs and toss to coat.

Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over vegetables. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Cousins at the Cookie House, December 2001

Decorating the Cookie House with Gwen when we were kids


Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

My mom used to make gingerbread houses, too. We were so excited when she bought the candy used to decorate. Your mom's version is gorgeous!!! It looks like you had a wonderful celebration!

Angie's Recipes said...

I have never made a gingerbread house! I love your mom's version with cookies and chocolate. That kale gratin looks super duper delicious with that crumb topping!
Happy New Year to you and your family, Beth!

Gloria Baker said...

Absolutely love this cookie house but I love so much cauliflowers!!
Merry Christmas Beth !!!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the cookie house! And the gratin sounds so good. Cauliflower is one of my favourites :)
Glad you had a great Christmas - wishing you and yours all the best in the new year :)

That Girl said...

What a sweet tradition

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

What a wonderful tradition, love the adorable cookie house! Happy Holidays to you and your family Beth.

Cakelaw said...

Gorgeous cookie house!! It sounds as if you all enjoyed a marvellous Christmas Day. I also love the old photos with the cookie house.

Monica said...

Happy Holidays, Beth! I love, love that cookie house of your mom's. What a sweet tradition! It does steal the show but that cauliflower kale grain looks delicious!

grace said...

well, given the choice between a cauliflower gratin and a cookie house bedecked with chocolate, it's pretty obvious which i'd choose. both look great though. :)

Unknown said...

Beth, the cookie house look absolutely pretty and delicious. What a lovely tradition. Happy holidays, and specially a New Year full of creativity, and lots of happy times!! :)


Marcelle said...

This gratin sounds delicious and healthy! I can't wait to try it, Beth. Love the sweet pictures of your girls and their gingerbread houses. Happy holidays to you and your family!!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

What wonderful family traditions. And the old photos are precious! Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Sounds like you had a lovely Christmas. Wishing you all the best in the New Year.

DMS said...

The cookie house tradition sounds like a lot of fun. Glad to hear that your holidays were going well and I hope the rest of the week was just as fun. The Cauliflower Kale Gratin is something I have to make. My mouth is watering already. :)

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017.

Unknown said...

That cookie house looks great. I really like the sound of the cauliflower and kale together too.

Kayte said...

Love the photos of then and cute. And I would love to have a cookie house tradition! It's probably too late now but maybe if I have grandchildren one day! Sounds like you had a lovely holiday. xo

Kitchen Riffs said...

I love veggie gratins like that! And this looks excellent. Happy New Year!

Unknown said...

Lovely pictures and what a great sounding cauliflower casserole!

Katerina said...

I love gratins and especially if they have vegetables. I often make one with broccoli and it is the only way my son eats it. Happy New Year to you and your family Beth!

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