The Individual........servings that is!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I have a newer obsession. Individual serving-sized dishes. Look at this new Paula Deen's Best Dishes....she has caught on to my obsession, lol!

Call them ramakins, au gratins, bakers, souffle dishes or mini casseroles, I just LOVE them. Not only do I love them but they are always recieved very well when I serve them, whether to company or my family. Besides the wide array of these fun dishes available, there are some very practical reason for making individual servings. One is portion control. As someone who is always looking to lose another few pounds, it is nice having your serving already portioned temptation to have just 1 more scoop. Another reason is we're nearly empty nesters with active, working teens. Some nights I am not sure how many of us there will be for supper. If I have everything portioned up, I can freeze what we do not need for a particular meal (and have a stock of stuff in the freezer when I need something in a pinch).

The dishes can be everything from simple corningware to upscale Le Cruset. All the ones I have go from freezer to oven and are gorgeous for going right onto the table.

So what kinds of dishes lend themselves to individual servings? The obvious is casseroles type meals. I recently shared my Chicken Florentine Casserole which I serve in my orange individual chicken casseroles. Some others are quiches, pot pies, stews & stoops, sides like macaroni & cheese, scalloped potatoes and some of my low carb favorites, cauliflower gratin & creamed spinach. Anything you can divide between mutiple serving dishes and bake or freeze independantly is perfect. Mostly, comfort-style dishes and with fall right around the corner, I'll be working these sweet dishes a LOT!! Oh, and don't even get me started on individual desserts...that is another obsession, lol!

Cauliflower Gratin
(Printable Version)

To make this dish low carb, I simply omit the butter, flour and milk step and just add heavy cream instead. I also omit the bread crumb top and top with additional cheese. Very yummy!

1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan. Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Posting to the lovely Lisa's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday event! Thanks for hosting each week Lisa.