Old-fashioned Cauliflower with Onion Sauce

cauliflower with onion sauce in green bowl

Cauliflower is a delightful fall vegetable, so I was pleased when I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Cauliflower with Onion Sauce. This dish contains cauliflower florets smothered with a rich and creamy sauce made with cream and onion puree. It is then topped with lightly toasted bread cubes.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Cauliflower with Onion Sauce
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

Making the sauteed bread cubes brought back warm memories of my mother in law. She often sauteed bread cubes to lightly toast them when making a topping for casseroles or other dishes. I generally go the easier route when making a bread topping, and use fine bread crumbs and skip sauteing them. But I really liked the larger sauteed bread cubes in this dish, and may have to make them again to top other dishes.

I couldn’t bring myself to use Crisco when I sauteed the bread cubes and instead used butter.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 large onions

1 cup cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg yolk, beaten

1 head cauliflower

1 slice bread

1 teaspoon butter

Onion Sauce

Remove outer layer from onions, slice and place in a saucepan. Cover with water, and using high heat bring to a boil.  Reduce and cook until tender about 15 minutes. Drain, then press through a sieve or puree (I used a Foley mill.) Combine onion puree, cream , salt, pepper, and egg yolk in a saucepan. Using medium heat, heat until the sauce thickens and is on the verge of boiling. Remove from heat.

Cauliflower

Cut the florets from the head of cauliflower. Place in a saucepan, and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until tender (about 8 -10 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.

Bread Cubes

Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Melt butter in small skillet using medium heat, add bread crumbs. Gently stir occasionally until lightly browned. Remove from heat.

To Serve

Place cauliflower in serving dish. Pour onion sauce over the cauliflower, then sprinkle with sauteed bread crumbs.

Hundred-Year-Old Cauliflower au Gratin Recipe

Cauliflower au Gratin 1

Every week when I go to the farmers’ market I mull over which vegetables to purchase. Sometimes I have a recipe in mind and look for specific vegetables – other times I reverse the process and look for the highest-quality freshest vegetables I can find, and then I search for a recipe. This week was one of the latter weeks. The cauliflower looked perfect, and I just couldn’t  resist buying a head.

When I searched for cauliflower recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks, I came across a recipe for Cauliflower au Gratin and decided to give it a try.

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

The Cauliflower au Gratin turned out perfectly. The cauliflower was embedded in a creamy white sauce, co-mingled with rich melted cheese from the cheese topping. I put the cauliflower in a casserole dish instead of using the individual ramekins called for in the old recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cauliflower au Gratin

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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approximately 3 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (1 head of cauliflower)

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1.2 cup milk

2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Put the cauliflower florets into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until florets are tender (about 5 minutes). Drain well.

Meanwhile, in another pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour and salt. Gradually, add the milk while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the white sauce thickens. Gently stir in the cooked cauliflower, and remove from heat.

Place the cauliflower mixture into a 1 quart casserole dish,  and sprinkle with the shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Bake until hot and bubbly (about 15 minutes).

Old-fashioned Silky Cauliflower Soup Recipe

Silky Cauliflower Soup

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to lose a few pounds. I’m trying to eat healthy (and January is the perfect time for soup), so I looked through my hundred year-old cookbooks for a soup that was light yet rich and tasty. I wasn’t sure it was possible to find a soup that met my criteria, but I think that I came up with a soup that fits the bill.

I found a recipe for Cauliflower Soup in Lowney’s Cook Book (1912). This milk-based soup is a very smooth, strained soup—and not very thick; so I think that today it would be considered a “silky” soup.

This Silky Cauliflower Soup is lovely, and has a surprisingly subtle cauliflower taste. The soup will warm you up on a cold winter day–plus, it’s light enough that you don’t need to feel guilty.

Here’s my updated version of the recipe for modern cooks:

Silky Cauliflower Soup

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 medium head cauliflower, coarsely chopped

water

4 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup chopped onion

4 tablespoons flour

4 cups water

1 egg yolk, beaten

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Put chopped cauliflower in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain cooked cauliflower and puree in a blender or food processor.

In the meantime, melt butter in a large saucepan; then add the chopped onions and saute until tender. Stir in the flour, and slowly add 3 cups water while stirring constantly. Stir the egg yolk into the remaining 1 cup water; and then add the egg and water mixture to contents of the large sauce pan while continuing to stir constantly. Add the pureed cauliflower, salt, and pepper to the mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and strain. Return the liquid to the pan and stir in the milk. Heat until hot, then stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)