Recipe: Cauliflower gratin

Nancy Silverton's obsessive quest for the one perfect ingredient and technique is well known. And now, thanks to "The Mozza Cookbook," you can share it too.

Written with executive chef Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreño (her partner in the Los Angeles Times Food section's Master Class series), this cookbook certainly includes the kind of restaurant set-pieces you expect. If you really want to know how to make Mozza's fabulous wild boar ragú with homemade maltagliati pasta, you can do it (provided you have a Saturday free … and a wild boar).

But what I really love about it is the tons of little tips on how to do the basics better — her sections on pizza and gelato are incredible, and the chapter on fresh pasta is one of the best around.

And while I may never cook an all-Mozza meal at home (that's what the restaurant is there for, right?), I know I'll be cooking many of the little dishes included in the book again and again. Her beet salad spiked with horseradish is just about perfect. And as a committed lover of long-cooked vegetables (and garlic), her stewed broccoli (half cup of sliced garlic) and the cauliflower gratin (10 cloves, thinly sliced), have already made it into my regular rotation.

"The Mozza Cookbook" by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreño, Alfred Knopf, $35

— Russ Parsons

Cauliflower gratinate

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling time

Servings: 4 to 6

Note: Adapted from "The Mozza Cookbook" by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreño.

1 large head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick

10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a large baking dish, preferably one nice enough to present at the table.

2. Trim and discard the cauliflower leaves, cut the florets off the core, discard the core, and cut the florets into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

3. Warm the butter, olive oil, onion, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and cook until the onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often to prevent the garlic from browning.

4. Add the cauliflower, cream and the remaining teaspoon of salt, increase the heat to high, and bring the cream to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cauliflower until it is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Pour the cauliflower through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the cream. Return the cream to the saucepan and simmer over medium heat until it reduces by one-third and becomes the consistency of thin gravy, taking care that the cream doesn't brown.

6. Return the cauliflower to the saucepan and stir gently to combine with the cream. Transfer the cauliflower and cream to the prepared baking dish, place it on a jellyroll pan to catch any spills, and bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

7. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly before serving. Serve warm.

Each of 6 servings: 376 calories; 3 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 38 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 120 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 419 mg sodium.

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