Fusilli with Bacon, Gruyere, and Roasted Cauliflower

Fusilli with Bacon, Gruyere, and Roasted Cauliflower

This is a very special day for me.  Not only is this my 100th post (who knew I’d have one hundred things to talk about?) but today also marks the one-year anniversary of the aesthete and the dilettante.   To celebrate the occasion, I have created a sinful recipe using some of my favorite ingredients.  Sweet, caramelized cauliflower, applewood smoked bacon, and lots of garlic come together with creamy fontina and nutty, earthy gruyere in a dish totally worth the splurge.  And one more very important thing.  Thank you for reading.  It brings me great pleasure to share my discoveries with you.

cauliflower and onions

Fusilli with Bacon, Gruyere, and Roasted Cauliflower

serves 4

  • 1 and 1/2 heads cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch florets
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced into thin lengthwise pieces
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 ounces (3-4 slices) bacon, chopped into pieces or thin strips (Nueske’s applewood smoked is THE best if you can find it)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 8 ounces (1/2 lb) fontina cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces (1/2 lb) aged gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

  1. Place the cauliflower florets and sliced yellow onion on a baking sheet, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon) and freshly ground pepper.  Stir to coat and place in preheated oven.  Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, for 35 minutes or until caramelized and tender.  Remove from oven.
  2. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente (stopping a minute or two before package directions). Reserve 1 cup of hot pasta water before draining.
  3. While cauliflower is roasting in the oven, saute the bacon pieces in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat for 6 or 7 minutes or until crisp.
  4. Add the 4 cloves minced garlic to bacon and saute 1 more minute.
  5. Turn heat to medium-low and whisk the flour into the bacon and garlic and stir for two minutes.
  6. Gradually whisk in the cream and milk, stirring occasionally until sauce is thick, about 5 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the shredded fontina and gruyere, stirring until melted.
  8. Slowly whisk in the reserved pasta water until sauce is perfectly creamy (I used 1/2 cup, but you may need more).
  9. Season to taste with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.
  10. Stir in roasted cauliflower and onions and the hot, drained pasta.
  11. Serve in warm bowls with a good sprinkle of parsley and any crispy onion pieces left on the baking sheet.

roasted cauliflower and onions

recipe and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

apres ski

apres ski
I am in the throes of packing for a trip to Lake Tahoe.  Pro: absolutely everything going in is comfy and casual. Con: ski clothing and accoutrements are bulky as hell.  At least I’m not entertaining fantasies of getting it all in a carry on.  A Lafco Ski House candle and chocolates from our local sweet shop are also in the suitcase for our gracious hosts.  And my camera, of course.  I cannot wait to share pictures of this breathtaking place with you.

Isabel Marant sweater
$495 – net-a-porter.com

AllSaints silk tank
$58 – allsaints.com

Moncler down jacket
$955 – flannelsfashion.com

T by Alexander Wang knit pants
$295 – harveynichols.com

Sorel boots
$150 – jildorshoes.com

Judith Jack snowflake earrings
$62 – nordstrom.com

Paige Denim knit hat
$45 – backcountry.com

Ray-Ban metal aviator sunglasses
$195 – net-a-porter.com

Afternoon Snack

olate Chocolate Chip Muffins

These Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins are great little afternoon nibbles.  Extra chocolately but not too sweet, they are best served warm with a bit of raspberry jam and a glass of cold milk.  Click here for the recipe, but please make these changes: (1) increase the milk to 1 cup (2) increase oil to 2 tablespoons (3) use mini chocolate chips rather than standard size to prevent sinking in batter and reserve some for sprinkling on top  (4) my muffins baked in 18 minutes rather than the suggested 25 minutes, so check for doneness early.

To make gluten free, substitute gluten free all purpose flour for the traditional all purpose flour and whisk 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum into the dry ingredients.

photo via the aesthete and the dilettante

The Friday Five: Classic Pieces You’ll Never Regret

Five for Friday: Classic Pieces You'll Never Regret

Donna Karan silk jersey dress
$2,080 – harveynichols.com

Helmut Lang jersey dress
$140 – net-a-porter.com

J Crew polka dot silk blouse
$128 – jcrew.com

Equipment star silk blouse
$248 – intermixonline.com

Nine West leather pumps
$79 – ninewest.com

Manolo Blahnik leather pumps
$625 – barneys.com

Vintage Chanel shoulder bag
$4,110 – harveynichols.com

J.Crew Edie grand handbag
$190 – jcrew.com

You Must Make This: Slow Cooked Pork Tacos

Slow Cooked Pork Tacos

Vegetarians, avert your eyes.  This post is about tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth meaty goodness.  I knew I had to share the recipe when the first words out of my son’s mouth after one bite were, “Please tell me you made enough for leftovers!”.  It is incredibly easy – heat and time do all of the hard work in either a slow cooker or a cast iron dutch oven (I used my dutch oven).

Slow Cooked Pork Tacos

Slow Cooked Pork Tacos (adapted from a Food Network Magazine recipe)  

serves 8

  • 3 whole ancho chiles (anchos are dried poblanos and have a smoky sweet flavor)
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 chipotles in adobo (freeze the leftover chiles in a ziploc for later use)
  • 1 cup (1 small or 1/2 med) rough chopped white onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 pounds boneless, untrimmed pork shoulder, cut into chunks (ask your butcher to do this)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • corn tortillas, your favorite taco trimmings
  1. If using a cast iron dutch oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the ancho chiles and the unpeeled garlic cloves in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of water and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, or until soft.
  3. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and the skins from the garlic and place in a blender.
  4. Add chipotles, chopped onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, honey, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of salt and oregano to the blender.  Puree until smooth.
  5. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet if using a slow cooker, or directly to your dutch oven .  Heat oil over medium-high heat and add the pureed chile sauce.  Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened – about 8 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken broth and cook until slightly reduced – about 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  If using a slow cooker: add pork, cinnamon stick and bay leaves to slow cooker then pour in the sauce, cover, and cook on high for 5 hours or until tender.  If using dutch oven: add cinnamon stick, bay leaves and pork to the sauce in the dutch oven, stir, and cook covered at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes and uncovered for 30 more minutes.
  8. Remove cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and any remaining fat from pork (this will be obvious and will come off easily with a spoon).  Skim fat from top.
  9. Shred pork with two forks, stir to coat with sauce, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Warm corn tortillas in microwave covered with a damp paper towel for several seconds and serve with pork and toppings.

Slow Cooked Pork Tacos

All photos via me