monicaSPEAK

Chef Monica Pope writes about eating & cooking where your food lives

To The Top of the Class You Go, Joe! May 3, 2010

Joe's Twice-Baked Cauliflower

Green Plum Cooking School – Saturday, April 17th

After being judged on Top Chef Masters, it’s now my turn to judge.  I’ve judged two kids’ events this month:  Sharpstown High School’s Teen Iron Chef competition and Travis Elementary’s “Chef’s Night” contest.  At Travis Elementary, all grades were involved and their assignment was to make a healthy snack or meal, with extra points for those who used the most items from the school’s incredible garden or other locally-sourced ingredients.  The kids did great, surprisingly so.  Lance Fegen (from The Glass Wall in the Heights) was also one of the judges as was Scott Tycer’s wife, Annika (owners of Textile and Kraftsmen Bakery; Scott was at home nursing a basketball injury).  The garden at Travis Elementary is really wonderful and was spearheaded by our friend and Houston photographer, George Hixson.  My only wish is that the kids would have done more with the food from the garden. The kids did focus on using less than five ingredients and made healthier substitutions (like low-fat dairy, whole wheat pastas and yogurt instead of mayo), which was good.

Local Cauliflower

For today’s class, I was inspired to make one of the dishes from a student at Travis Elementary:  Joe’s Twice-Baked Cauliflower.  I loved how brave Joe was to use cauliflower and make it in a way that kids would love it (who can resist anything mac n’cheesy?).  Of course, he did a healthy version with low-fat milk and cream cheese, kind of a like a bechamel.  I autographed his recipe and gave him two thumbs up.  I’ve adapted Joe’s recipe, Pope-style:  I’m ramping it up a bit by using Cabot’s cheddar powder and the three cheeses I used in my Top Chef Master’s Quick Fire-winning grilled cheese sandwich (feta, Monterey jack and mascarpone).

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