Monday, November 28, 2016

Cauliflower Cheese

Today I saw a gorgeous cauliflower at the market which screamed at me, "Cauliflower cheese!" This is a classic English dish that I first had when living in London.  The dish is simply cauliflower covered with a cheese sauce and breadcrumbs and baked briefly to get a nice crunchy surface.  The taste is smooth and mild and comforting.  I like to toss in some pasta which allows for maximum usage of all the luscious sauce.  Some crusty bread to mop up the sauce would serve the same purpose.

For the sauce, I decided to use my new favorite combination of cheese, namely, cheddar, parmesan and American, which I use for my macaroni and cheese recipe.  The classic is just to use all cheddar.  I usually use whatever combination of cheeses that I have in the refrigerator at the time.

Serves 4 as a main course

1 large head of cauliflower
½ cup breadcrumbs or pankko
250 grams pasta of your choice

Cheese Sauce
About 30 grams
3 tablespoons flour
half a liter Milk
200 grams Cheddar cheese plus a handful to sprinkle over
100 grams parmesan
5 slices American cheese
A couple shakes of Worsteshire sauce
1 teaspoon Mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Take the cauliflower and cut off the dry end of the stem.  If there are any leaves still attached to the head, you can leave them on if they are nice and fresh, or cut them off if they are starting to get dried out.  Put the cauliflower whole into a big pot and fill with water at least halfway up the side of the cauliflower.  Add a generous amount of salt into the water, put on a lid and bring to a boil.  Throw the pasta into the pot. Let the cauliflower cook for the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta (around ten minutes) or until it is tender.  Using a large spoon, carefully take out the cauliflower and place into a baking dish.  Drain the pasta and pour it around the cauliflower.

While the cauliflower is cooking, make a standard white sauce.  In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add the flour.  Stir and cook for two to three minutes to get the raw taste out of the flour.  Add the milk slowly, stirring all the time until all the milk is added and there are no large lumps.  Don’t worry if there are a few small ones.  These will melt away as you stir.  Use a wire whisk if you feel the lumps aren’t going away fast enough.  Bring the milk to a boil, stirring continuously.  If you want this process to go faster, then heat the milk up before you add it to the pot.  Once the milk comes to a boil, cook it for a further two minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  If you feel it is too thick, you can add a bit more milk (or the water that the cauliflower was cooked in).  Add the cheese, the mustard, a few shakes of Worsteshire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until the cheese melts, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

Drain the cauliflower and put it in a baking dish (or use the pot that you boiled the cauliflower in, if it is oven-safe) to go into the oven.  You can either put in the cauliflower whole, which will make a nice presentation, or you can break it up into pieces, which will give you a higher crust ratio.  Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and cheese over.
Put the dish into the oven with the broiler and bake until the top is browned (about 10 minutes).
Options:  Sometimes I like to put some sliced tomatoes into this, in which case I lay the slices over the top of the cauliflower.

If you want the dish extra luscious, you can whizz up some fresh breadcrumbs, add a slug of olive oil and some fresh rosemary and throw this on top.

1 comment:

Michael Kerr said...

Good photos! And writing. I'm throwing a dinner party sat, gonna try this dish (no cameras allowed)