Cauliflower Cheese

By Guest Chef: Harvey Pincis

 

This is a dish that really need not be bland at all and cauliflower is very, very nutritious. It is also ridiculously easy to prepare and cook, a situation that happened chez Pincis the other evening when my better half wanted to eat something easy, but satisfying. Depending on the nuts and cheese used, it can also be very economical. Even if one goes down the Raclette route for the cheese and one uses pine nuts, it is still a decent meal for four people.

 

Recipe:

 

  • 1 cauliflower (or can be 50-50 cauliflower and broccoli)
  • A couple of rashers of beef or veal bacon, fatty pieces are preferable. (optional)
  • A handful of golden or green raisins (or both)
  • A handful of pine nuts and slivers of almonds. Cashews can also be used.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A pinch of garlic powder
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Dijon mustard – anything from one teaspoon to a desert spoon, depending on anyone’s love of mustard.
  • Cheese – Raclette is the favoured cheese, but mousetrap can work as well or even a blend of cheeses.

 

Method:

 

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4

 

  • Steam the cauliflower and/or broccoli (they are the same family and broccoli will ad some green colour) until a bit tender – we are not making cauliflower soup, though that could possibly be a future delicious subject.

 

  • Cut the beef bacon rashers into small pieces – like lardoons. Vegetarians will wish to skip this step. For the omnivores among us adding these ‘lardons’ and nuts add something when cooking Brussels sprouts, a vegetable that seems to be a chore to eat for so many people, yet both seasonal and again, high in nutrition. Thanksgiving and Christmas are both on their way, so possibly food for thought to make them more acceptable to the palate. 

 

  • As the ‘lardons’ crisp up, throw in nuts to toast and before they catch, scatter in the oven dish with some raisins.

 

  • Add the cauliflower and/or cauliflower/broccoli to the dish and season with salt, pepper and garlic.

 

  • Make a roux. In a frying pan, melt butter and add some flour, as the flour turns colour to light brown add milk to make the mixture semi-liquid. Then add the cheese in small pieces to melt. Adding some mustard, seeded Dijon is my personal favourite, but as this is not the Tablets of Moses, so if anyone has a preferred mustard, enjoy. In any case seasoning is a very personal thing and the aim is, of course to enjoy. If the mixture gets too thick, keep the milk on hand to keep its liquidity. It should not be watery or solid! Keep just a nice balance.

 

  • Once the sauce is prepared, pour over the cauliflower. Dust some cayenne pepper over and garnish with a few nuts and raisins.

 

  • Pop in the oven for 40 minutes to 1 hour. The result should have some colour – but not burnt offerings. 
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