It’s happened……….. The time of year that I dread but also secretly love, we have gone back to GMT. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly it goes dark, and that first night of the “Extra Hour” makes you oh so tired……..
I don’t like the dark much, the coldness, the dampness, the fact my kitchen floor really returns to being a Muddy Kitchen Floor once again – continuous cleaning of dog prints……. But I love the cold smell in the air, the slightly foggy, crispy mornings, the constant threat of frost and the colours of the trees. Amazing………
It also comes with the excuse of breaking out the comfort food. After a summer of “Healthy Eating” the crisp salads, the experiments in juicing, the light and fluffy sponges (or even the Tequilla and Lime Cake experiment), we can now start enjoying hearty pies, healthy stews, lovely in season root vegetables and dishes with melted cheese on them.
My favourite, which I always try to improve on, is Cauliflower cheese. Perfect as a side dish along with a hearty roast, but just as Dreamily Delicious on its own. A big steaming bowl of vegetable, dripping with cheese sauce and that ever so crunchy topping.
Here is my recipe for a great Cauliflower Cheese……..
Take a large Cauliflower, remove the leaves and split into florrets
Place in a pan of slightly salted water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
Put the oven on to Gas Mark 6 or 200c if using electric
Butter a large roasting dish
Make your cheese sauce by taking a large tablespoon of pure butter and melt slowly in a saucepan. When fully melted and slightly bubbling away, add 1 tablespoon of plain flour. Stir in until you get a thick gloopy yellow paste turn the heat up ever so slightly and cook the flour off in the butter for at least 2 minutes, constantly stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. This will make sure you dont get a floury taste in the finished product.
Now take about 600ml of double cream and add about 200ml at a time, stirring with each addition. When you first add the cream the mixture will go really lumpy, DONT PANIC it will come right.
Once all the cream is added you should have a really thick basic white sauce. Add a little milk to thin slightly if needed, then add a really generous handful of grated cheese.
Use a really strong extra mature cheese. Don’t be tempted to add a mild cheese, use the stuff that almost tastes salty when eaten in slices. You know the stuff, that tongue fizzing mature goodness……
Keep stirring until the most of the cheese has melted, but you can still see some lumps of cheese in there.
By now your cauliflower has had its 10 minutes, drain and place into the buttered baking dish, pour over the cheesy sauce and then be a devil and go grate some more cheese for the topping. Another generous handful, dumped mainly in the middle, but a few strands out to the edges, and then leave to cool slightly before the next stage.
The reason I leave it to cool, is to allow the cheese sauce to set slightly before baking, and also as it’s at this stage we add a small handful of Panko Breadcrumbs, it really is worth buying these large white Japanese breadcrumbs, and then a sprinkle of sea salt on top of them.
Now, put the dish in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. My suggestion, if you have a glass pane in your oven door, sit and watch as the cheese melts down, the breadcrumbs and salt catch and turn a delicious golden and the sauce begins to bubble.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Stand back and admire your efforts…… then break through that delicious crunchy crust and eat.
You could add some mustard to the cheese sauce for a depth of flavour, or even some dried red chili flakes for some exotic heat, but before you attempt some variations, just make this plain one and remember just how good it tastes.
***** Disclaimer – Muddy Kitchen Floor will not be held responsible for the amount of calories you are about to consume******