I used to hate cauliflower full-stop. I hated Cauliflower Cheese mainly because, as a semi-veggie, I was fed-up of being served it as the vegetarian alternative at Christmas lunch work functions. And secondly, because my Mum over-cooked it. Soggy cauli is revolting. But now it is one of my most-oft chosen comfort food dishes for winter. Why? We’ve jazzed it up! The recipe is ours and is very much a ‘chuck-in what you have’ sort of arrangement. Serves two hungry people. cauliflower
two large handfuls of flavourful mushrooms
For the sauce:-
1 pint any milk [I often use 50/50 skimmed/soya]
4oz any strong hard cheese [I used manchego and parmesan]
1-2 tbsps plain flour
1-2 tsps strong English mustard powder
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
First prepare the cauliflower by removing the core and outer leaves. Cut into florets, and par-cook in boiling water until almost tender. Drain, rinse with cold water to halt the cooking process, and drain again. It is important to leave the cauliflower at this stage to drain in a colander, otherwise the finished dish will be watery.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to around 200C/400F/Gas6. Lightly grease a large baking dish and set on a baking tray to catch any drips when it’s in the oven.
Chop and slice the onions. Prepare the mushrooms by cleaning off any dirt with a piece of kitchen towel, do not rinse them as it turns them into disgusting sponges. Slice or quarter, whichever you prefer.
In a large frying pan, add a generous slug of olive oil to the pan and bring to a medium heat. First fry the onions, gently, until golden brown. This may take 20-30 minutes. Layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Wipe out the frying pan with a piece of kitchen towel, to remove any remaining pieces of onion which may burn.
Put the pan back on the heat, add more oil, and fry the mushrooms until golden brown. Layer on top of the onions. Pile the cooled cauliflower on top of the mushrooms. Next, make the sauce which I make as my mother taught me [so nothing is measured, sorry!]. First prepare the cheese, cut into chunks and grate in a food processor. Set aside 2-3 tbsps to sprinkle on top later. Measure out the margarine, flour, mustard and milk. Gently heat a medium saucepan and melt the margarine, remove from the heat and stir in the flour and mustard. With a spatula or wooden spoon, mix the margarine, flour and mustard until well-combined and smooth. Turn the heat on and wait for 1-2 minutes until the roux starts to gently bubble. Now add the milk, a little at first, stirring all the while to break down lumps. Once the mixture is blending easily, add the rest of the milk. Now bring this to the boil, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking to the pan. Allow it to simmer for 5 minutes, still stirring occasionally, until it thickens. Add the pepper, and cheese. Stir until thoroughly combined. Check seasoning. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower. The dish can be made to this stage, and baked later. Simply cover it and set aside, once it is cooled it can be put in the fridge. When you are ready to eat, sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Place the dish in the hot oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is brown and bubbling.
5 to remember
una coliflor – a cauliflower
detesto [algo] – I hate [something]
coliflor gratinado con queso – cauliflower cheese
alternativa – alternative
empapado/a – soggy