Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 5, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: cauliflower cheese

If you like rich, creamy, cheese dishes, this is for you. It’s an innocent vegetable excuse for dressing up cheese with cream. It is not made with flour or milk or anything else: it has three ingredients. Cauliflower, cheese, and cream.

This recipe is stolen from M. F. K. Fisher, one of America’s finest cooks ever.

However, the essence of cookery writing is theft, so I’m not about to acknowledge my debt to her further.

You need a cauliflower, and a casserole dish, and some cheese, and cream. Wholegrain mustard is also good – this is a family dodge, I’ll explain later.

Grease the casserole dish.

Cut the leaves off the cauliflower, and chop it into small pieces. Do not put it through a food processor. You must have a sharp knife and a flat surface somewhere in the kitchen. Pretend you’re a mad scientist and this is your newest brain and just chop it.

How much cheese you want depends on the size of the cauliflower. Let us suppose you have chopped a cauliflower big enough that all the pieces fill a 2-pint casserole dish almost to the top. Grate 4 ounces (or 100g) of cheese, and mix the cauliflower pieces with the cheese: and put the cauliflower/cheese mix into the casserole dish. (And for this amount, you just need a small pot of single cream.) You can add more cheese, of course. (I made this once for a friend in Belgium, where I added five different locally-made hard cheeses, and it was so good my mouth fell in love with me all over again. I say nothing of my friend’s reaction. She’s married. )

While not essential, adding a spoonful of mustard to the mix will make the flavour of the cheese more intense – you won’t really taste the mustard, in these proportions, you’ll just taste the cheese more. This is a family dodge that comes down from my great-grandmother, and before her from the Mists of Time as far as I know, though – she was from Fife – it’s just possible this is something that everyone in Fife knows, but only my great-grandmother escaped with the secret. This dodge – adding a bit of mustard to a cheese dish – works for any kind of dish where cheese is the main flavouring. Try it.

Pour the cream over the cauliflower/cheese mix. Grate a little bit more cheese and sprinkle it over the top.

(In the UK, you can buy cream as single, double, whipping, or clotted, with “extra thick” variants. I use single cream (18% butterfat) to make this dish.)

Bake in a hot oven for half an hour. If the cheese on top isn’t browned, put it under the grill for 10 minutes more.

This is a very rich dish – and fairly obviously, it tastes better the better the cheese is. Enjoy, but I suggest cautious amounts rather than lavish – I love this, but I love it best in small quantities served with a very sharp salad.

Don’t even try to make this low-fat. If you must attempt to make some version of this with vegan excuses for cheese, don’t tell me about it. (If you’re vegan, I support you and honour you – all but those vegan scheeses. Uck.)

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