Cauliflower Cheese

This is one of my favorite comfort foods.

Divide a small cauliflower into florets, cut any green bits from the stems, but save and chop up the stalk – important for flavor. Cover with skimmed milk, add a bay leaf and clove, and bring to a gentle simmer. When the cauliflower is tender, but has still got some bite – but not mushy, for heaven’s sake – remove the clove and bay leaf and set aside on a warm platter.

Prepare a roux/basic white sauce: melt a large knob of butter in a saucepan, heat gently, then add a careful quantity of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth paste, and cook for about two minutes. Pour in gradually a mug of warm milk and stir until the mixture blends smoothly. Then add your cheese (I usually use grated gruyere/broken blue cheese – or whatever I have to hand), beat vigorously, adding more milk until you have a nicely smooth thickly fluid sauce. At this point I stir in a spoonful of Dijon mustard along with a sprinkling of mixed herbs and coarse ground black pepper.

Pour the sauce over the cauliflower; stick it under the grill for a few minutes until it’s bubbling and slightly black. Serve with strips of crisp smoked bacon; and maybe steamed spinach.


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