Jarod is my other half, from South Australia via Sydney. The word that sums up our relationship is synchronicity. We met by fluke, online, with a 30 second window. He won my heart with his humour; I won his with a chicken salad.
Over the 4+ years of our relationship we’ve travelled the world, been spoilt rotten but above all we have had a bloody good laugh. At the centre of it all has been food – Christmas Day lobsters in Brazil, turkey and all the Christmas trimmings in the UK and countless meals at The Orange Pub in Pimlico – our local but also a favourite for their great food, great staff and great service.
This recipe came about because Jarod saw a cauliflower he liked the look of (no seriously) and he had to have it. I suggested the below – it’s traditional, unctuous and with a hint of fieriness.
Music to listen to while preparing this dish: Café del Mar Chill-out Mix September 2014
- 1 large cauliflower, cut into equal size florets (thumb-sized is good)
- 2 Bay leaves
- 500ml milk
- 4 tbsp flour
- 50g butter
- 150g Apfenzeller cheese or good strong cheddar, grated
- 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1/3 fresh nutmeg grated
- Heat your oven to 200C
- Blanche the cauliflower florets in salted water for two minutes with the bay leaves. Strain in a colander, remove the bay leaves, put back in the empty pan, double line your colander with kitchen paper and return the florets to it. This ensures your florets aren’t soggy. The bay plays two roles; it infuses a peppery warmth to the cauliflower and stops the cauliflower ponging up your house.
- Melt the butter in pan and add the flour. Cook out the flour over a medium heat for about five minutes.
- Slowly add the milk to the butter and flour mixture stirring all the time with a whisk. I really mean all the time to ensure there are no lumps. You don’t have to whisk hard, just continuously.
- Once you have a thick and glossy white sauce, remove from the heat and allow to cool for a minute.
- Add your cheese (save some to sprinkle on the dish at the end) and with your whisk stir in tot he sauce till it’s melted.
- Add the pepper and the nutmeg. it may seem a lot to add but the cauliflower can take it.
- Taste your sauce and add more cheese/pepper/nutmeg as preferred.
- Empty the florets into a lasagna style dish and pour over the sauce. Bang the dish to knockout air bubbles/to ensure the sauce gets everywhere.
- Sprinkle with the cheese you held back and place in the oven for 20 mins until the topping is golden brown.