Cauliflower cheese

A sharp tomato and onion salad works perfectly to cut through the richness of this old favourite, says Tom Parker Bowles
By Tom Parker Bowles
Cauliflower cheese
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

For the cauliflower cheese

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 75 g butter
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 200 g firm cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
  • 1 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder

For the salad

  • 2 tomatoes
  • ½ red onions, finely sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • red wine vinegar, for sprinkling

Method

1. For the cauliflower cheese: preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Remove the tough green leaves from the cauliflower, then break into even-sized florets. Cook in a pan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes, or until nearly tender. Drain and lay out on a folded tea towel to absorb excess moisture.

2. Combine the milk, onion, cloves and bay in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then cover and remove from the heat. Set aside to infuse for 10 minutes, then strain the milk into a jug.

3. In another saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour, making sure there are no lumps in the mixture. Cook, stirring over a low heat for a few minutes, then remove from the heat.

4. Pour in the milk, whisking vigorously until smooth and well combined. Return the pan to a low heat and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Leave to cook for a further 10 minutes over the lowest heat.

5. Stir half the cheese into the sauce, until it has melted. Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the nutmeg.

6. Place the cauliflower florets into an ovenproof dish and pour over the sauce. Mix the remaining cheese with the cayenne pepper and English mustard powder and sprinkle over the cauliflower. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

7. For the salad: slice the tomato in thin rounds and lay them on a plate. Cover with the onion and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste.

8. Spoon the cauliflower cheese onto serving plates and hand the tomato and onion salad separately, along with some bread for mopping up the juices.

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