I’ve been trying to eat low carb. I know that it’s almost boringly predictable, but for me and my PCOS body, it’s also almost perfect. Often I only have to look at a pizza base to put on half a stone (only a slight exaggeration). So, I’ve been eating low carb. And the roast on Easter Sunday seemed to be the perfect outing for a dish I’d been idly drawing up in my mind for a few weeks: the Ultimate, Perfect cauliflower cheese.
For me, cauliflower cheese for me has always been a total Coldplay of a dish. Dreary, depressing, reminds me a bit of dishwater. Has occasional flashes of brilliance in some places, but overall is pretty boringly bland. I’ll stop here with the coldplay analogy because I know people love them (WHY??!). But yes: I’ve never been a massive fan of cauliflower cheese. It’s always been too gritty, or too soggy, and there is never enough cheese.
Well, it turns out that eating low carb is the pathway to perfect cauliflower cheese, because holy moly.
Tip to reduce the cauliflower smell. I sacked off the bechamel, or indeed any flour-based sauce. And, because we’re having a bit of a Red Leicester-aissance (did that work? Probably not) in our house, cheddar got side-lined to only a bit-player. And guess what?
IT’S ONLY BLOODY AMAZING.
Seriously. This is the perfect cauliflower cheese. It’s creamy and super cheesy and has bite and a lingering savoury deliciousness that means you’ll be scraping the dish. It’s probably not something I’d recommend you eat every day (or even every week). Mainly because the fat content probably renders the actual cauliflower-goodness useless. But, as a treat, it’s…well.
THE ULTIMATE, PERFECT CAULIFLOWER CHEESE
- 2 small/medium heads of cauliflower (or 1 1/2 large), florets split down to just slightly bigger than bite-size
- 2 bay leaves
- 200g cream cheese (any fat level you wish, really)
- 200ml sour cream
- 100ml double cream
- pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp English Mustard powder
- 100g mature cheddar, grated
- 250g Red Leicester, grated
- salt & pepper to season
- Put the cauliflower and bay leaves into a large pan and cover with cold water. Add 1/2 tsp salt and bring to the boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then drain. Tip the cauliflower back into the pan and cover with new cold water. Leave for 30 seconds, then drain again and leave to dry. Preheat the oven to 180C.
- In the same pan used for the cauliflower, tip the cream cheese and sour cream and place over a low heat. Stir until melted to a thick liquid. Add the double cream, nutmeg, English Mustard powder, and seasoning. Stir through, then tip in the cheeses. Increase the heat to medium and stir constantly until the cheeses are fully melted into the sauce. At this point, if it looks like there won’t be enough sauce, add some more double cream.
- Tip the cauliflower into a roasting tin and pour the sauce over. Bake in the oven for 20-30 mins until the sauce is golden brown and crisping on top. Serve alongside any roast, or to be fair even by itself.
I can see this also being delicious with added broccoli, or pretty much any other vegetable. I’ve tried it once again since with leeks, and yep: still awesome. There’s just something about that orange, creamy sauce. And the perfectly-cooked cauliflower. Oh boy. Try it.