Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brick House has been keeping me pretty busy, so there’s not been much action on here of late. I really want to keep Hand To Mouth going, but mustering the energy after early mornings and busy days is a pretty tricky. That being said, I’m going to do my level best to keep the dream alive.
Those of us living in England will have no doubt noticed that the weather of late has been (and I’m afraid there’s no other word for it) shit. Summer has properly evaded us. In fact as I write this, rain has started lashing down on the bakery roof. So at a time of year when we should be thinking about salads and light summery food, my thoughts have turned to more comforting stuff, this Italian cauliflower cheese being the perfect example.
The ingredients will answer the question as to why this version has a touch of the Italian about it, and the addition of the breadcrumbs turns it from a Vespa into a Moto Guzzi.
1 large cauliflower
400 ml milk
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
4 anchovy fillets
1/4 nutmeg, grated
salt and pepper to taste
For the topping
1 tbs flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1tbs Parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
Remove the florets from the cauliflower, discarding the dense, woody stem, and then par boil them in salted water for around 5 or 6 minutes.
Whilst this is going on, fry your anchovy fillets in butter in a separate pan until they have dissolved, and then add the flour, stirring it and cooking the resulting roux briefly over a medium heat. Add around a third of your milk, and using a whisk now, work the milk into the roux, loosening it up before adding the rest of the milk to form a white sauce.
Now add the two cheeses, and work these into the white sauce along with the nutmeg, and some salt and pepper to taste. Once this is done set aside.
After par boiling the cauli, drain and let it steam dry and cool off a bit in your colander / sieve, and then set your oven to 180 – 200c. Now make the breadcrumb mix. Chop the parsley and garlic finely, and then add to the breadcrumbs along with the grated Parmesan and chilli.
Next, transfer the cauliflower to a baking dish, arranging it so the dome of the floret is facing up, with the stem underneath. Pour the cheese sauce over the top, covering as much of the cauliflower as possible, and then cover generously with the breadcrumbs.
Stick it in the oven for around 20 – 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are a lovely golden brown.
Serve with a green salad, and a bit of bread to mop up any stray cheesy goodness.