Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower Cheese – Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself!

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Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Cauliflower has become a bit of a super-food in recent times. It’s the go-to vegetable for many a health conscious type. Cauliflower rice, roasted cauliflower etc. If you’re trying to reduce your carbs and be a bit healthier, it’s the veg for you. This recipe then, probably isn’t. This takes a healthy vegetable and covers it in a thick cheese sauce. And then smothers it in some more cheese. Healthy? Probably not. Delicious? Hell yeah!

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

I’ve been making this particular cauliflower cheese for many years now. The original recipe came from Delicious magazine. It’s not as straight forward a cheese sauce as my macaroni cheese, but it’s worth the extra effort (which is still fairly minimal – I’m not keen on effort).

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
500ml (1 pint) of milk
2 cloves
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
75g butter
50g plain flour
200g cheddar cheese, grated

1. Break your cauliflower up into florets of similar size (not too big).

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com2. Place the florets in a microwaveable dish, add a couple tablespoons of water, and cook on full power for 8-10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through. It needs to be pretty much cooked since although you’ll be putting it in the oven later, I find it doesn’t really cook the cauliflower much more.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

If you don’t want to microwave it just pop the cauliflower in a pan of boiling water and cook until done (similar time).

3. Drain and leave the cauliflower uncovered to dry whilst you make the cheese sauce – this is important because you don’t want soggy cauliflower watering down your sauce.

4. In a small saucepan add the milk, cloves, onion and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then take the pan off the heat, cover it and leave the milk to infuse for about 10 minutes.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

5. Preheat your oven to 170°C (fan) / 325°F.

6. In a separate pan, over a medium low heat, melt the butter.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

7. Add the flour and stir through. Cook for a few minutes (to cook the flour).

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

8. Strain the hot infused milk (through a sieve) into the butter/flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Over a low heat, stir the sauce with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens. This won’t take long because the milk was hot when added.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

9. Season with a little white pepper.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

10. Add the grated cheese, leaving a little to top the dish. Stir through until fully melted.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

11. Place the cauliflower in an ovenproof dish (I usually just use the dish I microwaved it in, but I was going for pretty pictures here so changed dishes). Pour over the cheese sauce so that every floret is covered, then top with the remaining grated cheese.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

12. Place on a tray in the oven (there’s a good chance it will bubble over the edge so the tray will save you cleaning your oven) and cook for 25-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the melted cheese is lovely and golden.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

13. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes to let it all come together. Then serve.

This cauliflower cheese is gorgeous served with roast gammon, or roast lamb. It’s equally good served with sausages for a simple meal. Or just serve it as the main dish. It’s that good. Whatever you do, give it a go and let me know what you think 🙂

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

Cheesy Tatties – A Perfect Side Dish

Cheesy tatties are the perfect side dish to so many meals. Pair them with slow cooked gammon, thick pork sausages, or eat them just as they are. Cheesy, homely, comforting food. Yum!

Ok, I’ll admit, hands up, the title is ever so slightly misleading. I’m not lying to you when I say that Cheesy Tatties are a fantastic side dish, perfect for ham, sausages, all manner of meaty mains. You could even just have a plate of cheesy tatties by itself. Delicious. This is my Mum’s recipe and I was brought up loving this dish. It’s homely, it’s tasty, and best of all? It’s so friggin’ easy!

However. This falls into the ‘children trap’. I made this dish to go with a lovely slow-cooked gammon as Sunday dinner recently. I figured, regards the kids, what’s not to like? Potatoes? Good. Cheese? Good. Surely a winner??

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Ha. Another occasion in which I was seriously duped and the old ‘mealtime lottery’ came into play. None of them ate it. None. Nadda. Not one *sad face*. How could I have gotten this so wrong? How? How I ask you? But then I remembered. I was dealing with children. I’m sure they see it as their duty to keep you guessing. To change their minds as often as they change their socks. To majorly piss you off.

Ingredients

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1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced or diced
∼ 4 large potatoes, sliced 
150g cheese, grated
3/4 pint of stock

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and cook until soft and golden brown. This is pretty much all the cooking you do for this dish. You can either dice or slice your onion. I was serving this to the kids so I diced it (for all the good it did me).

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2. Butter/oil a large ovenproof dish.

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3. Start to layer up in the dish: potato slices; onion; a little seasoning; cheese. Do this three times (or until you’ve used up all of your ingredients). Once finished layering, pour the stock over the potatoes. Because I was serving this with gammon, I used ham stock. But you could use vegetable/chicken/beef stock, whatever you fancy and that suits your meal.

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4. Cover your dish with foil and pop this into a preheated oven, 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 for 90 minutes, then remove the foil and return to the oven uncovered for 30 minutes. The potatoes should be soft and the topping should be browned and slightly crispy – admittedly the topping of mine was very crispy. Ahem.

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So it may not be my ‘perfect’ side dish, if two thirds of the family won’t eat it. But I won’t be put off. And they’ll be getting cheesy tatties again. Just don’t tell them.

Happy cooking!

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