In the modern world, we are constantly bombarded with messages of healthy eating, clean eating (no phrase annoys me more!) and food fads but sometimes we all need proper comfort food. It’s a time to forget calorie counting once in a while and eat what makes you happy and cauliflower cheese is definitely one of those meals! Cauliflower cheese needs no introduction as it is exactly what it says it is- no pretention! It can be the main event or a side dish for a whole host of dishes. It also allows you to play around with a mixture of cheeses to make it as savoury as you want and cheese sauce is also a perfect way to use up any odds and ends of cheese that may be lurking in your fridge. In this recipe, I have given you the basic cheese sauce recipe that I use but feel free to add blue cheese if you like as cauliflower can stand up to the sharpness of it. Fried off cubes of pancetta are also a welcome addition!
Ingredients- serves 3-4
45g plain flour
45g unsalted butter
250ml double cream
1. Kick off by preparing the cauliflower. Clean it and cut into large florets. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and boil until the stems are just tender- it will continue to cook when it is baked so it needs a bit of texture still at this stage. Drain well and set aside while you make the sauce.
2. For the cheese sauce, use a pan and heat over a medium heat. Melt together the butter and flour to form a roux. Gradually add in the milk and cream; making sure you keep stirring to ensure that no lumps form. If any lumps start creeping in then remove the pan from the heat and whisk it like your life depends on it before returning to the heat. Continue to stir and simmer until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and add in the parmesan and season to taste.
3. Choose an ovenproof roasting dish that will fit the cauliflower in a single layer. Arrange the florets and pour over the cheese sauce. Top with grated cheddar and a little extra parmesan if you like. Bake at 200c/ 180 fan for around 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.
Cauliflower cheese- like a cheesy hug for soul!
Sri Lanka has an abundance of ingredients and spices that lend themselves to a flavourful experience. With its historical links with trade you can imagine the range of influences that it brings to the cuisine. I have kept this curry recipe simple, using limited spices to ensure that each of the flavours speak for themselves so read on and get cooking!
Ingredients- serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side
1 medium cauliflower
100g fresh or frozen shelled peas
300ml coconut milk
Fresh curry leaves
1 large white onion- chopped
1-2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 green chilli- left whole and pricked with a knife
Strands of angel hair chilli to finish (optional)
For the paste
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp black onion seeds
1 green chilli- finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1. Get going by separating the cauliflower into small florets and cutting the potatoes into bite size chunks. At this stage you can steam or boil the cauliflower and potatoes until part cooked and set aside. In the meantime make the paste by adding all the ingredients together and giving it a quick whizz in a processor or using a pestle and mortar which I prefer so you have greater control over how coarse or how smooth the paste is.
2. Take a large frying pan and heat a glug of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until softening. Throw in a few curry leaves and the whole green chilli; cook for a further couple of minutes.
3. Add the curry paste to the pan and fry off for a further minute until is begins to release its flavour. Next up the cauliflower and potato needs to go in and cook for another couple of minutes; toss the vegetables in the spice mix and try and get a bit of colour on the potatoes as they cook. Add in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until the cauliflower and potatoes are tender and the coconut has reduced down; this should take around half an hour.
Just a couple of minutes before the vegetables are ready you need to add the peas and cook these in; if using fresh you may like to quickly blanch before adding. If you prefer a more moist curry then either add a little more coconut milk and simmer it for a while longer but make sure that the vegetables don’t go soggy and overcooked. You could always lightly steam them before they get to the parboiled stage to enable this. I added a few strands of angel hair chilli which looks like saffron and gives another hit of colour to a dish rather than bringing heat so time to pretty it up!
Serve in deep bowls with flatbread on the side if you like.
Cauliflower, potato and pea curry laced with spice and the sweetness of coconut- the perfect balance!