Baked Cauliflower Cheese

Amazingly cauliflowers, sprouts, broccoli, kale and cabbages not only all belong to the same genus, i.e. Brassica but they all belong to the same species, oleracea! The fact that the single species, Brassica oleracea can produce so many wildly different cultivars is a reflection of the important role these plants have in agriculture right around the world as well as the length of time that they have been under cultivation.

Initially at least there can be no doubt as to the cauliflower’s cabbagey credentials wrapped in a cocoon of heavily ribbed outer leaves, even here in this relatively young specimen where only the inner leaves remain the whole appearance shouts CABBAGE but remove these leaves and the central white mass or curd of the cauliflower is revealed. The curd as the name cauliflower suggests is the immature flower head of the plant.

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Cauliflower has a long, though not necessarily glamorous place in British cooking; those of us of a certain age will remember how, like all other vegetables, it was boiled to the point of destruction before being triumphantly served. However, when cooked sympathetically and with respect this vegetable with its unique flavour has a lot to offer and it finds its way into numerous recipes, especially Indian ones but on this occasion I am going to focus on that all time comfort food dish of cauliflower cheese. The secret to a really good cauliflower cheese is ensuring that the cauliflower does not become too wet or over cooked before adding the cheese sauce. In this recipe the soft mellow creaminess of the cheese sauce and baked cauliflower is contrasted  against the salty intensity of Smoked Black Forest ham combined with a dusting of the wonderful and too little used spice, mace (for more about mace see http://wholespice.com/blog/?p=1468).

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Baked Cauliflower Cheese and Smoked Black Forest Ham

Ingredients

Serves 2-3 as a side dish or if you prefer not to share you have a perfect warming super for one.

 1 x cauliflower medium-sized (approx 15 -20 cm in diameter)

4 x  slices of Schwarzwälder Schinken (Black Forest Smoked ham from Lidl)

olive oil

550 ml milk

1 x bay leaf

2 x cloves

50 g plain white flour

50 g butter

125 g grated cheddar (try using other cheeses that you have to hand either for the sauce and / or the topping)

ground mace (freshly grated nutmeg could also be used)

freshly ground black pepper; crush a few peppercorns in a pestle and mortar

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Here’s How

To start begin making the sauce. Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil and then remove from the heat while adding the bay leaf and cloves and set to one side so as to allow the flavours to develop.

Switch on the oven and set to 190oC (fan oven) and leave to warm up.

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Prepare the cauliflower by removing the leaves and then break the curd into roughly equally sized florets while cutting off any thick stems. Place the florets in a steamer and steam on top of wok for 5 – 10 minutes using a skewer to judge when the florets are cooked through; they should still be firm. Do not over cook. Remove the steamer from the wok and leave to cool with the lid off the steamer; this will help the cauliflower lose any excess water.

Complete making the cheese sauce by mixing the butter and flour together over a low heat to form a roux. Remove the bay leaf and cloves from the milk and gradually add all of the milk to the roux, mixing all of the time so to ensure a smooth lump free sauce. Increase the heat slightly and slowly add all but a small handful of the cheese to the sauce while continuing to stir. As the cheese melts into the sauce the mixture will become thicker and after stirring for a further minute or so the sauce should be taken off the heat.

To assemble the dish place the florets in a suitable oven proof dish and pour over the cheese sauce. Finish with a light sprinkling of mace as well as the remaining cheese and place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

At the same time place the slices of ham on a lightly oiled baking tray in the oven and cook for 5 -10 minutes until they are crisp but not burnt. When done remove the slices and place on some kitchen towel to mop up any excess fat or oil.

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Once the sauce on the cauliflower has begun to colour the dish is ready and can be removed from the oven. Pieces of the cooked ham can then be sprinkled over the cauliflower and the dish served.

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Be careful it will be extremely hot!

 Enjoy

 

 

 

 

Pasta With Love

Tagliatelle by “Pasta With Love”

Given that tomorrow is Valentines’ Day the title of this post my be regarded as a little contrived, however, the title has made itself in that it is the name of a small startup company which has been making a big impact on the farmers market scene in both Glasgow and Edinburgh ever since they first started business a little under a year ago. “Pasta With Love” is the work of a young couple, Duncan and Ness Fildes, who are clearly on a meteoric trajectory after winning a Great Taste Gold Taste Award for their linguine only three weeks after they started to trade!

“Pasta With Love” are to be found at the Mansfield Park Market in Glasgow every second and fourth Saturday each month and they also attend the markets at Queens Park, again in Glasgow as well as at Edinburgh’s Stockbridge Market. For more information visit their FaceBook page and see also Caroline von Schmalensee’s excellent article about “Pasta With Love” in her blog the “Edinburgh Foody”

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Tagliatelle with cheese sauce, tomato, mushrooms and bacon

This is a simple and quick dish packed with wonderful flavours and makes a perfect meal. For an even easier version use smoked Bavarian ham (Lidl) instead of bacon, a great taste and no need to cook it, though it is fantastic on pizzas!

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Serves 2 ready in 15 minutes.

Switch on the oven and set to 190oC, put a large pan of water, half full, on to boil, adding a glug of olive oil to the water; extra virgin (Is there any other? This will help stop the pasta sticking together once it has cooked). Wash a dozen or so freshly plucked basil leaves and 4 to 8 ripe tomatoes, depending on size, before slicing the tomatoes; crossways is best and leave to one side. Place 4 or 6 rashers of smoked bacon (pancetta or streaky bacon is fine too) in a baking tray lightly coated with olive oil and put in to the oven. Take 6 or so chestnut mushrooms, brush off any dirt and cut off the base of the stems before slicing vertically and placing in a frying pan with a good glug of oil and sauté. By this time the water for the pasta should be boiling, remove the saucepan lid and add the pasta, approximately 300g will be ample and boil for 3 to 4 minutes (4 to 5 minutes if cooking from frozen). While the pasta is cooking finish off the mushrooms by adding a dash of dark soya sauce and stir well. As soon as the pasta is ready tip it into a colander and allow to drain, covering with the saucepan lid. Return the pan to the stove and tip in 250ml of four cheese sauce (widely available from most supermarkets, alternatively make your own but we are keeping things simple!), reduce the heat to medium, tip in the pasta and mix thoroughly with the sauce. Put the plates in the oven to warm, (pasta hates cold plates!) while removing the bacon. Cut the bacon into stamp sized pieces and together with the mushrooms add to the pasta – cheese sauce mix and stir in. Take the plate from the oven and plate-up not forgetting to add the sliced tomato and basil! Season to taste and enjoy!

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Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Sloppy Omelette with a Fiery Salsa

Egg and cheese omelette with a tomato, jalapeño pepper and dry Greek style black olive salsa on toasted Ciabatta with basil, salt and pepper to taste; this simple dish is guaranteed to put a spring in your step!  The Greek style dry black olives are quite salty and work brilliantly with the tomatoes while the jalapeño peppers add a real zing to the dish; personally I don’t like my food too hot and spicy so I am always careful to remove any seeds from the peppers but that is just a matter of taste. The salsa can be made beforehand and will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, it also makes a great standalone snack served as a brushetta on slices of toasted Ciabatta and a drizzle of olive oil together with a glass or two of crisp dry white wine.

Sloppy Omelette with a Fiery Salsa

Preparation 10 minutes; Cooking time 5 minutes. Serves 2

Ingredients

Salsa

    • 8 small tomatoes (Perino tomatoes from Tesco are ideal)
    • 6 jalapeño pepper slices
    • 6 Greek style dry black olives
    • 1 desert spoon full of freshly chopped coriander leaves (optional)
    • 1 clove garlic finely chopped (optional)

Omelette

    • extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 eggs (Clarence Court, Burford Brown eggs with their rich yellow yolks are my favourite)
    • 40 g Orkney coloured cheddar (this yellow cheese adds to the already rich yellow of the egg yolks)

Accompaniments

    • bread for toasting (Ciabatta works well)
    • fresh basil
    • sea salt (Maldon)
    • black pepper (freshly ground in a pestle and mortar – try it; it is so much more pungent this way!)

Method

  1. To prepare the salsa dice the tomatoes (even using a sharp knife you will find it easier to cut the tomato with the skin side facing downwards)
  2. Take 6 or so slices of jalapeño peppers from the jar (no fingers, use chop sticks!) and remove the seeds before dicing them as well.
  3. Cut the flesh off the olives and discard the stones and finely chop.
  4. Add the chopped coriander leaves and / or finely chopped garlic if using and mix all of the ingredients. I usually do this using a large knife scooping the salsa on to the blade of the knife and turning the salsa until it is uniformly mixed.
  5. Finally place the salsa in a small bowl and set aside until required or if it is being made in advance cover and place in the refrigerator.
  6. To prepare the omelette add a glug of olive oil to a frying pan ( a 21 cm pan will be ideal) and using a paper towel wipe the oil over the inside of the pan so a to create a uniform thin-film.
  7. Place the pan on the stove over a medium heat.
  8. Meanwhile crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk (use the chop sticks that you used to get the peppers out of the jar) and pour into the frying pan and grate the cheese onto the top of the egg mix.
  9. Cut 4 slices of Ciabatta and toast and at the same time put two serving plates in the microwave to warm (2 minutes at full power will be ample)
  10. As the omelette begins to cook continually draw the edges of the omelette into the centre of the pan using a narrow (5 cm) wooden straight ended spatula.
  11. Once the plates have warmed and the toast is ready the omelette should be cooked and ready to serve; take it off the heat so that it doesn’t become over cooked and dry.
  12. Place two slices of toasted Ciabatta onto each  plate and top with omelette and a teaspoon full or two of salsa.
  13. Garnish with basil and add salt and pepper to taste

Serve and enjoy!

Copyright

All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.