Cauliflower Cheese Bake

It’s cauliflower mayhem at my parents’ house at the moment, with about 10 being ready in one day! I know the poor old cauliflower tends to be cast down the list of tasty veg, however last summer my Mum invented a fab cauliflower bake that made me see the humble cauliflower in a brand new light! Now that I am an “independent adult” living in my own place I thought I’d try my own cauliflower bake for myself and my flatmate one evening which we both really enjoyed, I hope you enjoy it too 🙂

Ingredients: (serves 2 hungry people)

  • One large cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 large potatoes suitable for mashing (I use half normal and half sweet potatoes for a little extra sweetness, but it still tastes delicious with just white potatoes)
  • 1 packet of pancetta cubes (about 200-250g works wells)
  • 1 white onion
  • 1-2 large tomatoes (I only had cherry tomatoes so had to improvise!)
  • Salt & pepper
  • A handful (or two, or three…) of grated cheddar cheese

Cheese sauce:

(You can always increase the quantities of the below to make it saucier if you fancy!)

  • 500ml milk
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 50g butter
  • 100g strong cheddar, grated (I used cathedral city mmm)
  • 1tsp mustard (I used wholegrain)
  • 1tsp mixed spices or cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

Cut the cauliflower into sizeable florets and boil (in a little salt) until slightly undercooked, drain and put into a medium sized dish Cauli 1Cauli 4 In the meantime you can do the food prep of chopping up the onion, peeling the potatoes and chopping them into quarters. Cauli 2 Once this is done, put the potatoes on to boil (they should take 10-15 minutes on a medium heat). Whilst they are cooking the first thing to do is fry the onion and pancetta in a little oil until lightly brown, then leave to one side for later. Cauli 3 Now it’s cheese sauce time! But don’t forget to keep checking those potatoes! Once the potatoes are done you simply drain them, mash with a bit of butter and olive oil and leave with the lid on until later.

For the cheese sauce you firstly need to melt the butter in a saucepan, and then add the flour, whisking like a mad person whilst adding the milk bit by bit. Even if your arm feels like it’s going to fall off you need to keep whisking until the sauce starts to thicken and become smooth. Once it is at a consistency you are happy with, take it off the heat and add the cheese, mustard, spices, and a grind of salt and pepper, continuing to whisk until all combined. Cauli 5 After this, mix in the pancetta and onion, and then pour the sauce over the cauliflower in your oven dish, making sure the mixture is evenly spread. Cauli 6Cauli 7 Now you can spoon the mashed potato on top of the cauliflower cheese mixture, flattening with a fork to help make sure all little holes are covered. Cauli 9 Lay slices of tomato on top (big tomatoes work better if you have them – as you can see I did not!) Cauli 10 Then scatter another generous grating of cheese on top (along with a grind of salt and pepper) and you are ready to go! Cauli 11 Cook on the top shelf of your oven at 200 degrees celsius for 15-20 minutes until brown on top. Tuck in and enjoy! Cauli end result

The Wellington Arms

I’ve grown up with this restaurant and watched it grow into an award winning gastro pub, thanks to the wonderfully talented owners Simon (front of house) and Jason (head chef).

The Wellington Arms is a lot more special than your typical gastro pub. Lots of great little things go into making it a superb pub that I love to go to. I have visited many times before and I can see myself continuing to visit for a long while yet.

The pub is tucked away in the village of Baughurst, but this doesn’t stop people coming from far and wide for a meal there, which I suggest you must do if you haven’t been before! One thing that makes this pub so special is that there are only a handful of tables. Originally, there were only 8 tables, so you can imagine how you had to book in advance! Since then the pub has been slightly extended to allow for a few more tables and a little more space, but this has done nothing to diminish the homely country pub feeling you get when stepping inside.

The select and delicious evening menu which is chalked up on a blackboard changes daily in line with the produce Simon and Jason grow themselves. As I have my own vegetable and fruit produce and chickens at home, it makes it extra appealing to me that The Wellington Arms grows all its own fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as sourcing all meat, fish and other things as locally as possible.

Needless to say, the food is fabulous! Some of my favourites include:

  • Twice baked Marksbury Cheddar soufflé on braised leeks with a little cream & parmesan
  • Baked potato gnocchi panfried in butter with garlic, broad beans, peas, broccoli, thyme & parmesan

As mentioned before, their menu can change daily, so I have also enjoyed the gnocchi with butternut squash, walnuts, and many other glorious additions!

There isn’t one dish that I’ve tried that I can possibly fault, but in particular I love their lamb and cod dishes, as well as their (when I’m feeling very hungry) whole roast partridge with parsnip crisps, the picture for which (below) I have taken from the website:

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Puddings, as you can imagine, are also all freshly home made, including sticky toffee pudding, chocolate pudding, marmalade sponge and a selection of delicious sorbets and ice creams, served with a little home made shortbread – naughty but oh so nice! I recently went here for dinner for my birthday, and was thoughtfully presented with a candle in my sponge, so I made my parents sing happy birthday!:

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to me!

As well as eating a beautiful dinner here, Simon’s mum makes knitted tea cosies for tea pots and eggs, and you can buy jam, eggs and other wonderful produce or home made items. However I think I need to invest in a smaller teacup to go with my teapot:

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Lastly, if travelling from afar or just fancy a night away at a lovely hideaway like this, complete with glorious food, then there are three unique and stunning rooms available to stay in, you can have a look at these rooms here: http://www.thewellingtonarms.com/accommodation/

I hope you find the time to visit The Wellington Arms, as it really is a country pub gem you can’t miss out on! I’ll end with a couple more pictures from their website which demonstrate the points I have made throughout this review, hope to maybe see you there one day soon! 🙂

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