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

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Butternut Squash, Chorizo and Asparagus Risotto

As I’m sure you can tell from my recipe archive, pasta is one of my all-time favourite dishes. I love all types of pasta in all shapes and sizes, but for me risotto is queen of them all!

What I love about risotto is that once you have mastered a basic recipe, this can then become your base to get creative – trying all kinds of different flavour combinations and ideas.

My usual risotto recipe is a spicy red pepper, chilli, tomato and pancetta, but I fancied trying something different. Hence this recipe was born! Even though this was the first time I’ve tried this particular combo, it worked a treat and was very successful with my flatmate!

Hope you enjoy it too 🙂

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 175-200g arborio rice
  • 2 white onions finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 large glass white wine
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 200-250g cubed chorizo
  • 1 small or ½ large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 bunches asparagus, cut into 1 inch long pieces, removing the woody ends
  • 50g butter
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese

Method:

Peel and cube your butternut squash and place on a large roasting tray with a covering of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a fan oven at 180 degrees celsius for 30 minutes until cooked and tender.

photo 1 (1)

Whilst the butternut squash is cooking you can start the risotto!

Put a large non-stick saucepan or frying pan on the heat to warm up whilst you finely chop your onions and garlic. Add a glug of olive oil to the pan and brown the onions, garlic and cubed chorizo for a couple of minutes.

Once nicely browned, add the risotto rice and stir constantly for another couple of minutes until the rice becomes translucent. Add the wine and stir until it’s nearly all absorbed.

At this point you need to make sure the heat is set so it’s simmering moderately (but not to vigorously!). Have your litre of vegetable stock at the ready and add one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until the majority of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle. N.B. The consistency once absorbed should be thick and sticky.

This process will take around 20-30 minutes and can be quite tough on the arm – but don’t give up, the end result is worth it!

(Test the rice after about 20 minutes to see if cooked through and soft – if it is not soft when you have used up all the stock then make up some more to add.)

Once the butternut squash is ready, add this to the risotto mixture along with the asparagus, and cook for another 5 or so minutes until the asparagus is tender.

Risotto (2)

Once you are certain all the excess liquid is absorbed and everything is fully cooked through, take the risotto off the heat and stir through the parmesan and butter, along with a generous grinding of salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly until the butter and cheese is totally melted and incorporated into the risotto.

Risotto 3

Serve in nice big pasta dishes and enjoy with a nice glass of vino! 😀 Yumbola!

Bon Appetit!

Bon Appetit!

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