Just look at the beautiful Romanesco Cauliflower that arrived in my veggie box yesterday! Isn't that gorgeous! I am ashamed to say that although I have seen these in the shops, I have never actually cooked one before. It looks just like a bunch of little Christmas Trees all stuck together doesn't it??? So pretty!!!
Romanesco Cauliflower is just a Roman type of cauliflower. It's not really anything to be afraid of. You can cook it in the same way as you would any cauliflower or broccoli and it is especially suited to be used as a crudite as it is somewhat more tender than those other two. It's got a milder flavour as well . . . creamy and almost nutty.
I decided to make a Cauliflower Cheese with it for our lunch. It wasn't a huge one, so it was just the perfect size for the two of us and oh-so-fresh. I trimmed it well and cut it in half down the middle before steaming . . . just until the tip of a knife easily slid into it and then I made the most luxurious cheese sauce . . .
Rich and creamy . . . befitting something as royal looking as a Romanesco Cauliflower . . . using two kinds of cheese and um . . . cream.
I napped the tender Romanesco with the delicious rich and creamy sauce and then I crowned it with a buttery crumb and Gran Padano Cheese topping . . .
And then I baked it until it was browned and bubbling . . . those crumbs all crisp and golden on top . . . that sauce gilding it in rich cheesyness . . . oh my but it was some good.
We didn't need anything else . . . just a tasty plate of green and golden scrumminess. Sigh . . .
*Luxury Cauliflower Cheese*
Serves 4 as a side, 2 to 3 as a main
Tender choice pieces of cauliflower in a luxuriously rich cheese sauce with a crispy crumbed topping.
1 large cauliflower
1 litre of milk (about 4 cups)
1 large bayleaf, cracked
1 small onion, peeled
2 whole cloves
50g of butter (1/4 cup)
50g of flour (1/4 cup)
4 TBS double cream
sea salt and white pepper to taste
a grating of fresh nutmeg
8 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese (1/2 pound)
2 TBS grated Gran Padano Cheese
For the topping:
2 TBS finely grated Gran Padano cheese
1 TBS butter, melted
a couple handfuls of crackers, finely crushed
Place the milk in a saucepan along with the onion, studded with the cloves and the bayleaf. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for about 15 minutes.
Trim the cauliflower and break into florets. Place in the top of a steamer, over some boiling water, cover and steam just until the point of a knife inserts easily. Remove from the stove and carefully place into a lightly buttered gratin dish. Set aside, and keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook and stir for several minutes until golden and the flour taste has cooked out. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, holding back the onion and cloves. Allow the bay leat to go into the pan too. Cook, stirring constantly over medium low heat until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Cook on low for about 10 minutes, stirring often to help keep it from catching on the bottom. Whisk in the cheeses until they are melted and whisked in completely. Season to taste with some salt, the white pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Pour this over the cauliflower in the gratin dish.
Mix together the melted butter, Gran Padano Cheese and cracker crumbs. Sprinkle this mixture over top of the cheese sauce on the cauliflower. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling at the edges, with a lovely crisp crumbed topping. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Cooking in The Cottage today, a delicious Black Bean Soup.