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    Entries in cheese (2)


    Cauliflower Cheese

                                                         cauliflower cheese

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    I laughed out loud when I saw that this months ABC baker's challenge was cauliflower cheese, you forget we don't all have the same food experiences. To me cauliflower cheese is bog standard but lovely, old school cooking, something that could still be part of your Sunday roast or you have a distant memory of your gran's. 

    Cauliflower cheese is served mainly as a side dish, paired with a roast dinner or another protein. Cauliflower in Australia now is more often seen in curries, stuffed in flat breads like Gobi ke Parathe (YUM!!), salads, roasted, stir fries, soups, as a faux pizza base or the popular cauliflower rice but there is still a place for the classic cauliflower cheese in your repertoire. 

    supermarkets and fruit/veg shops carry the already chopped cauliflower for quick low carb cooking. 

    Baking along with a talented group of bakers that are a part of ABC (Avid Baker's Challenge), this month was 'Cauliflower Cheese' from Smitten Kitchen

    I've made the basic cauliflower cheese in individual portions with a couple of small changes to Smitten Kitchen's recipe. I also include a wasabi variation and a gluten free cauliflower and cheese soup recipe.  

    The first printed version of cauliflower cheese is in the 1861 publication of 'Beeton's Book of Household Mangement'. Where hot white sauce (Mrs. Beeton uses a sauce blanche) is poured over the cooked cauliflower, topped with grated parmesan, bread crumbs and then put under the griller (broiler/salamander) until bubbling and golden.

    The cheese sauce for the cauliflower cheese today is a Béchamel (white sauce), a sauce that is Italian in origin but now is probably more well known as one of the French mother sauces. Béchamel is the base to other sauces, add cheese like we are today and it's "Mornay sauce".

    I made buckets (literally) of Béchamel decades ago when working in seafood retail/catering, some became mornay sauce, used in seafood crepes, seafood pies, seafood bakes and goodness proving it was a long time ago seafood "vol au vents". 

    Start by preparing your cauliflower by cutting it into florets and either steaming them or boiling them. I cooked them to the "cooked but still holding shape stage", as I didn't bake the dish further as Smitten Kitchen did. 

    cauliflower florets ready for steaming

    Whilst the cauliflower was steaming, butter was melted and flour added and stirred together until flour is cooked off, 2 to 3 minutes to make the white roux.

    Milk is added and stirred continuously until thickened and hot. Grated mature cheddar cheese (tasty) was stirred in then.

    *I upped the flour used to 40 grams and reduced the butter to 50 grams. I reduced the cheese too, Smitten Kitchen uses 155 grams, I used 75 grams to be added to the sauce and 25 grams to be sprinkled on top and I used 2 cups (500ml) of 2% milk. I prefer to make the sauce thicker because you can always thin it with a little warm milk but not visa versa.  

    Time to add the seasonings. 

    Coleman's mustard strong enough to "put hairs on your chest"as nan would say.

    I added a large teaspoon of prepared English mustard, a grate of fresh nutmeg and a shake of white pepper for the seasoning. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to personal taste. 

    Cauliflower was arranged in 4 separate ramekins, then topped with the sauce, sprinkled with grated cheese and put under a hot grill (we say "grill" in Australia... it's broiler or salamander elsewhere) to gratin. Serve when bubbly and golden. 

    Change up your cheese or veg

    Change your cheese for another strong tasting cheese (be careful if using a blue cheese, you could end up with a gray coloured sauce) or if using a milder cheese pump up the flavour with more mustard or chilli and the like. Use broccoli or cauliflower and broccoli instead of plain cauli, or how about potatoes or sweet potatoes for a change? Mornay sauce matches most vegetables, adjust seasonings accordingly and if your not going for a baked or gratin finish then add a crispy finishing touch. 

    I used a wasabi cheddar for an alternative version of cauliflower cheese that I'll be serving with fish this Easter. A ittle wasabi paste was added for an extra kick. Wasabi cheddar cheese was swapped out for the mature cheddar and wasabi paste used instead of the mustard, nutmeg and white pepper. Pour the hot sauce over your cooked cauliflower, I topped with butter browned panko crumbs and wasabi sesame seeds. 

    wasabi paste

    wasabi sesame seeds 


    Ooops, I was supposed to use the black bowls my "gee this is such a yellow sauce" thought carried onto the bowls.

    Gluten free Cauliflower Cheese soup

    A simple pureed veg soup is a nice gluten free addition to your Easter feast. 


    1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets

    1 large leek or 2 medium onions, diced

    2 stick of celery diced

    I medium potato, peeled and diced 

    1.5 litres of salt reduced vegetable or chicken stock

    200 grams of grated matured cheddar cheese

    2 tablespoons olive oil 

    English mustard

    fresh nutmeg

    salt and pepper

    optional extra cheese for garnish


    In a large pot over heat the olive oil over a medium heat, and add all the cut vegetables. Stir and place a lid partially over pot, continue to cook for ten minutes. Stirring occasionally to prevent catching. 

    Add the stock and bring to the boil, reduce the heat then and simmer until veggies are soft. 

    Remove pan from heat, add the grated cheese and heaped teaspoon of English mustard and a light grating of nutmeg. Puree the soup in pot with a stick blender. If soup is too thick, thin with a little boiling water. Taste the soup, add salt and pepper to suit you and your family being mindful of what garnishes, if any, you are using. Serve the soup piping hot with extra crumbled or grated cheese and grated nutmeg. 

    Happy Baking :)  

    You might be interested in a quick and easy peach verrine 

    or make some agar agar jelly pearls


    100 percent Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf Rose's Alpha Bakers

    100% Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf 'The Baking Bible'

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    Brrrr, baby it's cold outside! It's been hailing off and on all day and rumours of snow in a nearby suburb in the hills, I say "rumoured" because we do all get excited about even one flake of snow. 

    Walnut bread toasted (grilled) aged cheddar cheese sandwiches and pumpkin soup with a hint of orange, the perfect starter to ward off winter chills. 

    100% Whole Wheat (in Australia we say wholemeal) Walnut Bread is a fabulously flavoured versatile bread, lets get started.... 

    I started by making the dough starter (sponge), wholemeal flour, water, honey and yeast are combined. To make a vegan bread swap the honey out for golden syrup.   

    The mixture is whisked to incorporate air, it will resemble a thin batter. 

    Time to make the dough now with more wholemeal flour, *gluten flour and instant yeast are sprinkled over the sponge starter forming a blanket of flour. 

    An hour later and there is bubbles bubbling up through the flour. 

    Ok better toast and break up the walnuts now, 166 grams to be exact are toasted in the oven and the then the skins are removed. 

    Shhh, I cheated and used a photo of removing walnut skin from the Stilton Cheesecake story.

    With the dough hook fitted on my mixer, dough is mixed and then rested for 20 minutes. Back to mixing now with the addition of walnut oil, salt and toasted walnut pieces before going off to rise.

    The first rise. 

    The second rise. 

    After turning out the risen dough the dough is "dimpled" using your fingertips to get rid of air bubbles. The dough is shaped and put into prepared tin (I used four small tins instead of one large) and then off to rise for the last time before baking. 

    Over half way through last rise, almost time to go into the pre heated oven. 

    Baked, cooled and it's time to eat!!  

    It's not the "prettiest" bread but boy served fresh with blue cheese and pear and it's a wonderful combination of flavours. Plus it's easy to slice thinly, like what I used in the aged cheddar cheese toasted sandwiches paired with the pumpkin soup today.

    Oh, oh, oh mini loaves would make the best hostess gift, wrap the centre of the loaf with brown or baking paper, tie with kitchen string, throw in a chunk of blue or a bottle of red for a unique and welcome hostess gift.

    This bread is also great for vegetarians/vegans, high in protein, low GI and perfect to serve with your favourite veggie stew.  

    Also great "baker's treat"... toasted crusts of walnut loaf with French fine cut marmalade. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    *Gluten flour: we used gluten flour to promote rise and texture in today's bread. The gluten is in the whole wheat flour but the wheat germ is blocking the release so you use added gluten, a protein composite from wheat and related grains. This gives you not only extra "lift" in rising it also provides the characteristic "chew" we associate with bread. It's why you add various gums to gluten free bread trying to recreate the chew gluten provides.  Gluten flour is also used extensively in vegan and vegetarian cuisine to create seitan and in asian cooking for dishes such as like "mock duck". 

    Would I bake again? Yes, loved it for "something different to serve" factor.. plus tasted great. 

    Would I change anything?  I loved it as is, I would continue to bake smaller sized loaves. I'd like to try halving the walnut weight and adding either dried apricots or dried muscatel grapes for a fruit/nut loaf. 

     How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in Amore Frangelico Truffles, rich in mascarpone and chocolate!