Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The War of the Cheeses

Last week, we had a war of the cheeses-Mexico vs. Britain. J had dinner for the night and had promised mac & cheese. I was all geared up for traditional mac & cheese, one of my most favorite foods. However, J had made a pepper-heavy queso dip at the plant that day and wanted to try it out in the macaroni. So, I was very happy we'd picked up some cauliflower at the farmer's market that J wanted me to make with cheese sauce. I am all for queso, but only with tortilla chips and the pepper flavor was too strong entirely. We had smoked sausages on buns, the mac & cheese and my very traditional cauliflower cheese, which I adapted very slightly from Nigella Lawson's recipe. I think Britain won. Even J ate more of the cauliflower than the mac & cheese & she didn't save the mac & cheese leftovers when she cleaned out the fridge, saying, "No one really liked that." Here's what I did for the cauliflower, which I found delicious but rather soupy and think would be best made without the extra baking next time, just using the sauce over the cooked cauliflower.

Cauliflower Cheese
1 lg. head cauliflower (you could probably safely either double the cauliflower or halve the other ingredients)
2 bay leaves
1 stick butter
2 tsp. English mustard (I used a grainy beer mustard)
1/3 c. flour
2 c. milk
3 c. plus 1/2 c. shredded extra sharp cheddar
A great splash of worcestershire sauce
Another great splash, this one of beer
Cut cauliflower in florets. Put in a pan with bay leaves and cover with cold water. Salt and bring to a boil. Drain and refresh with cold water. Put in 13x9 baking dish. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in a pan. Whisk in the mustard and flour. Cook on low for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and whisk in milk. Return to heat and cook, stirring, until very thick and starting to bubble. Gradually add the 3 c. of cheese, stirring between each little handful to melt. Add worcestershire sauce and beer. Pour over cauliflower. Top with the 1/2 c. of cheese and bake 20 minutes. Serves 8-10.

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