|A selection of Scottish cheeses|
Ah, cheese. How do I love thee. Let me count the ways. Or rather, let me count the pounds that cling to hips and thighs that are the result of our mutual passion.
There is just no way around it - cheese is NOT Weight Watchers friendly. I don't really approve of the concept of low fat cheese (although Cathedral City Lighter is ok for cheese on toast or for bunging on top of a pasta bake). But I also don't really approve of a life without cheese.
By making a cauliflower cheese the central point of a meal rather than a side dish, you can get a hit of the good stuff without sacrificing tooooo many pro points. We had this the other night with some slices of chicken left over from the Sunday roast and some green veg - but, to be honest, you could drop the chicken if you wanted (don't tell D that I said that). I would quite happily eat a plateful of just cauliflower cheese with a scoop of mash to schmoosh into the sauce.
Now, let's talk about the sauce. I've used Heston Blumenthal's technique of whisking cheese into a reduced stock and wine mixture rather than the traditional roux method - this makes for a thinner, lighter sauce with a more intensely cheesy flavour and works really nicely here. We used a mix of odds and ends of cheeses, including some blue for additional funk, but you could stick to trusty old Cheddar if you prefer. The points will remain the same.
For the cauliflower - I like my florets quite small, with lots of cauliflower "crumbs" that almost melt into and thicken the sauce, but this, of course, is a matter of choice.
Half a cauliflower, chopped into florets
4 spring onions, chopped
100g hard, strongly flavoured cheese, grated
90ml white wine
300ml chicken stock
1 medium slice (around 40g) white bread
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Serves 2, 9 pro points per portion
To make the sauce, place the wine in a saucepan over a medium heat and reduce until it is about a quarter of its original volume. You don't need to be particularly exact.
While this is happening, toss the grated cheese with the cornflour so it is well coated.
Pour the chicken stock into the wine and bring up to a brisk bubble. Add the flour coated cheese a small handful at a time, stirring well in between each addition to melt.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the cauliflower and cook for five minutes until verging on tender. Drain well.
Once all the cheese is added, you should be left with a smooth sauce. Season well with black pepper and a little salt (if neccessary). Add the spring onions and bubble for another minute or two to take off their raw edge. Remove from the heat, stir through the cauliflower and transfer to an ovenproof dish. This is now ready to bake (bear in mind that this can all be done in advance if you are organised enough).
When it comes to the cooking, pre heat the oven to 180. Place the cauliflower cheese in the hot oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, blitz the bread into fine crumbs and season with the chilli flakes, black pepper and a pinch of salt.
Sprinkle the crumbs over the cauliflower and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.
Eat, and glory at the wonder of cheese.