Cauliflower Cheese

My close friends and family know I am an avid book lover. I can be seen browsing in a book shop for hours, especially if cookbooks are involved. I have a wide collection of books, ranging from fiction, travel, self-help, text books and cookbooks. The fiction books have been accumulated as a result of being in a bookclub for 20 years. Many cookbooks have been acquired while visiting Wellington. It all started when buying Jerusalem by Ottolenghi, in the Unity bookshop. After that it became a ritual to buy a cookbook on each of my numerous visits when youngest daughter lived there. I treasure my 60 + cookbook collection, which I often refer to when I’m menu planning at the weekend. In an effort to reduce my addiction to buying cook books, I have recently taken to requesting cookbooks via the library app. One such book I collected from the library earlier this year was “Use it All”. When I brought this home, and started browsing through, I was consumed by every page of the book. I wanted to try all the recipes. And so after returning the borrowed book, it became a necessary addition to my cookbook collection.

Use it All is written by Alex Elliott-Howery & Jamiee Edwards. This duo run Cornersmith cafe, in Annandale, Sydney. The book is a guide to a more sustainable kitchen. The book starts off with 8 different shopping basket suggestions. These shopping baskets form the chapters in the book. Each chapter includes recipes for the shopping basket ingredients, including what to do with the leftovers. There are so many tips and tricks on how to use all of one thing. I love this, as I am a keen advocate on reducing food waste, and if I can do that by starting in my own kitchen, I can then share this information with others.

One of the first tips I learnt from the book was how to use the whole Cauliflower. This cauliflower cheese recipe does just that. It uses all the leaves, stalks and stems. This is very tasty. The kids from the Garden to Table programme I volunteer at, made it and loved it.

Enjoy this classic with a twist, with no food waste.

CAULIFLOWER CHEESE

Serves 4 -6

Ingredients

1.5kg whole cauliflower, with leaves attached

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

Cheese Sauce

2 cups milk

60g butter

60g flour

1 1/2 cups tasty cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup Panko crumbs

METHOD

Wash the cauliflower and separate leaves and stems from the main part, and chop into small pieces, roughly 2cm in size.

Chop the cauliflower into small florets, and cook for 2 minutes in a pan of boiling salted water. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the chopped up leaves and stems on a medium heat for 15 minutes. By this time, the stems and leaves should be tender and slightly caramelised.

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter on a low – medium heat, and add the flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon and cook for 1 minute, then add the milk (warmed up in microwave), 1/4 cup at a time. Stir constantly, until all milk has been incorporated. A whisk can be used to ensure the sauce is smooth at the end. Add a little more milk, if the mixture seems too thick. Turn off the heat and add the grated cheese. Add pepper and salt, to taste.

Place the cooked cauliflower leaves and stems in the base of a baking dish, add the cooked florets, and top with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle panko crumbs over to finish.

Cook at 180 deg C, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Let it cool out of the oven, before devouring completely.

The cooked leaves and stems add a delicious flavour and texture to this cauliflower cheese. I hope you love this as much as I do.

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