06 August 2009

Cauliflower Cheese

Making this cauliflower cheese reminds me of the time my grandma used to take us out to this old-style cafeteria around the Aherns department store in Perth. And we would have pork roasts with veggies and Crème caramels for lunch. Yes, for lunch.. Dinner was always back at home and was always chinese food. So every time my grandma would suggest going to Aherns for shopping, we would always tag along.

I guess pork roasts with crackling, 3 vegs and crème caramels doesn't seem to be much. But for someone that just has chinese food all day... any break from that... is a much welcomed break. :)

The 3 vegs would always be mashed potatoes, roast pumpkin and cauliflower cheese.

I would mix the mashed potatoes and pumpkin up with the gravy. But the cauliflower cheese was always satisfying just by itself.... :)

The secret is in the extra thick belchamel sauce and not to overcook the cauliflower so that it doesn't completely fall apart when you pick it up with your fork.

This is my version of a more 'spiced up' cauliflower cheese, with the addition of anchovies, mustard and garlic into the bechamel sauce.

Cauliflower Cheese


  • 1/2 head of white cauliflower (steam removed, trimmed and broken into florets)
  • 1 tablespoon butter - more for greasing the oven dish
  • 4 anchovy fillets (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 150g Cheddar (grated) - more for topping
  • 1 tablespoon fine fresh white breadcrumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cook the cauliflower in boiling salted water until just tender - should be no more than 5 minutes. Remove from the salted water, run the cauliflower through cold water under the tap, then drain thoroughly in a colander.
  3. Grease the sides and edges of an ovenproof dish then tip the cauliflower in.
  4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the chopped anchovy fillets. Stir the butter around until the anchovy fillets start to melt into the butter. Spoon in the flour and stir for about 1 minute.
  5. Add in the chopped garlic. Continue stirring for another minute or so.
  6. Lower the heat and gradually beat in the milk.
  7. Add in the mustard and nutmeg. Bring the sauce back to a slow simmer for and about 3-5 mins and keep on stirring while it simmers.
  8. Stir in the Cheddar cheese and season generously with salt and pepper.
  9. Taste the sauce, it should be a bit on the saltier side.
  10. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower.
  11. Sprinkle the extra Cheddar over the top, then the breadcrumbs and top with a couple of grinds of salt and pepper.
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top has turned golden brown and bubbling.


  • Running the cauliflower straight after cooking under a cold water tap helps stop the heat in the cauliflower to 'continue cooking' it.
  • The cheese sauce should be at a slightly thicker consistency, but still runny enough to be able to pour out of the saucepan.

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