She’s back – our resident foodie, Laura Godfrey, has cooked up a beautiful autumnal treat for us. As always, our mouths are watering just reading this post! Do remember that you can check out Laura’s Instagram for more inspiration.
Autumn is my favourite time to cook, when eating with the seasons comes into its own. Farmer’s markets and greengrocers are rich with pickings. Bejeweled hedgerows in abundance. Windfall apples, pears and (if you’re lucky) quince are left by the roadside alongside hand-scrawled signs to fill your pockets. We are spoilt with squash and overrun with lush, leafy greens. A fine and versatile brassica should not be overlooked. And with the light fading, I’m craving warming bowls of comfort. Simple pairings; simple pleasures.
In this recipe I’ve used purple cauliflower, a little nuttier and less bitter than its white counterpart, though any brassica would work well. Delicately spiced with nutmeg and smothered in a smokey, silken cheese sauce, this packs an earthy, savoury punch.
As always I advocate using the entire vegetable. The stalk is creamy and sweet and the leaves provide colour and texture.
Don’t ever buy breadcrumbs. Blitz up stale crusts in a food processor or mini-chopper, or simply crumple with your fingers (I keep a bag in my freezer for eventualities). I’ve used sourdough since it’s what I had in. Use what you have.
Purple cauliflower & macaroni cheese with nutmeg & bay.
100 grams macaroni
1 medium purple cauliflower
40 grams butter
40 grams plain flour
600mls/1 pint milk, warmed slightly/room temperature
1 bay leaf
1/4 fresh nutmeg
300g smoked Norfolk Dapple (or smoked cheddar), grated
Handful of sourdough breadcrumbs
Sea salt & black pepper to season
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Cook macaroni in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 7-9 minutes, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile chop the cauliflower into florets and slice the stalk. Reserve some of the inner leaves too. Place in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until just tender. Add the leaves for the last minute. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter over a medium-high heat and add the flour to make a roux. Cook for a minute, stirring continuously, bubbling.
Gradually add the milk to the pan a little at a time (throw in the bay leaf after the first splash), allowing the sauce to thicken each time before adding more. When all of the milk has been added and thickened, remove from the heat and stir in most of the cheese, reserving a little for the topping. Grate in the fresh nutmeg and season to taste.
Transfer the macaroni and cauliflower to an oven-proof dish and pour over the cheese sauce. Tap the dish on the work surface a couple of times to ensure it trickles down through the pasta.
Toss over the breadcrumbs, sprinkle over the remainder of the cheese and oven bake for around 15 minutes until bubbling and beautiful.