Cauliflower cheese is one of my favourite dishes for a cold winter’s evening. Here’s a recipe for how I make it – there are of course plenty of others out there.
1 largish cauliflower (will make enough for 3 to 4 people, depending on appetite)
1 and 1/2 pints of milk (semi-skimmed is fine)
200 – 300g of grated cheddar cheese (or similar)
4 to 6 eggs (hard boiled)
2 teaspoons of English mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
If your eggs aren’t already hard boiled start off by bringing them to a boil in a pan of water, and boil for about 10 mins. You can do this while cooking the cauliflower, and making the sauce.
Preheat the oven to 180°C(160°C fan), Gas 4 or 5.
Strip down the cauliflower to individual florets, wash and place in a pan of water, and bring to a boil.
Place the butter in another pan over a medium heat. Once melted add the flour, and combine to a smooth paste.
Add a little of the milk and stir into the flour/butter paste, again until smooth. Repeat this once or twice more with a little milk each time. Finally add all of the remaining milk and continue to stir. Keep stirring until the sauce begins to thicken (you may find it helpful to use a small whisk at this point rather than a spoon), stir continuously to prevent any lumps forming.
As the sauce thickens, add the mustard, salt & pepper and stir in.
Next add about three-quarters of the cheese a little at the time, and allow it to combine with the sauce, keep stirring!
Turn off the heat under the sauce. Drain the cauliflower, removing as much water as possible, and tip into the cheese sauce, and mix to coat all of the cauliflower with the sauce. Put the lid onto this pan to retain the heat.
Take the hard boiled eggs, shell them and cut in half. Place them in the bottom of an oven proof dish.
Tip the cheese and cauliflower mixture on top of the eggs. Grate a little nutmeg over the top, and cover with the remaining cheese.
Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese on top is a golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
Although our snowmageddon turned out to be a slightly cold and damp squib, we did have enough to make me go down to the allotment to check things out. Snow will weigh down netting and other structures and if there’s enough cause them to collapse or tear. This then means that your crops underneath get flattened.
I’ve got some brassicas still under netting (and enviromesh), so I wanted to make sure all was well.
The snow (which had melted and turned to ice), had push down both cages a little. Not enough to cause them to collapse but enough to pull out some of the anchoring pins that secure it to the ground. I pushed off the remaining chunks of ice, tightened up the netting and re-secured the pegs. Job done.
The forecast at least in the short term is for fine, cold and dry weather. So now more snow, at least for now.
The allotment is looking good at the moment, there are a few things that aren’t, in particular the radish and turnip, but that’s gardening. I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do with the area that is currently occupied by the broad beans, I suspect some more salad crops will go in one, and the other might just get covered by the courgettes. According to my notes, the early potatoes should be ready around the 3rd July, but they might be ready sooner, as it’s looking like they are starting to die off. I might lift a few soon, just to see.
Well, it’s been a very busy week, and a little unexpectedly so. It was good to get to the weekend though, and to get down to the allotment. If you read my post about the water problems at the site, I’m pleased to report that they have been resolved it seems. The leak has been fixed, and my prayers for rain have been answered, it even managed to rain on the workman when they were trying to sort the problem out.
We’ve had a week of rain at night, and into the morning and then from about mid-morning onwards it’s been bright and sunny, and that pretty much sums up every day this week, until the weekend arrived at it was sunny from the get go!
My alternative plan for getting water to the allotment arrived in the post during the week, and although it wasn’t technically needed, I still wanted to try it out this morning. It’s an H2GO bag, [Amazon Link – other suppliers do exist] that sits in a wheelbarrow and holds about 50 litres of water. I was a bit skeptical about whether it would actually work, but it does, and I’m really impressed. You need something large like a big bucket to tip the water into, so that you can then scoop it up into a watering can and 50 litres weighs quite a bit so if you’re a long way from where you want to get the water too, you might want to think about not filling it completely full. If I get a chance I’ll try and do a quick video, so you can see it in action.
When I went down to the plot this morning it was with the main intention of getting some more plants into the ground. Things have been getting a little tight for space in the potting shed, and it was time for some to move out onto the allotment. I had Cavalo Nero, Sweetcorn and some Cucumbers to go down, and although it’s potentially too early for the latter two I had a cunning plan to protect them from the nighttime temperatures which are still dropping down into the mid single figures.
The Cavalo Nero plants went into the brassica cage alongside the cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli. It’s now as full as it’s going to be this year. There are some more brassicas to go, but there’ll have to go into another part of the plot
The sweetcorn have gone in as well, and I’ve built a little windbreak / cage for them too. This one made from enviromesh and some old net curtains (because I didn’t have a big enough piece of enviromesh). The cucumbers are just alongside, and have a fleece “dome” over the top of them. I hope both of these slightly Heath Robinson constructions will help the plants establish. The forecast for the week ahead looks good, and nighttime temperatures aren’t too low, so they may be okay. I’ll keep an eye on them anyway, because they’ll need watering in.
And finally I had a great crop of rhubarb to harvest. I love rhubarb and there are many things that you can do with it, including jams, wine and other nice things. However I think that you can’t beat some nice stewed rhubarb. Now I know that sounds a bit like school dinners, but take my word for it and give it a try. Here’s how I go about preparing it:
Take your rhubarb stalks and remove the leaves (you can’t eat the leaves, as they’re toxic, so throw them on the compost heap or in the bin). Clean the stalks and chop into pieces about 2.5cm long.
Place these in an oven proof glass dish, add a small amount of water (you don’t want to cover them, so just about halfway to the top of the rhubarb).
Add ground cinnamon and brown sugar to taste (about a level teaspoon of cinnamon and a level tablespoon of brown sugar to six stalks of rhubarb, add more sugar if you have a sweet tooth).
Add a generous handful of sultanas.
The Rhubarb Mix – Ready To Go Into The Oven
Cover & put in the oven at a 140ºC / Gas Mark 3, for about 20 minutes. At this point, remove and stir with a fork to break-up (shred) the rhubarb.
Return to the oven for about another 10 minutes, and then repeat the shredding process until the rhubarb is soft and stringy.
Serve straight from the oven (it will be very hot!) with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or allow to cool and serve. Works great on porridge or muesli for breakfast!
I went down to the allotment this morning to plant out some leeks. I’ve recorded a little video, see below, because I thought it might be useful to someone. As with many things, this is just the method I use and there may well be other better methods.
While I was there I took an opportunity to weed the brassica bed. It wasn’t too bad but it felt good to be on top of weeding that area. There’s a little slug damage to some of the plants, but otherwise they seem to be doing well, so hopefully we’ll get a good crop again this year.
The weather has been much improved over the last few weeks, and it has continued to be very mild. I had hoped to be able to post a video update, but I’ve been having some rather odd camera trouble and none of the segments that I’ve recorded have been useable. I’m not sure what the problem is, but in the meantime I’ll try and describe what I’ve been up to .
I’ve planted my early potatoes (see above), they went in today (Easter Saturday), and all being well, they’ll be ready to harvest in 100 days, or at least that’s what folklore says, and it’s been right most times. I’m still a little concerned that we might get a frost. I’ve earthed them up well, and will continue to do so as the first aulms come through.
I also transplanted out the onion sets that were in modules in the potting shed. There were 96 originally, but some got waterlogged following a leaky roof, so only 50 actually went in the ground. They didn’t look as strong as the ones that have been in the ground all winter, probably a combination of the waterlogging and the mild winter for those outside.
The final round of planting for this weekend was to get some brassica plants in too; cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli. They should be ready to harvest in the summer, all being well.
Finally, I’ll need some new boots before the winter – mine have split!