“Cauliflower Cheese” from “The Magic Fridge”

Cauliflower cheese is a decidedly British dish, and one, I have to say, I fell in love with nearly 20 years ago when I arrived here and never stopped loving. One look at this search of Cookbook a Month archives will show you how much we love cauliflower cheese and variations thereof. It’s a winner.

For this recipe, you start by making the cheese sauce. If you’re at all nervous about making a roux– the foundation of all good cheese sauces– the directions here are clear and helpful. Also– and I would fail as a reviewer if I didn’t mention this– it produced the best cheese sauce I’ve ever had in my life. Honestly. It’s not as if this recipe is all that different from any other cheese sauce I’ve ever made, but there was something about it that made it special. It evoked strong memories of dining in Paris for me and I couldn’t stop stealing spoonfuls of it while I went about making the rest of dinner.

Once the cheese sauce is done (or if you’re following the philosophy of The Magic Fridge and you’ve taken it out of your refrigerator), you then get on with the cauliflower cheese portion of it. Another great tip out of this was to boil the cauliflower and then roast it for a short amount of time. This step prevented the cauliflower from softening too much and also gave it a bit of a nutty flavour. This was genius. An extra step, to be sure, but worth it.

Magic Fridge Cauliflower Cheese: For The Win.

“Cauliflower Cheese” from “The Magic Fridge”

“Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower and Thyme” from “Simple”


If I ever had to pick a perfect supper, this would certainly make the list.

  • Tray bake? Check.
  • Chicken? Check.
  • Cauliflower? Check.
  • Cheese? Check.
  • Easy? Check.
  • Delicious? Check.
  • Everyone likes it? Check.

See what I mean? The perfect supper.

This is not to say that I haven’t made a variation of this a million times before. But the reason I’ve made something similar a million times before is because of all the points listed above. It’s a good time of year to have this, as well (though it’s good any time of year, to be honest), as the days become shorter and cold weather begins to descend.

We followed the alternative directions and used gruyere instead of parmesan, but that made it seem all the more like cauliflower cheese, another winning dish.

Would I make this again? Obviously. Why mess with success?

If you’d like to make this yourself, here’s the recipe, as it first appeared in the Daily Telegraph.

“Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower and Thyme” from “Simple”

“Tikka Masala Roast Chicken” and “Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Lime” from “It’s All Easy”

Tom: Since I am the only one eating the skin, I think I am the chief beneficiary of this recipe.

Kirstin: Are you enjoying it?

Ella: It is a bird. I like it.

Lee (Kirstin’s mother): It’s very good!

Miles: I haven’t tasted it yet.

Ella: Yeah, you really should get chicken it out to see how it tastes.

Miles: Eggscellent.

Tom: I’m sorry Ella. I know you want to make terrible jokes about this food, but I’m simply not going to poulet that game.

Miles: What’s poulet?

Me: It’s chicken in french.

Miles: What’s chicken in german?

Continue reading ““Tikka Masala Roast Chicken” and “Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Lime” from “It’s All Easy””

“Tikka Masala Roast Chicken” and “Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Lime” from “It’s All Easy”

“Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

IMG_6829As soon as I saw this recipe listed in “Genius Recipes,” I knew I wanted to try it. I am a sucker for cauliflower.

Usually when I make cauliflower, I toss it in olive oil, add some salt and pepper and then roast it for about 20 minutes (covered in foil so the small florets won’t burn.) It’s a winner every time, especially for Sunday roasts.

For this recipe, you don’t separate out the florets, which can be a boring and laborious job. Instead, you roast the cauliflower whole after you’ve poached it. While it’s poaching and roasting, you make the whipped goat cheese. Your vegan friends can opt out of using the whipped goat cheese, which gives more for everyone else to enjoy. (It’s also great on toasted multi-seed bread the next day.)

I am not sure the picture does it justice. It looks simply magnificent when you take it out of the oven.

This is the sort of dish that would be perfect for a dinner party, as who wouldn’t be impressed with such a glorious sight as a whole head of cauliflower, tinged brown from roasting. I’d recommend cutting it into wedges at the dinner table; a modern take on the classic Norman Rockwell image of carving a turkey at the table.

One caveat: you should watch the amount of chilli flakes you use. The recipe calls for one tablespoon– or to taste. If you’re making this for less robust palates, I’d recommend using a lot less than one tablespoon. Both of the boys found this far too spicy with the one tablespoon of chilli flakes I used.

Would I make this again? Absolutely.

Want to give this a try? I’d recommend it. Click through this paragraph to find the recipe on Food52.

“Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

“Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella”

IMG_6631I won’t bury the lede here. We liked it!

I have to say I was surprised. I’m a bit dubious about this whole book, which is why I’m struggling to find recipes that I want to make. But as it was Meat Free Monday, I thought I would look again through the book hoping to find something that would work for last night’s dinner. And I did.

After making the Veggie Lasagna where herbs and spices were completely absent (and would have gone a long way to making that dish better), this dish went completely in the other direction, with a combined 12 tablespoons of spices, along with garlic and jalapeno peppers. Lest you worry that’s a lot of flavouring, it all gets absorbed in the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk in which the vegetables cook.

Our only criticism of this dish was there were too many potatoes. We all felt it was mostly a potato dish, with the other ingredients fighting for attention. The next time I make it, I’ll only use about 750g of them (or 12 charlotte potatoes), but I’ll also double the amount of cauliflower I use.

Also it has to be said for the less experienced cook that the instructions are a bit vague at times. What exactly does a “generous amount of olive oil” mean? I guessed, but I’m still not sure I had it right, and you could quite easily use too much olive oil and then end up with a greasy curry.

We enjoyed it. It scored an average 7/10 – Would Eat Again from the table. I’m including the recipe below for those who would like to make it.

A few notes from my experience:

-As I said above, I would cut down on the number of potatoes, though that comes down to personal preference. I would also double the amount of cauliflower.

-I threw caution to the wind and cut the potatoes down into chunks before I par-boiled them. It saved me time in the long run, as I didn’t have to wait for them to be cool enough to handle and I could just get on with the next step right away. They held up fine.

-We all put some Greek yogurt on top to lessen the sting of all the spaces.

-Before you start, check the supply levels on the spices that it calls for. Three tablespoons takes about half of a standard-sized spice jar.

-Ella recommends that you have it with brown rice. We were rebels and we had white rice instead. We like to live life on the edge.

Continue reading ““Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella””

“Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella”

“Cauliflower Cake” from “Plenty More”

IMG_6420Maureen: I’ve been intrigued by this recipe for as long as I’ve had the book. It’s cauliflower cake for Meat Free Monday today.

Nicholas (11): What? Cake made of cauliflower? That sounds strange.

Maureen: It’s not actually cake like we think of cake. It’s more of a frittata, with lots of eggs, cheese and some cauliflower thrown in for good measure. What do you think?

Andrew (15): The flavour combination is interesting.

Maureen: Is that good interesting? Or bad interesting?

Andrew (considering): It’s good interesting, actually. I like it.

Tim: I’m not so sure about the texture.

Maureen: What do you mean?

Tim: It seems a bit strange.

Maureen: Does that mean you don’t like it?

Tim: If you made it, I would eat it, but I wouldn’t ask for you to make it, if you see what I mean.

Maureen: Hardly a ringing endorsement. What do you think Nicholas?

Nicholas: I’m with Dad. I’m not so sure about it.

Maureen: I like it. I’m with Andrew. I think it’s interesting. But then again, I am a big cauliflower fan, so maybe that’s part of it. So it’s a mixed result tonight.

If you would like to make this yourself, click through this link to find the recipe in the Guardian. I’m with Ottolenghi when he says it’s even better the next day. I just had some for lunch and it was delicious. 


“Cauliflower Cake” from “Plenty More”

“Spiced Garden Vegetable Casserole” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

CBAMVegCasseroleMaureen: Yeah! Meat free Monday!

Nicholas (10): What is this?

Maureen: Excellent question.

Nicholas: I thought you said we were having vegetable curry.

Maureen: I know I said that, but I’m rescinding that description. It’s sort of like a curry, which is why I made basmati rice to go with it, but it’s also sort of not like a curry, since it’s got harissa in it. But it is very, very good for you– loads of vegetables, very little fat and a vegan recipe to boot. So that’s something.

Tim: Is it more like a Moroccan tagine?

Maureen: Maybe. Who can say. Mary Berry calls it a vegetable casserole, which is hardly inspiring or interesting.

Andrew (14): Sort of like the taste.

Tim: I agree. It’s a bit on the bland side.

Maureen: This is exactly the reason why I put hot sauce on the table. I was anticipating this problem. It’s not bad with the hot sauce, but you shouldn’t have to add it.

Tim: Maybe she wanted it to appeal to as many people as possible.

Maureen: If that’s the case, in an effort to do so, she made it too bland.

Nicholas: I don’t think it’s spicy enough. Can I have some hot sauce?

Maureen: No way. It must be opposite day. I’m not giving you hot sauce, though. You’d put loads on it and then say it’s too spicy and stop eating.

Tim: I’m guessing you’re not going to make this again.

Maureen: You guessed right.

“Spiced Garden Vegetable Casserole” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

“Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto” from “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”


Maureen: For tonight’s edition of Meat Free Monday, we have pasta with a twist. Does anyone want to guess what the twist is?

Andrew (13): Is it pepper?

Maureen: No.

Nicholas (10): Is it pumpkin?

Maureen: No. No pumpkins were harmed in the making of this pasta.

Andrew: Chilli flakes?

Maureen: There are chilli flakes in there, but that’s not the twist.

Nicholas: Is is sun-dried tomatoes?

Maureen: That’s not fair, because you had insider information since you were with me at the store when I bought them. But still, no, that’s not the twist.

Andrew: Is it couscous?

Maureen: Now we’re getting closer, but you’re still wrong. It’s not couscous, but it looks like it in the dish.

Continue reading ““Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto” from “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook””

“Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto” from “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”

“Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?”

Dear Mrs. Contessa:

Can I call you Barefoot? No, I won’t. That’s just silly. I’ve never met you, so I’m going to stay formal.

First of all, please don’t take anything that I say here personally. I’m sure you’re a lovely person. Hey, anyone who guest stars on “30 Rock”, my favourite TV show, totally rates in my book. But what I’m about to say might be a bit harsh.

When I saw your recipe for “Bangers & Mustard Mash” in your “How Easy Is That?” cookbook, I thought, “Great. That’s perfect. We eat that all the time, so that truly will be, ‘How Easy Is That?” But it was a TOTAL disaster, and would have been even worse if I had followed your instructions to the letter.

In your introduction, you say that you went to a wedding in London where they served “bangers and mash” at their wedding reception. You said, “It was the best wedding food I’d ever eaten and it had so much style.”


Style? Bangers and mash? Maybe I’ve really gone native, having lived in England now for 14 years, but I don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I love bangers and mash. They just don’t seem particularly stylish to me.

Also, I totally understand being beguiled by mustard mash. It seems so exotic for an American. Mashed Potatoes! With Mustard! How interesting! The exact same thing happened to me as I had my first mustard mash when I was reviewing London restaurants for Lonely Planet. I thought they were the Best. Thing. Ever. At the time, I had only been a Londoner for 9 months, so I felt the same as you. But what I didn’t appreciate then, but do now, is that mustard mash is a pretty bog standard mash offering.

Where did things go wrong, Mrs. Contessa? Bangers and mash. Trust me, it couldn’t be easier. I’m willing to bet this is one of the dishes they teach in Home Ec or Food Tech or whatever they call it these days. Let me take a moment to provide a recipe autopsy, perhaps so you can see the error of your ways.

Continue reading ““Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?””

“Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?”

“Roast Chicken, Rotisserie Style, Roasted Cauliflower, Carmalized Brussel Sprouts” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”

NIcholas (9): The chicken was very, very, very, very, very good.

Andrew (13, surprised he agrees with his brother): It was very good! Nice and tender.

Nicholas: Can I have some more chicken?


Maureen: You have to finish your cauliflower and your brussel sprouts first.

Nicholas: But the cauliflower seems burnt.

Maureen: You’re right. It does seem burnt. It was much better before. Gwyneth totally got the timings wrong on that one. We loved snacking on it when it was only 10 minutes in a 200C oven. But she said it should go back in for 25 more minutes at 235C. Big mistake.

Continue reading ““Roast Chicken, Rotisserie Style, Roasted Cauliflower, Carmalized Brussel Sprouts” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table””

“Roast Chicken, Rotisserie Style, Roasted Cauliflower, Carmalized Brussel Sprouts” from “Notes From My Kitchen Table”