Working in a library has some really nice perks. I get to peruse a lot of new and old cookbooks, and sometimes I even get to order them. It’s fantastic until you have a huge pile of books sitting on your table for weeks that you haven’t cooked a single recipe from. This happened recently with one of Jamie Oliver’s books. Today, it came across my desk again and I couldn’t resist poring through the book one more time. A recipe caught my eye and I cooked it for dinner, but I did make a few tweaks to it. Before I share my version of the recipe with you, I’d like to review this amazing book.
Jamie Oliver has always been one of my favorite chefs. He’s personable, a great teacher, considerate of vegetarians, and British! Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is gorgeous. There are so many beautiful photographs of food, cooking steps, people, and objects. The photos are so rich, warm, and colorful. They invoke a sort of nostalgia to them, which is the point of this book. It’s full of comfort foods that are easy to make, and Jamie wants you to pledge to pass them on to your friends and family.
The book is very well organized. It begins with a complete listing of all the essential equipment and pantry items that you need to stock your kitchen with. The recipes are then divided up into categories such as 20 minute meals, simple soups, family roast dinners, etc. The Easy Curries section is what really drew me to this book. I love curry and Indian cooking (I’ll have to share my favorite Indian recipes with you soon)! I really liked the sections dedicated to perfect rice and homemade curry pastes. I have yet to try any of these recipes, but I’ll keep you posted. Like I said before, Jamie is always considerate of vegetarians. The best part of the book for us is the index. He has placed a ‘v’ next to index items to indicate a vegetarian recipe!
You can check this book out at your nearest library branch. You can even request it online if you know your library card number and 4 digit pin number. You’ll probably want to purchase it.
On to the recipe!
This recipe was really rich, creamy, yummy, and quick. I wish I could have used crème fraiche. The sour cream made it a little tangy. It tasted like a pasta version of a loaded baked potato! Make sure that you can make a double boiler or bain-marie with a large heat-proof bowl that will fit over a large pot. I also put a lot of freshly ground pepper in mine. Next time I will probably add peas and rosemary, or I’ll just add them to my leftovers.
Macaroni & Cauliflower Cheese Bake
½ a head of cauliflower
8 oz. cheddar cheese (I used 2%)
4 oz. Parmesan cheese (I only used 2 oz.)
A small bunch of fresh Italian parsley (I omitted this. I hate fresh parsley. It tastes fishy to me)
1 lb. dried macaroni (I used whole wheat penne. I think it was a little less than a pound.)
1 c. crème fraiche or sour cream (I used light sour cream)
Remove the outer green leaves from the cauliflower and discard. Slice the end off the cauliflower stalk. Cut the head into small florets. Halve the thick stalk lengthwise, then slice thinly. Grate the cheddar and Parmesan into a large heatproof bowl (I used cheese that was already shredded). Finely chop the parsley stalks and leaves.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and all your cauliflower and cook according to pasta package directions. Place the bowl of cheese over the pot and add the sour cream. Carefully stir every so often until the cheese is smooth and melted. If the water boils up beneath the bowl, just turn the heat down slightly. Add all the chopped parsley to the melted cheese and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Carefully remove the bowl of cheese using a towel or oven mitt and set aside. Drain the pasta in a colander, but make sure you reserve some of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan, pour in the melted cheese and stir. It should have a lovely, silky consistency, but if it’s too thick for you, add a splash of your cooking water to thin it out a bit. At this point you can either serve the pasta as is, or finish it under the broiler to make it crispy and golden on top. To do this, preheat your broiler to a medium to high heat. Add 2/3 cup of reserved cooking water to the pasta, stir in, then transfer to a baking dish. Place under the broiler until golden and bubbling.