11 January 2011

Another Suggestive Recipe

There was a cauliflower. There was a need for comfort food. There was cheese on hand. And drifting around in the sea of paper on the dining room table was a recipe from Mark Bittman that called for a whole cauliflower, in which said cauliflower is puréed to become the sauce for a baked macaroni and cheese.

I liked the sound of it, but as I am incapable of following directions and recipes are usually just suggestions to me, I adapted it.

If you want to see the recipe as I found it, it's here. But what I did is below - it's got more cheese than Bittman's version. It's pretty good, though the girl child took one bite and spat it out, crying "vegetables!". There you have it - I guess this one didn't make it into the Jessica Seinfeld book.

Creamy Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook

Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 45 minutes

Oil for the baking pan
2 cups water with a spoonful of Penzey’s Ham Base mixed in - or use chicken or vegetable stock
1 cauliflower, cored and separated into large pieces
8 ounces pasta
2 cups grated cheddar
1 T. dry mustard
Black pepper
four or five slices of mozzarella
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup or more bread crumbs, preferably homemade

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with a little oil. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. If you have one of those pasta pots with an insert, now's the time to use it.

2. Cook the cauliflower in the boiling water until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Scoop the cauliflower out of the water with a slotted spoon - or just lift the insert out! Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until still somewhat chalky inside and not yet edible, about 5 minutes. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a good sized bowl.

3. Carefully process the cauliflower with the stock, mustard, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. (You may have to work in batches.) Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the sauce and the grated cheese to the pasta, toss together, and spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish.

4. Lay the slices of mozzarella on top of the pasta. Mix the parmesan and bread crumbs together and sprinkle over the top. Bake until the pasta is bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, 30-40 minutes. Serve hot and hope the seven year old likes it.

The principal changes that I made were as follows: I took out the fussy step of boiling a couple of bay leaves, I added more cheese to the mix, I added the mozzarella to the top (because we had it), I left out the nutmeg (only because I forgot), and I used dry mustard instead of prepared (because I wasn't paying attention to the recipe). I also lowered the oven temperature and lengthened the cooking time. Oh, and I made the bread crumbs non-optional - which is ridiculous when you think about it, because what I'm kind of saying here is that EVERYTHING IS OPTIONAL.


FreshHell said...

Not only will my kids not eat homemade mac and cheese (and one won't eat any version of it at all), they refuse cauliflower in any form. But, as for me, it sounds good (minus the meat-based stock). Might have to make it for myself one day. To hell with the picky children!

YourFireAnt said...

Haven't I already seen and drooled over this somewhere else from you?


Gina said...

That sounds delicious. My kids will not eat cauliflower (which I LOVE), so I'm going to try it and see if they even notice.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I'm loving these suggestive recipes. For years I had to follow recipes eg-zackt-ly or risk a fire, but finally I am able to riff on them in this same way.

leanne said...

First, loved the line about the Jessica Seinfeld book.

Second, I must try this recipe. I need a good baked mac and cheese recipe. I'm working my way to getting away from the mac in a box. This recipe may get me there.

Anonymous said...

That looks soooo good. My kids love all that stuff, so it might go over, although they like plain baked mac and cheese made with just a parmesan white sauce, bland as bland can be.

I'm not feeling very adventurous this week because last night's dinner of cabbage and rice which should have been a no-brainer was a total, utter flop that even I wouldn't eat. I found out at the point where the best option was thawing some hot dogs (grass-fed beef, and salty as hell, btw) and running to the store for buns.

Quiana said...

sounds delicious! i put dry mustard in my mac&cheese and a bit of cayenne too. i like it with a bit of a kick! will definitely be trying this.

Janet said...

I made this yesterday since I had a snow day (albeit without pay) and OMG WOW! It it delicious! Didn't use breadcrumbs or moz, but mostly followed the rest of the directions. Deliciousness! Thanks for sharing :-)

The Library Lady said...

You drove me out at lunch time to buy a cauliflower :D

I really wanted to make a Cauli Cheese pie I've been making from the Moosewood Cookbook for years.But the Weight Watcher points scared me off for now

So I just cut it up and roasted it with olive oil, then tossed it with some shredded Romano cheese. And that's what I had for dinner.

JR and the Man tried it and liked it. SC said it needed more cheese.

But she polished off most of a raw red pepper instead. As long as she likes those raw veggies I have no complaints. And to hell with phony baloneys like Jessica Seinfeld

Karen said...

I guess children are not as easy to trick as they used to be. I used to tell mine that the squash casserole was pie, and they could have it for dessert--it worked every time.

Kelly @ Student of the Year said...

The very though of this soothes my soul, so I'm sure the actual thing would be a miraculous healer. Yum.