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Cauliflower Macaroni And Cheese

Presented by David Hawksworth

Baked cauliflower with white cheese sauce is a standard of British comfort food.

Back in the UK, my English grandmother taught it to my mother. Then, when my mother moved to Canada, she added the Canadian twist of mac ‘n cheese to the dish and made it into a comfort food double-header. On a cold rainy day nothing beats this combination of cauliflower, pasta and rich cheese sauce with a kick of Worcestershire. To this day the smell of it baking in the oven transports me right back to childhood – arriving home from soccer practice cold and wet, waiting for my mom to serve me dinner. Watching – and sometimes, helping – my nan and mom transform these basic ingredients into a tasty bowl of food was a big part of what got me interested in cooking in the first place. Nowadays my eight-year old son Heston is the one coming home hungry, cold and wet from soccer practice. When I make it with him, we swap the original sharp English cheddar for gruyère – his favourite cheese. If one day Heston has kids of his own, I hope he’ll pass on the recipe, too.

– David Hawksworth.

  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 2 cloves
  • Salt
  • 1 small (or ½ large) head cauliflower, cut into 1” (2 cm) florets
  • 1½ cups (350mL) elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups (750 mL) milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) flour
  • 1½ cups (350 mL) grated gruyere
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) minced chives
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • White pepper

4 Servings

Preheat oven to 425°F (225°C).

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook cauliflower florets for two minutes, then remove with a spider or strainer, shock in a bath of ice water, and set aside. In the same pot of boiling water, cook macaroni until al dente, drain and set aside.

Stud the onion with the cloves, and place in a medium saucepan. Add milk and bay leaf, place on low heat, and simmer for five minutes. Let steep. Heat another medium saucepan on low, melt butter and then stir in the flour. Cook for two minutes, stirring periodically. Remove onion and bay leaf from the hot milk and discard. Add the milk gradually to the flour and-butter roux while whisking vigorously. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in two-thirds of the cheese, and then pass the sauce through a strainer into a fresh pot.

To finish
Put strained sauce on low heat. Add the cherry tomatoes, chives and mustard and stir well. Add Worcestershire, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Drain the cauliflower and combine with the macaroni in a baking dish. Pour sauce over top, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake until brown and bubbling—about 20 minutes. Enjoy at once.

Cauliflower Macaroni & Cheese
daivd hawksworth

Chef David Hawksworth realises his culinary vision at his first eponymous restaurant, in the very heart of downtown Vancouver. At Hawksworth Restaurant he has created the ideal setting to deliver compelling contemporary Canadian cuisine; a demonstration of his European-trained technical ability, deep appreciation for local ingredients and an absolute insistence on only the very best quality. Winner of 2012 and 2013 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year and for three consecutive years, Best Upscale Dining, as well as enRoute magazine’s top three Best New Restaurants, and Maclean’s magazine Restaurant of the Year; Hawksworth has anchored himself at the helm of the Vancouver – and Canadian – dining scene.

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