Part two of my introduction to the many varied coloured seasonal fruit and vegetables available in the markets and supermarkets here in Paris this time of year, is a delicious, simple, cauliflower cheese made with the amazing orange cauliflower (see my post for I can cook a Rainbow and Tartes aux Mirabelles)
Again sticking to my ethos of seasonal eating, I only make this dish at this time of year when the cauliflowers are fresh from the fields and not from a giant greenhouse. Rather than finding it frustrating, as I did when I first came to live here, I now love the fact that certain fruits and vegetables are only available at certain times of year, and make good use of them while they are available, and look forward to my favourites returning the following year.
I could probably tell what month it was, just by looking at what was for sale in the markets and even the local supermarket – something I could never have done while shopping at Sainsbury’s in the UK, as I could buy whatever, whenever! I think that his way of eating is not only better for your health, but also for the environment.
They also had some amazing purple caulis, but I must confess, I am not quite ready to take the plunge and cook with these just yet (maybe next year……..) I am, though, rather excited to see the return of the multi coloured carrots (the white/pale yellow make delicious soup See my‘Veloute de Madame Loik’ and the violet are superb in a casserole – see my ‘Cocotte de Veau avec Carrottes Violettes et gingembre’)
While we are on the subject of things coming in different varieties here in France, a friend of my daughter commented on social media a short while back, that he was excited to be travelling on a two storey train in Holland. Two storey trains are very common here, and in fact we have three storey trains also.
Here is a photo that I snapped of an unusually empty three storey train that I was travelling on coming home from work (I got on at a rural terminus around lunchtime – it would be standing room only by the time it had gone 10 stops and hit the city centre!) And another of one stopped at the station opposite my apartment.
Back to the Cauliflower cheese – or, to be more precise, the cheese.
In the absence of a ‘real’ ‘real English Cheddar’ I go for ‘Gruyere’. English Cheddar cheese has very recently crept into one or two local supermarkets, but I think that this is just a clever marketing ploy by the canny French, to ensure that the French buy French produce and to reinforce the idea that English food is terrible! French supermarket Cheddar is rubbery, tasteless, has a high water content, so is nowhere near as good to use in cooking than bona fide English Cheddar. The exception being if you have access to a Marks & Spencer, where it is the real McCoy!
1 Cauliflower (choux fleur) of any colour!
1 tablespoon (2 cuillers a soupe) of salted butter
1 table spoon of corn flour (farine a Mais)
½ pt / 250ml of milk
2 tablespoons (4 cuiller a soupe) of grated (rapé) Cheddar cheese
A good pinch of Nutmeg (Noix de Muscade)
Freshly ground sea salt
Break the Cauli into large ‘florets’ and steam for around 10-15 minutes until ‘al dente’, remove from steam and cover with a dry tea towel (torchon) to absorb the excess steam.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour and cook on a gentle heat, stirring into a soft paste.
Add the milk a little as a time, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming, if they do then add a little more milk and stir vigorously with a hand milk until they disappear.
Stir in the nutmeg and the grated Cheddar and season with a little salt
Arrange the Cauliflower in an oven proof dish and pour over the sauce
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees / gas mark 6 for around 30 minutes until the sauce golden
Either serve this as a vegetable with roast meat, or simply with some warm crusty bread as a light lunch or supper dish.
Some lovely multi coloured carrots and tomatoes