Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bobby Flay's cauliflower and mushroom mac and cheese

Big beautiful cauliflower. Nice and white, really fresh and straight from the farmers via SLO Veg. I wanted to cook it six ways, but then I sat down to watch "Beat Bobby Flay" and knew I had to make a cauliflower mac and cheese. I didn't have the exact same ingredients as Bobby used, but I had cheeses, mushrooms and milk. Sounds like a perfect storm, eh?

One ingredient he got dinged on was the White Truffle Oil. One judge thought using mushrooms and truffle oil was redundant. Well no worries here...I don't have any truffle oil. I think I will use some of my expensive (for me) basil-infused olive oil that I picked up in Monterey. That will give it an earthy finish, for sure, even if the mushrooms I am using are regular old white mushrooms from the grocery store, not wild mushrooms. I have a blended Mexican cheese mixture and some parmesan cheese, so that will have to suffice for the more worldly asiago and fontina cheeses Bobby used. I think the boys will still eat it. They are not cheese snobs, they are more like cheese hoes. Cheap ones.

I cooked the cauliflower in my big everyday pan and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes to soften. But I don't have any pasta, so my next step is to run down to the market to pick up some supplies. I also need cream cheese for the frosting on the strawberry cake I am making that I saw on "Pioneer Woman" this morning. Funny how it all influences my cooking decisions.  When Lee left for work I was thinking pork chop suey, but now its gonna be fish tacos (using our fresh rockfish from, mac and cheese and strawberry cake. Pretty sure there won't be any complaints, as long as I make enough.

Cauliflower and Mushroom Mac and Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay


3 tablespoons canola oil
2 small shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped to a paste
1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mac and Cheese:
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cavatappi pasta (or other curly pasta)
5 to 6 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering dish
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces fontina cheese, grated
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup grated asiago cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pinch of grated nutmeg

Breadcrumb Topping:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1/4 cup Calabrian chiles in oil, patted dry and chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
White truffle oil, for drizzling
Fresh parsley leaves, for garnish


For the mushrooms: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Increase the heat to high, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown and soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the mac and cheese: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to a large bowl.

Put the milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof saute pan over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, cover loosely with foil and cook in the oven until soft.

To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 4 cups of the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and the flour taste has been cooked out, about 7 minutes, adding more milk if the sauce is too thick.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and transfer to a blender with 1 cup of the milk and blend until smooth. Add the cauliflower puree to the bechamel and stir until combined. Slowly whisk in the fontina, Monterey Jack, asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano until smooth, adding more hot milk if too thick. Mix in the nutmeg. Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the mushrooms and stir well to combine.

Butter a 10-inch baking dish, transfer the pasta mixture to it and bake until bubbly and the top is lightly golden brown, about 30 minutes.

For the breadcrumb topping: While the mac and cheese is baking, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the anchovy paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the chiles and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the mac and cheese topped with some of the breadcrumbs and a drizzle of white truffle oil. Garnish with parsley leaves.

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