JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Thursday, March 08, 2007

There's something fishy about this cauliflower

They say that vegetarians miss bacon the most; for us, the saturated fat we'd both most like to eat is cheese. The trouble is that the low fat cheeses are mostly not worth bothering with, and even the medium fat cheeses are 30% or more saturated fat. So it has to be an occasional treat - a small amount, twice a week max.

So it's a shame to use up the cheese allowance in the cooking, where you can't savour it to the full. The problem is, how to get the necessary note of savoury into the cooking? I mean, how to cook cauliflower cheese without the cheese?

The answer won't please vegetarians, but makes a really good gratin: I smother the steamed cauliflower in a white sauce made with olive oil, flour, and skimmed milk, so that it tastes deliciously sweet. Then I top it with my anchovy breadcrumb mix before putting it in the oven to brown for 25 minutes. Despite the title of this post, it doesn't taste remotely fishy, but satisfyingly savoury.

Savoury breadcrumbs

Blitz three or four slices of bread - whatever you've got, but, in truth, white makes a softer mixture. Stale is fine, probably better than fresh. You want the crumbs to be very fine, although I often leave a few lumps for texture. In a heavy frying pan, gently sizzle the contents of a 50g tin of anchovy in olive oil (you can cut them up first if you like). When they've started to melt, add the breadcrumbs, turn up the heat, and fry for two or three minutes stirring all the time, until they are golden. Leave to cool completely before storing in a plastic box in the fridge. They'll keep for ages, and you can use them in 101 ways, not just to zizz up the cauliflower (you can use them to stuff tomatoes or mushrooms, for instance).

I've posted this for doodles, who asked me what we do instead of cheese. This is just one idea, and I'll pull it all together for a comprehensive post next week, when I've had a chance to think it all through, and perhaps take a photo or two. And as I know that Kalyn like's cauliflower, this is my entry for this week's weekend herb blogging!


Ros said...

It is interesting how anchovy can add that depth of flavour to a dish without being fishy. My ex's grandmother, one of the best cooks I knew, would use them on her roast lamb and it worked amazingly well, giving the lamb a great richness.

I totally agree with you about low fat cheese. I also would go for the option of having the real thing as a treat than having rubber cheese every day.

Joanna said...

Yes, it's good with lamb too. I used it this week in a quickly prepared beef stew, and I often use anchovies to add body to mince dishes: it's a better option than using a stock cube, because, even though they are salted, they don't have lists of chemicals, and a lot of the stock cubes have palm oil derivatives - saturated fat. Whereas oily fish and olive oil - omega-3, omega-6. No contest.

This week's cheese was cheddar from the island of Mull in the Western Isles, where we spent a week in the summer.

barb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
barb said...

thank you for the cheese comments I will keep and eye out on your upcoming writings. Have you ever tried using grapeseed oil?

Kalyn Denny said...

Sounds like an interesting idea. In January I posted a recipe for Braised Cauliflower with Garlic and Anchovy which tasted just amazing, so I can imagine that this must be very good! That was one of the first times I'd used anchovies to add a bit of flavor to vegetables (I used anchovy paste) but I can promise you I'll be doing it again!

Helene said...

Thanks for teh idea of bread crumps. It´s so easy and yes I can imagine a lot of ways to unse them. :))