Cauliflower cheese is one of those dishes that can make any meal feel cozy and comforting. It’s a simple but delicious combination of tender cauliflower florets, creamy cheese sauce, and a golden crust. It can be enjoyed as a side dish, a vegetarian main course, or even as a snack.
Delia Smith, the famous British cook and author, has a wonderful recipe for cauliflower cheese that uses two types of cheese and crème fraîche for extra richness and flavor. She also adds some nutmeg, bay leaf, spring onions, and cayenne pepper for a subtle spice. Her recipe is easy to follow and produces a satisfying and scrumptious result.
In this blog post, I will show you how to make Delia Smith’s cauliflower cheese recipe step by step, with tips and tricks along the way.
What is Delia Smith Cauliflower Cheese?
Delia Smith cauliflower cheese is a delicious dish made with cauliflower, cheese sauce, and a crispy topping. It is a recipe by Delia Smith, a famous British cook and author, who has written many books and hosted several TV shows. She is known for her reliable and easy-to-follow recipes that appeal to both beginners and experts. Her cauliflower cheese recipe uses two types of cheese, crème fraîche, and some spices to create a rich and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed as a main or a side.
Why You Love this Recipe
There are many reasons to love this recipe, such as:
- It is easy to make with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
- It is comforting and satisfying, perfect for a cold day or a cozy night.
- It is versatile and adaptable, you can use different cheeses, add some meat or vegetables, or serve it with different accompaniments.
- It is vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free, suitable for different dietary needs and preferences.
- It is a great way to use up leftover cauliflower and cheese, reducing food waste and saving money.
Ingredients Needed to Make Delia Smith Cauliflower Cheese
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 head of cauliflower, broken into large florets
- 40 g (1 1/2 oz) of butter
- 40 g (1 1/2 oz) of plain flour
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) of milk
- 1 tsp of English mustard
- 100 g (3 1/2 oz) of mature cheddar, grated
- 1 1/2 oz (40 g) of Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), finely grated, plus 1 heaped tablespoon extra to finish
- 2 heaped tablespoons of half-fat crème fraîche
- A little freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 spring onions, very finely chopped, including the green parts
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- You will also need an ovenproof baking dish measuring 7 1/2 inches (19 cm) square and 2 inches (5 cm) deep.
Instructions to Make Delia Smith Cauliflower Cheese
Step 1: Preheat the oven and steam the cauliflower
The first step is to preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan/gas mark 5) and prepare the cauliflower. Wash the cauliflower thoroughly and place it in a large saucepan of salted water. Bring it to the boil and cook for 3–5 minutes, until the cauliflower is almost tender, but still fairly firm. You can also use a steamer if you prefer. Tip the cauliflower into a colander and leave it to drain. Sprinkle some freshly grated nutmeg and salt over the cauliflower and toss it gently. This will add some extra flavor to the vegetable.
Step 2: Make the cheese sauce
While the cauliflower is cooking, you can make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook over a gentle heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. This will create a roux, which is the base of the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, a little at a time, whisking well between each addition. This will prevent any lumps from forming. Return the pan to a medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the mustard and two-thirds of the cheese and allow them to melt. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Assemble the dish
Arrange the cauliflower in the ovenproof baking dish, making sure to cover the bottom evenly. Carefully pour over the sauce, ensuring the cauliflower is completely covered. Scatter over the spring onions and the remaining Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with the cayenne pepper for a bit of heat. You can also add some breadcrumbs if you like a crunchy topping.
Step 4: Bake and serve
Place the dish in the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbling. The cheese sauce will thicken and the cauliflower will become soft and tender. Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
Enjoy your cauliflower cheese with some crusty bread, a green salad, or some rice or pasta. You can also serve it as a side dish with a roast or a casserole.
What Do I Serve With Delia Smith Cauliflower Cheese?
You can serve Delia Smith cauliflower cheese with a variety of dishes, depending on your mood and appetite. Some of the options are:
- Bread: A crusty loaf of bread is a great companion for the creamy cheese sauce. You can also make some garlic bread or cheese toasties for extra flavor and crunch.
- Salad: A fresh green salad is a nice contrast to the rich and warm cauliflower cheese. You can make a simple salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and dressing, or a more elaborate one with nuts, fruits, cheese, and herbs.
- Rice or pasta: Rice or pasta can make the cauliflower cheese more filling and satisfying. You can cook some plain rice or pasta, or add some butter, cheese, or herbs for more flavor.
- Roast or casserole: If you want to serve the cauliflower cheese as a side dish, you can pair it with a roast or a casserole. You can choose from chicken, beef, lamb, pork, or fish, and add some gravy, sauce, or vegetables.
Pro Tips to Make Perfect Delia Smith Cauliflower Cheese
Here are some tips and tricks to make your cauliflower cheese even better:
- Don’t overcook the cauliflower. You want it to be tender but still firm, not mushy or falling apart. This will ensure a better texture and flavor.
- Use good quality cheese. The cheese is the star of the dish, so you want to use cheese that has a strong and sharp flavor, such as mature cheddar and Parmesan. You can also experiment with different cheeses, such as Gruyère, Emmental, or blue cheese.
- Add some crème fraîche. Crème fraîche is a thick and creamy dairy product that adds richness and tanginess to the cheese sauce. It also helps to prevent the sauce from splitting or curdling.
- Season well. Don’t forget to add some salt, pepper, nutmeg, mustard, and cayenne pepper to the cheese sauce. These spices will enhance the flavor and add some warmth and depth.
- Make a crunchy topping. A crunchy topping will add some contrast and interest to the dish. You can use breadcrumbs, cheese, or both, and sprinkle them over the sauce before baking. You can also add some herbs, such as parsley, thyme, or rosemary, for some freshness and aroma.
How do I store Delia Smith Cauliflower Cheese?
You can store the leftover cauliflower cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Make sure to let it cool completely before storing it, and reheat it thoroughly before eating it.
How do I reheat Delia Smith Cauliflower Cheese?
You can reheat the cauliflower cheese in the oven or the microwave. To reheat it in the oven, preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/gas mark 4) and place the cauliflower cheese in an ovenproof dish. Cover it with foil and bake for 15–20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. To reheat it in the microwave, transfer the cauliflower cheese to a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a lid or a plate. Microwave it for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot and bubbly.
How do I make a gluten-free cauliflower cheese?
To make a gluten-free cauliflower cheese, use gluten-free flour like rice flour, chickpea flour or almond flour instead of regular flour when making the cheese sauce. You can also use gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed gluten-free crackers for the topping. Check that the cheese, milk and mustard you use are labeled gluten-free.
Can I freeze cauliflower cheese?
Yes, you can freeze cauliflower cheese. Allow the cooked cauliflower cheese to cool completely then transfer to a freezer-safe container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. It will be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bake in the oven until piping hot.
What can I add to cauliflower cheese to make it more interesting?
Get creative with mix-ins like chopped bacon, ham, shrimp, broccoli, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, or sautéed spinach. Switch up the cheese using Gruyère, gouda, parmesan, cheddar, goat cheese or blue cheese. Top with gluten-free crispy onions, crushed chips, or toasted nuts for crunch.
Delia Smith’s classic cauliflower cheese is the ultimate comfort food that can be easily adapted to suit your tastes. Feel free to get creative with different cheese varieties or mix-ins to make this dish your own. Making it ahead of time and freezing for later is a great way to have a homemade meal ready in minutes.
Whichever way you choose to prepare it, this cauliflower cheese recipe is sure to be a delicious addition to any meal. It’s creamy, cheesy and full of flavor. Serve it as a side dish or a vegetarian main with a salad or bread. Leftovers also reheat beautifully the next day.
I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step guide on how to make Delia Smith’s cauliflower cheese recipe. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I would love to hear from you. And if you try this recipe, please let me know how it turned out. Happy cooking!