Finding Comfort in Change
A bowl of veggies in a creamy cheese sauce enriched with the exquisite flavor of truffle, is about as comforting as comfort food gets.
This last week brought a surprising change in my rollercoaster journey from Orchestra Manager to Natural Chef. Life as a freelancer is notoriously fickle, and for the first time in 8 months I’ve found myself without a regular source of income, as one of my freelance part-time chef jobs came to an end.
The news hit me in a way I hadn’t imagined it would. I listened, I digested, I didn’t panic, and I optimistically wondered how I could make this work for the better. I’d stayed in my previous job for ten years as I was scared of change. Now, changes hit me week after week and I’m learning to take it all in stride. I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason, and today this still rings true.
That upsetting day, yoga was my first chosen comfort and I happily ended up at a class on the way home from work. This quote was shared at the end of class. I’m usually so relaxed in shavansana I’m hardly aware of sounds and declarations being offered – but this struck out to me like a shining beacon of hope.
“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
This quote now comforts and reassures me that all the huge decisions I’ve made in the last 18 months to change my career have absolutely sent me on the path of growth.
So, what’s the plan now? Who knows? I’m certainly going to spend December working my butt off on all the things I didn’t have time to do these last few months. I’ll write my media pack, maybe I’ll work on a Christmas ebook, and I’ll certainly be the best I can be for the cooking classes and catering events I already have planned. I’m already wondering if the to do list I’ve written for myself is slightly too ambitious – hopefully not.
Now, on to the recipe. Comforting food, my second choice for comfort. This dish is quite unlike anything that’s appeared on the blog in its three and a half years. In my search for better health, I avoided cheese for the longest time. With this dish, I welcome it back to my table, in moderation, of course.
Cauliflower cheese is THE best British Sunday roast dinner accompaniment, especially if you’re eight and don’t like vegetables. Back then, I always considered the sauce bit the best, likely because my childish taste buds didn’t so much like the cauliflower. I’m grown up now, and have learned to love cauliflower for the amazing health promoting cruciferous vegetable that it is, especially when roasted. Oddly I’d not thought of roasting cauliflower for cauliflower cheese till I heard Gizzi Erskine sing its praises recently.
This gluten free béchamel sauce recipe is adapted from a recipe I learned at Bauman College. We used gluten free sorghum flour for the roux as it has a fairly neutral flavor, but you can easily substitute buckwheat (also gluten free). You may be wondering why, when there is already heaps of cheese in this recipe, I still choose almond milk for the bulk of the sauce? Certainly for flavor, and using dairy and non-dairy components is an answer to nutritional balance.
The cheese I used in the recipe is Barbers 1833 Vintage reserve cheddar, I met and chatted with Barbers at the BBC Good Food show a few weeks back. Though as a producer they are not organically certified, all their British West Country Somerset cows eat plants off the land like cows are designed to (we often use the phrase grass fed for short to describe this kind of rearing). The mature cheese is so rich and tangy, a little goes a long way.
- 2 medium cauliflowers, broken up into florets
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 15g butter
- 15g sorghum flour
- 500mls almond milk
- 1 bay leaf, torn
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Pinch each allspice and nutmeg
- 100g mature cheddar cheese*
- ½ Tbs truffle infused olive oil
- 2 Tbs capers
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.
- Toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil, some salt and pepper and roast on a lined baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes until crispy.
- While the cauliflower roasts, make the béchamel sauce. To make the roux, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and add the flour, stir constantly for about 5 minutes. Slowly add the almond milk, stirring constantly. Add the bay, mustard and spices, and bring to a simmer. Cook over a low heat until thickened, approximately 15 minutes. Stir regularly. The sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese, add salt and pepper to taste.
- When the cauliflower is roasted transfer it to an appropriate sized baking dish (the cauliflower should be just 1 layer deep) and pour over the sauce. Return the cauliflower to the oven for a final 15 minutes till the sauce is bubbling hot.
- Finally heat the truffle oil in a frying pan, and sauté the capers until crispy. Scatter over the cauliflower cheese to serve, with extra truffle oil if desired.
*Many thanks to Barbersfor the cheese.13