What I Loved
I’ve cooked several vintage recipes. However, none have been this delicious. This is hands down an instant favorite. I’m an Idaho boy. Potatoes are in my blood. I’ve had escalloped potatoes before, many times. However, I never thought of doing the same thing with cauliflower. Sorry Idaho, this recipe might just be better with cauliflower than with potatoes. This cauliflower recipe was amazingly simple. The individual cauliflower florets had a nice pop and texture on each bite. The creamy sauce was greatly enhanced by the cheddar cheese I chose to add in. A mixture of cheese and breadcrumbs formed a nice crust on the top that was a crispy and crunchy delight. The flavors were mild and would go perfectly with a variety of main course options.
Original Cauliflower Recipe
Put a good-sized cauliflower into a kettle containing two quarts of boiling water, and after adding a tablespoonful of salt, cook the vegetable slowly for half an hour. At the end of that time remove it, and after allowing the water to drip from it, break the cauliflower apart, and put a layer into an escalope-dish. Moisten with cream sauce, and sprinkle with grated cheese; then put in another layer, pour the remainder of the sauce over it, and sprinkle thickly with cheese and bread crumbs. You will need a pint of sauce, a scant half-pint of bread crumbs, and two tablespoonfuls of cheese-or more if you desire a strong flavor. Cook the dish for twenty minutes, and serve as soon as it comes from the oven.
To make the sauce- Put two tablespoonfuls of butter into the frying-pan, and when it becomes melted, add one tablespoonful of flour. Stir the sauce until it is smooth and frothy; then gradually add a pint of cold milk. Season with salt and pepper, and boil up once.
The only change needed to the original recipe is to add 2 tablespoons of flour, instead of one. Adding a single tablespoon is not enough to thicken the sauce to an acceptable consistency.
1 head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon salt
2 quarts boiling water
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 pint milk
1 cup cheese (optional, but highly encouraged)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Add 1 tablespoon of salt to a pot that contains 2 quarts of boiling water. Add a head of cauliflower. Boil for 30 minutes. Allow the cauliflower to drain. Break cauliflower into many small pieces.
To make the sauce- Put two tablespoonfuls of butter into the frying-pan, and when it becomes melted, add two tablespoonfuls of flour. Stir the sauce until it is smooth and frothy; then gradually add a pint of cold milk. Season with salt and pepper, and boil up once.
In a small casserole dish, put down a layer of cauliflower. Cover with half the sauce and cheese. Add another layer of cauliflower. Cover with the remaining sauce and cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top layer of cheese. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
What I learned
I learned that this is a brilliant recipe. I personally have nothing against potatoes, but many people are avoiding them as a part of a diet. Cauliflower is an amazing substitute for a familiar and delicious dish. You can lighten the sauce by using 1% milk and a healthier fat. Just keep the ratios correct. 1 pint of milk to two tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of the fat of your choice. Add cheese. You can make this as cheesy, or not cheesy, as you prefer.
The original cauliflower recipe called for a single tablespoon of flour in the sauce. I am not sure if this was a typo or if Miss Parloa simply liked a sauce that was incredibly thin. When I did the sauce with the single tablespoon it was very runny. The consistency was not suitable for this application. Adding another tablespoon of flour fixed the problem.
If you need a delicious side dish for a weeknight meal, this is a brilliant cauliflower recipe that deserves a try. You can boil the cauliflower ahead of time to save some time during a final dinner preparation. If you like this recipe, subscribe so you can get others like it sent to your inbox once per week!
Miss Parloa’s Kitchen Companion. A Guide For All Who Would Be Good Housekeepers. Published in 1887