For some reason for years, cauliflower never appeared in my home. I always though of cauliflower as being inferior to it's cousin broccoli. So I never bothered to do anything with it. It wasn't until watching an episode of of Good Eats entitled "Caul of the Flower" that I cooked with fresh cauliflower for the first time. The first recipe I choose to do off the show was his Cauliflower Say Cheese. Below you will find my cooking notes from this recipe. For the full recipe, visit Food Network's website.
1. Of course you can use the standard white cauliflower and I did the first time I made this. Second time around I made it more fun by using orange and purple cauliflower that I got from Frieda's Specialty Produce. Those colored cauliflower make the dish look so pretty.
2. The first step is to start cooking the cauliflower in the microwave in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. I was out of plastic wrap, so I just used a bowl with a microwave safe lid.
3. The curds should easily come off the larger florets, by rubbing it in between your hands. If it doesn't come off easily, you need to cook your cauliflower a little more. Every microwave is different, so 4 minutes for Alton, may not be long enough for you (it wasn't for me).
4. The recipe calls for homemade bread crumbs, but Alton said you could use panko (Japanese bread crumbs) instead. So that is what I did. I also didn't have smoked paprika, so I just used what paprika I did have one hand.
5. As for the cheese I used a sharp New Zealand white cheddar that I purchased at Whole Foods Market. Use your favorite sharp cheddar.
6. I baked the cauliflower for the 20 minutes and it came out nice and golden. As instructed I added the additional cheese and put it under the broiler. You need to watch it carefully at this point. Alton said 6-8 minutes for this, but after only 3 minutes, my cheese was brown enough, any longer it would have burned. Just as the microwave, every oven is different, so use your best judgment.
My wife really liked this recipe. It was cheesy, but not too cheesy. You don't need a glob of sauce for something to taste cheesy. It was spicy, but not too spicy. The cauliflower taste was not overwhelmed by either. This is a dish she wants me to do again.
Recipe Grade: B+