Ratio: Cauliflower Cheese

Ratio: Cauliflower Cheese

Knowing how to make a basic white sauce is one of the world’s best things. It’s cheap when you know how to make it for yourself. It’s full of goodness and can be used to stretch other food nice and far. Most Brits love a cauliflower cheese, but of course you can shove any veg in there; broccoli, roasted leftover veg and of course, pasta.

My mum used to make cauliflower cheese into a meal for 6 by piping finely milled mashed potato around the inside of an oven proof dish; my dad loves whole tinned tomatoes in the middle. Topped with breadcrumbs and baked for 20 minutes, please can I suggest you try this? It’s frugal, and delicious.

Top tips for cheese sauce:

  1. If you have rinds from your ‘parmesan’, use them to flavour the milk that you’ll be using. This means you’re using less cheese in the final dish, and making the most of the flavour from the cheese. I use mine at least twice, and then the dog has a lovely chew toy… instructions here.
  2. Never walk away from the pan. Ever. It could burn on the base, boil over, set into a thick lump… more trouble than its worth
  3. If you have a balloon whisk, use it! It’s much more effective than a wooden spoon.

You can bake the dish without par-boiling the cauliflower. If the oven is already on, then go for it. But, that is a lot of electricity for one meal if you’re only cooking the one dish! If baking with the cauliflower from raw, bake for about 40 minutes.

 

Cauliflower Cheese with mash & tomatoes

Serves 4, heartily

Equipment

  • Colander
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Optional: pan and steamer
  • Saucepan
  • Balloon whisk
  • Scales
  • Serving bowl
  • Heatproof jug
  • Ovenproof dish

Ingredients
  

  • 700 grams floury potatoes such as white/red/King Edwards/Maris pipers
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 50 ml milk

For the cheese sauce

  • 500 ml milk
  • Aromatics – all optional but all lovely: freshly ground nutmeg, parsley stalks, leek tops/half an onion, parmesan rind
  • Salt & pepper
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 90 grams plain flour
  • Around 100 grams strong cheese – whatever you like including cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese, even emmental, gouda – this is a great way to clear the fridge
  • 1 teaspoon mustard

Instructions
 

Method

  • Turn the oven to 180C
  • Make the mash: peel the potatoes, and steam/boil/microwave in salted water until cooked through
  • Once they are cooked through, mash with plenty of butter, and season. Really make sure there are no lumps (Only add enough milk to make the mash the right consistency for you; you can use more if you like). If you have a potato ricer or mouli, this is the time to break it out – you want a really creamy mashed potato. No lumps thanks.
  • Steam/boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes/microwave for about 3, so it's halfway cooked

Make white sauce

  • Strain any aromatics from your milk
  • Place a saucepan on the hob and melt the butter
  • Add the flour and, using the balloon whisk or a fork, mix the flour in
  • Splash in about 50ml of the milk and make a thick paste
  • Keep on adding around 50ml of milk, whisking until all the flour/butter mixture is combined
  • Bring gently to the boil and, once it’s popping gently, turn the heat down and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
  • Add in the cheese/cheeses and mustard (if using), and mix the half-cooked cauli and cheese sauce together.

Assemble the dish

  • Squash the mash around the edge of your oven-proof dish
  • Next, pour in the cauliflower cheese
  • If using the tomatoes, make a well in the middle and use a spoon to place the tomatoes in. Keep the leftover sauce to add to a tomato sauce.
  • Cover with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and grated cheese

NOTE – if freezing the whole dish, leave it to cool, cover, label then freeze

  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through & the sauce is bubbling

Storage/further meals

  • If you’re not planning to eat this dish within 3 days I’d play it safe and pop it in the freezer

How to make your own white sauce

How to make your own white sauce

How to: make your own white sauce

Making a white sauce can seem like a waste of time when you can buy a jar. But making your own is cheaper, is fresher and I be more delicious. If you are buying your milk in reusable glass bottles, and if you can get flour from a refill shop, then the packaging waste is minimal (just the butter!).
Making your own white (or cheese) sauce also lets you use up bits and bobs to make your sauce more delicious: cheese rinds, parsley stalks and leek tops are just some of the aromatics that can give your white sauce a sweetness and depth that can’t be replicated from a jar.
Once you’ve got your white sauce, use it in cauliflower cheese, lasagne, pasta bakes and more. It will freeze well, so it’s a great way of using up leftover milk before it goes off. Busting food waste and making something creamy to inspire the next meal, the StorrCupboard way.

White sauce

Ann Storr
Make white sauce or cheese sauce - make it extra delicious by using your kitchen leftovers
Prep Time 5 hrs
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 4 adults

Equipment

  • Saucepan with lid
  • Colander
  • Balloon whisk
  • Scales
  • Sharp knife (if using nutmeg)

Ingredients
  

  • 500 ml milk
  • Aromatics – all optional but all lovely: freshly ground nutmeg, parsley stalks, leek tops/half an onion, parmesan rind
  • Salt & pepper
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 90 grams plain flour
  • For cheese sauce: around 100 grams strong cheese – whatever you like including cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese, even emmental, gouda – this is a great way to clear the fridge
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard optional

Instructions
 

Prep

  • Place the milk in a saucepan with any aromatics. Gently heat until about blood temperature and then leave for at least 5 minutes or up to a day.
  • Remove any onion flavourings after half an hour, but leave any bay leaves/cheese rinds until you are ready to cook.

Cooking the white sauce

  • Take a jug or bowl, place the colander/sieve on top. Strain any aromatics from your milk into the jug. Discard any lay leaves/leek tops. You can re-use the cheese rind, just rinse and keep in the fridge.
  • Place a saucepan on the hob and melt the butter
  • Add the flour and, using the balloon whisk or a fork, mix the flour in
  • Splash in about 50ml of the milk and make a thick paste
  • Keep on adding around 50ml of milk, whisking until all the flour/butter mixture is combined
  • Bring gently to the boil and, once it’s popping gently, turn the heat down and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
  • Add in the cheese/cheeses and mustard (if using)

Useage

  • You can use in a lasagne, pasta bake or cauliflower cheese

Storage

  • Store in a lidded container, for up to a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer. If using from cold, you will need to warm the sauce up and give it a good stir to remove any lumps that have settled.
Keyword cheap recipies, eating on a budget, no food waste

Milk Bread

Milk Bread

Milk Bread from worrisome milk

My bread isn’t going to win any beauty prizes, but milk bread is a perfect way to deal with “oh lord I forgot to cancel the milk” or “we both bought milk and now  – is it sodding off?!?!” problems.

When I first made this Rachel Roddy recipe, my youngest ate three rolls as soon as they were cool enough, and begged me to make them again. If you want to learn about better Italian cooking, then I cannot recommend Rachel’s books or column enough. Simple recipes, no fancy ingredients and very, very helpful suggestions.

Your milk: if you’re a little concerned about if it’s safe, remember what to do: first, sniff it; if you’re not sure, then taste just a tiny drop. If your milk is a tiny bit sour then you should be fine to bake it in this loaf. Believe me, in my skint days, sour milk went into many loaves of milk bread and soda bread. Once you’ve tasted the milk, if it makes you want to vom, then of course do not use it. If it is one or two days passed it’s ‘best’ date, you are likely to be okay. The heat of the oven will kill any potential germs but, unless you’re buying raw milk, the pasteurisation and filtrations systems of milk treatment will keep you safe and well.

Millions of litres of milk are poured down the drain of every UK household. That milk is sold as a lost leader by supermarkets. Not only are we wasting our money, we are not being mindful of the backbreaking work of farmers and cows in getting this milk to us. So don’t fucking waste it just because of a date! Use your senses, use these recipes and make sure there’s never a leftover, leftover.

Ratio note

Bread is, almost always, an easy ratio. This way, if you have 750 ml or 225 ml of milk to use up, get your maths brain/calculator out and get cracking:

100% flour (e.g., 1 kilo)
60% liquid (600ml)
10% yeast (10 grams)
20% salt (20 grams)

 

Milk bread

Adapted, barely, from Rachel Roddy, The Guardian, 5.11.2018

Ingredients
  

  • 300 ml worrisome milk
  • 1 egg
  • 500 grams plain flour
  • 5 grams fast action yeast if you bake a lot, consider buying a tin as the packaging is recyclable, and you can use a more accurate weight.
  • 10 grams salt this is the same as 2 teaspoons but I find it easier to just weigh straight into the scales
  • 10 grams sugar

Tools

  • Scale
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Whisk
  • Clean tea towel
  • Loaf tin/ovenproof dish
  • If baking rolls: greaseproof paper
  • Wire cooling rack

Instructions
 

  • I use a digital scale and just weigh all the dry ingredients on top of each other. Stir them together
  • Break the egg into the milk and whisk together with the whisk or fork. Pour into the flour mixture and get your hands right in there. The dough should be soft, not sticky.
  • Now, you can either knead the dough for ten minutes, or you can do the no-knead method: shape the dough into a round and return to the bowl. Every time it reaches double the size, knock it back. You have to go this about 6 times (so 6-10 hours) but it works for me.

Ready for baking

  • Lightly flour a counter and shape the dough into a loaf shape, or into rolls. (I have a shite sense of weight, so I weight out 100g lumps of dough for a roll; there's usually one weird one left over).
  • Grease your loaf tin and gently place the dough into the tin. If making rolls, I line an ovenproof tray with greaseproof paper.
  • Turn the oven to 180C. Cover the dough with the clean tea towel and leave to double in size.
  • Lightly brush the buns with milk and place in the oven; the loaf will take around 40 minutes, the buns around 20.
  • When the oven pings, if it's the loaf, upend it onto a clean tea towel or wire cooling rack. If it sounds hollow when you tap it, you're good to go. If not, pop it back in. With the rolls, you are probably okay.
  • When you're happy that everything's cooked through, place on the wire cooling rack (removing any greaseproof paper if you've used) and leave, if you can, to cool.

Storage

  • Once cool, I use a super sexy giant tupperware to store my bread. 
    It will freeze well, in a bag, for a couple of months.

Relay racing it

  • Of course it's just bread; but the softness of milk bread makes superb eggy bread or bread and butter pudding. 

Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding from worrisome milk

Years ago, I worked with a wonderful woman called Jadz. We worked on the same study at the Institute of Psychiatry, looking at how nature and nuture affect behaviour. I’d feel insecure that my colleagues were all researchers and academics, when I was ‘just’ comms and business. I talked more about food and fashion than stats and theories, and got my boss to bring me copies of American Vogue (one time it was a record breaking September edition…). It’s lucky that I moved industries, right?

Jadz told me how her mum would make bowls of rice pudding as a special breakfast. She smiled as she said it, in that time-warp way that some memories have. I went home and made a batch for my eldest, and she was in heaven.

Nowadays, I make my eldest rice pudding for breakfast when I know she’s got a rough day ahead. After 11 years on a nature X nuture study, the armchair psychologist in me says that nature (child and grandchild of comfort feeders) + nurture (erm, child and grandchild of comfort feeders) means there’s going to be rice pudding for breakfast for years to come, thank you Jadz.

Note

Rice pudding will keep for a couple of days, but if you have any scrapings leftover, whack them into a pancake batter or bread dough – remember it’s all about relay race cooking, where one ‘leftover’ sparks a new idea.

Rice pudding

You can use pudding rice, but I have a giant bag of arborio rice that my bestie sent me from Italy. Short grain would even be fine at a push.
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 500 ml leftover milk cow/goat/soy/coconut
  • 50 grams pudding or risotto rice
  • 25 grams unsalted butter or vegan alternative
  • 25 grams sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

Tools

  • Scales
  • Measuring jug
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Sieve
  • Wooden spoon

Ratio

    1 part rice to 10 parts milk: if you have 250 ml of milk to use up, it's 25 grams of rice. 1 litre? 100 grams of rice.

      Instructions
       

      • Weigh the rice, place it in the sieve and rinse. Allow to drain.
      • Add the milk, rice, butter, sugar and salt to the pan. Turn the heat to medium, place the lid on and bring to the boil.
      • Milk can boil over VERY QUICKLY so don't walk away!
      • Once it is simmering, turn the heat down. Stir every 10 minutes of so until done - around 30 minutes.
      • Serve on its own or with jam

      Storage

      • If there is any leftover, then place in a lidded container in the fridge. You can mash any leftover rice pudding that no-one wants into bread dough or pancake batter.

      Classic American/Scotch Pancakes

      Classic American/Scotch Pancakes

      Scotch pancakes with worrisome milk

      Pancakes are a useful recipe to have always in the back of your mind for leftover milk, yoghurt, cream or even porridge. They are cheap, they are healthy. If you are so inclined, you can start experimenting with mixes of wholegrain flours and oats.

      I took a picture with golden syrup drizzling down in honour of my eldest, who can think of little finer than a brand new tin of syrup, looking almost red and daring you to dunk a finger. We both, usually, do.

      If your milk is on it’s best before, or near it – never pour it down the drain. The stats are staggering: 3 1/2 million litres are wasted in UK homes every year. 7% of all the milk that we produce. So play your part, testing your milk and trusting your senses over an over-cautious jet printed date.

      A fried egg, some butter and loads of marmite or ketchup is what I love most of all. Either way, make sure there’s never a leftover, leftover.

       

      Scotch pancakes

      You can use all plain flour, or a mixture of lots of scraps. I wouldn't go over 50% of wholewheat flours mind, or they'll be heavy AF. Don't miss out the melted butter, there's a softness that seems a pity to waste.

      Ingredients
        

      Ingredients

      • 225 grams plain flour or use a mixture of plain and wholegrain
      • 4 teaspoons baking powder or just weigh 20 grams, that's what I do...
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 300 ml worrisome milk
      • 30 grams unsalted butter & more for cooking

      Tools

      • scales
      • mixing bowl
      • measuring jug - really big one if possible
      • whisk
      • frying pan
      • pastry brush
      • spatula
      • flipper

      Instructions
       

      If you have a digital scale and a 1 litre mixing jug...

      • Place the jug on the scale and pour in the milk and crack in the eggs. Whisk. Set the scale back to zero. Then carefully add the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Remove from the scale and whisk until you have a good batter.

      If you don't...

      • Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a measuring jug, whisk together the milk and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until you have a thick batter.

      Either way

      • Turn the heat on under your pan to medium-hot and add the 30 grams of butter. Once it's melted, pour it into the batter and mix well.
      • When the pan is nice and hot, add just a pinch of butter and let it sizzle. If you can't get it to coat the base of the pan nicely, then use a pastry brush.
      • Pour in the batter, probably making neater circles than I have ever managed. Don't crowd the pan - around 3 or 4 to a large pan at a time.
      • When you see lots of little bubbles rising up, take your spatula and flip the pancakes over. They should only take a minute more to cook through.
      • Keep going until all the batter is used, using your spatula to leave a clean-enough bowl behind. 

      Storage

      • Leftover pancakes will keep for a couple of days in the fridge. Reheat in a dry frying pan.

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