Cauliflower salad with Good Queen Maude and hazelnuts
Good Queen Maude is one of Alex James's cheeses and is made from sheeps milk on his farm in Oxfordshire; it was gold medal winner in last year's world cheese awards.
1 small head of cauliflower, trimmed
150ml double cream
200-250g Good Queen Maude or a similar hard cheese
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
A handful of celery leaves or flat-leaved parsley, washed and dried
30g hazelnuts, lightly toasted
For the dressing
1tbsp cider vinegar
3tbsp hazelnut or walnut oil
1tsp Dijon mustard
Break the cauliflower down into florets. On a mandolin or with a very sharp knife cut about half of the florets into thin slices, and put the nicest slices into a bowl of iced water for 15 minutes and drain. Cook the rest of the florets and any trimmings in boiling salted water for 6-8 minutes – until tender and soft enough to purée. Drain them and blend in a liquidiser or food processor until smooth, then transfer to a saucepan.
While the cauliflower is cooking, shave about a third of the cheese as thinly as possible with a sharp knife or on a mandolin and grate the rest. Add the cream and grated cheese to the cauliflower purée, season and simmer very gently for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted. It should be a thickish soup consistency; if it's not then continue simmering. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
To serve, mix all of the ingredients together for the dressing and season. Spoon about a tablespoon of the cauliflower purée on to serving plates and spread it out with the back of the spoon. Toss the cauliflower slices with the celery or parsley leaves and the dressing; season lightly. Arrange on the purée then scatter over the shaved cheese and hazelnuts.
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