sounds gross, tastes like comfort and also mustard
things you’ll need: cauliflower, mustard, mayonnaise, a melty cheese, salt and pepper.
it is a truth universally acknowledged that my mother does not cook, but this is one of the few things that she does make. We didn’t name it frosted cauliflower, but that’s what the 1950s called it.
incidentally gluten-free and vegetarian, vegenaise is an easy substitute and I often leave out the cheese when I make it for myself, but if you have a melty vegan substitute in mind, go for it.
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The category of comfort food is vast, deeply personal, and rooted in memory. You may have had someone in your life who cooked with (for) you or maybe a place that you went for the sustenance of refuge. This comfort is inherited and the making and eating become acts of remembering a kitchen, a table, the echoes of conversations wherein we felt cared for.
Somewhere in your emotional landscape there is a shadow you have yet to name. Maybe you go looking for it in the middle of the night, opening the refrigerator to try to find the answer there. Maybe you take a walk, hoping you’ll find it in some crack in the sidewalk. Perhaps you know its name but aren’t ready to say it.
It’s something akin to knowing that it’s going to storm or that you should call your best friend. It’s as much about intuition as a deep familiarity with yourself and requires you to have butterscotch instant pudding, a big flat of chicken wings, several cabbages, or whatever you must comfort buy to comfort cook your comfort food as soon as the need for comfort over takes you. You don’t know how to answer the question “how are you?” but you fill your cart with cauliflower and hope it helps.
No one ever called it “frosted cauliflower,” they just made it and you ate it often enough that it became a memory that you turn to when you aren’t sure what else to do.
The easy way they always made it for you:
Steam a cauliflower. Once tender, spread mayo and mustard all over it. Top with cheese. Cover until cheese is melted. Not all memories need improvement.
The way you’ve made it your own:
Steam a cauliflower until almost done. Place the whole thing on a sheet pan. Mix together about 1/3 cups of mayo, 3 Tablespoons of Dijon, and salt and pepper to taste. Using a brush, baste the whole head with your mayo mixture and roast at 400-425 for 45ish minutes, rotating and basting every 10-15 minutes until golden brown all over. Top with cheese and return to oven until the cheese melts. Finish under the broiler if you like the browned bits best.
You can add parmesan or use whole grain mustard instead. You can add onion powder, smoked paprika or parsley, but you don’t need to. The type and amount of cheese always depended on the contents of the refrigerator. Sometimes it was salvaged sticks of string cheese. Sometimes it was a bag of shredded cheddar. The way you remember, it was deli slices of Muenster and that’s the way you make it now.
Eat saltines and sardines, stockpile mac and powdered cheese, and buy as many cauliflowers as you need to take care of yourself.
As always, thank you for reading!
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