600 ml (21 fl oz) milk
1 small onion, halved
1 bay leaf
10 whole cloves
6 whole black peppercorns
4 parsley stalks
60 g (2 oz) butter
60 g (2 oz/ plain (all-purpose) flour 1 teaspoon dijon or English mustard
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) grated tasty cheddar cheese
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) grated parmesan cheese
800 g–1 kg (1 lb 12 oz–2 lb 4 oz) cauliflower, cut into florets
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF/Gas 6). Put the milk, onion, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns and parsley stalks in a large saucepan. Bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain to remove herbs and spices. Set aside and keep warm.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium–low heat. Add the flour and whisk together (this mixture is called a ‘roux’). Cook the roux for about 1–2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Remove sauce from heat and begin to add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly to thoroughly combine and prevent the mixture from becoming lumpy. Once all of the milk has been incorporated and sauce is smooth, return to a low heat and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring, until sauce thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat, then whisk in the mustard, two-thirds of the cheese and one-third of the parmesan. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, steam or boil the cauliflower until just tender, about 3 minutes — they should still have a bit of bite to them. Drain and arrange the cauliflower in a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inch) baking dish. Cover with the cheese sauce, top with the remaining cheeses and season with pepper. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, or until golden. Serve this dish with some lemon wedges to cut through the cheesiness, and some steamed green vegetables or a fresh salad.