Thanksgiving cooking with Pete and Barb Marczyk: cauliflower with cheddar cheese sauce

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Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk's to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy.

"At Thanksgiving, I like to go through my archives, usually Gourmet magazines from the '80s, to see what those long-winded folks were up to," says Barb. "The recipes always taste great, the photography is beautiful, and I often find that a lot of today's food trends are a nod to the past: pickling, growing your own food and canning, so why not actually go back in time?" If you're looking for a last-minute side dish to accompany tomorrow's turkey feast, Barb highly recommends the cauliflower with cheddar sauce recipe that she came across in a 1989 issue of Gourmet. "It's a lovely accompaniment to your Thanksgiving dinner, and the rye bread crumbs really make it," says Barb, adding that the rye bread sold at Marczyk's is the best you'll find.

See also: Cooking with Pete and Barb Marczyk: roasted squash


3 slices rye bread, cut into cubes 3 cups whole milk 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 small onion, finely chopped 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar 1 1/2 medium heads cauliflower (3 pounds total), cored and cut into 2-inch-wide florets


1. Place a baking rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees 2. Toast bread slices on a baking sheet sides until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove and cool toasted bread on a rack and then crumble bread into crumbs. 3. Bring milk just to a boil; remove from heat. 4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy saucepan over moderately low heat; add onions, and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes to make a roux. Add milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until sauce is smooth. Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 20 minutes. 5. Add cheddar cheese and cook, stirring until just melted. Remove from heat, cover surface of sauce with wax paper (to prevent a skin from forming), and let cool. 6. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. 7. Cook cauliflower in a heavy pot of boiling, well-salted water until florets are tender, about 10 minutes. 8. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cauliflower to a bowl of ice-cold water, drain well and pat florets dry. Transfer cauliflower to buttered baking dish. 7. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and toss with bread crumbs. Pour cheddar sauce over cauliflower and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake until sauce is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.

For more from Pete, Barbara and Marczyk Fine Foods, visit the market website. And be sure to check out Pete's blog and Marczyk Fine Wines.

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