Thursday, July 24, 2014

This has nothing, yet everything, to do with France {Cauliflower Cheese}

Hayley Ziegler agrees with me: three of the biggest pleasures in life seem to be cheese, wine and chocolate. At least, they are to most people.

Neither of us can have cheese - unless we are willing to sacrifice our tummy comfort {if not something worse!} in order to indulge.

Neither of us can have alcohol - personally, it makes my joints swell up painfully, leaving me with a hangover that lingers for days, if not weeks.

Neither of us can have chocolate - okay, I'm still testing this one to be sure, but a lot of signs are sadly pointing me in that direction.

We don't let this get us down though, of course, as we both know there are many other pleasures in life, food-related or not. One of these pleasures for me is hiking, and the hubster and I recently went on a hiking trip to France {you can read about how I stayed mostly paleo during the trip here}. I loved everything about France - the architecture, the country, the people... and the food.

The food, what little I could eat of it, was absolutely delicious. I truly savored every bite... but still. I was surrounded by cheese and wine. I was in the country of cheese and wine. I did venture one sip of what the hubster deemed to be a "very good" wine {and it was very good} but I didn't care to taste even a bit of cheese because I knew what the consequences would be. I simply watched as others enjoyed their cheese. Plugged my nose as the hubster bought cheese. Pulled my hard boiled eggs out of the cooler from under the cheese. It was hard, but I did it.

On the way home from France, I thought back to this Instagram post:

Then I saw that all the cool kids were doing it, too:

Then it clicked - I could have cheese.

I read through the list of ingredients - I didn't have half of them. Being the seasoned, self-taught chef that I am {read: I really wanted cheese}, I decided to use what I had and see what I could come up with.

What I came up with was cheese. It's kind of hard to describe the texture, but I'd say it falls somewhere between Kraft Singles and goat cheese, as weird as that may sound. The taste is surprisingly neutral, and I really can't wait to make another batch and start playing with the flavors! It doesn't get all melty though, which would have been just amazing, but hey - who cares? I have cheese!

If you want the original, gelatin version {this version melts!}, check out Hayley's IG feed or the Gutsy By Nature blog, where Jaime kindly did up a blog post on the magical stuff. 

If you don't have gelatin or need a gelatin-free version, read on. And have fun adding this dairy free, nut free, seed free, soy free, gluten free, sugar free {really, free from EVERYTHING!} "cheese" to all your dishes! The version below is even vegan - everyone should be happy here!

Cauliflower Cheese
Hayley Ziegler's Zucchini Cheese

  • 7.5 ounces (212 grams) cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
  1. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Dissolve the agar agar powder into the water in a small sauce pan.
  3. Add the cauliflower, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook the cauliflower until soft (all this took me about 6 minutes).
  4. Blend the water and cauliflower together using an immersion blender.
  5. Add the coconut oil, vinegar and salt, blend again.
  6. Pour into the parchment paper lined baking dish and smooth evenly.
  7. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting and using.


  1. Replies
    1. There's a link in my post above to get to the original gelatin version :P

  2. Interesting! I read that you can use agar for the original recipe, but have my doubts. Did you cook the coliflower in the same water you dissolved the agar? Did you blend the coliflower with that water (to my understanging)? Do you think if I do what you did here with the zucchini cheese recipe it would turn out the same? Cause in the original recipe they say you can add 3/4 of agar to make it vegan, but they don't specify much else. I understand you have to cook agar in some kind of liquid in order for it to set when cold. Please help me! Thank you!!!

    1. Yes, agar needs to be boiled for it to set. Sir the agar into the water, add the veggies (zucchini, carrots, cauliflower...), bring to a boil, cook, blend, mold, let set. Easy peasy!

  3. This doesn't include the nutritional yeast from the other version. Isn't that an important part of the "cheese" flavor?

  4. As stated in the article, I didn't have most of the ingredients Hayley used. It still turned out great though. Try it for yourself and see, or use nutritional yeast (I personally can't stand the taste of NY, though many have told me is sometimes a matey of brands.)