1. To make the sauce, peel and finely slice the garlic and put it into a pan on a medium heat with the butter.
2. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour for 1 minute to make a paste, then gradually add the milk, whisking as you go, until smooth and starting to thicken.
3. Roughly chop and add the broccoli to the pan and simmer for around 20 minutes, then mash or blitz with a stick blender until fairly smooth.
4. Grate in half the Cheddar, mix well, taste, and season to perfection.
5. Snap off and wash the cauliflower leaves, discarding any tatty ones, then cut the centre into florets, slicing up the stalk.
6. Arrange it all in an appropriately sized baking dish, letting any leaves hang beautifully over the edge.
7. Pour over the broccoli sauce and grate over the remaining Cheddar.
8. In a food processor, blitz the bread and thyme leaves into rough crumbs with 1 tablespoon of oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then pulse in the almonds so they retain a nice bit of texture. Scatter the topping evenly over the cauliflower cheese. Cover and pop in the fridge.
ON THE DAY
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
2. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden and cooked through, then enjoy!
It’s good fun to play around with different cheeses in this dish and see how they taste and melt, so this is a great one for using up any leftovers from your Christmas cheeseboard. It’s also nice to try different veg instead of cauliflower – for instance, 2–3cm chunks of celeriac, squash, potatoes or leeks would all work a treat. Just remember, some veg might take longer to cook than others, so test with a knife to check they’re cooked through before serving.