If dairy in the form of cheese and cream is not within your paleo template then move along ... there's plenty more here.
You could, of course, omit the dairy entirely and enjoy some tender steamed vegetables with bacon and shallot, and perhaps a drizzle of avocado oil and some chilli - there's a thought. Maybe next time.
Back to it ... we've a cheese sauce to make and that is something that is not an easy thing to do without flour, cornflour or some other thickener. You could use a starch, like arrowroot, but it tends to make the sauce look slimy.
Here's how ...
Get your vegetables steaming - a whole cauliflower and a whole broccoli taken off the stems is good for two people.
In a skillet, get some shredded bacon slices and shredded shallot warming through and crisping up. I scooped up some really nice outdoor reared, hung and smoked bacon in the end of date section at the supermarket for literally pence! Score!
The sauce ...
Grate about 300g of cheese. We use more cheese than usual here. I used a mature cheddar - full of flavour with a superb tang.
In a small milk pan over a gentle heat, melt some butter. How much? Well, enough. Maybe a half centimetre slice of the end of a stick?
Whisk that together with a little hot water - somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon is fine. You're thinking that fat and water do not mix, but we can emulsify using a whisk. Why? We need a little liquid to go with our double cream, which is next.
Pour in about 100ml of double cream. You might call this heavy cream, depending upon where you live. You may just call it cream.
Stirred into the emulsified butter, you should now have a thinned out cream. This is much better than simply watering down cream and better than using milk.
Finally, dump in the cheese and keeping it low and slow ... just let the cheese melt in. Stir occasionally to ensure that it is not sticking.
Not thick enough? Pop in an egg yolk. Beat in quickly so that it does not scramble. In fact, drop in an egg yolk anyway for a really deep sauce.
Want something really special? Secret ingredient? English Mustard. Stir in a teaspoon of English Mustard and the sauce will pep up and go a gorgeous yellow. It must be English Mustard for the heat and bite - American, French or German will not do since it is too bitter.
So, that's our sauce done, our vegetables steamed and our crunchy topping done.
Spoon out the vegetables into an ovenproof dish, pour over the sauce and sprinkle the bacon and shallot over. Place it under the grill/broiler for a few minutes to really crispen up.
Serve out into wide brimmed bowls with a sprinkle of sea salt and a grind of freshly milled black pepper.