400 gm cauliflower, cut into small florets2 tbsp olive oil1 tbsp thyme3 rashers streaky bacon, rind removed, finely chopped200 ml milk60 gm butter, diced90 gm plain flour2 eggs, lightly beaten120 gm vintage cheddar, coarsely grated, plus extra, finely grated, to serve2 tbsp chives, finely chopped1 tsp smoked paprika, plus extra to serve Vegetable oil, for deep-frying Finely grated rind of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve
Preheat oven to 200C. Toss cauliflower with oil and thyme, season to taste and roast, turning occasionally, until golden (35-45 minutes). Cool.
Fry bacon in a frying pan over medium heat until crisp (4-5 minutes). Drain on paper towels.
Combine milk, butter and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in flour and stir until mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan (1-2 minutes). Cool for 5 minutes, then add eggs one at a time, beating well to combine between additions. Cover directly with plastic wrap and cool completely, then stir in cauliflower, bacon, cheese, chives and paprika.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 170C, then deep-fry heaped tablespoonfuls of mixture, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through (4-5 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain on paper towels, then transfer to a serving platter. Scatter with extra cheese, lemon rind, paprika and sea salt and serve with lemon wedges.