Tag Archives: cauliflower

THREE-CHEESE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Cauliflower is a beautiful vegetable. The usual variety is snowy white and reminds me of the huge cumulus clouds that build over the New Mexico mountains during the summer and fall. Those clouds are very much a part of the art of Georgia O’Keeffe. Now there are cauliflower varieties of  electric green and purple. They are also gorgeous and beg to be eaten. A creative cook can find many ways to prepare cauliflower. You can use it raw as a crudité along with a dip, or heaven forbid, ranch dressing, or in a garden salad. You can roast it in thick slabs, and then it tastes almost like steak. The Indians use it for delicious pakoras. There are other ways to prepare it, but the fallback in most home kitchens is a steamed head of cauliflower smothered in cheese sauce. Actually, I love that combination, but in my hands the cauliflower gets soggy in the steamer and the cheese sauce slides off the cauliflower into a pool on the plate. This is my effort to correct those shortcomings by roasting the cauliflower and using a thick sauce that clings to the head  of cauliflower and  browns quickly in the oven.

RECIPE

Three-Cheese Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower, washed, trimmed of leaves and stem
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons panko
  • melted unsalted butter

Method

  1. Place the cauliflower head in a well-buttered baking dish. Bake  in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 350°F for about 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a kitchen fork. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil until you are ready to add the sauce.
  2. While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two to remove the raw flavor of the flour. Add the milk, and stir until the mixture is thickened. Stir in the Cheddar cheese and nutmeg. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the sauce over the roasted cauliflower, sprinkle with the Swiss cheese, Parmesan, and panko. Drizzle melted butter over the top.
  4. Return to the oven and increase the temperature to 400°F. Roast until the topping is lightly browned and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately while still warm. I served it with sliced New York strip steak, but it will go with just about any protein you might like.
Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

PURPLE CAULIFLOWER

One of my favorite stalls at the farmers market often has unusual vegetables that are not available from other vendors. They always have several varieties of eggplants and bok choy. They have baskets of chiles I have never heard of. They also have several varieties of cauliflower including the traditional snow-white head and a cheese-yellow variety they call Cheddar. This last time they had several heads of an intensely purple variety.

A while back I wrote about some nearly black haricots verts that turned green when they were cooked. I wound up writing about the water soluble pigments, anthocyanins, that leech out during cooking. It seemed likely to me that the same situation existed with the cauliflower. I asked the young woman at the cash register if the purple cauliflower would turn green when it is cooked. She assured me that it would remain its same amazing color. Of course, I was skeptical so I bought a head to try.

I wound up grilling the cauliflower as thick “steaks” rather than boiling it. That was really not a fair trial, but the woman was right – the cauliflower kept its vibrant color. I guess I will need to go back, buy another head, and plan a more scientific experiment using boiling water.

Here’s the grilled purple cauliflower “steak” along with baked stuffed tomatoes.  I got the beautiful tomatoes from another  vendor at the farmers market. Together they make a nice vegetarian dinner plate.

RECIPES

Grilled Cauliflower “Steak”

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • 1 head purple cauliflower, cut into ½ inch slabs
  • salt and pepper
  • sesame oil

Method

  1. Heat a grill, indoor or outdoor, to high temperature and lightly oil the surface
  2. Place the slabs of cauliflower on the hot surface and grill for about 5 minutes on each side. The cauliflower should stay crisp and get a light char.
  3. Transfer the grilled cauliflower to a plate and season with salt, pepper, and a few drops of sesame oil to taste. Serve.

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 4 crimini mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling on the tops of the stuffed tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup fine, dry bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Core the tomatoes and cut in half horizontally. Remove the seeds. With a grapefruit knife or paring knife, remove the fleshy ribs of the tomatoes and chop them finely. Set aside.
  2. In a small sauté pan, sauté the chopped mushrooms for a few minutes until completely softened. Remove from the heat.
  3. Combine the chopped tomato ribs, mushrooms, Parmesan, and bread crumbs.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture between the four tomato halves
  4. Place the tomato halves on a lightly oiled roasting pan in the middle of an oven preheated to 250°F for about 20 minutes while you are preparing and grilling the cauliflower. Serve.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes

BRINED ROOT VEGETABLES AND CAULIFLOWER

Here’s my take on the brinded vegetables served at Bar Tartine. Even though mine are not nearly as good as those at the restaurant, they have turned out ok.

This exercise began at the farmers market. One of the vendors we especially like had some freshly-dug parsnips. That got me to thinking about brining some root vegetables, and I found some turnips and carrots at the grocery store. I couldn’t find anything green – I guess broccoli would have worked – so I settled on a mix of the four.

Then, of course, I had to drag out my Harsch Steinzeug sauerkraut crock. The task also gave me the opportunity to try out my copy of “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. My daughter, Carol, had given me the book as a gift, and I was so pleased because it has become a classic and the “standard” on the topic in just the short two years since it has been published. The only other things I needed were some Kosher salt and water.

My crock is 5 liters, which is just the right size for me, but it comes in larger and smaller sizes as well. If you haven’t seen a Harsch Steinzeur crock, it is a thing of beauty with a gleaming brown glaze, shaped handles, and a straight-sided lid with a stylish knob on top. It is also an example of German ingenuity and practical design. During my childhood, my grandmother made crocks and crocks of sauerkraut. The process was tedious and odoriferous. As well, skimming the scum off the top of the crocks took lots of attention for weeks.

My crock overcomes all of those problems. Inside are two half-moon weights that fit tightly together to keep whatever you are brining submerged. There are notches in the rim to provide escape for carbon dioxide, and there is a shallow trough around the lip that you fill with water to form an air-tight seal. That cuts down on the smell of fermenting vegetables. Once you have your system set up, and the vegetables start to ferment, you will hear an occasional “frog croak” as a burp of carbon dioxide escapes. That’s reassurance that things are going alright.

Some briners are careful to weigh out the salt and to balance it with enough water to make a brine of specific concentration, but you don’t need to do that so long as you make sure to add enough salt to make a good brine. Even though I peeled the vegetables, you don’t have to do that either, but I thought they would be more attractive with their peelings gone – especially the turnips and rutabegas.

I harvested my vegetables after about ten days of brining. They were still crisp with a briny, slightly pickled taste. If you want a stronger pickle, you can brine them longer, and you can check from time to time to see if the vegetables are to your liking. Just remember when you repack the crock to charge it with more salt and water and to seal the lid with water as you did at the beginning of the process.

So here’s what I did:

RECIPE

Brined Root Vegetables and Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 rutabagas, peeled and cut into eighths, lengthwise
  • 3 turnips, peeled and cut into discs
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Kosher salt
  • water

Method

  1. Prepare the vegetables
  2. Arrange a single layer of mixed vegetables on the bottom of the crock. Sprinkle generously with salt.
  3. Repeat the process, layer by layer, until you have used all of the vegetables
  4. Arrange the half-moon weights so that they fit together and the vegetables are covered.
  5. Add water to cover the weights with at least two inches
  6. Place the lid on top of the crock, and move to a cool place out of the way of your cooking.
  7. When the crock is in place pour water into the groove around the lid and go about your business
  8. Check the level of water around the lid on a daily basis. Fill with more water if needed
  9. After about 4 4 days listen for the “burp”
  10. You should probably plan on at least 10 days before you check the vegetables. That will be a good time to remove any scum that might have formed on the weights, although there will probably be none or very little because of the air-lock system. If you want to brine the vegetables longer, sprinkle the top of the vegetables with more salt, adjust the water level, and replace the weights. Refill the watereseal around the lid and let the process work for another week.
  11. Remove and serve the vegetables whenever they suit your taste.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes, Restaurants