April 10, 2009

Hi everyone,

This week all the selections have Cauliflower a variety which, in this country anyway, most people don’t rate, probably due to our traditional cooking technique (many long hours of boiling and the possible addition of cheese “sauce”) which renders it mushy and flavourless.
Nutritionwise, it is definitely worth including in a healthy diet as it is high in fibre, follate (helps the blood work more efficiently and is essential for tissue growth) and Vitamin C – just 3 Florets give you 67% of your daily Vitamin C requirements (but remember that the Vitamin C content is lowered by cooking so a light steaming is the recommended is the best way to retain nutrients).
The trick with Cauliflower is to cook it until just tender. A whole cauliflower should take no more than 8-10 minutes, while florets take between 6-8 minutes (but start checking with a skewer after 6) . After that, one of the simplest and nicest ways to eat it is with some Olive Oil, Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper. You can top this with some grated Parmesan and finish it off under the grill but if cooked properly, Cauliflower really doesn’t need anything else. Romanesco is just a green form of cauliflower and works well in these recipes.
If you want to complicate things (but not too much) the following recipes are pretty quick.

Fast Cauliflower Cheese
Instead of faffing around with Béchamel try a mix of Mascarpone and Cheese.

You’ll need:
1 Cauliflower
200gr Mascarpone
120gr Mature Cheddar or Gruyere
1 Teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 Tablespoons Breadcrumbs

Break up your cauliflower into even(ish) sized florets and cook until just tender.
Gently heat the Mascarpone in a saucepan. Grate your cheese and add it then heat gently until just melted. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground Black Pepper and add the Wholegrain Mustard.
Drain Cauliflower and put into an ovenproof dish. Pour the Cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with the Breadcrumbs. Grill until golden.

Want to try something a bit different?

Cauliflower, Tomato and Caper Gratin with a Parmesan Crust

1/2 Onion
Olive Oil
1 Tin chopped Tomatoes
1 Cauliflower
2 Tablespoons Capers
Grated Parmesan

Start with the sauce by slicing the Onion finely and sautéing in about 2 tablespoons Olive Oil. When the onion has softened (about 10 minutes) add the tin chopped Tomatoes along with a generous pinch Salt and 1 teaspoon Sugar to kill any bitterness in the Tomatoes. Cook at a medium heat until tomato has reduced to a thick paste (about 20 minutes) and then check sauce for bitterness adding more sugar if needed.
While the sauce is cooking prepare the Cauliflower – This time instead of breaking the Cauliflower into florets cut it in four and then slice it into pieces about 1/2 cm thick. As before, cook until just tender (this should take about 4-5 minutes as pieces aren’t as thick) and drain.
To finish, combine the Cauliflower, Tomato sauce and the Capers (soak these in a glass of water to remove some of the salt while cooking the sauce then drain before adding). Top with grated Parmesan and grill until golden.

Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great long weekend,