Condiments/ Recipe/ Sauce/ Sides

Fancy-Pants Vanilla Creamed Cauliflower Puree with Crispy Fried Florets

Hola chicas! (and Chicos!)… And anyone who doesn’t identify within the traditional bi-gender paradigm!
 
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I’ve been thinking recently about how my eating habits have evolved over the past 6 years.
 
When I came out to the island from Alberta, I was a carni-saurus-rex. Of the carnivore variety, not the circus. I loved my meat. Steak. Hamburgers. Chicken wings. I ate meat and I ate it indiscriminately. More meat! More meat!….
 
….Fast forward 3 years and I’m in a gender studies class learning about food, culture, and how it relates to the citizens of the world, the planet, and the animals. Holy shit. I was in trouble. I immediately swore off all things flesh and dove head straight into vegetable and tofu-land….
 
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….Moving along 1 year later and something profound occurs to me: Eating vegetables and fruits that produced with or without chemicals and/or shipped half way around the world is not much better than eating meat. Especially when that meat is local, small scale, organic, pastured meat. Hm. Dilemma.
 
So I went back to eating meat. Slowly. In moderation. I tried to buy from local producers who are doing things “right” and even now, 2 years later, I try to limit my intake of meat to a couple times a week tops. I get most of my protein from legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas as well as grains like quinoa and pretty much any nut and cheese I can dig my claws into.
 
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Why am I re-hashing all this history? Because I think it gets lost in translation on the blog. I think someone is a really good chef when they can make vegetables the star of a dish. Or at the very least, make them as interesting and exciting as the protein. But in the meat-obsessed culture of gourmet food, the “side” often goes over-looked. It’s an after-thought. Even by home chefs who really care about the entirety and holisticness of a meal – like myself. I want to make something brilliant and unfortunately – despite my fight to maintain a plant majority diet – a lot of what I end up posting has fish or meat as the main event.
 
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This rambling is more of a reminder to myself that plant-focused meals can be gourmet too rather than a reminder to you. But while we’re here, why not ask ourselves how we can challenge chefs and ourselves to create more sustainable, Earth friendly, gourmet dishes?
 
…And that’s how I came up with fancy-pants creamed cauliflower vanilla puree. Served with some marinated mushrooms, you have one swanky appetizer. Or top a grass-fed steak with those same mushrooms and you’ve got yourself a seriously gourmet side. Whichever you prefer…
In all honesty, it was inspired by a dish we made one night at The London Chef. I took Dan Hayes’ idea and I ran with it. I hope you will too.
 

Fancy-Pants Creamed Cauliflower Vanilla Puree with crispy fried florets

Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Small to Medium Sized Cauliflower, greens removed and cut into florets of equal size (approx 2" pieces) + 2 Florets broken into small pieces.
  • 1/2 Spanish Onion, peeled & diced.
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled & chopped.
  • 1 C Cream or Homo Milk.
  • Small Handful of Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated.
  • Tbsp or 2 of Butter, room temperature.
  • Half Vanilla Bean, cut in half and seeds spooned out.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • 1 C Vegetable Oil.
  • Course Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. As that heats, toss the 2" chopped cauliflower with a glug of olive oil and a good helping of salt and pepper. Arrange as a single layer in a baking pan, cut sides down. Place in heated oven uncovered for about 15 minutes. Shake the pan/flip the florets and then roast a further 10-15 minutes until tender with good color on them.
  3. As the cauliflower roasts, place the onion, garlic, cream and vanilla bean and seeds into a medium sized pot. Slowly heat over a medium temperature setting, stirring very often to ensure the cream doesn't burn.
  4. Once the cauliflower is done, add that to the mixture.
  5. Add the cheese and the butter, stir well.
  6. Using a hand blender or food processor, puree until smooth. Be careful - it's hot! Cover and set aside.
  7. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat. When it reaches 350 degrees, or a piece of white bread turns brown in 30-40 seconds, it's ready. Carefully place the tiny cauliflower florets in the oil with a slotted spoon and fry until golden. Remove with that same spoon and drain on paper towels. For more information on frying, click here.
  8. Plate the puree and top with some marinated mushrooms cut on the diagonal, or a steak cooked to your liking (cut the same way) - and maybe some chopped mushrooms, finishing off with a few pieces of the crispy cauliflower.
  9. Eat.

 

 

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  • Sam
    June 18, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    This looks so tasty. Even D will eat fried cauliflower, and I love the idea of cauliflower puree and marinated mushrooms appetizer.

    • Kristy Lynn
      June 19, 2012 at 2:21 AM

      to be fair, fried anything is a good idea.

  • Cheap Ethnic Eatz
    June 18, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    Well look at those fancy pants cauliflower! OK I am quite the carnivore so I like the meat under the veggies. But maybe eat red meat 2x a week.

    • Kristy Lynn
      June 19, 2012 at 2:22 AM

      hahaha – i like anything in fancy pants.

  • Teresa, foodonfifth.com
    June 19, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    I have lots of upside down moments. I embrace them as it usually means I just learned something new that was staring me In the face all along. Great recipe with some of my favorite ingredients. I like the combination odd cauliflower and vanilla.

    • Kristy Lynn
      June 20, 2012 at 4:08 PM

      that is an excellent way of looking at things Teresa 🙂 I find cauliflower a little rustic and sweet so I figured, heck yeah vanilla!

  • shutupandcook
    June 20, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    Man I love cauliflower…and yet it has such a terrible reputation. Alas, some of us chicas are just misunderstood….right?!?

  • Allie
    June 20, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    oh MY gosh!! that looks sooo amazingggg! and i can pretend im being healthy because they’re veggies… right?!

  • Miz Helen
    June 21, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Hi Kristy,
    At this point in my life, I have learned to take a deep breath and embrace the change.

    I sure wish that this awesome dish of food was sitting in front of me, I will be having it very soon, it looks out of this world, delicious! Hope you are having a great week and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

    • Kristy Lynn
      June 24, 2012 at 11:57 PM

      well said, Miz Helen. Breathing helps.

  • April @ The 21st Century Housewife
    June 25, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    I think balance is key to everything, and it sounds like you have a great balance in your diet – it certainly looks that way from your wonderful posts! Cauliflower and I have always had a bit of a love / hate relationship, but I could seriously get into this dish. I love the contrast of the creamy puree with the crispy florets – and the vanilla – oh my!

    • Kristy Lynn
      June 26, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      balance for sure. As a libra i try to balance as often as possible – though sometimes my penchant for wine and/or cheese outweighs the healthy bits 😉

  • blackchinos
    August 4, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Everything looks too yummy and delicious!