I got the email notice that the Mariquita “Truck Farm” was coming to town on Thursday.
“I’ll have orange cauliflower, fennel, butterball potatoes, and bay leaf wreaths: all by pre order only! Orange cauliflower? This is a variety that is a nice orange color, and it stays orange when cooked. We harvest it truly fresh, so it’s sweet when cooked. The leaves are great too! just like a kale. really. Cook them up!”
What a great opportunity to go on a cooking binge, but only ten pounds, not like the 40 pound tomato binges of the summer. I was glad to order, and the price was right, 10 pounds for $12.
What to do with it? A couple soups, some kind of pickled, something on the stove as a vegetable and something with the leaves. I rounded up some cauliflower recipes and adapted some other recipes to use cauliflower.
Leek and Cauliflower Soup — I adapted this from a favorite potato leek soup recipe by Jacques Pepin.
Pickled Cauliflower, adapted from Market’s House Made Pickles from the Market Restaurant in St. Helena.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup — I had made this before with white cauliflower. It’s from Anne’s Food blog, Stockholm, Sweden. OK, another soup, but quite different, and it uses up a lot of cauliflower.
Sauteed Braised Cauliflower adapted from Sauteed Braised Broccoli Romanesco from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash via Mariquita Farms newsletter.
And finally, Braised Cauliflower Leaves. — I just made this up as I went along, based on the many greens I had cooked over the years.
Carol picked up the bag of cauliflower on her way home from school Thursday. Oh my, what a big bag. I didn’t weigh it, but it seemed like more than ten pounds. And oh my, it was lovely. We hung the bag from a hook on the back porch overnight — no way it would fit in the fridge.
Friday morning, after my walk and breakfast, I pulled a head of cauliflower to start cooking. Normally, I cook in the afternoon or evening, but this was a special day and I figured it would take the whole day to polish off the whole lot.
Cauliflower Leek Soup to start; a simple thing. I didn’t have a recipe, but adapted my favorite potato soup recipe – Jacques Basic Leek and Potato Soup, from the 1999 Alfred A. Knopf book, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. I simply substituted cauliflower for the potatoes, but using one potato for body.
Cauliflower flowerettes with sliced leeks, onions, celery, diced potato and chicken stock.
Saute the leeks, onions and celery for about five minutes to soften, add the hot chicken stock, potato and cauliflower and cook for about 20 minutes, until the cauliflower and potatoes are very tender. To serve, mash, blend, or puree the soup to the desired consistency and adjust the seasonings. Garnish or vary the soup with additional ingredients such as: 2T of soft butter, or more; 1/2C heavy cream or sour cream; buttered croutons, chopped chives; chopped parsley. I use an immersion blender; that way I can leave a few small pieces of potato or cauliflower to make a more interesting texture. As for the butter, cream and so forth, I like mine straight, seasoned with salt and pepper.
Cauliflower Leek Soup
adapted from Jacques Basic Leek & Potato Soup
Yield: 2 Quarts
2T olive, canola or corn oil
4C sliced leeks, white & palest green parts
1 1/2C sliced onions (~1 med.)
2 celery stalks, sliced
6C hot chicken stock
1 large head (not giant) cauliflower (orange)
1 medium peeled, diced potato
salt & white pepper
Heat the oil in the saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in the leek, celery & onion pieces, and saute for about 5 minutes, to soften.
Add the chicken stock, cauliflower and potato, and season with salt & pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, cover the pan, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the cauliflower and potatoes are quite tender.
Vary/texturize as above. Serve.
Adaptation again. I had a recipe from a story in the SF Chronicle by Tara Duggan, Waxing Eloquent About Cucumbers.
“Market’s House-Made Pickles
At Market Restaurant in St. Helena, which is run by Douglas Keane and Nick Peyton of Cyrus, chef Eduardo Martinez serves these easy sweet and sour pickles with burgers. At Cyrus, Keane uses the same brine to pickle ramps, asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, green garlic and other vegetables. He usually par blanches and shocks the other vegetables in ice water before pouring over the pickling liquid.”
I like this recipe because I don’t have to go through a canning process. The authors note that once pickled, they’ll “keep forever” in the refrigerator.
I picked enough flowerettes to fill two quart jars. The author suggests blanching vegetables other than cucumbers, so I blanched a batch of flowerettes.
Blanched flowerettes cooling; raw flowerettes in the bowl.
At that point I decided to leave the balance raw and see how they tasted.
The spice mix was toasted in a skillet and added to a boiling sugar/vinegar mixture.
Once the boiling pickling liquid was poured over the cauliflower and allowed to cool, the cauliflower shrank a bit. I tasted after a couple days and they were good, a bit vinegary; but after a week, they had mellowed out and made a lovely pickled counterpoint to whatever rich foods you may be serving. As far as blanched verses raw, I thought the raw had a nicer, firmer texture, but I detected no difference in taste. Blanched is on the left, below.
Enough cauliflower to fill 2 quart jars
3 tablespoons coriander seed
2 tablespoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons dill seed
1 teaspoon fenugreek seed
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, 2 inches long
3 Hunan chiles or other dried red chiles
2 cups sugar
4 cups white wine vinegar
Par blanch the cauliflower
Place the cauliflower in large, clean containers.
For the pickling liquid: Place the seeds, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and dried chiles in a skillet and toast on medium-low heat until fragrant. Meanwhile, place the sugar and vinegar in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the hot toasted seeds and spices to the boiling mixture. While the mixture is still boiling, pour it over the cucumbers.
Allow the pickles to cool completely and cover tightly. Place in the refrigerator and chill overnight.
Note: Don’t use your hands to remove the pickles from the container because that will hasten spoilage. Otherwise they will keep indefinitely.
The Roasted Cauliflower Soup was not adapted. I had cooked it with plain ol’ white cauliflower in the past. Needless to say, I love cauliflower and am constantly looking for ways to prepare it. The just picked cauliflower at the Farmers Market is irresistible (to me). The internet provided this recipe on Anne’s Food blog from Stockholm, Sweden. Small world.
My countertop convection oven was perfect to get this dish started. The foil packet in the back contains a quartered onion and two cloves of garlic.
Served with cream and cayenne.
For dinner the next day I served the roasted soup with sautéed shrimp, accompanied by a salad of lil gems, Tokyo turnips, radishes and shrimp.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup Serves 3-4
“The spring was a bit interrupted here this weekend, by massive amounts of ice and hail. Not at all what I had expected – and unfortunately I was in Gothenburg, wearing my lovely flowered spring coat and suede shoes. Well. That happens.
This soup is more wintery than springy, in my opinion. Roasting the cauliflower before it goes into the soup is really lovely, it adds a lot of flavor and makes for a much more interesting soup. Serve with some good bread, and enjoy!”
1 medium cauliflower
1 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium potatoes
500 ml chicken stock (used 750 ml)
500 ml water (used 250 ml)
3/4 tbsp cream
salt, cayenne pepper
Heat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Divide the cauliflower into florets, and put in an oven proof pan. Drizzle with some olive oil and toss to coat. Cut the onion into wedges, and wrap in a bit of foil with the cloves of garlic. Put the foil packet in the same pan as the cauliflower, and bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft.
Chop the onion and garlic. Move the cauliflower, onion and garlic to a large pot. Dice the potatoes and add them. Cover with stock and water, and let simmer on medium heat until the potatoes are completely soft. It will take 20-30 minutes. Use a handheld blender to mix the soup until smooth. Add cream, and season with salt and cayenne pepper.
The Victory Garden Cookbook, Marian Morash
via Mariquita Farms
This is amazingly good with Mariquita orange cauliflower. I added black olives and a bit of white wine during the cooking ‘cause it seemed dry. Love it (but I took no pictures).
Slice or dice cauliflower, or cut into 1/4-1/2-inch flowerets. Melt a combination of butter and oil (or either one) and toss cauliflower in it until coated. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with herbs and additional butter, if desired, and serve.
With Garlic & Oil: Add a garlic clove when tossing the cauliflower in oil.
With Tomatoes: To larger flowerets, add your favorite tomato sauce or peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes combined with fresh herbs such as basil. Cover and simmer as above until flowerets are barely tender.
In Vinegar: Saute in oil with garlic, add some red or white wine vinegar, then cover and cook until cauliflower is tender.
With Peppers: Toss the cauliflower in butter or oil with strips of red and green pepper. Cover, and cook until tender.
With Cream: Toss cauliflower in butter and coat with heavy cream. Cover pan and cook until cauliflower is tender. Uncover, and reduce cream so it just coats the cauliflower. Sprinkle with lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.
Braised Cauliflower Greens
Not your sterile supermarket cauliflower wrapped in plastic… these cauliflower have leaves. Julia, of Mariquita Farm said “The leaves are great too! Cook ‘em up.” I’ve loved all kinds of other cooked greens, so I went for it.
First, pick over the leaves and get rid of the big stem parts, keeping the leafy parts along with their stems. Wash everything thoroughly and rough chop it into bite size pieces.
Start with bacon… everything is better with bacon. (For vegetarians out there, use oil, but it won’t be the same. Sorry.) Saute the bacon with a little olive oil in a wok.
Chop an onion — there are some lovely “spring onions” around just now, but a yellow onion will do.
Chop some celery. Son Brian says the celery takes the edge off of greens, and I say he’s right. Add the onions and celery to the wok and saute until soft.
Add the cauliflower leaves and toss to get everything mixed up. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or so, until the stems are tender. Add a few shakes of vinegar of your choice and a shake of red pepper flakes, stir and cook another minute or so. Serve hot or warm.
Here they are… good and good for ya. Really tasty.
I had ‘em for breakfast the next morning with an egg. Yum. OK, I mixed in some leftover carrot and potato.