Jun 18, 2015

Bargain Time!

Beautiful Fresh Hawaiian Cauliflower

Spicy Pickled Cauliflower & Carrots
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I just love finding bargains, especially food bargains. Yesterday Kumu Farms, our local fresh produce connection, had fresh cauliflower from their Maui farm for $2.50 a pound, which is about $3.50 for each head. At Friendly Market today, they are selling for $6 a head. I bought 2 heads from Kumu Farms thinking that I would pickle one of them with some hot red chili peppers, also purchased from Kumu Farms. Ati, who runs the produce store, said "everybody is buying the cauliflower today". I didn't want to tell her what a bargain it was.

So you may wonder what to do with this beautiful mixture of colorful pickled vegetables? Well you could be selfish and eat them all yourself over the kitchen sink, or you could give one of the jars away as a gift, but don't be afraid to remind the lucky recipient to "return the jar" if they want more next time. Personally I like to serve these as condiments alongside a fish taco, or with fried chicken or pork ribs. Whatever you decide, but save the spicy liquid to pour it over salt brined sliced cucumbers as a salad dressing, whatever... they won't last long.

Here are a few recipes to try when you have a taste for Hawaiian Cauliflower:

Spicy Pickled Cauliflower & Carrots
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 medium onion, sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thickly sliced
6 fresh hot chili peppers - cut in half length-wise
3 teaspoons mustard seed
3 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium head of cauliflower, stem removed and cut into bite-size chunks
3 large carrots or more if needed, peeled and cut on a diagonal into 1/2 inch thick pieces
3 quart canning jars, with two-piece canning lids
1 jar lifter from Amazon.com (this is a good thing to have in your kitchen if you like to pickle things)

First make sure the canning jars and lids are sterilized by boiling them for 10 minutes in a large pot, then make a brine by combining vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and turmeric powder in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile in a large fry pan, sauté the onions and chili peppers in 2 teaspoons of olive oil, over medium heat, stirring until the onion is slightly caramelized but not burnt, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, mustard seeds, and black peppercorns and cook for another minute. Pack sterilized jars with the raw cut cauliflower, carrots and the onion/pepper mixture, alternating so everything is mixed. Be sure and scrape all of the mustard seeds and whole peppercorns into each jar.

Using a ladle, fill jars with the hot brine mixture, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace and remove any air bubbles in the jars. Clean jar rims, and secure two-piece lids. Process the filled jars for 10 minutes in a large pot of boiling water (I use the same boiling water that I sterilized the jars with. Carefully remove the jars from the hot water with a "jar lifter" (see link above), and let cool on the counter. After they have cooled, store them in your refrigerator for 2 days before eating (I know, it's hard to wait that long, but it's necessary). This will give the cauliflower and carrots a chance to meld with the spices, making them delicious! Makes 3 quarts.

Note: For other pickled vegetable recipes (click here) or check "condiments" under the "Recipe Index" tab above.

Cauliflower Avocado Dip
One 1 1/2-pound head cauliflower, sliced into 1 1/2-inch-wide florets
4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted
1 serrano chile, stemmed, deveined, seeded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the cut cauliflower onto a serving platter. In the bowl of a food processor, or in a blender, place the cream cheese, cilantro, lime juice, avocado and chile, and blend until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl and serve with the cauliflower for dipping. Makes 4 appetizer servings.

Cauliflower Pork Stir-fry
Ingredients for pork and marinade:
1/2 cup sliced lean pork
2 teaspoons shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Ingredients for the rest of the dish:
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
6 dried red chilies, halved
6 slices ginger
2 scallions, cut into large pieces
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Combine the pork with the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread out the cauliflower in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and roast until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes. Stir the cauliflower halfway through baking.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your wok over medium heat. Add the garlic, chilies, and ginger, and cook for about 2 minutes, making sure they don’t burn. Turn up the heat to high, add the pork, and cook until browned.

Stir in the cauliflower (keep the heat on high), and cook for a minute.

Add the scallion, sesame oil, wine, and the soy sauces. Season with additional salt if needed.Cover the lid and bring everything to a simmer. Uncover, give everything another stir, and serve over rice! Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Cauliflower Florets with Cherry Tomatoes
1 small head cauliflower, cut into medium-size florets (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon drained capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon or lime
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Adjust an oven rack to the top position and preheat the oven to 475˚F. Toss together the cauliflower, tomatoes, olive oil, capers, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a few grinds of pepper and the garlic on a baking sheet. Roast until the cauliflower browns in some spots and is tender, tossing about halfway through, about 20 minutes. Toss with a squeeze of lemon and the parsley. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Sriracha Sauce
1 pound of cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets
4 tablespoons of salted butter
1/4 cup Sriracha sauce, or to taste
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons of warm water
1/3 cup fresh parsley or green onion, finely chopped, for garnish
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges for garnish (2 wedges per serving)

Throughly rinse the cauliflower, then dry off completely and cut into bite-size florets and place them in a large bowl, set aside while you make the sauce. 

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, but careful not to brown it. Turn the heat off the butter then add all the remaining ingredients (except the cauliflower florets and parsley) and throughly mix. Now taste and see if the sauce needs any adjustments. 

Pour the sauce over the cauliflower florets and stir to distribute the sauce to coat. Set the bowl aside to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes but preferably one or two hours (you can leave it on the counter or place in the refrigerator).

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Meanwhile spread the marinated cauliflower onto a foil lined baking sheet, try not to crowd the florets. Place in the centre of the oven and roast for 15 to 20 or until the cauliflower is tender and beginning to brown a little bit. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving, garnished with parsley and lime wedges. Makes 4 side dish servings.

Cauliflower Soup with Minced Ham
Their is no cream in this delicious soup, making it very light. The ham adds protein and flavor, and the croutons add a nice crisp texture. Perfect for a light lunch, or first course.

Cauliflower Soup with Minced Ham
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1/2 loaf crusty bread (about 8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (Moloka'i Wines & Spirits)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (from Kumu Farms)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, optional
2/3 cup ham, minced (I use one slice of pre-cooked ham from Friendly Market)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ribs celery, chopped to yield 3/4 cup
1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced (from Friendly Market)
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 large head cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces

For the croutons: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the thyme on top and season with the salt and pepper if using. Toss until coated. Bake until golden and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the celery, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken broth, thyme and cauliflower. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove 4 pieces of cauliflower per serving to garnish the top of the soup.

In batches, puree the soup in a food processor, emersion blender, or potato masher, blending until smooth, or lumpy if you like. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

When ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the croutons, minced ham, and pieces of cauliflower. Serve as a light lunch, or as a first course. Makes 4 servings.

Classic Cauliflower Au Gratin
This is a traditional French cauliflower side dish that Americans love! It has a crispy, baked Panko top layer, which is an essential component of gratin dishes. 

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoon melted butter, divided
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Gruyere* cheese, grated, and divided in half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups Panko style bread crumbs (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)

Over medium high heat, bring a pot of water to a boil with the salt and sugar added. Blanch the cauliflower florets for no more than 5 minutes or until al dente. Drain completely and set aside.

Over medium low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes to make a roux. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking continuously to remove lumps until sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Pour 1/3 of the sauce in a 1 1/2 quart, 9"x 13" baking dish. Top with cauliflower and pour the rest of the sauce over it. Combine Panko with remaining Gruyere cheese and sprinkle on the cauliflower. Melt the other 4 tablespoons of butter and drizzle it over the casserole. Bake at 375˚F for 25-30 minutes or until the top is brown, and bubbly all over. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Great with everyday pork chops, or roast chicken, or served at Thanksgiving! Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*Note: Gruyere cheese is an excellent melting cheese. Named for the town of Gruyères in Switzerland where it was originally made, Gruyère cheese is a firm cheese with a pale yellow color and a rich, creamy, slightly nutty taste. If you can't find Gruyere, try Emmental, Jarlsberg, or ordinary Swiss cheese would be a decent alternative.

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