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Cauliflower can be very tasty

September 9, 2009

I was inspired to cook with cauliflower after tasting the most amazing thing I had tasted in weeks. It was Octavio Becerra’s caramelized cauliflower at a food festival (he is the chef/owner of Palate restaurant in Glendale, CA)

The family was hungry and we didn’t have any protein in the refrigerator after a long holiday weekend. I saw the head of cauliflower, I thought about the magic Octavio made and I decided it was my turn. I made a soup. Cauliflower and chopped shallots caramelized in a little butter and olive oil until slightly golden and starting to soften. I then ground three pods of green cardamom and tossed that in to toast. I added a Tb of turmeric (the magical yellow powder of the dried root in the ginger family) and some chicken stock. After simmering for just a few minutes the aroma was mouth-watering. I could smell a hint of the Indian food I love but it was not the full smell of a curry, just a hint.

I knew I needed some texture so I took some left over bread and ground it up in the food processor. I tossed the bread crumbs on a sheet pan with olive oil and chile flakes and broiled them until golden and crispy. I pureed the soup, topped it with the bread crumbs and that was dinner. I was shocked that both my son Sebastian at 9 and Isabella at 12 loved it. It was one of those soups where you take a spoon full and it is like silk in your mouth. I found myself wanting to chew it even thought there was nothing to chew. I wanted to extract every bit of flavor I could. The color was an earthy yellow from the turmeric and the taste was earthy and slightly peppery. I natural compliment to the clean, vegetal character of cauliflower. It tasted as if the turmeric brought the color back to the cauliflower that it was meant to have. I got lucky with the cardamom and had put exactly the right amount. Cardamom can be overwhelming if you use too much. There was a subtle back drop of the slightly medicinal, aromatic spice. I found myself looking forward to the next bite. The bread crumbs become soaked with the soup and provided a great combination of creaminess and crunch. The chiles brought the cleansing heat I always love. Enjoy your cauliflower!

Eat well, enjoy life, be happy.

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