Sunday Supper: Ode to cauliflower

The date: Sunday, April 17, 2011 – 64 days until the first day of summer

The menu: Cauliflower cake, sauteed cauliflower greens, homemade toast, and Theo’s coconut curry chocolate

The inspiration: Smitten Kitchen (I can hardly wait for her cookbook!)

Ok, only a few weeks ago, I snatched up the first little cauliflower I spotted at the farmers’ market this spring. Remember the aloo gobi I made with it? I was dying to have it again, but there was no cauliflower to be had. Well, folks, it’s back at the farmers’ market! I think it’s safe to say it’s officially brassica season! Hooray!

Now, in my garden, my cauliflower plants still look like this, so I’m not making any of these cauliflower dishes with my own quite yet. All in due time.

What I do have coming out of my garden is eggs, so what better way to use them then in a delicious cauliflower cake, a recipe that uses 8 eggs! If I didn’t have a surplus of eggs and had to buy the dozen eggs it pretty much takes to make this recipe, I probably would have skipped it and made something else, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I wanted something different than my typical quiche or scrambled egg concoctions. And I got it! This savory cake looks like corn bread and almost tastes like it, without the corn flavor of course. It’s very much like a dense cake rather than an eggy pie.

I think it’s safe to say my efforts to give up dairy are going south, and fast! This cake doesn’t have any milk or cream, but it does have cheese. I just didn’t feel like omitting that delicious flavor. Kathryn gave me Ashley English’s book on Homemade Dairy and I really couldn’t be more excited to make my own cheese and butter. Don’t be surprised if you start to see a lot more adventures in dairy. I guess I’ll have to get these allergies under control another way. I’ve heard nettles are good for that. But I digress.

I originally thought I’d use pecorino in this recipe, which I still think I’ll try sometime. I love, love, love pecorino and think the flavor would be delicious here. What I went with this time though is a cheese from a local dairy, which I found at the farmers’ market, Port Madison Goat Farm and Dairy on Bainbridge Island. I went with a goat cheese variety called Tomme.

I also sauteed cauliflower greens for the first time and man, are they delicious! And all this time I’ve been giving those to the chickens! If you’re lucky enough to find a cauliflower with its leaves still on, peel them off, cut them into ribbons, and cook them as you would kale or collards. I heated a little olive oil in a skillet and put some cumin seeds in the pan to sizzle before I added the cauliflower greens. I cooked the greens, covered, turning occasionally to prevent them from over-browning. This Indian chef who was being interviewed on NPR recently, made an off-the-cuff remark about food not being worth eating unless there were cumin seeds sizzling in the pan before hand. That’s a pretty bold statement, but I have to admit I’m starting to agree.

Cauliflower Cake
Adapted from this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

I didn’t have red onion, so I just used the white, sweet onion I had and used a few rings to make a decorative design on top. I also didn’t have parchment paper so I just buttered the heck out of the pan and it worked just fine. Originally, I thought I didn’t have sesame seeds and considered using golden flax seeds for the “crust” instead. I might try that next time just for kicks!

1 medium cauliflower
1 large onion, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
10 medium or 8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
About 1 1/4 cup grated cheese (I used all of a 3.5 oz. wedge of cheese – the original recipe I followed called for 2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese or about 1 generous cup of grated Romano cheese)
Salt and black pepper
Butter, for greasing pan
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Break cauliflower into medium florets. Place the florets in a pot with a teaspoon of salt, cover them with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite soft. Strain and let drip in the colander for a few minutes so they dry and cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Halve your onion and cut a few thin rings off the end of one side; set them aside. Coarsely chop the remainder of your onion. Heat all of your olive oil in a saucepan and saute the chopped onion and rosemary together until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Whisk eggs and olive oil and onion mixture together. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, turmeric, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and according to Deb, many, many grinds of black pepper together. Add to egg mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Fold in cauliflower gently, so most pieces remain intact.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper (on butter like crazy – see the note above). Butter the sides generously. Put the sesame seeds in the pan and toss them around so that they stick to the sides. Pour in the cauliflower batter, arrange the reserved onion rings on top and bake cake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Before you serve the cake, be sure to run a knife around the pan. Enjoy!

This was also posted on the blog hop at Hella Delcious and Pennywise Platter.

5 thoughts on “Sunday Supper: Ode to cauliflower

  1. hellaD

    Oh what an amazing recipe! I wonder if I substitute almond flour if it will work as well. My man hates cauliflower, but I bet if I made it like this he would love it! So glad I found your site, please add this post (or another if you prefer) to our Easter Rebirth Bloghop if you have a minute!

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