Cauliflower Grits

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If I had to pick one outstanding detail about our recent New Orleans jag, it would be GRITS. Michael and I ate and drank our way through that town in three days (including a bloody mary tour; secluded backyard bars; amazing restaurants including Cochon and Commanders Palace) but the lasting taste of that trip is for grits. The question—how to make them a little healthier so I can eat them all the time. A little internet research turned up Cauliflower Grits which is a totally different thing but turned out pretty great—alongside some Cajun shrimp.

Cauliflower Grits

Makes: 2 Cups

Name of image (title of post is fine)

Ingredients:
  • 1 head of cauliflower broken into florets
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar

Instructions:
  1. Process florets in food processor until course, then steam in pot for 5 minutes to release moisture.
  2. Add butter, half of milk and cream. Stir until liquid gone.
  3. Add cheese and the rest of the milk and cream. Stir while cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper.

cauliflower rice for people who don't have private chefs

We went to the Fagen/Rose East Hampton estate this weekend (omfg) and they still employ that lovely chef Glenn who made the shakshuka. He is incredibly talented and inspiring, and he cooked five healthy gourmet meals for 20 people in 2 days alone without blinking. Meals that you wouldn't believe and I wish I could produce a picture of the luxurious beautiful spreads but I was too busy oohing and eating and trying to suck up to Glenn so he would tell me secrets. I did get a photo of the table though...I know, I know.

A few culinary highlights from the weekend before I forget: Fresh fava beans (Glenn removed beans from pods then boiled to remove skin from beans) and feta salad. Deconstructed Nicoise and paella with cauliflower rice...I've heard of cauliflower rice before. I know it's the next new best thing. Watching Glenn hand grate 15 cauliflowers however made me think it was not for me. However, after a little research I found a recipe from thekitchn.com for using a food processor to pulse the florets into a couscous. And it really is like a couscous in taste and appearance. I sauteed some onion and then added the cauli-couscous and a little butter and spices. Then I got fancy and added some cooked broccoli, raw yellow peppers finely diced, diced and sauteed turkey deli meat seasoned with smoky paprika (optional) and some herbs. I put a fried egg and some avocado on top and was pretty proud if it. Glenn would do it better but I'll keep this cauliflower couscous/fried rice recipe in my repertoire.

slow down salmon

In slow cooker news, I finally steamed/poached salmon according to Grant Achatz's general philosophy of cooking fish in the crockpot. First, I lay lemon slices and a few chives on the floor of the slow cooker. Then I poured in about 1/4 cup vermouth and 1/4 cup water. I seasoned the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and lay them on the bed. Cooked on low for about 1-1.5 hours. It was delicious but may have worked even better with less time and less liquid. I served on a cauliflower puree which I intended to be more of a mash—I saw a good recipe from Art Smith but didn't remember it exactly and added too much liquid. On top is a caper/red onion/olive relish.

Update-I finally did the Art Smith cauliflower recipe after actually reading the recipe and it's amazing and made it into my Paprika collection.

book group cauliflower soup

The soup I made for Turducken was amazing but too rich for every day consumption. So since then I've been fiddling with a lighter version that is easy and healthy. I made it for my family recently and my mom then made it and wrote it down for her book group lunch. It was a hit with the ladies. 

  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower
  • 1-2 quarts of stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 leeks chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt  and pepper  (or onion salt and white pepper) to taste

1. Saute onions and leeks in a little safflower or olive oil until wilted but not brown.

2. Add cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, and cut into chunks. Stir into onion mixture.

3. Add enough stock to barely cover the vegetables and simmer over medium-low heat until cauliflower is very tender.

4. Let vegetable mixture cool slightly, then puree (in batches) in a blender until smooth. Add milk and cheese and blend until mixed. You may want to add more stock as you blend each batch, or when you're finished blending, depending on how thick you want the soup. 

5. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. 

6. Serve hot or cold!

cauliflower, the soup

My latest holiday cooking adventure was for the annual Turducken feast for which I made Thomas Keller's cauliflower soup. Dave liked it, thank god. It's a rich soup of leeks and cauliflower bathed in milk, broth and cream and a hint if Madras curry powder. I skipped the fried beet chips but added

Keller's buttery croutons and some pickled cauliflower-tiny florets soaked for two days in a mixture of white and rice wine vinegars, sugar and salt. I also made chive oil (by Vitamixing chives and canola oil then letting it sit overnight. In the morning I strained it with cheesecloth and put it in a squeeze bottle).

Since then I have been somewhat obsessed with cauliflower soup, making it in different ways--less cream and milk than Kellers, plus balanced by acid. But I like the leeks...keeping the leeks.

cheese sauce

My favorite veggie dish growing up was cauliflower with cheese sauce. I tried to make my own version tonight, steamed cauliflower with nouveau-trashy cheese sauce.

nouveau-trashy cheese sauce

  • 1 can “healthy request” Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 slices American cheese torn into pieces
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard
  • salt/pepper

    simmer and whisk until smooth and hot (about 10 min.)