October is over and we have another round-up from the blogging event TGRWT. In round #7, we were asked to develop a recipe the combined caramelized cauliflower and cocoa. This turned out to be a challenging pairing.
Cauliflower is a recent staple. It developed from broccoli sometime during the medieval period in the Mediterranean region. Like corn, it is a plant that would not survive well in the wild, suggesting that one day some farmer just found it among the broccoli. Maybe that happened in Italy, as cauliflowers are the most varied there. Dodoens in the 1500s refers to cauliflower as the Brassica from Cyprus, supporting the Mediterranean origin.
Caramelized cauliflower became better known in the United States after Amanda Hesser’s 2001 article in the New York Times. (Does anyone know of earlier recipes?) She credits the rising popularity of caramelized cauliflower to chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. But caramelized cauliflower, by frying and not by baking, has been the standard technique for preparing cauliflowers in Indian cuisine since the widespread cultivation of cauliflower in India in the 1800s.
Roasting the cauliflower requires an oven with very good temperature distribution and a watchful eye. If it goes too long one gets unsightly black spots; if it doesn’t go long enough, there are no sweet notes of caramelization. The flavor is very subtle and it easy to dilute it with other ingredients.
I do not know were the pairing with cocoa originated. The oft-cited recipe is Heston Blumenthal’s cauliflower risotto with cocoa jelly.
Many persisted, despite challenges. A difficult pairing that we may revisit one day. The submissions to TGRWT #7 were all very creative and the photographs look wonderful. A big thank you to all for participating and helping me host.
White risotto, caramelized cauliflower ice cream and tuile
Brad, from The Power of Passion, made the beautifully plated dish that combines a risotto, cauliflower ice cream, and a tuile. The risotto has white truffles, the ice cream is made with caramelized cauliflower, cream, egg yolks, lime juice, salt and pepper; and the tuile (a flat, square cookie) is made with cocoa and hazelnuts. A chef, who judged his dish, loved the flavor.
Cocoa & wine braised lamb with mashed caramelized cauliflower
Dan, from tartare sent in a whole meal: cocoa and wine braised lamb served with mashed caramelized cauliflower. The lamb gently bastes for three hours in wine, cocoa and many other flavors. The caramelized cauliflower is mashed with cream, salt and olive oil. Dan was very enthusiastic about the the lamb and its sauce, but he felt that the cauliflowers lost that special flavor from being caramelized when they are mashed with cream. Dan has “no doubt that caramelized cauliflower and cocoa work together” and plans to continue working on the dish.
Roasted cauliflower and chicken mole
Mrs. W, from Mrs. W’s kitchen, was already a fan of roasted cauliflower. The competition inspired her to try mole for the first time, creating the roasted cauliflower and chicken mole. She “… enjoyed the smoky combination of flavors and the gentle heat.” She ate it and enjoyed it, but felt that the sweet taste of the cauliflower was lost in the mole.
Cauliflower terrine with cocoa
Robert puts his chemical engineering background to great use in his molecular gastronomy site La mia cucina. He caramelized the cauliflower and embedded it in a chocolate custard to create a cauliflower terrine with cocoa. While Robert liked the dish, he “… found neither synergy nor contrast between …” them. Robert has several photographs on his site detiling the preparation of the dish.
Cauliflower in hot garlic sauce
Mocha from Masala Box created something spicy. In Indian cooking cauliflowers are traditionally caramelized by frying, which I guess inspired Cauliflower in hot garlic sauce. The dish is elegantly plated over rice. She felt the cocoa got lost in the dish, but loved the color it added.
Cauliflower panna cotta
M. at M’s Blog experimented with caramelized cauliflower. He first tried Keller’s cauliflower panna cotta with Blumenthal’s cocoa jelly combining the recipes from two great chefs. After some technical difficulties he ended up with a combination he felt works as well as cauliflower with nutmeg in traditional Dutch cooking.
Not satisfied, M. tried Cocoa tagliatelli with roasted cauliflower florets & walnut sauce, a combination he describes in one word: works!
Cocoa frico with cauliflower cream
Martin’s creations borrow from tradition as much as from molecular gastronomy. He already has a recipe for caramelized cauliflower with cocoa jello on his site, but he created something new for TGRWT #7: Cocoa frico with cauliflower cream. A frico is cooked cheese and Martin cooks his parmesan with cocoa to create flat wafers and even baskets to hold a cauliflower cream. Two great recipes.
Martin felt that the aromas blended well making a great appetizer.
Bicolor cocoaflower soup
My entry to the event. I liked the aloo gobi dish I made as trial better than the one I submitted for the event. I felt it was better at showing off the pairing.
Cauliflower muffin with sweetened cream
Roberto from Mex Mix sent in a savory, roasted cauliflower muffin. An earlier email of his had warned me that his entry would be late. I’m keeping my promise and adding the submission to the round-up. Roberto at first tried a macaron but the texture did not work out. Persisting he created a roasted cauliflower muffin and a sweetened cream with roasted cauliflower to accompany the savory muffin.