Sweet under heat. Just like onions, if you roast cauliflower, broccoli or turnips until they start to caramelize, they develop sweet flavors. Kale and collards when fried loose their bitterness. The challenge for the TGRWT #7 was to create a recipe that combines cocoa with cauliflower that has been caramelized through roasting.
For this event, my first challenge was learning to caramelize cauliflower. Recipes on the WWW suggest breaking the cauliflower into small florets, coating them with oil, and roasting them for 40 minutes at around 400ºF. Mine would burn in spots and I felt they could brown a little more. To get better browning, I used, instead, a two-stage caramelizing method.
Once I learned to caramelize the cauliflower I tried a dish of roasted cauliflowers and cubed red potatoes all coated in oil, salt, fennel and cumin seeds. An oven version of the Indian dish aloo gobi. After it was roasted, I sprinkled it with cocoa powder. The cocoa powder seemed to intensify the roasted flavor and the dish was “family-approved.”
The other dish I tried was a caramelized cauliflower soup. When I first made it, I did not like its color in the soup bowl. So I made another batch of cauliflower soup, but this time without browning it, and I ended up with …
Bicolor cocoaflower soup
For the white soup you will need:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 20g of pine nuts (2 tablespoons)
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 fennel stalk, diced
- 1 cauliflower head (500 g), broken into pieces
- 1 cup of whole milk
1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add the chopped garlic and pine nuts. Fry for a minute or two just to heat the ingredients.
2. Add the chicken broth, fennel, and cauliflower and let simmer for 15 minutes. The cauliflower should still be firm.
3. In small batches, blend the mixture in a food processor or blender. Be careful, as steam is released when blending hot liquids and the machine’s lid may pop off (it once happened to me). Blend for at least 30 seconds beyond when the mixture liquifies. Pour batches into a bowl.
4. Add salt (1/2 tsp.) and white pepper (1/8 tsp.) to taste. Reserve.
For the roasted cauliflower soup you will need:
- 1 cauliflower head
- 1.5 cups of chicken broth
- 1 red onion, quartered
- 20g of pine nuts (2 tablespoons)
- 15g semisweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup of milk
5. Heat the oven to 250ºF.
6. Break the cauliflower into small florets. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes.
7. While the cauliflower bakes, warm the broth in a sauce pan.
8. Switch your oven to broil and raise the temperature to 400ºF. Add the red onions and pine nuts to the cookie sheet. Watch carefully, move the pieces around, and remove when you can’t take the sight of any more black spots on the florets (it should be 5 to 10 minutes total in broil mode).
8. Put the roasted cauliflower and onion mixture into broth and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chocolate to the hot liquid just before removing from the stove top. Add in the milk.
9. Blend mixture in small batches, as before. Add salt and pepper to taste.
10. To assemble the soup make a soup bowl divider out of crumpled aluminum foil. Pour the white soup on one side and the brown soup on the other. Remove the divider. Decorate with small squares of chocolate or small florets.
The aloo gobi with cocoa dust was better at showing off the flavors of the roasted cauliflower. The soup tasted good and was a bit more surprising to the palate, with the chocolate acting as a flavor enhancer to the roasted cauliflower.