Thursday, December 06, 2012

Another kitchen adventure: Roasting cauliflower

As TOTJ Steve commented here, " Good food takes time."  Tell me about it.  (Sigh.)  Last night, I tried the recipe that he posted in the same comment, more or less, skipping the garlic powder, of which I can eat only a miniscule amount without getting acid reflux (not to mention that if you could run a car on the kind of gas that cauliflower and onion each gives me, even without adding garlic . . .  :) )
" . . .  Buy a whole cauliflower and break it up (find instructions on the Web) and wash it [I understand you may be stricter on cauliflower than we are in my house]. Preheat oven to 450. Shpritz foil lined baking sheet (because in a kosher kitchen, all baking sheets are foil-lined, right!)with olive oil cooking spray. Place cauliflower florets on sheet, shpritz with olive oil spray. Sprinkle a little salt on it (buy a box of kosher salt, don't use table salt). Since you're not a black pepper person (have you tried white pepper? it's milder) sprinkle a little garlic powder (not garlic salt) and, if you want a real taste treat, peel and cut a red onion into wedges and put them on the sheet with the florets and spray everything together. Roast about 40 minutes, until the florets start to brown. Give them a jiggle once in a while as they roast. The cauliflower and sweet and nutty and wonderful, the onions add even more flavor."
To make a long story mercifully short, just cutting the cauliflower took me over half an hour!  :(  And you wonder why I've always been a reluctant cook.
Okay, I learned a few things.  One is that my new chef's knife didn't make carving up the cauliflower as easy as I expected.  I think the problem is either that my chef's knife isn't as sharp as my paring knife, and/or that I'd be better advised to use a serrated-edged knife (as shown in the cauliflower-cutting instructions here [see update below for link to better version*]), and/or that a cauliflower, unlike a bell pepper, is hard as a rock and is not hollow.
Another thing I learned is that I really don't have enough counter-top space for cutting large vegetables.  I had a similar problem cutting the butternut squash when attempting to make soup recently, but cutting cauliflower is much worse, because the florets often break down into tiny pieces that go just about everywhere.  I ended up with cauliflower all over two cutting boards, my counter-top, my dish drainer, my stove . . .  If we ever get around to renovating our kitchen, we should really replace our too-low-to-work-on kitchen table with a free-standing or built-in counter-top/work surface.  In the meantime, I must remember, in the future, to set up a plastic bag (who has room for a bowl?) in which to toss the stems and tiny pieces, once I cut off the intact florets.  Unfortunately, I was unable to distinguish the stems and good tidbits from the brown spots and leaves that I was throwing out, and ending up having to throw away the good with the bad, which was an unconsionable waste of food.  :(
So nu, you ask, how was the roasted cauliflower, already?  I think it needed another five minutes in our oven and/or another spritz of olive oil to "brown" it a bit more.  And maybe I should break up that onion and distribute the pieces over the top of the cauliflower to make it a bit less bland.  Worth another try.
Next up:  Carmelized fennel and onions (without the butter and parmesan) ?
Related (and not previously linked above):
*Update:  Courtesy of TOTJ Steve, here's a link to instructions showing an easier and less messy way to cut cauliflower.


    Anonymous TOTJSteve said...

    I think you're doing it the hard way. Here is a much simpler approach, very close to the way I do it --
    Spray the cookie sheet. Spray the florets once they are on the cookie sheet. Use an olive oil spray, not a plain spray. A little salt and pepper (although a little cumin will give it a very "indian" flavor). Bake at 425 - 450 until they start to brown on top, some will be carmelized on the bottom, probably 45 minutes. They will not be mushy, but firm. Ovens frequently are not well calibrated. If you get an over thermometer, you can see what the real oven temp is, regardless of the setting.

    I generally use a paring knife for this job, like the chef in the video. By the way, that's not a serrated knife in the video you linked to. The blade just has some dimples on it, which may make food release easier.

    Thu Dec 06, 03:19:00 PM 2012  
    Blogger Shira Salamone said...

    TOTJ Steve, I'll have to wait 'til I get home to watch the video--my employer blocks YouTube.

    I'm sorry to say that I've never been able to eat Indian food--it's way too spicy. So I don't think cumin and I would be compatible. In the past, about the only things I've been able to eat in an Indian restaurant are raita (Indian yogurt dip) and some of the plain Indian breads. But I'm currently experimenting with plain dosa (a crepe, barely within my spice-tolerance limits, made with rice and lentil flours) and idli, which I intend to try next time--they seem to be dumplings made of unspiced rice.

    Thanks for the technical information about that knife. I didn't know that a knife could have dimples. How cute. Can I pinch its cheeks? :) :)

    Thu Dec 06, 05:35:00 PM 2012  
    Blogger Shira Salamone said...

    Since you'd given me such good advice, how's some for you--
    Ms. Tech-Challenged here thanks Kiwi the Geek for her instructions for creating a hyperlink in a comment, which I'm passing on to my commenters:

    [A HREF="put the link here"]put the text here, whatever you want the reader to click on[/A]

    For every [, substitute an <.
    For every ], substitute an >.

    Live demonstration:
    Courtesy of TOTJ Steve, here's a link to instructions showing a better and less messy way to cut cauliflower.

    Fri Dec 07, 12:35:00 AM 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This is the only way I cook cauliflower, and it's easier than what you're doing (with more flavor). If you don't like vinegar, you're out of luck, but do try it at least once!

    Cut up the cauliflower into florets.
    Toss it with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
    Spread evenly in a roasting pan, roast at 400 for about 25 minutes. Toss once in a while. It's done when a fork pierces a piece easily. (The smaller you cut the pieces, the quicker it'll be done AND the better it'll taste.)
    Take out of the oven, sprinkle with salt, one clove of garlic (minced), some pepper (eliminate if you want), a couple tablespoons of capers (also optional), and two or three tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
    Return to oven for five minutes. Remove and enjoy.

    Wed Dec 19, 03:43:00 PM 2012  
    Blogger Shira Salamone said...

    Sorry for the delay--I'm finally catching up on my e-mail.

    Meggie, my husband says that I'm getting hard to feed, and he's right, unfortunately--there are so many things that my tongue and/or tummy won't tolerate anymore, not to mention that my gout has my toes protesting against cooked tomatoes. :( I can't tolerate much garlic or vinegar anymore, I'm sorry to say. But I do intend to experiment with using more olive oil, and perhaps a wee smidge of sea salt.

    Sun Dec 23, 08:49:00 AM 2012  

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