One evening when Maggie was a child, her mother compelled her to eat a serving of cauliflower. It was a mistake her mother only made once! Fast-forward to 10 years ago, when a small, best-of-season cauli caught Maggie’s attention. She just had to have it and she has been happy to eat cauliflower ever since.
Our first shared meal of cauliflower used it as a puree in concert with some seared scallops and one of Maggie’s favourite offal options, black pudding. To consolidate her changed attitude, I soon followed up with cauliflower soufflé, a dish I had been making for more than 25 years. That went down well too!
Since then, we have continued to find new ways to use cauliflower. We have also found that, if we introduce the topic of this deceptively-plain veggie to a conversation with friends or colleagues, we soon hear about yet another cooking-and-serving method. And, when we went on a two-week tour of China last year, only eggplant (aubergine) competed with cauliflower for the status of ‘most celebrated vegetable’ in the meals we were served.
It is all a far cry from the soggy, bland ‘cauliflower cheese’ that was a standard item in hot buffets offered in Australian dining spaces in the 1950s and ’60s! (If you search ‘cauliflower cheese recipe australia’, you’ll discover how popular this dish remains here, albeit with some nods to contemporary tastes and fashions.)
Anyway, to cut to the chase, we recently started buying economical packets of frozen scallop meat, then thawing a handful at a time to use as the main ingredient in a light Saturday-lunch-for-two. In this context, I went off in search of a suitable recipe for a cauliflower puree to serve alongside a batch of seared scallops.
This is the recipe we began with and this was the end result:
We spread a generous spoonful of the puree on the base of a warmed bowl, topped it with some of the seared scallops and then added pieces of just-crisp prosciutto. The flavours and textures worked together brilliantly!
For the puree, we made three slight modifications to the recipe. We reduced the proportion of butter by about 20%; there was still plenty. We added a generous pinch or two of freshly-ground black pepper. And, we also added any residual cooking liquid so as to not overwhelm the cauliflower with too much lemon juice; each to their own taste.
I suspect our next new cauliflower effort will be a soup made with blue cheese, inspired by a lovely dish I had for lunch when we were staying near Uluru-Kata Tjuta recently.
Cheers for now!