Friday, June 13, 2014

Grilled Cauliflower Should Not be Missed

I like cauliflower quite a lot. Still, I rarely buy it. My husband will not eat it, so it's all up to me. Today I decided that I wanted to try grilled cauliflower. I had never made it this way before. To date, my most favorite way to eat cauliflower has been egg battered and fried in the Guatemalan way. 

Cauliflower in Egg Batter
Cauliflower in Egg Batter

Cauliflower in Egg Batter

Makes about 4 servings

1 pound cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons salt
3 eggs, separated
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour (or rice flour in Gluten Free)
oil, as needed for frying

Set cauliflower florets in a pot with enough water to just barely cover. Bring to a boil and add the 2 tablespoons to the pot. Cook until just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain into a colander and allow the florets to cool to just warm.

Make the egg batter: With a mixer, beat the egg whites in a glass or metal bowl until stiff. Separately, beat the egg yolks until very pale and lemon colored and when dropped from the beaters, form a ribbon that does not immediately disappear. Add the ½ teaspoon salt and the flour/rice flour and mix well. Fold the yolk mixture into the egg whites gently so as not to deflate.

Heat a large skillet with oil. Nonstick comes in very handy here. Dip each cauliflower floret into the egg batter so it is completely covered and fry in the pan until golden brown, turning so all of the egg is cooked. When starting out, the florets look like puffy white clouds. Once fried, they become angular golden chunks of goodness. Place the finished cauliflower on a plate to serve and pour the tomato sauce over all.

1 tablespoon olive oil or other cooking oil of choice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 - 2 tomatoes, or 4 - 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped

While cauliflower is cooking and cooling, make the Simple Tomato Sauce.

Heat a skillet with oil of choice and saute the onion for about 15 minutes, stirring often until nicely golden. Add the garlic and salt and saute another 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and lower heat. Cook over a low simmer until the tomatoes and onions are very soft. If it gets too dry while cooking, add in some water. Keep warm.

But grilling season is here and I have seen it grilled or baked in various places, both in magazines and online. I wanted to try the grill rather than the oven, despite cooler temps today. My only problem was deciding on what flavors to use.

As I had never done this before, and since I am going to be eating the whole cauliflower by myself ultimately, I thought I would use two different spice mixtures and get two dishes from one. The first thing is prepping the cauliflower by cutting off all the thick leaves at the bottom. Next, slicing the cauliflower into 3/4 to 1-inch "steaks". And finally, seasoning.

Grilled Cauliflower with Blackening Spices left; with Green Masala, right
Grilled Cauliflower with Blackening Spices left; with Green Masala, right
One of the seasonings I chose is Blackening Spice, usually used to blacken any meat from fish to steak. I have a blackening mixture I have used for many years, and it is perfect for fish. I have not really used it on anything else, but I can vouch for how good the mixture is. The other seasoning I decided on is a Green Masala, which is a wet mix instead of dry spices like the blackening spices or a garam masala. I particularly love this Green Masala because it is fantastic for so many different things. It can be used as a marinade, or a condiment for meats, fish or vegetables, or just spread on a sandwich. Here are the two recipes:

Blackening Spices

makes about 1/2 cup

1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, more or less, to taste

If using whole spices, place them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder used for spices and grind to powder. If using powdered spices, simply blend them thoroughly. Store in a glass jar in a cool, dark, cabinet.  

Green Masala
Green Masala

Green Masala

Makes about 2 1/4 cups

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, soaked for at least 3 hours or overnight, drained
5 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup packed cilantro with stems
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Garam Masala
3/4 cup oil

Place all ingredients except the oil into a blender container and blend until fine. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add in the blended mixture; bring to boil and then remove from heat. Allow to cool before storing in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Oil should pool on top of the mixture. This is fine, as it acts as a seal, keeping the green masala fresh and usable for longer. If there is no oil pooling on top, add a little more oil before closing and refrigerating the jar of masala.  

Prepping cauliflower: leaves trimmed, sliced in half, then in "steaks" and coated with the spice mixtures

Grilled Cauliflower

My dinner

Serves about 4

1 head cauliflower, trimmed of all leaves
Blackening Spices or Green Masala
oil for brushing

Once the leaves are trimmed from the cauliflower, slice carefully into 3/4 to 1-inch thick steaks. Set the steaks on a rimmed baking sheet. 

Light the grill and allow to get very hot before reducing temperature to about a medium or medium-low heat. If using the blackening spice, first brush the cauliflower steaks with cooking oil and then sprinkle with the spice mixture. Repeat on opposite side.

If using the green masala, brush the cauliflower steaks liberally with the green masala on both sides. Carefully set the steaks onto the hot grill. For smaller ends and pieces, use a grill pan. Close the lid and allow the cauliflower to grill slowly until nicely blackened (it will blacken no matter which spice mix is used), about 7 to 10 minutes. Carefully flip the cauliflower and grill the opposite sides for about the same amount of time, or until it is done to your taste. It is best if it does not get too done.

Both of these flavors were absolutely stupendous. I had a hard time controlling myself once I tasted them. I am terribly partial to Indian spices and flavors, so the Green Masala Cauliflower was, by a very small margin, the winner in my book. Try them both and see for yourself. This is now my most favorite way to eat cauliflower.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.