Friday, December 19, 2014

The Holiday Season and Cauliflower Puree

Dear Reader,

It's the holiday season, yet this year my holiday feeling-ness has been slow to come. Maybe because it has been warmer this year than the past, and there has hardly been any snow on the ground. Maybe because I have been feeling pretty lethargic and have yet to come up with a substantial list of holiday goods to bake or meals to make. Whatever it is, I have been slow to join the festivities and I want to rectify this asap. This week E and I have been on vacation, a staycation really, and we have been lazy McGees. All the ambitions of reorganizing our kitchen, de-cluttering, clearing out the linen closet, watching broadway shows and christmas concerts, long drives, etc., have flown out the window and we are instead here on the couch, where have been for the last 4 days. We did drive up to Rhinebeck and to the Culinary Institute of America to have their yummy apple pie and peanut butter latte at the Apple Pie Bakery. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves to cook - their bookstore alone is euphoric.

Cauliflower Puree
I have been thinking of holiday sweets to bake and have only come up with a few items, which I will post about later. For now, let's talk about cauliflower puree. Ever had it? If not, you are certainly missing out! E and I recently had it while in Montreal (which I will have to do a restaurant review of later because it was a culinary party in my mouth that must be memorialized) while at Hotel Herman, the best restaurant I have ever been to in my life. Big statement and I mean it. We had the guinea flower atop of a bed of cauliflower puree and after the entirety of the fowl was consumed, I could not stop spooning the puree into my mouth. Each spoonful was bliss. There were squeals of joy, giggling and lots of words with overuse of exclamation points. So when we returned, I decided to make some for our dinner party of 10.

Cauliflower Puree (requires a steamer)
Makes 3-4 servings

1 head of cauliflower, 2 to 2.5 pounds
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of whole milk, heavy cream, chicken stock or water
1.5- 2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Begin by pulling off the leaves from the cauliflower head and cut the cauliflower into quarters. Cut out the core of each quarter and discard the core. Break off or cut the florets into 1 or 1.5 inch pieces and put into a steamer and cover. Roughly slice the garlic cloves and put them into the steamer with the cauliflower. Steam for about 15 minutes, or until you can easily poke a knife into the florets. Scoop about half the florets into a food processor with half the garlic slices and half of the butter. Add 1.5 tablespoons of whole milk, heavy cream, chicken stock or water, and process until smooth. You may have to scrape the sides during this process. Pour into a large bowl and do the same process with the other half of the cauliflower and garlic. When everything is nicely pureed and smooth, mix well so that the two halves are well combined, and add the salt and pepper. Continue to add salt and pepper until seasoned to your satisfaction. Serve hot.

Keep in mind that you want to add as little liquid as possible so as to keep the puree thick. If you want to make the puree creamier, add more butter.

This was a huge hit at my dinner party. Huge. And it was so simple to make, I almost did not feel right taking credit for it. Try it at your next dinner party!

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