Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Smells like Autumn / ça sent l'automne

Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower

I don’t know where August went. I wake up and the calendar tells me it’s September. Is it possible? But I like autumn. I like this month of the year. I like how the trees turn yellow and red and purple; the smell of the moist soil after the rain. I like how the nights start to be chilly and that we have our wedding anniversary and a lot of birthdays to celebrate.
Even the kitchen is in a different mood in autumn. The big pots and pans come out of the deep stove drawer. The oven is running at full speed nearly all the time. The freezer is crowded with summer vegetables that will lighten up our wintry days, and cauliflower odors are back in my apartment.
I have learned, lately to appreciate cauliflower. Not because “ I grew up” like my mother would say but because of two different cooking methods introduced to this veggie: Roasting and as a soup. If you can call “soup” a cooking method. But you get my point.
All I can remember from my short life of eating cauliflower is a mushy, stinky, overcooked vegetable made edible by my mother’s cheesy, well-seasoned béchamel sauce. This woman knows how to make you eat your vegetable even when they are stinky. And the funny part is that we would ask for more. What a béchamel sucker my sibling and I were.
Time has changed and my taste buds too. Although I cannot say that cauliflower has become my favorite vegetable, I can say that I am more comfortable, even excited when I see it freshly displayed at the market. I even bought two cauliflowers in two weeks, which is quite impressive for somebody who used to hate it.
Roasting the cauliflower at 400F (200C) until golden brown and al-dente is the perfect way to bring out the flavor of the vegetable, but without the mush and the whiff. This cooking process gives a nice smokiness and sweetness to the cauliflower that can’t be found when steaming or boiling for instance. The texture is perfect but not tough, and the rosemary, along with the garlic oil and capers give a deep, fragrant touch to the dish.
When buying cauliflower, the best way to keep it in your fridge is to remove it from any plastic bag, to wrap it in a damp and clean kitchen towel and store it in the crisper. It will remain moist and for up to three days without spoiling.
A lot of people like to soak the raisins. I know I used to do it. But then came along my mother-in-law who taught me this great method of re-moisturizing the raisins, but without spoiling shape or color. Steam them. Over boiling water, cover them with plastic wrap (the plastic wrap should be in direct contact with the raisins) and steam them for 20min. You will have fully puffed raisins that are tender and moist. You will thank me later for this one.
This dish, which I decided to call Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower for all the flavors that it has and for my love for the Mediterranean, is simple yet very satisfying. It’s sweet with the roasted cauliflowers and the sultana raisins and the juicy grape tomatoes, and also a hint of sourness from the capers. You can serve it as a side dish to roast chicken, or as a main course for a light, autumn lunch.

Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower

Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower

- 1 big cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tbsp rosemary leaves
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, silvered
- 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp capers, drained
- 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 1 tbsp sultana golden raisins, steamed
- Salt, pepper
- Lemon wedges to serve

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic slices and let it cook on medium heat until translucent. Don’t let it burn or it will become bitter. Remove from the heat and let it infuse.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Put the cauliflower florets in a single layer in a baking sheet. Add 1 tsp rosemary leaves, the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly and bake, uncovered until the top is lightly browned. Test with toothpick for desired doneness.
Remove the garlic from the pan and add the capers, pine nuts, sultanas and tomatoes. Sautee quickly until the juice comes out of the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven and toss gently with the tomato capers mixture.
Sprinkle the remaining rosemary leaves on top and serve warm, with a lemon wedge to taste.

Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower

Chou-fleur rôti à la Méditerranéene

In francais please:
- 1 gros chou-fleur, coupé en feurettes
- 1 c.s de feuilles de romarin
- 3 c.s d’huile d’olive
- 3 gousses d’ail, effilees
- 15 tomates cerise, coupées en deux
- 1 c.s de capres, égouttes
- 1 c.s de pignons de pin, grilles legerement
- 1 c.s de raisins secs, cuits a la vapeur
- Sel, poivre
- Des quartier de citron pour servir

Fairtes chauffer 1 c.s d’huile d’olive dans une poele. Ajouter l’ail et laisser cuire jusqu’a ce que les lamellas d’ail deviennent translucides. Eviter de le bruler car l’ail deviendra amer. Retirer du fau et laisser l’huile s’infuser de l’ail.
Prechauffer le four a 200C. Mettre les fleurettes de chou-fleur dans un plat allant au four, sans les entasser les uns sur les autres. Ajouter 1 c.s de feuilles de romarin, le rest d’huile d’olive, sel et poivre. Melanger bien jusqu’a ce que les fleurettes deviennent bien imprégnees d’huile et faites cuire, sans couvrir jusqu’a ce que la surface devienne doree. Tester avec un cure-dents pour la tendreté desirée du legume.
Retirer l’ail de la poele et ajouter les capres, les pignons de pin, les raisins secs et les tomates. Faire sautre rapidement jusqu’a ce qu les tomates commencent a donner leur jus. Saler, poivrer. Retirer le choufleur du four. Melanger delicatement au mélange tomates et capres. Saupodrer des feuilles de romarin restantes. Servir tiede, avec sur chaque assiette un quartier de citron pour presser sur le chofleur, selon le gout de chacun.

My sister (5 years old) and me (2 years old) at our grandparents.
Happy Birthday big sister.


Wendy said...

For a long time I couldn't think of anything to do with cauliflower. I used to slink passed it in the supermarket. Then I discovered you can roast it! Isn't it wonderful? Will have to try your recipe as I always roast the vegetable with Indian spices. It's very good. But so is a change. :)

Nora B. said...

Hi Rose,
I'm thanking you now for the tip about steaming sultanas :-)

Only you can make cauliflower look so pretty. I don't like creamy stuff, and I've never roasted cauliflower, so I am intrigued by this method of cooking. It's still cold enough here to have the oven on a lot, so I'll have to try this soon before spring weather comes along.

Happy Birthday to you sis!

Anh said...

Rose. I always learn something reading your post. I love roasted cauliflower, very lovely indeed.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I've always had trouble coming to terms with cauliflower. I think it's the aroma; I've never been able to get past it. Several of my blog readers have tried to send their favorite "You will love this, I promise" recipes, but nothing has worked. Now here you are telling us you've learned to love it, so maybe it's time for me to try again.

Warda said...

- Wendy, roasting compliments the cauliflower so much that I have to say it is my favorite way of cooking it. Indian spices sounds so good.
- Hello Nora, you are more than welcome my dear. You should really try it, I promise you will adopt it right away. Just season it well and coat it well with olive oil before baking it. It makes for a better finished dish. Thank you so much for your sweet words Nora and have a great weekend.
- Anh, It is all my pleasure. I love sharing what I learn with my friends.
- Lydia, I know exactely what you mean. Don't rush it, although I must say that "you will love this, I promise" Hahaha!!

Shayne said...

I love the picture of you and your sister.


Claude-Olivier Marti said...

7°C ce matin...7°C...alors oui, je pense qu'on peut dire que l'automne est là ^^! Par contre il fait grand beau, et tant qu'à faire, je prendrais bien une assiette comme ça pour me réchauffer ^^! biz

Shayne said...

I was tired last night so I didn't get a chance to read your recipe. This morning I read it and this looks so good. My daughter loves cauliflower and I think that she would enjoy this too.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I too don't like mushy cauliflower. I love roasted cauliflower though. When I do cauliflower cheese I put the raw cauliflower in an ovenproof dish, top it with cheese sauce and then pop it in the oven until it's just cooked. That way it still has bite. Stinky cauliflower is such a great description of the sloppy grey stuff! Happy Birthday to your sister! Cool pic.

Anonymous said...

quelle belle recette!le chouxfleur devrait etre tres content et te remercier pour avoir ainsi camouflé son odeur quelque peu désagréable en introduisant tous les autres ingrédients si parfumés!!ce jour là ta kitchen devait surement etre embaumée! un grand bravo et joyeux anniversaire à ta sister qui parait so cute!!biz

Warda said...

- Shayne, thank you very much my dear.I am impressed to see that your children are open to all different kind of veggies at an early age. That's wonderful.

- Claude, 7C?? mais si il fait beau alors ce n'est pas plus mal. Passe une bonne fin de semaine.

- Amanda, that is a great idea. Way better that the mushy stinky cauliflower of my childhood. I take note. Thanks a lot for your wishes.

- Mima, tu me connais je suis le reine du camouflage! C'est pas seulement ma kitchen qui etait embaume c'est tout mon apart. J'aurai aime le partager avec toi mon chou-fleur. Ma sister te remercie Mima. Biz

Aimée said...

Merci, Rose. I was literally minutes away from steaming a cauliflower to go with tonight's roast chicken-with garlic and rosemary!! Now I shall have to try your dish and I am thinking my dinner will go from ho-hum to YUM YUM with the addition of your dish.
It's like blogger telepathy or something.

Warda said...

- Aimée, that is so funny! I might be wonder cauliflower woman or something. Roast chicken with garlic and rosemay? this was meant to be Aimée. I hope you will like it. Please, do let me know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rose - I love the picture of baby you and your sister, how sweet. Happy belated birthday!

Warda said...

- Thank you very much Keiko for your kind words and sweet wishes.

Claude-Olivier Marti said...

Bon tu me rassures, il n'y a pas que chez moi que ca sent l'automne ^^! biz

Warda said...

- Claude, ton asseitte d'automne est bien appaitissante.