Batter Licker

January 27, 2011

roasted cauliflower and sunchoke soup

You wouldn’t know it when tasting it – or when looking at it, for that matter – but there’s no cream in this soup … and no cheese. Give your accolades to roasted, pureed cauliflower for the creamily rich texture and to sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes) for the wonderfully nutty flavor they contribute to this soup. And to Chef Frank McClelland.

And by way of thanking Chef McClelland for inspiring me to recreate his gastronomic invention at home, stop into L’Espalier next time you’re in Boston for a culinarily magical meal. In my three visits, I have never left his restaurant feeling any less than entirely exhilarated about his creations – and entirely full.

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During my second visit to that lovely restaurant, I ordered the cauliflower and sunchoke soup as an appetizer. There is nothing I love more than ordering soup at a fancy restaurant. On this occasion, the bowl came with two (or three?) large scallops sitting center stage, decorated with a sprinkling of crispy pancetta and some watercress. Moments after the bowl’s appearance, I watched as the waiter ladled spoonful after spoonful of thick, creamy soup into the bowl and consciously refrained from drooling as the milky substance slowly shifted to encircle the plump seared scallops. (more…)

December 21, 2010

roasted cauliflower florets and cauliflower puree

I never really liked cauliflower until I tried it roasted. Turns out that a little love from the oven goes a much longer way on my taste buds than dunking cauliflower in boiling water ever did. I should have known this, but thankfully, I figured it out eventually.

However, even if roasted cauliflower flavored with a little Dijon and some Parmesan had not done it for me, pureed cauliflower bowled me over as a delicious, happens-to-be-healthier alternative to mashed potatoes. At some restaurant awhile back, I remember raving on and on about how wonderful these mashed potatoes tasted, only to realize they were not potatoes but pureed cauliflower. Unlike potatoes, which need a fair amount of butter, cream, sour cream, or cheese to whip up into a creamy, mashed concoction, pureed cauliflower has a naturally creamy texture that sure fooled me. But I can’t say I was tremendously disappointed to find out that the cauliflower puree lacked all these unhealthy add-ins and, instead, was seasoned fairly lightly.

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Both roasted cauliflower and cauliflower puree require minimal prep work, as you simply chop the head of cauliflower into florets, toss it with some seasonings, and let it sit in the oven for a bit. Once the florets are tender and lightly browned, you can serve them immediately, or blend them up with an immersion blender or food processor to create a thick puree. The pureed roasted cauliflower is not just an excellent substitute for mashed potatoes, as mentioned above, but can also be diluted with vegetable stock or water for a wonderfully creamy soup that goes exceedingly well with bacon-wrapped scallops.


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