Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Tale of Two Cauliflowers

So there I was, minding my own business, catching up on some of my favorite foodie websites, when I found myself at Pioneer Woman's place.   If you haven't seen her website, you MUST!  I just adore her stories, her photography, her cooking, her life - calf nuts and all.  In fact, go ahead, check it out, and in an hour or so come back to my marvelously mundane world....I need a nap anyway.

What?! Back so soon?  Oh well, isn't she cool?  Everything she says or does turns to gold in my mind.  And you know what I've noticed about her recipes? She can take something I've never really been interested in, never really been tempted by and when SHE posts about it, suddenly I feel like I have to have it.  Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingys?  I'm not crazy about bacon, nor was I into jalapeno popper thingys, yet I see her photos, read her commentary and I HAVE TO MAKE THEM!  Same thing with Creamed Spinach.  There's got to be something subliminal going on here.  Because THIS time it was PW's Mom's Cauliflower Soup that lured me in.  

I don't even LIKE creamed soups, except for my Mom's New England Clam Chowder, which is actually rather on the thin side as far as clam chowders go, as she uses milk, not cream.  I don't even really like soups unless the mood strikes me, and then they are usually veggie, bean and/or pasta in a tomato or clear broth.  But as I scrolled through the steps to making this soup, something came over me...I'm not sure, but I think she may have subliminally photoshopped Benicio Del Toro pics in her photos, because suddenly this was the most wonderful recipe I had come across in a while!  I was craving something I had never had before, never wanted before, but something I was inexplicably attracted to...the Benicio Del Toro of soups!   

(Just kidding, dear.)  <-- I said that to my HUSBAND, not Benicio, by the way....

Problem:  Half and half?  Whole milk?  Real butter?  A heaping blob of sour cream? No can do.  I would have a butt the size of Oklahoma if I were to start making THAT a habit!  But it got me thinking, how can I achieve something similar, shave off some of the fat and calories, yet keep the same level of flavor? 

Solution:  Garlic Roasted Cauliflower (from Allrecipes...of course); skim milk; just a dab of low fat sour cream at the end.

Step One:  Make Garlic Roasted Cauliflower - except I omitted the parmesan, herbs...just cauliflower, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cut the cauliflower into small florets, and mince about two cloves of garlic.  Place in a baking dish like so....
...drizzle with olive oil.  I know olive oil is fat, but you have to be a little generous here - I'm guessing two tablespoons - enough to coat so the cauliflower and garlic do not burn.
Place in a 350 degree oven, and bake for about a half hour, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, use PW's Mom's recipe as a guideline, and chop up some onion, carrots and celery...
...and saute' in a bit more olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
When it comes out of the oven, add the Roasted Garlic Cauliflower...
Let it cook for about 10 minutes, then add about 2 cups of chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer another 10 minutes.  I forgot to add bay leaves - I'd do it here next time.  I like to mash up the cauliflower a bit...I toyed with running this through the food processor, but laziness prevailed.  I'm glad it did!  This worked just fine and resulted in a much better texture than the gruel that would have resulted from the processor....
I tried to lighten up the white sauce a bit by using 2 tbsp of Smart Balance 50/50 spread - if I had regular Smart Balance on hand, I would have used that.
I used a heaping tbsp. of flour whisked into two cups of skim milk, added it slowly and whisked it until it boiled and thickened up like so....
I'm used to making a roux with butter, flour, and THEN whisking in milk, but this worked too.
Add that to the cauliflower mixture, and let it simmer another 10 minutes or so.   When it looks done, it is.  I tasted to adjust seasonings and it needed NOTHING!  
When serving, I measured out (seriously, I measured out...) one tbsp of light sour cream per serving, and stirred it in.  It really gave the skim milk base a little extra oomph!
And here's my lunch....

A lot of times when I try to lighten up dishes, they just don't hold up.  This was not one of those times!  There's no Benicio Del Toro paddling around in here...yet it still calls my name.  Go figure!  Sure there's some fat, but the dairy fat and calories have been greatly reduced, AND there's also a pretty good sized serving of veggies in here - at least a cup - to put a dent into today's "5-A-Day" servings of fruits and vegetables.

Now if I can just come up with a way to make Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno thingy's fat- and calorie-free....

5 comments:

thamesarino said...

Hooray!
that looks amazing!
and it is the second cauliflower recipe I've seen tonight..which for me happens to be a good thing because I LOVE the cauliflower...
YUMMY!
great pics too! : )

Lissaloo said...

Yum ,this looks so much better than mine! I love all the pictures! I will be trying this again using this recipe! Yum Yum! :)

Who am I? said...

Wow! I just posted a cauliflower recipe before I looked at your page. Ha ha... I promise I didn't copy you :) This looks fantastic and I love soup, so I may give this a try this week!

ChristineM said...

Ha ha! There seems to be a run on cauliflower these days!! Great minds think alike!! :)

Willoughby said...

I wish I had seen this before I went to the store. I would have gotten some cauliflower! It looks awesome, Christine!