Friday, May 2, 2008

Cauliflower Mash

I've got a long day of sitting today, so I'm keeping myself entertained by typing recipes....

Ok, I know, the world does not need another cauliflower version, and this really is nothing new... just a few tips about making this staple low-carb dish that I wish I'd known six months ago.

Cauliflower (fresh or frozen)
Butter (or margarine, I suppose, but why?)
1 from this list: cream cheese, sour cream, creme fraiche, mascarpone cheese
If you want it cheesy, add 1 from this list, too: shredded cheddar or monterey jack, or grated parmesan (mozzarella is far too stringy).
If you want an extra treat, add some garlic sauteed in olive oil.

To me, the entire trick of making this great is two things... to make is EASY, use an immersion blender (KitchenAid makes a great one; the head pops off and goes right in the dishwasher). Then you can blend it right in the pan you use to cook it in. To make it GOOD, try to minimize the amount of water.

This is better if you use fresh cauliflower. Either way, you want to put the cauliflower in a reasonably large pot, and add some water. For frozen, it's cut up already... for fresh, just take the leaves off and rough chop... size doesn't matter and you can use most of the core; just lose the really tough part at the bottom. Put enough water in to keep the cauliflower from burning (a couple of cups for me, if I have a whole head. Of cauliflower, that is!), cover, turn burner on medium high, and steam until done. Try not to overcook... one of the most important things to remember in any cooking is that the food does not stop cooking when you turn off the heat, because there's still heat in the pan and the food. Drain into a colander. If it seems really wet, take a kitchen towel (or paper towel, or pot holder that you don't care about getting wet) and push it slightly down to try to remove some of the water. This is not absolutely essential, but this is a lot better if it's not soggy. Put the cauliflower into the pot and mash with the immersion blender. If it seems very soggy, you can do one of two things... return to the colander and drain for a while, or decide that you really want this to be cheesy cauliflower and use a lot of grated Parmesan, which will absorb a lot of the water.

Now decide about other things. Add about 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and one of the "white" things... creme fraiche is by far the best, in my opinion, but it's both hard to get and expensive in the U.S., so cream cheese is a decent substitute in terms of consistency if not flavor. Too much sour cream makes it watery, so that's one to be careful with. And then you can add cheese if desired, or roasted garlic (or sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped... or some dill... or really anything that would be good in mashed potatoes, and a lot of things that probably wouldn't).

This also reheats beautifully. I haven't tried freezing it yet, but I'm thinking of throwing a test container into the freezer, just to check.

Carbs? Depends a little on what you put into it, but cauliflower by itself is about 3 carbs per half cup (maybe a little more if you puree it, since it's denser, but I've never tried weighing to get a standard measure, since it's really pretty low carb). So it's not going to be a lot more than that unless you really dump in the cheese and dairy.

At this point, I genuinely prefer this to mashed potatoes.


Roy and Hazel said...

Totally agree with you Nina. Cauli-mash is one of our favorites! We like to add a sliced and sauteed leek to ours, and have also tried adding sliced cooked cabbage, which makes a sort of colcannon.

Nina said...

Is the cabbage good? I'd think you'd have to get the ratio just right, or it would be... I don't know, slimy comes to mind! I love leeks; I think I'll try that next.

Roy and Hazel said...

When we tried the cabbage one, we smashed the cauliflower and cabbage together by hand once cooked, rather than whisk it all the food processor. It took a bit longer and the result was more chunky and lumpy. Hazel actually prefered the texture to the smooth mash we normally have.

PS: Hope you have a great fun evening at your party!