Monday, November 18, 2013

Two from One: Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese and Roasted Cauliflower Soup


On a recent “Chopped”, the Food Network TV show that pits four chefs against a basket full of incongruous ingredients, a very sad fact was served up to the audience.  Americans throw away 40 percent of the food they buy!  The dollar amount is staggering:  According to Reuters, $165 billion worth or 90 billion pounds of food goes un-eaten. Apparently in this land of plenty, where millions of people are on government food programs and where a staggering 14 percent of children go to bed hungry, there are equal numbers who throw food away with abandon.  And I can’t say that in our house we’re completely guilt-free.  A recent refrigerator clean-out included a few half chopped onions, some very wilted carrots and lots of unidentified liquids and solids making penicillin in plastic food containers.  I am not about to offer excuses.  I grew up having “Waste Not, Want Not” etched into memory.  But the plain fact is that a lot of the recipes I work with are for more than just two people.  Andrew will very often ask “So how many people are coming to dinner?”.  Most of the time I can cut things back to a reasonable portion for two.  But there are ingredients that just don’t divvy up.  Take, for example, a head of Cauliflower.   It’s one of the last of the year’s fresh vegetables. Arrayed at the farm stand with its white center peeking out from its green housing, I find it irresistible.  This year, I was determined to cook one but not force us into involuntary vegetarianism.  The solution: make two dishes out of one head.  It turned out that one night’s meatless meal was another day’s creamed soup for lunch. 
Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese
and a green salad

I’d spied a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese in Bon Appetit.  It was from a restaurant called Domenica in New Orleans.  A couple of days later, my friend Kristi, who lives in Dallas, posted a picture of the dish, extolling its taste.  So I made it and made it the centerpiece of a meatless Monday supper, serving it with a simple green salad.  I loved the earthiness the roasting brought out in the cauliflower and the goat cheese was a revelation.  Since Andrew has never been a fan of the stuff, I’d spied a package labelled Honey Goat Cheese at Trader Joe’s. The honey seemed to cut the tannic quality of the cheese.  And while goat cheese comes to the fore, there’s feta, cream cheese and cream to smooth the whole thing out.
          After dinner, I still had a half a roasted cauliflower left.  And I was determined not to toss it. Instead, I found a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Soup.  I had to tinker with it a bit because it required, of course, a whole cauliflower.  It’s a very rich soup.  I added far more liquid than the recipe called for but it remained resolutely thick.  But since Winter decided to pay an early visit to New York, it’s a welcoming bowl at lunch, especially since I laced it with Garlic-Infused Olive Oil and that most welcome of all leftovers, crumbled bacon.

Here are the recipes:

Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese from Domenica in New Orleans via Bon Appetit Magazine.

For the Roasted Cauliflower:
2 ½ cups dry white wine
1/3 cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Kosher Salt
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice.
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed.

For the Whipped Goat Cheese
4 oz. fresh goat cheese (I used Trader Joe’s Honey Goat Cheese)
3 oz. cream cheese
3 oz. Feta, crumbled
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. Garlic-infused Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt (for Serving)

First, Roast the Cauliflower.           
Preheat oven to 475°.
Bring wine, oil, kosher salt, juice, butter, red pepper flakes, sugar, bay leaf, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into center, 15-20 minutes.

Using 2 slotted spoons or a mesh spider, transfer cauliflower to
        a cast iron skillet or sheet pan, draining well. Roast, rotating sheet
        halfway through, until brown all over, 30-40 minutes.

Make the Whipped Goat Cheese           
While cauliflower is roasting, blend goat cheese, cream cheese, feta, cream, and 2 tablespoons oil in a food processor until smooth; season with sea salt.
Transfer whipped goat cheese to a serving bowl and drizzle with oil.
Transfer cauliflower to a plate. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with
sea salt. Serve with whipped goat cheese.

Recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Soup:
         ½ head of Roasted Cauliflower, stemmed and cut into florets (see above for cooking instructions)
        1 tablespoon butter
        1 onion, finely chopped
        2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
        1 ½ cups chicken broth*
        1 cup milk*
        1 tablespoon dry sherry
        * Depending on how thick or thin you want your soup, these
ingredients can vary wildly in amounts but these are the
starting off points.

         Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the  chopped onion and cook and stir until lightly golden brown about 10 minutes.
        Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to coat.
         Slowly pour the chicken broth and milk into the pan.
         Mix with a wire whisk until all of the flour is dissolved.
         Bring to a boil while stirring continuously until it thickens,
then reduce heat to low. Stir in the sherry. 
        Put the roasted cauliflower into a
        blender, add the liquid from the        
        skillet. Puree, adding more chicken
        stock and milk per how thick or thin you want your soup.
       Reheat soup in saucepan.  Serve with a dash of Garlic Infused Oil
       or Bacon bits, optional.  


  1. Hi Monte!

    Guilty! No matter how I try, I just can't avoid having more than I should tossed away during refrigerator clean-up day. I too grew up with those words plastered in my memory. I'm working on it though.

    These are two fine looking recipes. As a huge fan of Goat Cheese and Trader Joe's, I'm luvin' the Roasted Cauliflower. I'm really intrigued by the liquid used for boiling the Cauliflower. Did you save any of the liquid for the soup?

    We got a sudden snap of cold weather here in PA too so, of course, soup is always a welcome warm up and the addition of Garlic infused oil and bacon could really be considered medicinal couldn't it, lol...

    Thank you so much for sharing, Monte...

    P.S. The next time you go to Trader Joe's, seek out some of their Dukkah Spice. I just discovered it, actually baked a bread and posted about it, and let me tell you, I LOVE it! I can just imagine a sprinkling of it on any one of these cauliflower dishes.

    1. Now there's an idea Louise! I should have tried using the broth myself. If you do, let us know what you think. I will look into the Dukkah Spice. I am a big fan of their Lemon Pepper and Garlic Salt grinders. See if you can find the Honey Goat Cheese, it was a revelation to me. All best and Happy Thanksgiving.

    2. I don't see me making this before Thanksgiving but I've saved them both, Monte. When I do though, I will be trying the Cauliflower "stock" in the soup. I'm a fan of the Lemon Pepper and Garlic salt grinders too. The dukkah, which is actually an Egyptian spice mix that you can make at home, is in the same area. I will definitely be looking for the Honey Goat Cheese. I was leery about buying it for fear that it may be too sweet.

      Thanks for sharing, Monte...just in case I don't "see" you before Thanksgiving, get stuffed, lol...and Happy Thanksgiving to you and Andrew!

      P.S. Huge fan of Chopped. The only "foodie" show I watch:)