Cauliflower power

Cauliflower couscous with cumin roasted cauliflower, pickled red onion, and mint and sumac yoghurt

Today was the first of 3 vegetarian cooks. The last one on Friday is a free interpretation so another invention test. Cool.

We had to prepare Couscous de Choux Fleur Tiède, Oignon Rouge Acidulés, Yaourt Mentholé au Sumac. That’s a cumin roasted cauliflower steak served on warm cauliflower couscous with pickled red onion, and a mint and sumac yoghurt.

I feel like if ever there was a need to respect the vegetable it’s when cooking vegetarian food.

A steak was cut from the centre of the cauliflower head. The rest was blitzed to make couscous, which was steamed in muslin cloth over water infused with coriander seeds, black peppercorns and a clove. Sweet. The couscous went into a bowl to air dry and cool a bit.

Raisins were rehydrated in a few spoonfuls of the infused water.

Yoghurt was hung in muslin cloth for 20 minutes to let the water drain.

Red wine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, a star anise and a clove was heated up until the sugar dissolved. A few segments of red onion were added to help soften them. The pickling liquor and onion segments were then added to some onion rings. Cling film over the top and into the fridge. Happy pickling.

Diced peel from a preserved lemon was added to the couscous—this is powerful stuff. Lemony. Salty. In went the drained raisins, finely chopped chives and parsley, seasoning and a glug of olive oil. Done.

The cauliflower steak was gently fried in olive oil to take on colour and was then basted in butter with cumin seeds. Easy. Tasty. While the steak was cooking, olive oil was emulsified with the yogurt. Interesting. Then sumac was added with mint and some of the infused water again.

This dish exudes healthy. It could be served hot or cold. Apparently such dishes are loved by restaurants because it gives them added flexibility when the weather throws a curve ball. We decided to serve it cold since it was such a hot day. I really liked my presentation but in hindsight I wish I’d chosen a less noisy plate.

In demo, chef also prepared Aubergine Laquée au Miso, Salade de Concombre Acidulés au Sésame. Miso lacquered aubergine with pickled cucumber and a sesame seed salad. The aubergine was steamed and cut into shapes. Miso was mixed with Mirin and an egg yolk to make a paste, which was then brushed onto the aubergine flesh. A generous sprinkling of sesame seeds and into the oven to char up a bit. Chef understands my relationship with aubergine. He recommended I make a miso butter and baste a steak with it. It could also be used with scallops. Sounds good. I haven’t used miso much. The aubergine was tasty but the texture is still meh.

Here are chef’s plates.

Chef’s cauliflower steak with cauliflower couscous

Chef’s miso aubergine with pickled cucumber