Monday, August 17, 2009

The case of the mashed potato wannabe: Creamy Mashed Cauliflower Augratin

I love finding new ways to cook familiar ingredients. Take the main ingredient in today’s recipe, for example: Cauliflower. The little white tree like vegetable that spends most of it’s culinary life on a relish tray next to the ranch dip. Ah, the potential for this lovely little veggie is enormous.

I love the little crunchy white things. They are most welcome on my plate in just about any form ... raw, broiled, boiled, steamed, fried, in soup, or, as in today’s recipe, mashed. Have you ever had mashed cauliflower? I had mashed cauliflower a long time ago and really liked it, and since I had a head of it in my fridge, I thought it would be fun to pair it with the zesty pork chops I shared with you in the prior post.
Off to the internet I went, and successfully pulled up about 700 bazillion recipes for mashed cauliflower. This type of mashed recipe enjoys a loyal following due to the “low carb” diets that came into fruition a few years ago, and continues to grace many a restaurant’s menu. They are a great substitute for mashed potatoes, and while they don’t taste anything like mashed potatoes, they provide a similar texture that pairs so magically with many meats. It’s easy to prepare, tastes great, and looks really pretty! So, if you are looking for ways to use up your cauliflower bounty, look no further than this yummy little recipe.

And, yes, before you gasp and roll your eyes, this does have some fat in it. We’ll have to have a chat sometime soon regarding the much beleaguered fat. I’ll have you know that after reintroducing certain fats into my diet a couple months ago, I’ve lost weight, my hair, skin and nails look better, and I feel loads better. No more low-fat substitutions for me, thank you. Now that doesn’t mean that I’m sitting at home scooping up spoonfuls of butter into my face. Rather, it’s a way of cooking using ingredients that my grandmother and great grandmother would recognize. We can talk more about that later. For now, here’s the recipe.

• 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
• ¾ brick of cream cheese
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
• ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1. Divide a head of cauliflower into florets.I achieve that by slicing the entire head in half, and then slicing off the individual florets off the center section.This is what you’re left with, a clean stalk.Steam cauliflower pieces over boiling water until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the cauliflower VERY WELL, pat dry, and set aside. NOTE: I highly recommend steaming the cauliflower and not boiling it. You don’t want the extra water content that comes with boiling veggies. It would make the end project too loose.
2. Preheat the broiler. In a food processor, whip up the remaining ingredients except the cheese until it is the consistency of a thick dip. Add the cauliflower and puree the cauliflower on high speed until smooth, but with some very small pieces of cauliflower remaining in the mix for just a bit of texture. I like mine a little chunky, but the rest of the family likes it smooth. Puree it to whatever texture you like best. Pulse in ½ of the cheese.
3. Pour pureed cauliflower into medium casserole dish (I didn’t grease mine). Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, and pop under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until golden brown on top.Isn’t that golden color gorgeous? YUM! Makes about six side servings, and is gluten free.Mmm, mmm, mmm! I really liked this. The consistency was very smooth and creamy, and the cheese on top added a lovely nuttiness that I enjoy. See how similar the texture is to mashed potatoes? It was not as heavy as mashed potatoes, in fact, it was pretty light. This was a great accompaniment to the tangy sauce that was on the pork chops.

So what’s your favorite way to eat cauliflower? Do you think you’d like to try this version?


Anonymous said...

I LOVE cauliflower in any form! The pork chops made me drool!! I get tired of beef all the time:)

Lynda said...

I love cauliflower, but haven't tried it mashed yet...but thats changing now thanks to this post!Love that pic with all the cheese!Thanks!

Mickle in NZ said...

This looks so scrummy and my innards like decently cooked cauliflower. My taste buds adore cauliflower with cheese.

btw - magnificent kitchen knife!

Grace said...

ah yes, i remember the mashed cauliflower craze during that low-carb era. low-carb shmo-carb, i say, but i love the cheesy cauliflower idea. looks luscious, paula. ya done good.

Bridgett said...

Oh now this sounds heavenly!

doggybloggy said...

this is such a great idea! I will be trying this soon since cauliflowers are all over the place now...

Marjie said...

I love cauliflower raw, with a touch of a creamy dressing...forgive me while I drool. I love it cooked with cheddar cheese; now I shall drool some more. And I'm with you: fats are necessary for healthy body functions, although I won't eat butter on bread (I decided I hated it when I was 6..but that's another story, too). We are of the same opinion: use recognizable foods! Great side dish, Paula!

Pam said...

You lucky girl. I love cauliflower but my husband can't stand it so I never make it. This recipe looks amazing.

Cheryl said...

Holy shit Paula, I love it. As a diabetic I rarely eat mashed taters and I know Cauliflower is low carb, I am soo makin this!

Spryte said...

That looks so good!! I love cauliflower but have never tried it mashed.

Pam said...

I agree, I've gone full fat..yogurt, cheese, milk, sour cream, and I feel like I'm in better shape than before.

Paula said...

Hi All!

Prairierunner: Come on over and I'll make some pork and cauliflower for you! :-)

Lynda: Cheese makes everything better!

Mickle: Thanks for the recipe! You're so sweet! I'll tell my hubby you like the knife; he got it for me. It's a tad smaller than a regular chefs knife and fits my hand perfectly!

Grace: I want to borrow your amazing, clever, wit: low-carb shmo carb! Ha!

Bridget: It's really quite good!

Doggy: The cauliflower is sooo much better when it's in season! YUM!

Marjie: I swear we are sisters in a past life. I don't like butter on my bread either! :-)

Pam: You come on over, too. I'll make some just for you.

Cheryl: You always make me laugh! I didn't realize that you're diabetic. Makes me realize that some folks watch their carbs because they have to. This recipe is a keeper in my book.

Spryte: It's quite good mashed. This was prepared very smooth, but I actually like it a little chunky, myself!

Pam: Hear, hear! Or is it Here, Here! The more I read about fats, the more I realize how they are good for us as part of a healthy diet. I find that I don't snack at all in between meals now that it's part of our daily routine. Good stuff!

Karine said...

Mashed cauliflower? This is the firt time I hear about that, but it sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing!

Deborah said...

I have heard that mashed cauliflower is good, but I've never tried it. I need to remedy that!

Kim ~ Kay Kay said...

Hi Paula,
Just found your blog via Robynn.

I just had to comment about this cauliflower recipe. Looks great!

I think I will make it this weekend for my family.
My husband LOVES cauliflower! Me . . .not so much. But I do love mashed potatoes, I don't fix them very often because of the starch and heaviness. I like cauliflower enough to try this and I think I will like it.
I've been trying to find time to look for the perfect recipe so this worked out great today!
Thank you for posting it and sharing your recipes!
Blessings, Kim