Sunday, December 11, 2005

Recipe for Cauliflower Fried in Butter (from a very old cookbook)

Old cookbooks are quite a bit like old friends. Some parts of them are a bit worn around the edges or slightly stained. There are things you love about them, things you hate about them, and things you are completely indifferent to. Sometimes you may even wonder why you are keeping them around, but then one day you need just a certain thing, and that cookbook, or friend, has just what you need.

I have a lot of cookbooks, and quite a few of them are old, some of which I bought at yard sales when they were long past their prime. In 2004 I had a huge yard sale and sold cookbooks, but I still have several hundred left. In fact, I have so many cookbooks that when I remodeled my house I had a special shelf built into my kitchen to hold them. It used to do the job, but now I have so many that I have another small two shelf bookcase next to my favorite chair where the rest are stored.

I spent some time looking through my older cookbooks and although it was not my oldest cookbook, I chose The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors. The Frugal Gourmet himself later became subject to controversy, but his cookbook writing skills are superb, and from this book I made recipes like Armenian Lamb Stew, Persian Lentil and Rice Soup, and Paprika Gravy. The book introduced me to Sumac, preserved lemons, annatto seeds, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, fish sauce, and tamarind. It's a book I have returned to again and again, often just for the pleasure of reading about foods from other parts of the world.

I decided to cook a recipe I hadn't made before from the book for this Weekend Cookbook Challenge, sponsored by Alicat and Sara. The recipe I found on page 417, Cauliflower Fried in Butter, intrigued me because it was so similar in preparation method to Mark Bittman's Curried Sauteed Cauliflower which I had recently blogged about for my Kalyn's Kitchen Cooks the Best Recipes in the World series of posts. I had loved that version of cooked cauliflower from India, and this one, from Russia, was just as good. Not only that, this recipe has butter, flour, and salt. Equal opportunity to offend any serious food fanatics. Seriously though, the recipe is about 95% cauliflower. How unhealthy can it be, even if it is fried in butter? I did use a little olive oil in place of some of the butter so the South Beach Diet Police do not come after me, and also to preserve my reputation as the woman who never followed a recipe in her life.

Cauliflower Fried in Butter
(Adapted from The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors)

1/2 large head cauliflower
1-2 T flour (whole wheat flour would be fine here)
1 T butter (or more if desired)
1-2 tsp. olive oil
salt to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp. Vege-Sal, which is fantastic in dishes like this)
black pepper to taste
chopped parsley (optional)

Cut stems off cauliflower and cut into same size flowerets, about 1 inch in size. (You could peel the stems and add them if you wish.) Put cauliflower in saucepan, cover with water, bring to boil and cook until barely tender, about 3 minutes after it starts to boil. Drain well.

In ziploc bag or plastic bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper. (I used the bag the cauliflower came in for this.) Add drained cauliflower and shake around so all pieces are coated with flour.

In nonstick frying pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add cauliflower fry until quite well browned, resisting the urge to turn it over very often. I cooked it about 10 minutes to get a golden brown coating on some of the pieces. Serve hot, with chopped flat parsley as a garnish if desired.

This was amazingly flavorful for such a simple dish. I will absolutely make this again and again, which is true of nearly every recipe I have tried from this incredible cookbook.

South Beach Suggestions:
Despite my teasing about the South Beach Diet police, there is a very small amount of butter and flour in this dish. You might use even more olive oil and less butter, but I'd still use a little butter for flavor. In my opinion, this would be fine for an occasional treat for phase 2 or 3 of the diet.

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  1. Very simple recipe,Kalyn.Lots of cauliflower at home...I am going to try this simple recipe..thanks,Kalyn.

  2. That looks great. I can almost smell it through my monitor. I think cauliflower is the number 1 underrated and overlooked vegetable. Nice work :)

  3. That looks so delicious! I agree with Mona, I love cauliflower and simply do not understand its bad reputation. Both your recipes look terrific.


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