CAVIAR & CAULIFLOWER
What do caviar and cauliflower have in common besides being a “c” word? I’m here to tell you.
Friends came for dinner the other night and as Richard was scoping out our veggie bin, there, sitting comfortably on the bottom, was a large head of cauliflower we’d found at our local farmers’ market. He didn’t want to steam or mash it, but he did want to use it. So, after searching through all the recipes I’d cut out for him to make for me (love having my own personal chef), he found Tyler Florence’s recipe for cauliflower soup. I didn’t cut that recipe out for the cauliflower, however. I cut it out because the soup was garnished w/ salmon roe. I love caviar – red, black, lumpfish – I don’t care. In blinis, caviar pie, on toast points w/ cream cheese or butter – or just plain out of the tin – why not in soup? And the sauteed Brussels sprouts leaves intrigued my taste buds.
Richard made it the previous night and before it cooled down, we tasted it. Surpisingly, yum, even w/o the caviar! The next day, however, was hot - a prelude to our Los Angeles - and Richard didn’t want to serve a hot soup. But, he didn’t want to waste it. Why not a cauliflower vichyssoise? We dipped our spoons into the refrigerated soup and tasted. Double yum!
I dressed our dining room table in cool crisp white.
And, the chilled creamy soup, topped w/ the salty salmon roe, crispy Brussels sprouts leaves, a dollop or two of good EVOO, along w/ snipped chives and thyme leaves turned out to be the perfect first course for a warm summer night.
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 Brussels sprouts, separated into petals
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ yellow onion, sliced
1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
5 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 ounces salmon roe (salmon caviar)
Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
Finely chopping chives, for garnish
Set a large saucepan over medium heat and coat w/ olive oil.
Remove the core of the cauliflower and cut into medium-size pieces.
Remove the tough stem of the Brussels sprouts and separate into single leaves. Add leaves to the saucepan and sauté for two to three minutes, until crispy and golden around the edges. Set aside to drain on a plate lined w/ a paper towel.
Add butter to the same saucepan and lightly sauté the cauliflower pieces w/ sliced onion. Cook over medium heat, letting them sweat so they cook w/o color. Cook for two to three minutes until just tender. Season w/ salt and pepper.
Tie the thyme sprigs and bay leaves together in a piece of cheesecloth to form a sachet. Add sachet to the saucepan, then pour in the milk. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the cauliflower is soft.
Remove the sachet and discard. Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor– take extra care as it is very hot and will expand when processed.
Puree until completely smooth. Taste and season w/ a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Serve the soup in espresso cups (or tea cups as we did). Garnish each cup w/ a crisp fried Brussels sprout leaf (or two), the salmon caviar, chives, lemon thyme leaves, and a drizzle of good quality extra-virgin olive oil.
A Tyler Florence Note:
The cauliflower in this recipe can be replaced by just about anything… potatoes, red cabbage and apples, butternut squash and sage. That goes for the garnish as well – bacon bits, toasted bread crumbs, poached cranberries… as long as it’s a pleasant contrast. Think salty-sweet.