This is a popular member of the Brassica family, which, like cabbage, should not be overcooked.It is believed to have originated from China and from there it was brought to the Middle East. The Moors introduced it to Spain in the 12th Century and from there it found its way to Ireland.Ironically, now that baby cauliflowers are fashionable, the early cauliflower was only the size of a tennis ball. In addition to the white cauliflower, green and purple types, dwarf varieties and baby white cauliflowers are also available. Romanescoes look like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower but are more closely related to cauliflowers. They taste like cauliflower but are less likely to be overcooked because of their small size and so retain their flavour. A broccoflower is across between broccoli and cauliflower with a mild flavour. It is cooked in the same way as cauliflower. Cauliflower is a very good source of Vitamin C and folic acid, although because they are water soluble and heat-sensitive, cooking reduces the amounts.
Areas Grown: Most areas throughout Ireland. Later winter varieties are best suited to coastal areas.
Preparing and Using
Cauliflower can be steamed or boiled to serve,as a vegetable but should not be overcooked.It should be tender but still have plenty of bite.Serve it on its own as a vegetable with a little butter, tomato, Hollandaise, or Mornay sauce or you could purée it. Combine cauliflower with other vegetables such as broccoli and carrot for additional colour. Cauliflower à la grecque (cooked in water, olive oil and lemon juice flavoured with bay leaf, thyme, pepper,coriander seeds and salt) is served cold.Classic dishes include cauliflower au-gratin and cauliflower Polonaise. Cauliflower soup is a traditional and hearty soup that combines well with cream and cheese.
Cauliflower can be blanched and refreshed first or used raw, in salads or as crudités with dips and dressings. When stir-frying or deep-frying,it’s best to blanch and refresh beforehand.Cauliflower is used frequently in Indian and other ethnic cuisine. It can be served as a vegetable side-dish such as gobi or pakora,stir-fried, or used in main courses (for example,Balti-style curries). In Japanese cooking cauliflower is made into savoury fritters (or tempura) by dipping florets in batter (made using iced water) and deep-frying. A selection of savoury vegetable fritters can be served as a starter, snack or accompaniment to a main course.
Good flavour combinations for cauliflower include: cheese, broccoli, carrot, French beans, mange tout, hazelnuts, mustard,cream, coriander, cumin, garam masala,ginger, chilli and lemon.