Forgiving Cauliflower

March 22, 2011

Cauliflower and I have a checkered past.  Growing up in a household with a German father, I bore witness to all sorts of culinary horrors. There were the slices of raw potato and turnip, salted to death, which he snacked on while watching hockey on the telly.  There were heads of cabbage, lurking in the crisper, waiting to be pickled or transformed into coleslaw. There were flesh-colored tubes of Braunsweiger, reeking of garlic, begging to be spread on crackers.  Big plastic shells of Oscar Meyer Bologna beckoned;  Daddy-o would plunder them before bedtime, rolling the slices and popping them into his mouth with unabashed delight.

I’ll never forget one weekend, when a playmate and I, immersed in a game of Misty of Chincoteague, galloped into our kitchen just as Daddy was whipping up his favorite little afternoon refresher: a tall glass of sauerkraut juice mixed with V-8.

“Gaarrggg,” was all the friend could say, eyes a-buggin’. I wanted the floor to crack open and swallow me then and there.

None of these gastronomic offenses, however, was worse than The Boiling of the Cauliflower.

Daddy-o loved cauliflower, and even though nobody else in the house would touch the stuff, Mama made it for him regularly. That brown-eyed rascal had wiles, I’m telling you.

I’d  fling open the door after school, eagerly awaiting freshly buttered popcorn or a warm cookie, and be assaulted by a sudden, sulfurous reek. I’d stop dead in my saddle shoes, book bag hanging off my shoulder, and feel the heavy hand of doom.

It was Cauliflower Night.

Daddy’d slather a big plateful of it with butter, add a generous dusting of pepper and salt, and dig in with relish.  I’d nibble at my pork chop and salad, but out of the corner of my eye, I’d watch the cauliflower with suspicion, lest an errant floweret suddenly levitate and land on my plate. Cauliflower is a devious vegetable.

As I age and emotions mellow, I’ve tried to make up with cauliflower. Cauliflower didn’t deliberately set out to hurt my feelings, right? I’m trying, in my adult years, to be a more forgiving soul. So when Mama and Daddy agreed to come for a leisurely Sunday dinner this past weekend, I thought of this recipe and decided, “Why not?”

I prepped the cauliflower, plopped it into a whirling jacuzzi of water and broth, and stirred, watching the girls fling frisbees and fence with sticks in the afternoon sun.

Five minutes later, Miss M. came thundering in for a glass of lemonade and immediately recoiled, nose crumpled in horrified disbelief.

“Garrggg!” she howled. “What is that stink?”

Ah, little bug. Someday, I hope you’ll forgive me.

Potato and Cauliflower Puree

~ adapted from Cooking Light magazine

serves 4 (can be doubled)

2 cups cauliflower florets, chopped

1 cup Yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped

1 cup water

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

1 1/2  tablespoons butter

1/4 cup shredded, sharp, low-fat cheddar cheese, such as Cracker Barrel or Cabot brand*

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or flat-leaf parsley

Bring cauliflower, potato, water and broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 6-10 minutes or until potato can be pierced easily with a knife (at high altitude, it took me about 15 minutes).

Pour off and reserve about 1 1/3 cups liquid.

Pour remaining cauliflower mixture into a blender or food processor**. Add butter, salt, pepper, red pepper (if using) and garlic salt. If you are using a blender, take the plastic plug off the top of the blender, put cover back on and place a kitchen towel over the exposed hole to avoid splattering. Puree. If mixture seems too thick, add reserved water/broth by tablespoonfuls until desired texture is achieved.

Stir in cheese and parsley; taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

*if you cannot find Cracker Barrel or Cabot reduced fat sharp cheddar, just use any regular cheddar you have on hand, or substitute Parmiggiano-Reggiano.

**Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender, which is what I did. Immersion blenders rock!

Verdict: I hate to admit it, but this was pretty dang good. I asked my husband to taste it for seasoning, not mentioning what the concoction was, and he said, “This is really good!” When I told him what it was, he was amazed. You honestly can barely detect the cauliflower. This stuff tastes like mashed potatoes. All of the cauliflower-haters in my family (over the age of nine) ate this right down.

And even though the minxes wanted no part of it, I’ll try it again. Cauliflower forgiveness is a lovely thing.

This post is linked up at The Red Dress Club as a response to this week’s prompt: Forgiveness. If you have time, come check out some of the amazing writers over there!

Also, if you have a food nemesis from the past that you’ve forgiven, feel free to share in the comments section!

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Frelle March 24, 2011 at 4:45 am

fantastic response to the prompt! Very unique and you were so evocative in your storytelling that I was easily with you in your childhood home! I love that you included a recipe too :) This was my favorite part: “.. lest an errant floweret suddenly levitate and land on my plate. Cauliflower is a devious vegetable.”


Rudri Bhatt Patel March 24, 2011 at 5:16 am

Cauliflower is a known enemy in my refrigerator – my husband hates it. Given that we are vegetarian, we can’t afford to take a vegetable off our list. I still put cauliflower in pav bhaji and vegetable korma. He still complains about it, but eats it too.


Belinda March 24, 2011 at 11:58 am

Kitch, how very gracious of you to make this for your parents; a heart-warming full-circle cycle of life you’ve shared with us here. Seems Miss M has a lesson in forgiveness awaiting her adult years…
As for my own food nemesis, it’ll have to be mayonnaise. It has no redeeming quality as far as I’m concerned.


Biz March 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I didn’t even TRY cauliflower until a few years ago – now I love it. :D And I completely forgot about braunsweiger! My brother used to love the stuff and whenever he ate it, my sister and I had to cover our eyes and look down so as not to see the brown gooey mess seep out between the white toast – it stank to high heaven!


Stacia March 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm

My food nemesis: Subway. Got food poisoning there 10 years ago and still haven’t forgiven them. I know, I know, it’s not quite the same as cauliflower, which does emit quite the, ahem, aroma for being such a bland vegetable.


Maria March 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm

I have to admit, I have never excitedly consumed cauliflower, but this is something I could get behind! The idea cauliflower in a jacuzzi of water and broth had me giggling. Like your Daddy-O, I hope my brown eyes are beguiling, enchanting, WHATEVER, ’cause hubby would truly need to be entranced to knowingly eat cauliflower.

Thank you for the laugh today. I really needed it…


theUngourmet March 25, 2011 at 9:35 am

I was one of the weird kids who jumped into the kitchen to steal a slice of raw potato, cabbage heart or even cauliflower as my mom prepared dinner. ;)

Your soup looks fantastic!!


rebecca @ altared spaces March 25, 2011 at 11:34 am

It is aromatic stuff!!! I love it raw dipped in dressing.


Paula (Salad in a Jar) March 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I bet I would love this!! I used to think I hated hominy. Tried many ways to like it but just couldn’t. Then my brother-in-law served it to me mixed in with well-buttered basmati rice and plenty of chopped cilantro. All is forgiven.


TKW March 26, 2011 at 9:20 am

I hate hominy, too! But the way you describe it sounds kind of good!


Kate March 25, 2011 at 11:19 pm

First, my littlest one is ridiculous. She loves broccoli and cauliflower. Then again, I grew up loving brussel sprouts and beets.

Somehow getting pregnant cured me of my horrid distaste for avocado.

But, I will never forgive my mama for mixing yogurt and liver and feeding that to me when I was a toddler. I don’t care if she claims I loved it. That’s just nasty.


TKW March 26, 2011 at 9:21 am


I threw up a little when I read that. Awful!


Ink March 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

“a playmate and I, immersed in a game of Misty of Chincoteague” = No way did you just say this. We have been friends for HOW LONG and I never knew that you, too, played Misty of Chincoteague? My sister and I have laughed about how whenever we mention that series to anyone out here, they look at us as if we’re crazy…

Girlfriend: high five!


TKW March 27, 2011 at 6:50 am

Inky, no wonder I love you so!


Inky, Not of Chincoteague (Dang It) March 26, 2011 at 11:54 am
Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday March 28, 2011 at 8:34 am

I have forgiven Brussels sprouts since I’ve moved out on my own and started cooking. My grandmother used to boil them until they were almost grey and serve them salad style with salt pepper and white vinegar. Poor Brussels sporuts. They never stood a chance on my plate.


Alex@LateEnough March 31, 2011 at 6:35 am

Dude, I love me some Potato and Cauliflower soup (or puree).

My list of food nemesi that I’ve conquered from childhood is a mile long. I was the dreaded picky-eater.


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