Monday, October 12, 2009


    I am not really a cook book person. I have this thing about having too many books, so I usually either take my cook books out of the library and make photo copies of recipes or when I need a quick recipe I look in Grandma's tin, online or I just freestyle it. A little onion and garlic is the start of something special every time.
    I got Padma Lakshmi's Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet cook book from a Secret Santa one year (Thank You Dasha!) and I didn't open it for a while, but when I did, it was like an entire new world of Indian flavors opening up to me. Now I am no longer scared to sautee cumin seeds, make chutneys and grate ginger into everything. 
   A while back I made this excellent Sauteed Cauliflower with Anise and Cashews from the cook book. Cashews for the record are not my favorite nut, but with a little heat and spice they come alive. And now its soup season and Cauliflower Soup is an all time favorite, so I experimented with adapting this recipe for pureed soup. I am very satisfied with it. The smooth cauliflower texture combined with the crunchy ground cashews is remarkable on the taste buds. 
  Try it. Its such simple revamp for Cauliflower Soup.

Original Recipe from Padma Lakshmi's Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet:
Sauteed Cauliflower with Anise and Cashews
2 to 3 TBSP canola oil
1 tsp anise seed
3 or 4 long dry chilies
1 C diced shallots
1 1/2 TBSP minced ginger
2 1/4 lb Cauliflower broken into small florets
1/2 tsp salt
1 C cashews

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the anise seeds and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Roughly break up the chilies, add them to the anise seeds and stir. After 5 minutes, add the shallots, ginger, and cauliflower. Add 1/2 C. of water and salt and stir. Cook for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the cashews and cook for an additional 10 minutes or so uncovered, until all the moisture is gone, stirring occasionally. The cauliflower will reduce greatly in size and should have some charred brown bits at the edges. The cashews should also be toasted brown. SERVES 4-6

Cauliflower Cashew and Anise Soup 
    I wanted to get the flavor of the browned cauliflower and cashews so I basically followed the recipe exactly with a few modifications before I turned it into soup. I used olive oil obviously instead of canola oil and I used peperoncino instead of the hot chilies. I also added some ground nutmeg for fun. I followed the recipe then added enough water to cover the cauliflower plus a vegetable bouillon. I diced up a red potato, skin on, and added that for thickness and depth. I simmered it for about 15 minutes, then I pureed it with the hand blender. What a tool! I served it with fresh cilantro which really took it to another level flavor wise.