Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to Choose, Cut, & Cook Cauliflower

How to Deal with a Head of Cauliflower
{Choosing, Cutting Up, & Cooking a Cauliflower}.
Whoa. Unintentional alliteration.

Step One: How to Choose a Cauliflower.
a. Go to the grocery store.
b. Find the cauliflower.
c. Eye them. Which one looks prettiest?
d. Start hefting the prettier ones to see which one feels heaviest/densest.
{Note: You'll look a little strange juggling cauliflower in the middle of the produce section, but hey. You'll be picking the bestest one there. Besides. All the other college kids will think you know what you're doing and be impressed. Maybe you'll meet your next significant other next to the broccoli and cauliflower!}
e. Once you've decided on a cauliflower, make sure to check and see if it's got any brown spots or if it smells funny. Those are bad. Choose another one. Also check the leaves and be sure they're green and non-wilty, and use a finger to gently poke at the base of the cauliflower-- it should not be squishy.
f. If it's all good, bag it and move on with your grocery shopping.

Step Two: How to Cut Up a Cauliflower.
a. Get out your cutting board, a sharp knife of some sort, a bowl to put the chopped up cauliflower in, and don't forget the cauliflower itself.
The cauliflower should have been stored in the fridge, stem side down {or white bumpy side up, same thing}. As long as it doesn't start to smell strange or have little brown spots, it's still good.
b. Take your cauliflower out of the plastic bag and place it on the cutting board. Eye it sternly and tell it firmly that you're going to win.
c. Break off as much of the leafy stuff as you can. Don't freak out if it's gross and dirty. You're not eating that part and you will wash the florets before you eat those anyways. At least, you'd better. Because if you don't, that's gross.
d. Take your knife and carefully cut as much of the stem/base/thing off as possible without cutting your fingers/hand/arm off in the process.
e. Use your knife to cut off a section of the cauliflower. Pick your section by looking for the natural separations in the giant florets and slicing carefully.
f. Cut the giant floret into littler florets. Ignore your internal perfectionist-- the littler florets aren't all going to come out the same size, shape, etc. As long as they're all in the same general range of sizes, you're good.
g. Throw your littler florets into your bowl with gusto and move onto the next giant floret.
h. Attack. With precision. Watch your fingers carefully.

Step Three: How to Wash & Cook Cauliflower.
{specifically, blanching it so that you can freeze it and eat it whenever you feel like it and not have to worry about the cook time}
a. It's advisable to blanch the cauliflower right after you cut it up. You lose nutrients and taste if you wait forever.
b. Soak your cut up cauliflower in salt water for a bit to clean the florets all nicely. Supposedly, this will make any buggies that are hiding out in your veggies get out, but I don't know about that. Mostly because I didn't see any in the water after rinsing the florets, but you never know. I'd rather wait a bit and let the stuff soak rather than crunch down on a bug in my food later. Ew.
c. There is no specific time limit for how long you should let the cauliflower sit in the salt water. I left mine in there for about an hour because I had to go to a meeting and didn't have time to cook it, and it turned out perfectly fine. I think less time is probably okay, too.
d. Drain the cauliflower and have it ready to go when you need it.
e. Bring a decent-sized pot of water to boil. You don't really need to add anything to the water.
f. Once the water's boiling, throw the cauliflower in {well, maybe not 'throw' per say because I don't want you burning yourself with hot water droplets}.
g. Stir it a bit, then let it do its thing. I set a timer for 2 and a 1/2 minutes on my phone and that worked really well.
h. After 2.5 minutes, fish out your now-blanched cauliflower and place it in a bowl. My mom actually told me 2 to 3 minutes of boiling to blanch the stuff, but I figure that the amount of time it takes me to catch all the florets and get them out of the hot water would set me over the 3 minute time limit if I set my alarm for that.
i. You're doooone. Wait for it to cool and then munch!

Other random tips/observations:
1. I tried boiling some of the florets in a water/milk mixture because it was suggested on the Internet when I went looking for how to cook cauliflower. Honestly, it didn't make enough of a difference for me to recommend it. The two things that it was supposed to affect were color and taste.

Color-wise, the cauliflower cooked in milk/water looked exactly the same as the cauliflower cooked just in water. The milk was supposed to keep it white(r).
I didn't see it.

Taste-wise, the cauliflower cooked in milk/water did have a slightly sweeter taste... it basically tasted more cooked and less raw. The cauliflower cooked normally tastes a bit more tart and raw, but it's not enough to make it worth my while to dig out the milk and measure it and pour it in and have to spend a lot more time trying to find and fish out the florets once the timer goes off. Milky water = I can't see the darn white veggies that sank to the bottom of the pot.

2. Cutting up the entire head of cauliflower took about 20-25 minutes. Not bad for a first timer. Blanching all the florets took about 10 minutes. This is definitely do-able for college kids with 2 major essays and a midterm this upcoming week. {heh. me.}

3. In terms of storage and freezing, I haven't quite gotten there yet. My mother told me to make sure that the cauliflower is completely dry and cooled off before bagging it and putting it in the freezer. I'm still waiting for it to do those things.

I'm going to bag the cauliflower cooked in milk/water and the cauliflower cooked only in water in two different bags to see if they freeze/keep differently. If the milk/water cauliflower does something funny in the freezer, I'll let you know.

4. If you find yourself wanting to try the milk/water mix anyways, the proportion of water to milk is one boiling pot of water to about a cup of milk. I used about half a cup and it was fine.


Tada! I think I definitely have to write up my 'How To' guides and recipes immediately after I bother about in the kitchen, else I forget what I did. Because this write-up didn't take as long as it normally would have taken me and I feel like I told you everything I learned. Tis good.



Thanks to my dad for answering my texts from the grocery store when I needed help picking the perfect cauliflower.

Thanks to my mom for answering my texts about how long should I blanch the cauliflower for and how should I freeze it.

It should be made known that my parents text faster than I do. I know. I'm a failure to the teenage/college aged race. *hangs head in shame*

This website has some great information on other ways to cook cauliflower and what other types of cauliflower there are and all that good stuff. Check it out if you're still confused!
{Although, I think I wrote this more clearly than they wrote theirs because I had the help of parentals who know what they're doing, but just in case, I thought I'd include it!}


{written November 13, 2011}

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