We cook for numerous different reasons: mostly it’s to fill our bellies, sometimes it’s to come together as a group and bond over a meal, but occasionally it’s to excite a lover. When I want to impress someone special, I like to prepare a striking whole roasted cauliflower with a rich Gorgonzola dip. The spicy caramelized coating coupled with the rich creamy sauce tantalizes the tastebuds and impresses even the most experienced of cooks. However, enthusing someone doesn’t always mean loads of work on your end, actually the easier the better: A guest can always smell a nervous overworked host.
It’s more than the meal itself that awes a lover, it’s the ambiance too. When someone walks into your place you want all 5 senses to light up! The smell of the house, the way you look in your apron, the seductive music playing in the background, and even the state of your kitchen are all things to take into account when having a guest over for dinner. I like to fill my apartment with unscented Sunbeam beeswax candles and two or three dozen white, peach, or pink roses to set in different strategic places. When I set my table I use rustic earth toned and textured plates and bowls and fold pressed cloth napkins into a three point fold. Lastly, I ensure I’m wearing something light, sexy, and comfortable.
Inviting a beloved over for a meal lets them know volumes about how you feel about him/her, especially if you set the mood with candles and flowers. If you are too shy to let the person know how you feel, this might be just the trick to bring things to the next level. If you have been with your lover for a long time, creating a romantic and relaxed atmosphere might be just what you both need to reconnect at the end of the day.
The following recipe has two steps that take about twenty minutes each, but simmering the cauliflower then cooking it at a high temperature ensures loads of flavor and a crispy texture. I like to use a buttery Chardonnay in the simmering liquid for the cauliflower, but any white wine works. As you get use to this recipe start to experiment with your favorite ingredients such as allspice berries, fennel, and cardamom or cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin. Adding these spices to the pot will change the flavor of this dish, and possibly the mood of your date.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Sauce
Serves 2-4 people
Equipment: 475 degree oven, large pot, tinfoil or parchment paper covered baking sheet, spider or very large slotted spoon, blender, rubber spatula, oven mitts
For boiling the cauliflower
- 1 head of cauliflower, stem trimmed, but left whole
- 1 bottle of white wine
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons of kosher or sea salt
- 2 teaspoons of whole black pepper corns
- 1 tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes
- Juice of one lemon,
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- 4 cups of water
For roasting the cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
For the blue cheese sauce
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces blue cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. Place the cauliflower head face down in a pot.
2. Pour in the water, white wine, Extra Virgin olive oil, and lemon juice.
3. Add the bay leaves, salt, sugar, pepper corns, butter, and crushed chili flakes.
4. Put the heat on high and boil for 15 minutes or until a knife is easily inserted into the head of the cauliflower.
5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
6. Once the cauliflower is finished boiling in the pot. Remove it and place on a tinfoil or parchment paper lined baking sheet with the head facing up.
7. Pour olive oil over head of cauliflower, and sprinkle salt on top.
8. Cook in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the cauliflower has begin to blacken.
9. While the cauliflower is in the oven, prepare the blue cheese sauce.
10. Place all of the ingredients for the sauce into a blender.
11. Blend on high or until the sauce has emulsified.
12. Once the cauliflower has begin to blacken, remove the baking sheet from the oven. And place the vegetable on a wooden board.
13. Pour more olive oil on top, sprinkle a little bit of salt all over, and stick a steak knife in it.
14. Carve the cauliflower at the table, just like a roast, for maximum impact.