25/10/2011

Cauliflower Stalk Amuse Bouche

Amuse bouche? Amuse the mouth, tickle the mouth, get the taste buds going ...

The purpose of an amuse bouche is to get the taste sensation moving; often served as a pre-starter, an amuse bouche should be pack full of a single flavour, heavily enhanced - salt and lemon in perfect balance with a single ingredient is the key.

While this may look like a repeat of my Romanescu Stalk Amuse Bouche I wanted to compound the idea that trimmings can be used so easily to produce this little gem of flavour and to go a little deeper into the techniques.

Cauliflower is such a great vegetable and so useful in paleo cuisine for faux rice, or faux couscous. But it's funny that the stalks are so easily discarded.

Let's see what's so amusing ...

First, wash, clean, trim and prepare the cauliflower stalks. Trim off dirty ends and shred them finely.

Gently fry the stalk slices in pastured butter.

You can add in other flavours at this point - leeks, garlic, chives, herbs ...

Top up with some bouillon and bring to the boil for a few minutes until really soft.

Bouillon is a broth made from a simmering of mirepoix, bouquet garni and some bones. You can look up mirepoix and bouquet garni but here's a cheat - you can buy powered bouillion which only needs a generous tablespoon in a litre of water. If you wanted to make up your own, it's onion, celery and carrots (the mirepoix), thyme, bay and sage tied together (the bouquet garni), some bones and water - simmer for a few hours to extract all the flavour, freeze excess as appropriate.

Once soft, receptacle and blend to a fine paste, adding the liquid to soften things up and bring the total consistency to a thick soup. Optionally, you can emulsify a little oil in at this point for a really smooth texture.

Pass the blended soup through a fine sieve and return to the heat.

The solids can be combined with freshly minced garlic, chives, sea salt and melted butter. Formed into a sausage in a sheet of clingfilm and chilled, slices can be cut off, as required for a flavoursome butter sauce melted over meat and fish steaks.

Return the soup to the boil and reduce until the flavour is fully compounded. This may be a huge reduction, or may produce a lot of amuse bouche depending upon how well the solids were blended.

Take the pan off the heat, drop in a teaspoon of cream per cappuccino cup and swirl in.

Finally, squeeze a little lemon juice in - just enough so as not to overpower the flavours, but enough to work with the cream to offset the heavy saltiness.

Pour out into cappuccino cups.

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