grain-free

its lovely possibilities

cauliflower fritters

There’s brown on the ground, brown on the barks of the trees, and no green on bare trees yet. Sure, we’re lucky to live in a place with plenty of firs, whose branches look like long green arms. But honestly, in winter, it can feel a little like those arms are throwing rorschach blots on the sky. Right on target, I’m longing for some sign of spring.

(We’re back to the time of year when And Then It’s Spring feels like the only book worth reading, for the reminder. It will appear, someday.)

Still, when it’s May, and we’re sitting under the blooming cherry tree for a tea party, I might just have a smidge of longing for cauliflower again.

It’s such a humble vegetable, the cauliflower. It’s white and plain and calls no attention to itself. (The wild purple cauliflower of summer and the neon-green romanesco are the far more flamboyant cousins of winter white cauliflower.) For years, I didn’t pay it much mind. Now, cauliflower is starting to look like a white room, free of clutter and anything on the walls, cleared out so you notice the light more.

Cauliflower can crunch and frizzle if you roast it crispy. It makes a surprisingly delightful pizza crust, if you aren’t expecting it to be a blistered crust with air pockets straight out of a Brooklyn wood-fired oven. It’s a humble little vehicle for prosciutto and olives. (Or pineapple, if you are Lucy.) We cut each head of cauliflower into tiny florets and sauté it with slivers of kale and broccoli, with olive oil, for a breakfast hash with fried eggs. (Lucy does not approve. Is there a kid who truly loves cauliflower? All power to you, if you have that kid in your house.)

The other day, Danny and I were sitting side by side at the giant table in our kitchen studio. In fact, it was the first time we ate together at that table. It felt good. After lunch, we lingered a little instead of jumping up to work. Our phones were on the other side of the room. We flipped through a food magazine and noticed. “Oh, harissa! That’s a good idea. Hey, what about baking that instead of sautéing it? Oh, I’ve been wanting to play more with preserved lemons. Let’s try that.” We have these half-conversations, of pointing and few words, touching each other on the arms, and nodding. Danny found a recipe for cauliflower fritters. We both bent our heads down toward the page. They were a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, from Jerusalem.

We should make those, I told him.

I stood up to move toward the computer and finish a piece I was writing. When I closed the lid of the laptop, I looked up to see Danny at the table again, phone out. Cauliflower fritters.

The next night, we made them again, for a dinner with friends. As our friend Laura said, “Is there anything with the word fritter attached to it that is not wonderful?” After dinner, our friend Joe laughed, “I think I must have eaten two heads of cauliflower.” They approved.

Oh, plain white cauliflower with its lovely possibilities. You’re making February palatable.

cauliflower fritters bottom

Cauliflower Cumin Fritters, adapted from Yotam Ottlenghi’s recipe in Food and Wine, February 2014

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

We chose to make these fritters with a combination of almond flour and arrowroot starch, roughly in a ratio of 2 to 1, which is our favorite all-purpose flour right now. That made the final fritter puffier than the one we saw in the magazine. Rather than flat, bumpy pancakes, these fritters are airy and light, the fried batter matching the texture of the blanched cauliflower.

Feel free to use whatever flour combination works best in your kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 90 grams finely ground almond flour
  • 50 grams arrowroot starch
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 4 large eggs, at room temtperature
  • about 4 cups frying oil (we use pure olive oil)
  1. Set a large pot of salted water on high heat. When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower florets. Simmer until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and set aside the florets.
  2. Whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot starch, parsley, salt, cumin, pepper, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric in a large bowl. Add the eggs and whisk to make a smooth batter the consistency of thick pancake batter. If the batter feels too thick, add cold water, a bit at a time, until the batter whisks easily.
  3. Plop the warm cauliflower into the batter. Mash the florets a bit with the back of a spoon. (Don’t make them pulp!)
  4. Set a large pot over high heat. Pour in the frying oil. When the oil has reached 375°, spoon about 3 tablespoons of battered cauliflower into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pot. Danny put about 7 or 8 fritters into the pot at a time. Separate the fritters from each other. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip the fritter.
  5. Drain the fritters on paper towels. Serve them hot.

Notes

I bet broccoli fritters, using this same method, would be pretty great too.

These fritters really just have to be eaten hot, right after you make them, so hot that you worry for a moment that you might burn your fingers. But you won’t. Enjoy.

American Classics Reinvented: recipe testing

cookbook- chicken-fried steak

For the past few weeks, Danny and I have been in the kitchen, listening to the oil in the cast-iron skillet splatter on the stove, taking notes, and writing revisions on our recipe forms. We’re deep in the process of testing recipes for our next cookbook, American Classics Reinvented.

So many of you have written to tell us how much you love our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. Thank you. Thank you for making the four-onion soup, the sushi rice with edamame and miso-maple ginger dressing, the zucchini noodles with spinach pesto, the chickpea vegetable stew with brown basmati rice, the pork tenderloin stuffed with chorizo, the biscuits with sausage gravy, shrimp and bok choy stir fry, the chicken and dumplings, and the teff chocolate chip cookies. I love receiving emails that say, “I’ve been scared of making pie crust my entire life. But my husband so loves pie, and he can’t eat gluten, so I decided to face my fear and try it. I made your apple pie recipe in your latest cookbook and gave it to my husband. He cried. He said it was the best apple pie he has ever eaten. Thank you, Shauna and Danny.”

And that is why we do this work. Truly.

Fact is, we started working on our next cookbook, American Classics Reinvented, months before our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day was released. We should have been telling you about our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, every day, for months, reminding you that it’s out there. We’ve been so busy making the very best gluten-free chicken-fried steak we can for you that we’re just not able to promote our last book the way it deserves. But we’re happy to say that the book has almost been selling itself. Did you know that it’s in every Target in America? This feels like gluten-free is slowly being more accepted in mainstream culture.

(However, we’d love if you could spread the word for us about our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. The holidays are coming up, of course. If you have been enjoying the book, could you make it your project to tell your people about it? After all, if you support our work by buying our books, we can create more cookbooks for you. Thank you.)

This was a fun day, when we bought a bit of four different kinds of steaks, trying to determine which one makes the best chicken-fried steak. There was no question. It’s the cheapest one —— cube steak —— all the way.

This is what we do for you.

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