February—Cauliflower: Chef Henderson’s Monthly Guide to Making Veggies Fun
This recipe seems very simple, but honestly it started out with me trying to come up with a way to turn not just my daughter but also my wife onto cauliflower, one of the most popular and trendy vegetables right now.
At first I planned to do artichokes for February, but then I found myself writing a small novel on how to pick out an artichoke, then another on how to clean the artichoke, and yet another on cleaning and cooking, and on and on. So, I turned to cauliflower.
When I started cooking the cauliflower, my daughter was very disinterested. I mean, who blames her, the smell as soon as you open a package of cauliflower has never been a major turn on for anyone, anywhere, ever, period. But by the time I was taking these out of the fryer, she suddenly realized that something looking like a tater tot was sitting before her, this was something she was alright with, and while I may not have admitted that it was the “stinky,” "yucky" product from earlier until she tried them, she did not care. It led to the most vegetables she had eaten in a week. While they may have been fried, as a father I felt as though my job was done.
Try this at home with your family, using my kid-approved recipe below!
Chef Henderson’s Cauliflower Tots & Comeback Sauce
1 Cauliflower florets (this is about 1 head, cleaned)
8 ounces heavy cream
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups Masa Harina
4 cups vegetable or peanut oil
- Clean florets from head of cauliflower.
- Place salted water in a large pot, add cauliflower.
- Bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes, just until cauliflower begins to soften.
- Immediately remove cauliflower and place in the bowl of a food processor.
- Puree with the cream and salt and pepper (puree just enough that it’s not lumpy, but not soupy).
- Remove to a large bowl, then toss the cheese and stir to mix.
- Slowly add the masa, stirring just to mix, until the mix becomes stiff enough that you can shape it into tater tot shapes.
- Drop directly into pre-heated oil in a Dutch oven, or another type of pot deep enough to deep-fry in—preferable cast iron at 375 degrees. (Don't be shy with the oil, the less oil you try to fry in the more the temperature will drop when you begin to add product to it, and your will end up with soggy product. It is better to overdo the oil, than to under do it.)
- Fry for 3-4 minutes, until deep brown.
Chef suggestions: You may want to add some bacon, jalapenos, or additional cheese to the mix. My method will give you gluten-free snack, but you could also try dipping them in some panko bread crumbs for additional crunch.
This is a classic Mississippi dip that’s often used as a sandwich topping or salad dressing. It goes well with pretty much anything. I find that playing around and adding some chipotle powder, or fresh minced onions or shallot, or even some apple cider vinegar can give you a fantastic dipping sauce for just about anything. Add in some chopped bacon and some diced pickles, and you pretty much have an easy, homemade 1000 Island Dressing.
1/2 cup of chili sauce
2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dill pickle juice
1 cup of Duke's mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
Couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Juice of 1 of a lemon
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
- Put all of the ingredients, except oil, in a blender and process until well mixed. Add in the oil and mix again. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Any unused can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for about two weeks.
We asked Shane Henderson, Executive Chef for Ben E. Keith Foods, to share his special month-by-month guide to introducing new nutrient-rich veggies into kids’ diets. Shane knows all about trying to please his own picky eater, his 6-year-old daughter Chloe, and has crafted a calendar complete with kid-friendly recipes to help parents win more mealtime battles. Check back with FITArkansas.com for Shane’s monthly installments!
COMING UP NEXT MONTH …. Artichokes!