A few weeks ago, one of my blogger friends sent me a message encouraging me to go to foodiefights.com. This is a battlefield for competitive bloggers. I don’t like to think of myself as competitive, but who am I kidding? I’m a surgeon. We were born competitive. We dream competitive. I had to do it.
Previous battles have been lemon and potatoes, and rhubarb and coriander. These do not sound so difficult to me. Unfortunately, they asked me, when I signed up for this month’s battle, what food would I throw into the ring. Cauliflower?! I had so much of it in the refrigerator I did not know what to do with it. I belong to an organic food club, and cauliflower and apples have been heavily featured lately. Someone else came up with the raspberries, trust me. What a combination. It set me quite a challenge.
I thought about it a lot. I knew I could easily make a cauliflower slaw with raspberry dressing and be done with it. But, well, did I mention that I’m a surgeon? I can’t just take the easy way out. I needed to come up with something creative, different, unexpected. I hashed over ideas. Could I make cauliflower into a dessert? How about gnocchi, ravioli, a souffle? Ice cream? I’m sure any of these would have worked out. But could I get anyone to eat cauliflower ice cream with raspberry sauce?
On Saturday, inspiration hit. I had been wanting one of those mini cheesecake pans for weeks now. I looked for it at Sur la Table, Target, the King Arthur website. No luck. Even Williams-Sonoma’s website no longer had it. So I went to the Williams-Sonoma in Coral Gables this weekend, to see if they still had one. And they did! And that’s when it came to me – cheesecake! Cauliflower cheesecake. Not sweet. Not heavy. Mini ricotta-cauliflower cheesecakes. But how to include the raspberries? A sauce would be possible, but, well, lame. And how could I be sure it would go well. Be truly delicious. I was not seeking to just meet the criteria, but to create a dish worth eating and enjoying.
So, here it is: a triple-layer ricotta cauliflower mini cheesecake. And believe me, it was delicious. The flavors went well together. It was pretty. It smelled amazing while it was baking.
I made home-made ricotta, because I had been dying to try it since the Daring Cooks challenge made ricotta gnocchi (no, I did not participate this time around, but expect upcoming participation!) You don’t have to. I feel certain grocery store ricotta would be fine. But, really, it was so easy, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, the next time I make gnudi, I will definitely make it.
I won’t bore you with the recipe, since I blatantly used this one: 101 Cookbooks ricotta recipe. Try it.
I made an almond crust, since I thought graham cracker crust would not go well with cauliflower. This is a nice quick crust. No rolling. Just press it into the pan. For the mini cheesecakes, line each of the cups with a circle of parchment paper. Flatten a ball of dough onto the parchment paper and fit it into the bottom of the cup. You could use a muffin pan if you don’t have a mini cheesecake pan. Make sure you spray it well with non-stick spray.
Makes 1 9 inch crust
2 ounces almonds
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter, ice cold, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 egg yolk
- Preheat the oven to 350˚
- Toast the almonds and let them cool
- Place the almonds and flour in the food processor and pulse until the almonds are fine
- Add the butter and pulse about 15 seconds, just until incorporated
- Add the egg yolk and pulse another 15-20 seconds, until the dough balls up
- Gather up the dough and press into the pan
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is set and golden brown
- Let cool
Triple Layer Cauliflower and Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes
2 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 small head purple cauliflower
1 small head white cauliflower
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
2 cups ricotta cheese
6 tbsp creme fraiche
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 eggs separated
Freshly grated rind of one lemon
1 tbsp chopped shallots
1 tbsp fresh herbs (I used savory and garlic chives)
1 tsp horseradish
salt and pepper to taste
- Macerate the raspberries in a bowl and add the champagne vinegar. Refrigerate overnight
- Preheat the oven to 375˚
- Chop the purple and white cauliflower into florets. Place in a baking dish and toss with the oil.
- Roast for 30 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant. Let cool
- In a food processor, mix the ricotta, flour, creme fraiche, egg yolks, fresh herbs, and lemon rind until well blended and creamy
- Split this mixture between 3 bowls. Add shallots and horseradish to 2 of the bowls
- Put about 1 cup of white cauliflower into the food processor and chop finely. Pour into one of the bowls with shallots in it
- Repeat with the purple cauliflower
- In the third bowl, add the macerated raspberries with about 1 tbsp of the vinegar. Add additional lemon peel
- Add salt and pepper to taste to each of the three bowls
- Whip the egg whites until stiff. Distribute between the 3 bowls and fold in to lighten
- Layer the purple, then the white, then the raspberry layer into the pan
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350˚. They are done when set and golden on the top