crispy buttermilk-fried cauliflower

crispy buttermilk-fried cauliflower

i don’t miss meat, but man do i miss the idea of something crispy and southern-fried! that initial crunch yielding to something tender and juicy inside, hot and crisp with a bit of salt and spice. this crispy buttermilk-fried cauliflower recipe came from those dark, evil food-craving places we all have, and my basic desire to make something fried.

cauliflower is the perfect candidate for the southern-fried treatment. it’s got all those little hills and valleys to cradle the crispy batter, it cooks quickly, and it comes out juicy and flavourful. i can also say with certainty, this is perfect with a little ranch dip or spicy-sweet barbecue sauce for dipping. you could also use smaller pieces and make this as a little appetizer (popcorn cauliflower?)

make it this weekend, and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment, or better yet, show me your results on instagram and tag me.

crispy buttermilk-fried cauliflower

crispy buttermilk-fried cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, broken up into 3-inch rough pieces
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
vegetable oil for shallow frying

place buttermilk in a medium bowl. in a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, basil, and cayenne.

line one baking sheet with parchment paper, and another with a double thickness of paper towelling. (a layer of newspaper underneath will keep your tray clean). dip the cauliflower pieces in the buttermilk, then toss in the flour mixture to fully coat. repeat, then place the pieces on the parchment lined tray. in a large skillet with straight sides, heat 1″ of vegetable oil to 350F. without crowding the pan, cook the cauliflower pieces in two to three batches, for 8 minutes, turning a few times during cooking to brown all sides. when evenly browned and crispy, place cauliflower on the paper towel lined sheet to drain for a few minutes, then serve.

to make ahead, fry all cauliflower, and place on a rack over a baking sheet. reheat by baking at 400F for 15 minutes, or until hot and crisp.

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milk + cookies

how did it take me so long to discover cookie butter?

speculoos are one of my favourite cookies, ever. they are thin, crispy little dutch butter and spice cookies. i’ve loved them all my life, but i didn’t know what they were called until i was an adult. the combination of spices is outstanding: pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. and BONUS, they are often baked into fun shapes like elephants, or the windmills of holland!

imagine my delight when i discovered you could buy something called cookie butter. it consists of ground up speculoos cookies, blended with sugar and oil, much like commercial peanut butter. i never said it was good for you. but for me, eating this stuff is the equivalent of netflix and chill, if you catch my drift.

an article in the toronto star maligned cookie butter as an “unneccesary confection”. hey toronto star, why the hostility?

truth be told, cookie butter has limited applications. there’s only so many times you can spread it on toast, or eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon (see “netflix and chill”)

i needed to find another way to use cookie butter. so i came up with this little dessert i call milk + cookies. buttermilk cake batter is piped into rounds, and sandwiched together with a nice thick layer of cookie butter for a two-bite treat. these are a bit of a cake/cookie hybrid, soft in the middle, and just sweet enough.

buttermilk whoopie pies with cookie butter

milk + cookies

you’ll need parchment paper, 1 large piping bag, 1 medium piping bag, a large plain tip, and an open star tip. you can also use a 1 1/2″ scoop to portion the batter, but your circles will not be uniform.

makes 12-14 sandwiches

1 stick butter (4 oz)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 jar cookie butter
icing sugar, for dusting

preheat oven to 350f.

prepare two sheet pans lined with parchment. with a pencil, trace circles on the parchment that are roughly two inches in diameter (i used the bottom of a small juice glass). the circles should be at least 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.

in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. add the egg and mix until light, scraping down the sides of the bowl. turn off mixer and add the flour mixture, all at once, and pulse a few times to combine. add the buttermilk all at once and mix on low just until combined. do not over-mix, it should just be blended. the batter will be thick.

fit your piping bag with the plain tip, and use a rubber spatula to load the bag about 1/2 full. pipe the batter to fill the circles on your parchment. bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Cool for 5 minutes on the pans, then transfer to a cooking rack to cook completely.

fit your medium piping bag with the star tip and load it up with the cookie butter. it will be very thick, and un-pipeable, so knead and massage the bag and the warmth of your hands will soften it. once you can push it through the tip, pipe about 2 tbsp onto half the rounds. top with a second round, then dust them all with icing sugar. they taste best eaten very fresh!

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