Romanesco cauliflower - or Romanesco for short - has a taste that’s a cross between cauliflower and broccoli. It’s not in season long; only from late Fall through Winter. If you’re lucky enough to find it, use it. If you can find purple cauliflower, even better. A combination of both will make a stylishly tasteful addition to your holiday dinner!
1 Romanesco cauliflower or ½ Romanesco and ½ purple cauliflower, leaves discarded
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp whipping cream
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 small shallot, finely diced
¾ cup milk, warmed
2 tbsp finely diced chives
1 ½ tsp finely diced tarragon
1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard seed
1 firmly packed cup of finely shredded Emmental cheese
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cream of tartar
Extra butter (softened) for coating the dish
Finely grated parmesan
Food processor or hand-held blender for puréeing
1 ½ quart porcelain soufflé dish (or dish with straight sides)
Parchment paper and butchers twine for making and securing a collar. You could also staple the ends.
Place an oven rack on the lower third of the oven and remove all upper racks. Preheat the oven to 380°F (194°C).
Prepare your soufflé bowl: coat the inside of the bowl with butter then dust with finely grated parmesan. If you’re using a collar, determine which part of the parchment will be exposed to the soufflé and also coat with butter and parmesan. Secure with twine or staples. Savvy Tip: make sure your collared-dish will fit in your oven before you bake!
Remove the florets from the cauliflower, cut into small pieces, and roast for 15 minutes.
Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, swirling often, until brown and fragrant. It will only take a few minutes. Set aside.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil then season lightly with salt. Boil the cauliflower stalks and stems until tender, about 4 minutes, then drain.
Immediately purée the boiled cauliflower with the brown butter and whipping cream until smooth. Cover and set aside.
Make the custard base: in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the 3 tbsp. of butter. Add the flour and whisk until the flour has cooked for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the milk and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the stove. Cool slightly and whisk in the egg yolks, cauliflower purée, herbs, mustard seed, salt and pepper. Stir in the Emmental.
Make the meringue: in a clean dry bowl, whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt. When the eggs are frothy, add the cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff, satiny peaks form.
Mix 1/3rd of the egg whites into the custard base to lighten. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the custard.
Ladle one-third of the mixture into the soufflé dish. Sprinkle evenly with ½ of the cauliflower florets. Repeat another layer. Finish with spooning the remaining soufflé mixture on top.
Bake immediately for 25 minutes until the top is golden and the mixture jiggles just a bit when shaken. Serve immediately.
I had fun making cauliflower stencil patterns out of sliced cauliflower and finely grated Parmesan cheese to make it look like ‘snow’!