Monday, January 14, 2013

Cauliflower and cheddar bites with creamy chipotle dipping sauce

Several weeks ago, having the remainder of a beautiful head of cauliflower on my hands, I made these galettes and swooned.

Photo by Iain Bagwell

The combination of cumin and spice, the texture of the cornmeal and flour together and the dipping sauce THE DIPPING SAUCE! made of creme fraiche and chipotles compelled me to keep eating these incredible cakes until I almost burst.

Yes, my pretties, that is what it means to be out of control in the food department.

In the original recipe, these cauliflower galettes are fried, which means that they taste great, but they are very messy to cook.  I don't know about you, but I don't like frying food because it makes a very messy stove and kitchen and then your house smells like fried food for days.

I wanted to rework the original recipe so that I could bake the batter in mini muffin cups and eat them as finger food with lots of that great sauce.  I made a few adjustments and I think that the new recipe-- no frying involved--is very tasty with no sacrifices to texture or flavor.  And the best part is I can still maintain my dysfunctional relationship with food by eating about a dozen in one sitting.

These little beauties make great party appetizers and can be made ahead and frozen or refrigerated until you are ready to reheat and serve them.  Just make sure you reheat on a greased baking sheet or one lined with parchment to avoid leaving some of the deliciousness behind.  Otherwise, you'll be scraping all those toasty little bits off the pan and eat them when no one is looking.

Cauliflower and Cheddar Bites with Creamy Chipotle Dipping Sauce

     This recipe was adapted from the November 2012 issue of Southern Living.  You can make these ahead and freeze or refrigerate until ready to serve.  Reheat in a 375 degree oven on a greased baking sheet (or one lined with parchment) until warmed through and sizzling, about 5-7 minutes for refrigerated bites and about 10-12 minutes for frozen bites.
1 medium-size head cauliflower, cut into small florets  
2 Tbs. olive oil 
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/4 tsp. salt, divided 
1 cup plain yellow or white cornmeal 
2 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper 
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3 eggs  
3/4 cup Greek yogurt  
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Cheddar cheese
6 green onions, sliced and divided (plus more for garnish, if desired)
2 to 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped 
1 cup crème fraîche, sour cream or Greek yogurt

1.)  Preheat broiler with oven rack 8 inches from heat.
2.)  Place cauliflower on a baking pan with sides and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with black pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt; toss to coat.
3.)  Broil cauliflower for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring halfway through.
4.)  Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees.
5.)  Cool cauliflower for about 30 minutes.
6.)  Whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, ground red pepper, cumin and remaining 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl.
7.)  Whisk together eggs, yogurt, olive oil and 3/4 cup water;  blend well with dry ingredients.
8.)  Fold in cheese and half of green onions.
9.)  Fold in cooled cauliflower.
10.)  Spoon batter into greased miniature muffin pans.  It's OK if the batter rises above the pan because it's a chunky batter and fairly stiff.
11.)  Bake cauliflower bites for about 13 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the batter comes out clean.  Bites should be golden and puffed.
12.)  Combine remaining green onions, chipotle peppers and creme fraiche and serve with warm cauliflower bites, sprinkling with extra green onions if desired.  Makes about 4 1/2 dozen.