Friday, February 23, 2007

Popcorn Cauliflower (Tastes Just Like Popcorn!)

A paying market that’s a bit more mainstream than my usual beat asked me to submit some tips on making vegetables palatable to children:

Tip #1: Don’t knock yourself out.

Tip #2: Swap your existing children for some of that mutant strain, the ones who eat everything on their plates without bitching, whining, weeping or entering a manic Robin Williamsesque state.

Tip #3: Take a bite yourself, exclaiming, “Wow! Tastes just like popcorn!”

Having tried this dish (under duress), my nine-year-old daughter wishes to inform you that it tastes nothing like popcorn.

Her younger brother gave it a thumbs up, though, once he'd succumbed, consenting to an exploratory nibble after half an hour's goading, in which the suspect vegetable was compared to broccoli’s albino cousin, an alien being that must be conquered, Popeye’s other favorite food, and, of course, popcorn.

Tip #4: When spawning finicky children, choose a playwright mate with a background in improvisational comedy. Make sure he (or she) sticks around for the rearing part.

Popcorn Cauliflower

Chop up or smash four cloves of garlic, depending on whether or not your kid goes apeshit over unidentifiable brown flecks on his or her food. Smashed cloves can be removed before serving. My nine-year-old daughter wishes to inform you that cauliflower could also be removed before serving.

Core a head of cauliflower and make sure the children see. This is what happens to boys and girls who don’t eat what’s on their plates.

Chop it into florets, cast them into a kettle of boiling water fortified with one tablespoon of salt, give them a couple of minutes to get tender but not mushy, then strain.

Fire up your wok, add two tablespoons of vegetable oil, and fry the garlic for thirty seconds.

Add the florets and spend a couple of minutes stirring them around, pressing them gently against the sides of the wok to sear in that popcorn flavor.

Add half a teaspoon of sea salt. Swear to god, I feel like we’re at the movie theater, that’s how close it is to popcorn.

Eat it if you want dessert.

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Blogger Sally said...

I love reading your posts! Here, try this: cook the cauliflower (steam, boil or microwave); make a sauce with mayo and yellow mustard (I use equal portions); pour over cauliflower; cover the top with cheese (cheddar is always good); microwave until it's warm and the cheese has melted. Kids will usually eat it. Unless of course they don't like mayo..or mustard. Or cheese. If it's any consolation, they *will* grow out of it.

Another great post!

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Magpie Ima said...

It sounds delicious to me and who really cares what the kids think of it anyway? I have three of the world's pickiest eaters myself and the only way I survive is to make whatever I damn well please and they can eat cheese and apples.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Halliday, you are a female kitchen god.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

My kids are so picky that even sometimes when I feed them popcorn, they piss that it doesn't taste enough like "real" popcorn.

I'm off to core their heads now.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Mama T said...

This sounds a lot easier than our method, which is to bake the cauliflower on parchment paper. Thanks for the recipe. And the funny post.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Elvi said...

I feel your pain. My 13, 10, and 7 year olds are a pain to feed vegetables too, also. Our kid-friendly cauliflower recipe is a soufflé, where you pre-steam the florets, mix 'em with a white sauce and a few beaten eggs and some grated cheese, and bake for half an hour or so. Oh, and some bread crumbs over it. They eat it, honest!

1:33 PM  
Blogger C McCrell said...

So funny!

Bon Appetit has published a cauliflower recipe that kids here enjoy and has even passed Husband's inspection. Roasted Cauliflower with Indian Barbecue Sauce. Toss cauliflower florets in oil and roast on flat pan at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or till good and done. Then cover and mix with a sauce made of ground cumin (toasted in the pan first), ketchup, minced gingerroot, pressed garlic, a small bit of sugar. Bet you could use the same sauce you use for barbecued beans, or any other mild packaged barbecue sauce.

8:30 AM  

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