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Culinary Red and White

It’s not all politics all the time at my house, although for today’s meal I managed to find a political angle to describe even the preparation of vegetables.

After my success with re-plumbing the kitchen sink this afternoon, I decided to do something vaguely creative with the beet and the cauliflower in my fridge.

Naturally, The Red and The White came to mind – and no, I haven’t seen the film, but I recall my Malevich, even if my meal plan didn’t include a Black Square …or a revolution.

My red and white ended up somewhat blended – albeit unintentionally. I wanted the colors to stay distinct, but they melded into a happy union. How’s that for dialectics you can eat?

The menu:

Two-tone Cauliflower puree, baked, with parmesan crust.

Chicken, cut along the back and flattened, grilled (that is, baked in oven at high temperature).


For the cauliflower:

Somehow cook a head of cauliflower (first washed and broken into florets, of course) and a beet (I write somehow because you can steam or microwave the vegetable, as you wish). Separately. Do not let them get to know one another just yet. Make a roux of butter and flour, add milk, and seasoning and herbs, and a good amount of turmeric, as well as some paprika (the latter two ingredients add a nice deep color). Make your roux taste good, make it concentrated, make enough: this is going to flavor your dish. Next, puree (separately!) the cauliflower and the beet. Add the seasoned roux to all of the pureed cauliflower, mix well, and then divide the mixture in half. Add the pureed beet to one half of your pureed cauliflower. You now have a bowl with a fairly deep pink puree and another with a yellow-tinged white puree. Drop alternating tablespoonfuls of the white and red vegetable puree into a well-buttered baking dish till it’s full, smooth the top with a spatula, and then run a skewer through the mix. (My idea was to create pinwheel-style swirls, but the puree didn’t really take to that method – save it for black-and-white Bundt cakes, I guess…) Grate Parmesan cheese on top and bake for however long it takes to firm the dish and brown the cheese. I usually always bake everything at 500 degrees (which is why my oven looks like hell), and that means I don’t need to bake things for very long. The other day I made Japanese eggplants marinated a day before in oil, soy sauce, and garlic, and roasted them at 250 as per directions, and they took HOURS to finish. Next time? 500 degrees. Maybe 425, but nothing less. Take it from me: crank up the heat and give your home’s smoke detectors something to screech about. Your neighbors will be thrilled.

With the cauliflower I served a standard chicken dish: using poultry shears, cut the chicken along its spine (sorry, vegetarians, brutal, I know) and break the breastbones by flattening the open chicken on a board with the flat of your hand. Season with whatever you like (salt, for example) and pop into the oven (500 degrees, of course). It will probably be done after 30 to 40 minutes max. When chicken is prepared like this, “carving” is a cinch: you cut along the joints and there’s no mess.

I put the photos up on my Picasa account under Red and White Vegetable Bake; here are a few that show the progression:

1 Comment

  1. That looks absolutely delicious. Now, how to wrangle an invite over to your house for a sample…. 🙂

    Comment by maria — October 27, 2010 #

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