Cauliflower, Breakfast and Bistro Fare

I love fresh cauliflower, and locally-raised heads of the vegetable are readily available this time of year. The only problem I have, really, is that one good-sized cauliflower is far more than my wife and I are going to eat in one sitting. My 19-month-old can put far more away than you'd think to look at her, but our 12-year-old and 7-year-old aren't interested and I typically end up with a good bit left over.

So when I picked up a pretty big cauliflower the other day, I decided to plan ahead. I separated the florets and poached the whole thing; that night I baked about half of the florets in a cheese sauce. It's a very simple dish, but hard to beat. My “plan” didn't go much further than, “save the other half of the par-cooked florets,” but a day or two later I came up with what turned out to be a pretty swell idea.

I'm not going to pretend that my idea is novel; I don't remember reading a recipe, but I read a lot of recipes and when I did a quick search before writing this article, I eventually found a few similar takes. I took about a cup of par-cooked cauliflower and simmered it in a little broth until it was completely tender. Then I puréed that in a blender and combined it with some more broth to make what looked like slightly thickened milk. I ended up with about 4 cups of this liquid (3 cups of broth plus a little more than 1 cup of purée), and that was the perfect amount to cook 1 cup of Arborio rice.

Other than the purée, the technique was the same as any other risotto: sweat a little minced onion or shallot in some butter, add the rice and cook a bit, then slowly add liquid while stirring and wrap it up with some grated cheese when the rice is tender.

Cauliflower doesn't have a terribly assertive flavor, so it's a recipe you can pair with just about anything. I served it with a roasted chicken and some sautéed greens, but it would work with lamb chops, a steak, pork loin or pan-roasted drum for that matter.

In other news, Florida-based breakfast chain Another Broken Egg Cafe has opened a location at 2917 Magazine St., and is set to open a second restaurant at 607 Harrison Ave. in February. I wouldn't ordinarily mention news about chain restaurants, but there's a local connection in that the first of the 28 cafes opened in Mandeville in 1996, and New Orleans native Kevin Armantrout is the president of the company that's managing the new outlets. That, and the fact that among the most frequent questions I get are “Where's a good place to get breakfast?” prompted me to take a second look when I received the press release recently. The restaurant will be open Sunday and Monday from 7 to 2, and Tuesday through Saturday from 7 to 8. Call (504) 301-2771 for more information.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Martinique Bistro, and the restaurant is celebrating with a menu that is pure French – grilled duck sausage with a celery root remoulade; escargot in puff pastry with garlic and walnut-herb purée; frisee salad with lardons and poached egg; coq au vin; cassoulet and sweetbreads with lemon, caper and a potato pancake are just some of the options. Executive Chef Eric Labouchere is from Australia originally, but grew up in Belgium, so comes to the food honestly. He and sous chef Nat Carrier have been running the show at Martinique for a few years now, and they're hitting on all cylinders these days. The throwback menu will run through Valentine's day. Martinique is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday and for brunch on the weekend. Call (504) 891-8495 to find out more or to make a reservation.


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