You might remember that last month I told you about my introduction to the Secret Recipe Club. In case you missed that, the Secret Recipe Club is a cooking group where each month we are assigned another blog from which we will choose a recipe to make and write a post about. This is done in secret (hence Secret Recipe Club), so no one knows who is cooking from which blog until everyone puts up their post on reveal day.
My expectations were running high going into last month's reveal, and I can happily say I was not disappointed. The warmth of the welcome to the group that I received from so many lovely bloggers was simply overwhelming. Needless to say then, I could scarcely contain my excitement waiting to find out whose blog I would be cooking from this month. Now I can safely tell you that my assigned blog is Life and Kitchen.
Lindsay is a young mum living in Pittsburgh, and I love that first and foremost she writes her blog for her small daughter, in the hope that one day "Lily will be able to read back over old posts to get recipe ideas and see a small slice of what our life was like when she was too little to remember". Like me, Lindsay has never been much of a meat-eater, and then in January 2012 she decided to try a meat-free month. That month turned into a year, that year turned into two, and with each passing month her awareness of the various "injustices" involved in meat production have grown stronger. This really resonated with me. I've flirted on numerous occasions with having meat-free months, and in the long-term I dream of potentially becoming a vegetarian, but I seem to invariably get tripped up by a pork chop or strip of bacon! I think I would struggle to also live without salmon. Still, like Lindsay, an awareness of both the ethical and environmental issues surrounding the food we eat is important to me.
Lindsay had so many great dishes I was tempted by - Spinach Artichoke Tarts, Baked Lemon Pasta, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt, Lemon Poppy Seed Baked Donuts, and many more, but you all know how much I love a good cauliflower recipe, so as soon as I stumbled across her Bang Bang Cauliflower it was a no-brainer.
In short this is cauliflower, dipped in a batter and fried until golden and crispy, then smothered in a delicious chilli sauce. I made a couple of small changes to the batter recipe, replacing some of the regular flour with rice flour and adding some smoky paprika and ground cumin to give it an extra hit of flavour. I also made my own mayonnaise for the bang bang sauce, and replaced hot sriracha sauce with cayenne pepper because I didn't have any hot sauce on hand. Store bought mayonnaise is absolutely fine by the way, but if you feel inclined to make your own, it's dead easy ... In a small bowl whisk together one egg yolk with a teaspoon of water, then start to add sunflower oil to the egg yolk mixture a few drops at a time, stirring constantly until each addition of oil is fully amalgamated. Once the yolk starts to thicken a little, you can begin to add the oil in a slow steady stream, until you end up with a very thick emulsion. Finally, thin to the consistency you want with a little lemon juice or warm water - just add the liquid one teaspoon at a time and whisk it in well. Season to taste with salt. And voila - mayonnaise!
In short this dish was wonderful. Let's face it, what's not to love about a pile of batter-dipped, deep-fried vegetables, smothered in a punchy chilli sauce.?! I happily made a meal of this - it's the perfect dish for a lazy Saturday night dinner (along with a good movie and a bottle of wine) and I will definitely be making this again.
Bang Bang Cauliflower Recipe
Adapted (slightly) from recipe by Lindsay
at Life and Kitchen
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
Bang bang sauce
1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise
1/2 cup Thai sweet chilli sauce
cayenne pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon smokey paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2x egg yolks
1-1/2 cups cold water
1x head cauliflower, cut into florets
sunflower (or other flavourless) oil
flaky sea salt
large bunch chives, roughly chopped
Begin by making the bang bang sauce. Whisk mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce together in a small bowl, and add cayenne pepper to your taste - cayenne can pack a bit of a punch, so begin by adding 1/4 teaspoon, taste and add more as you like. Set aside. (This can be made well in advance, and in fact this will make more than you need, but it will keep for ages and would make a great accompaniment to just about anything.)
Pour sunflower oil, to a depth of about 1 cm (1/2 in), into a large deep sided saute pan. Set over medium-high heat until the surface is rippling, but not quite smoking.
Meanwhile make the batter. Sift together the flours, paprika and ground cumin into a large bowl. Add flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix lightly, and make a well in the centre. Whisk egg yolks and water together and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
Dip the cauliflower pieces into the batter, and immediately drop carefully into the hot oil. Cook for several minutes, turning regularly until golden all over. (You will need to do this in batches.) As cooked, remove from oil, drain on a paper towel, and sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt as each batch is cooked.
Arrange cauliflower pieces on a large platter, smother with the bang bang sauce, and sprinkle over the snipped chives. Serve immediately.
Hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.