June 23 - 29, 2019: Issue 410


Winter warmers: Cauliflower

With icy mornings and evenings our thoughts turn to 'rib sticking' food from in season vegetables. One favourite of many that can be used in soups, stews, in breads, as cauliflower cheese or even the feature item in a baked vegetable dish with a touch of spice is this humble brassica family veggie.

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea in the genus Brassica, which is in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head is eaten – the edible white flesh sometimes called "curd" (with a similar appearance to cheese curd). The cauliflower head is composed of a white inflorescence meristem. Cauliflower heads resemble those in broccoli, which differs in having flower buds as the edible portion. Brassica oleracea also includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale, collectively called "cole" crops, though they are of different cultivar groups.


In the 1st century AD, Pliny included what he called cyma among his descriptions of cultivated plants in Natural History: "Ex omnibus brassicae generibus suavissima est cyma," ("Of all the varieties of cabbage the most pleasant-tasted is cyma").

Pliny's descriptions likely refer to the flowering heads of an earlier cultivated variety of Brassica oleracea, but comes close to describing modern cauliflower. In the Middle Ages early forms of cauliflower were associated with the island of Cyprus, with the 12th- and 13th-century Arab botanists Ibn al-'Awwam and Ibn al-Baitar claiming its origin to be Cyprus. This association continued into Western Europe, where cauliflowers were sometimes known as Cyprus colewart, and there was extensive trade in western Europe in cauliflower seeds from Cyprus, under the French Lusignan rulers of the island, until well into the sixteenth century.

François Pierre La Varenne employed chouxfleurs in Le cuisinier françois. They were introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century, and are featured in Olivier de Serres' Théâtre de l'agriculture (1600), as cauli-fiori "as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy" but they did not commonly appear on grand tables until the time of Louis XIV. It was introduced to India in 1822 from England by the British.


The word "cauliflower" derives from the Italian cavolfiore, meaning "cabbage flower". The ultimate origin of the name is from the Latin words caulis (cabbage) and flōs (flower) - from Wikipedia.


Raw cauliflower is 92% water, 5% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and contains negligible fat (table). A 100 gram reference amount of raw cauliflower provides 25 calories, and has a high content (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin C (58% DV) and moderate levels of several B vitamins and vitamin K (13-15% DV; table). Contents of dietary minerals are low (7% DV or less). To maintain these when cooking don't boil until too soft - choose dishes that will maintain what's there naturally.


Cauliflower contains several non-nutrient phytochemicals common in the cabbage family that are under preliminary research for their potential properties, including isothiocyanates and glucosinolates. Boiling reduces the levels of cauliflower glucosinolates, while other cooking methods, such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying, have no significant effect on glucosinolate levels.

Cauliflower, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 104 kJ (25 kcal)
Carbohydrates 5 g
Sugars 1.9 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
Fat 0.3 g
Protein 1.9 g
Vitamins Quantity %DV†
Thiamine (B1) 4% 0.05 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 5% 0.06 mg
Niacin (B3) 3% 0.507 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 13% 0.667 mg
Vitamin B6 14% 0.184 mg
Folate (B9) 14% 57 μg
Vitamin C 58% 48.2 mg
Vitamin E 1% 0.08 mg
Vitamin K 15% 15.5 μg
Minerals Quantity %DV†
Calcium 2% 22 mg
Iron 3% 0.42 mg
Magnesium 4% 15 mg
Manganese 7% 0.155 mg
Phosphorus 6% 44 mg
Potassium 6% 299 mg
Sodium 2% 30 mg
Zinc 3%

This year's cauliflower crop is beginning to appear in local grocery stores at prices ranging from a few dollars up to four dollars and although small at this stage of the season, the compact heads of creamy white are very tasty while the discarded eaves cam be added to stockpots, not discarded, as suggested by some.

Cauliflowers can be boiled, baked, steamed, fried, grilled, pickled and even eaten raw.

To warm you up - a few cauliflower inspired dishes:

Cauliflower soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 head (1.3kg) cauliflower, cut into florets
500g sebago potatoes, peeled, chopped
1 litre Massel chicken style liquid stock (see notes)
1/2 cup pure cream

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until onion has softened. Add cauliflower and potato. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Add stock. Season with pepper. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

Blend, in batches, until smooth. Return to pan over low heat. Add pure cream. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve with hot crusty bread. NB: if you don't like cream, simply substitute the same amount of stock for this.

Cauliflower cheese

Melted butter, to grease
800g cauliflower, cut into small florets
50g butter
40g (1/4 cup) plain flour
600ml milk
80g (1 cup) coarsely grated cheddar
White pepper
55g (3/4 cup) fresh breadcrumbs (made from day-old bread)
25g butter, extra, melted

Prepare a 1.25L (6-cup capacity) ovenproof dish by brushing with melted butter. Heat oven to 180C.

Cook the cauliflower in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 5 minutes or until tender. Alternatively, steam to preserve vitamins in vegetable. Drain. Transfer to the prepared dish.

For the sauce:  heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the mixture bubbles. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, until smooth. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in three-quarters of the cheddar. Season with salt and white pepper. Pour over the cauliflower.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cauliflower mixture. Drizzle over the extra butter and sprinkle with remaining cheddar. Place the dish in the oven and cook until golden.

Cauliflower, pumpkin and pea korma

20g ghee or butter
2 brown onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut into 4cm pieces
1 cup (250ml) water
1 cup (250g) Greek-style yoghurt
1 cup (150g) frozen peas
Toasted flaked almonds, to serve
Steamed Basmati rice, to serve

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and cloves and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until tomatoes become pulpy.

Add the cauliflower, pumpkin, water and yoghurt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until cauliflower and pumpkin are tender and sauce thickens slightly. Add the peas and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the korma dish among serving bowls and sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Korma

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
400g sliced cauliflower
300g cherry tomatoes
300g sliced capsicum
300g cubed pumpkin
1 (400g) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 jar Korma curry paste

Preheat oven to 230 degrees and grease a baking tray.

Combine olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add cauliflower, tomatoes and chickpeas and other vegetables and then Korma paste; toss until well coated. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking tray. Add lime wedges.

Roast in the preheated oven until vegetables are caramelised, about 25 minutes. Remove lime wedges and top with fresh coriander. YUM!

Aloo gobi

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 red chilli, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. dried turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 russets, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly chopped cilantro, for serving

Put a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add chilli, garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne and cook until toasted, 1 minute more. 

Add potatoes, cauliflower, and vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook, covered, until potatoes and cauliflower are tender, 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro to serve.

Recipe Ideas - Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

Apricot - January Summer Fruits  

Artichoke – The Flower Vegetable that Crops in Spring  

Australian and Native Cherries (Summer Fruits) - the Duntroon Connection - Marrianne Collinson Campbell 

Autumn is Apple Season 

Autumn Feast of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for a Healthy Body

Broccoli - Early Spring Crop

Beetroot: Summer Vegetables 

Cabbage - Winter Food 

Cherry - Australian summer Fruit 

Chick Pea Burgers with Homemade Hummus 

Classic Winter Soups

Easter Feast - modern and historic  

Edible Weeds  Eggs: Five Ways - Savoury 

Fennel - Winter Vegetable  

Full Fruit Bowl for Seasonal Health

Figs - Late Summer Fruit  

Fresh Herbs for Health

Green Beans - Spring Vegetables

Healthful Cordials And Cleansing Tonics  Hogmanay (New Year) Dinner - Australian Style  Home Grown Food Program in Fruit and Veg Month by Jess Rosman  Honey, Honey: Inaugural World Bee Day - Honey Cake Recipes Around the World

Kale: for Pure Energy  Kale, Ricotta And Chicken Cannelloni

Make Your Own Treats For Christmas Gifts - Jaffa Rum Balls, White Christmas, Gingerbread People, Spicy Nut Mix, Strawberries Dipped in Christmas, Scottish Shortbread, Spanish Polverones, Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies), Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Biscuits), Italian Lemon Shortbread Squares (Shortbread con crema al limone)

Mandarins Spring Fruits  Mandarins Winter Fruits  

Mangoes - Summer Fruits  

Mother's Day at Breakfast Menu for those who 'can't cook'

Mums Vegetable Soup with Macaroni 

Mushrooms Autumnal Shifts

Nectarines - Summer crop Nicoise Salad: An Autumn Salad

Packham's Triumph Pears - The Australian Pear  

Parsnip - Winter Vegetables  Pear - Autumn Fruits  

Perfect Summer Picnics  

Potato Gnocchi    Pumpkin  Pumpkin Season 2015

Sage - the 'saving' herb Remembrance Day 2012 Food  

Self-Saucing Winter Puddings  Silverbeet - Winter Vegetable  

Spring Salad Season  Spring Strawberries Spring Salads  

Summer Lilli Pillis  Summer Passionfruit  Summer Peaches, Quandongs (Wild Peach) - Marian Rowan Ellis Summer Peaches - From Wyong! Summer Plums - Greengages

Summer Raspberries Native Ones - Adam Forster

Ten Minute Spring SaladsSpring Fare 

The Food of Love  Tomato 

Vegetable Bhaji

Winter Crops Winter Vegetable Pies   Zucchini Strawberries  Cauliflower

Pittwater Restaurants, Cafés and Bistros

Alma Restaurant Avalon 

Avalon Chinese Restaurant 

Avalon on the Beach Kiosk

Barrenjoey House: Winter 2017

Café Edelweiss and the German Butchery at Bassett Street: Mona Vale  Caffeine Villains - Newport

Club Palm Beach: Fish Fridays

Cranky Fins Holidae Inn  

Cranzgot's Pizza Cafe

Duck Creek Macadamias - Orange Obsessions

Flannerys Organic & Wholefoods Market - Mona Vale

Home Grown Food Program in Fruit and Veg Month by Jess Rosman

Japanese Cuisine in Avalon: Four Options

Laurie Bimson's Marinated Kangaroo Recipe  

Lobster Nights at Club Palm Beach

Marina Café: Church Point - within The Quays Marina at Church Point

Mekong: Merchants of Taste - Vietnamese street food Avalon Beach

Modus Operandi Brewing Co., Brilliant Beers, Beautiful Burgers in Mona Vale

Palm Beach Fish and Chips Tops Scale at 10  

Parkview Restaurant: Avalon Beach RSL Club

Pasadena Pantry & Fresh

Prontos Creative Food - Palm Beach  Pronto Creative Food Celebrates 30 Years - Palm Beach Success Story for Local Lady  Pronto Creative Food: Something Sweet

Riva Bar and Kitchen - Avalon Beach  Riva Bar And Kitchen Autumn Lunch May 2019

RMYC Function Food at Rotary Club of Pittwater 52nd Changeover Dinner  

RMYC Ladies Lunch for July(2012); 'Boosting Your Brain and turning Your Stress Into Success' by Dr. Helena Popovic

Rozana Mediterranean Cuisine - Avalon Beach

Salt Cove at RMYC Broken Bay Sky Thai Avalon  Sushi Ichiri

The 2107 Restaurant - Avalon

The Avalon On The Beach Restaurant and Kiosk Opens in Avalon Beach SLSC clubhouse  

The Balcony Room at Palm Beach Golf Club

The Chick'n Shack Café at Careel Bay - For Lovers Of Old School Burgers and New School Ways

Waterfront Cafe - Church Point

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