A vastly underrated vegetable, rarely seen on American menus, cauliflower (Brassica oleracea botrytis) is actually a cluster of immature flower buds.
IngredientsCauliflower puree: 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon butter 1 cup chopped shallots 3 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower 1 cup whipping cream 1 tablespoon French purple mustard (available at gourmet shops; tarragon mustard may substitute) Salt and pepper Sauce: 2 cups beurre blanc infused with 4 big sprigs lemon thyme Fish: Salt and pepper Olive oil 2 tablespoons butter 4 6-ounce fillets Atlantic stone bass (aka Carolina wreckfish), or other fish such as striped bass, grouper, Lake Erie bass or walleyed pike Vegetables: 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup Nicoise olives, pitted and cut in half 1 pint teardrop tomatoes, cut in half 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1 teaspoon chopped parsley 1 teaspoon chopped basil 8 pieces baby fennel, cleaned and trimmed Salt and pepper to taste
Make the puree:
- Heat a medium pan over medium heat, the oil and butter and cook the shallots and cauliflower till soft.
- Stir in the cream, scraping the pan, and simmer until thick.
- Season with salt and pepper and puree in a blender, add the purple mustard, blend again and adjust seasoning if necessary. Strain.
Make the sauce:
- Follow any standard recipe for beurre blanc, adding 2 sprigs of lemon thyme.
- After straining, infuse 2 more sprigs in the very hot sauce for about 10 minutes. Keep warm.
Cook the fish:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper.
- Heat a skillet with olive oil over high heat.
- Sear the fish to give a nice coloration on one side, and then flip it in the pan and add a bit of butter; put it the hot oven for 6 to 8 minutes, remove, and let it rest on a rack for 4 to 5 minutes.
Prepare the vegetables:
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and quickly saute the olives and tomatoes; add chopped garlic and herbs.
- Oil the baby fennel and season with salt.
- Grill or saute till crisp tender.
- Divide the puree among four plates.
- Mix the sauce with a hand blender to make the emulsion nice, and pour around the puree.
- Top with the vegetables and fish.