A WHOLE MENU AROUND 2 PRODUCTS: CACIOCAVALLO & SWEET AND SOUR ONION
Cauliflower soup with onion chutney and szechuan pepper
One of my favourite dishes is a silky smooth, rich cream soup, And cauliflower is one of my preferred choices, together with root vegetables like parsnip and celery, to use. Chop the raw cauliflower head to smaller rosettes, add chopped onions, preferably shallots, milk and cream (50/50), vegetables stock (or plain weather), to cover the vegetables and simmer until the claulfowler is soft. Should be about 15 min after reaching boiling point (Tip. Reduce the heat and don’t keep it boiling, this will preserve the taste and nutrition of the cauliflower and do check with a small paring knife the cauliflower - if the knife goes through the vegetable smoothly, it is done) Put all in a blender or use staff mixer and add if needed extra cream to reach the desired consistency - I like it thicker, but it’s all personal. One thing I love to do is to pair products, where upon testing the final result, there is a Wow moment. And for me, adding szechuan pepper in this soup when starting to simmer (you can put a handful of the correls in a small sachet, tee filter works too). In this way the effortless taste of the cauliflower is infused with the punchy, “far, far lands’ taste of the szechuan pepper. For those who love to experiment, add the pepper as is and serve it with the soup - I am sure that when you taste the pepper, you will indeed have a Wow moment.
To serve - one average cauliflower head will use about a 1.5 - 2 liters of milk/double cream and bouillon. Milk can be replaced only with double cream (but you need a liquid cream) and chicken or vegetable bouillon makes sense, always use the best possible one, otherwise water is good too. Adding a glass of light white wine is always a good idea. Season and serve very hot with Chiara’s onion chutney as garnish, in the soup or any way you like it.
Cauliflower from the oven. Let’s stay on the cauliflower. One can make cauliflower soup (see the other recipe) by using half of the head (adjust all other ingredients accordingly) and with the other half, we are going to make the best friday, drinks-with-friends starter. Blanch the cauliflower in boiling water for about 3-4 min, it has to be soft but not mushy. Preheat the oven to 200 and add the cauliflower but add a lot of butter on top of it. A lot… cook until golden brown and don’t forget to cover the cauliflower with the melted butter while cooking in the oven. Be careful not to burn yourself and do it at least 4-5 times. Serve seasoned with smoked sea salt, some pepper and enjoy while still hot.
Party Caciocavallo alla milanese. Let’s talk and eat Caciocavallo. The big round, yellow cheese, that is best served smoking hot. I even call it lava hot. Here, we approach it like it’s schnitzel or cotoletta milanese. Just instead of meat, we will cut the caciocavallo into thick (one cm thick works for me) pieces and then proceed to cover them first in flour, then eggs, and then bread crumbs. I do use panko, the japanese bread crumbs used in the famous tonkatsu. Fry in very hot oil (in Holland we use friture olie) until golden brown. Serve with onion chutney. Cheers.
Caciocavallo on a bread - Simplicity is what any master is looking to achieve. Ask Roger Federrer about tennis and he will tell you that this is a very simple game of ball. Well, I leave to you to judge about that but one of the best dishes is indeed, a very, very simple one. But tastes like the backhand of Federer (well, I do measure a lot of things in taste) - pure magic and beauty.
Cut the caciocavallo into thin (or as thick as you like them but don’t over do it) pieces and add them on a slice of bread - get your favorite bread and slice it thin or thick, again your taste. Do cover the bread slice as much as possible with the cheese. I would assume your oven has a grill, so use it. Put the bread close to the grill but not too close and watch it. When the caciocavallo is lava hot, and bubbles are all over it and the color is golden brown, take it out and serve. Be careful, not to burn yourself and enjoy it with onion chutney, nice glass of red and find some Federrer matches on Youtube to watch. Simplicity in action. And big thank you to my friend and colleague Alessandro P. who introduced me to this dish at his wedding, somewhere in the beautiful Campania. Still dreaming about those melting golden pieces of caciocavallo.