So, the owner and operator of online retailer FoodiePages, Erin Maynes and her communications manager Deanna Berry issued another challenge:
Publish a new recipe to your blog of an brunch worthy dish along with a photo by February 20th and mention ‘FoodiePages CHEF’S BOX Challenge’. FoodiePages will review submitted recipes for completeness and David Gunawan will select a winning recipe by February 28th based on creativity and simplicity for our home audience (note: you must reside in Canada to participate).
And, one of the new-to-our-blog recipes we developed for the now defunct Anyday Magic Cream Challenge, a recipe competition that the Dairy Farmers of Canada ran for a number of years, didn’t win last year’s “pot luck” themed bout, so I’m making do: two birds; one blog post.
Chef Gunawan, from Vancouver’s Farmer’s Apprentice, choose the following five artisanal ingredients for a brunch-themed Chef’s Box:
- Cheddar & Thyme Shortbread (100g) from Provisions Food Company (St. Catharines ON)
- David’s Perfect Rimmer (175g) from David’s Condiments (Toronto ON)
- Walter All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix (725ml) from Brutus Beverages (Vancouver BC)
- Spicy Tomato Jam (250ml) from Manning Canning (Toronto ON)
- Star Anise Chai Loose Leaf Tea (100g) from Pluck Tea (Toronto ON)
His box includes recipes for Chai-spiced French Toast, “pot roasted” chicken, porcini mushrooms and poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, and “classic” Canadian Caesars.
Over the years, experience has taught us, when celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter, no matter how organized or how many compromises we make, it’s impossible to gather together our friends and family for an evening feast. Christmas, especially, has more to do with togetherness than gifting one another amusing trinkets. Life is hectic. Everyone fights with competing priorities. So, Jenn and I host a late brunch the following day, “Boxing” Day after Christmas and “Monday” after Easter Sunday. This way, we get to see people we miss the night before.
Last Christmas season, it was my brother-in-law and his vegetarian girlfriend we missed for dinner, so I challenged myself to prepare something equally festive and brunch appropriate. My solution: cauliflower custard tarts and hummus stuffed dumplings (dressed in yogurt, tahini, and honey), a take on Afghan mantoo, but more on that in another post.
Savoury Cauliflower Custard Tarts
What You’ll Need:
2 lbs cauliflower, roughly chopped
1/4 cup 35% cream
1/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded coarsely
Salt to taste (preferably kosher)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 450g box frozen butter puff pastry, chilled (2 sheets)
1/4 cup cremini (brown) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter for sautéing the mushrooms
Chives, finely chopped
Defrost the puff pastry as per manufacturer’s instructions, but keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the cauliflower cream, place a large-sized pan of water over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and any additional water so the pieces are just covered.
Bring the water to a boil. Cook the cauliflower until it falls apart. Alternatively, cook the cauliflower in the steamer basket of a pressure cooker for 10 minutes at full pressure. Drain well.
While the cauliflower is still hot, place the cooked pieces in a blender. Add the cream and cheese and pulse until smooth. Salt to taste. Optionally, add more shredded cheese if desired.
Set to cool to room temperature in the refrigerator.
Pre-heat an oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a medium-sized pan over medium heat; add a tbsp of butter, the sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sautee the mushrooms until the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked out and they take on a golden colour. Stir occasionally to avoiding them sticking. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
Using a pizza cutter, cut the sheets of puff pastry into 12 equal-sized rectangular pieces. Using a silicone muffin pan (or greased non-stick muffin pan), gently place each piece into a muffin cup. Prick the bottom of the pastry in each cup with a fork. Bake the pastry for 5 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven.
Add the eggs to the cooled cauliflower mixture and whisk until combined.
Spoon the cauliflower mixture into each pastry cup. Sprinkle with mushrooms. Drop the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for one hour or until the cauliflower cream sets and edges turn golden brown. Remove the tarts from the oven and let cool. Garnish with chives and serve.
Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 2 days.
The pie filling is a savoury custard, but not strictly a French royale (2 whole eggs: 1 cup of dairy, usually milk), so we don’t dare call the tarts quiche. On that note, the “quiche ‘Lorraine'” includes crisped bacon and Swiss Gruyere cheese.
Even enriching the above royale ratio with egg yolks, the resultant custard differs greatly from what the recipe above produces, which is heavier and richer thanks to the cauliflower puree. A substantial brunch addition, store-bought puff pastry makes preparing the tarts very simple.
Hmm, I wonder if we can convince a local bartender to come up with a cocktail to pair with the cauliflower custard tarts!