Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cauliflower: the great pretender

Brought to you by Victoria Abbott alias Mary Jane Maffini and Victoria Maffini

We’re hearing rumors that cauliflower is the ‘vegetable of the year’.  Is it true or is cauliflower just pulling the florets over our eyes? Let’s face it. Cauliflower is the great pretender. It’s a cruciferous vegetable that behaves like a green and yet tastes like … well, you tell us. It can taste like almost anything, except possibly chocolate, steak or jelly beans.

Psst! Isn’t cauliflower the secret ingredient in so-called fauxtatoes?  I mean the mashed and whipped version of cauliflower that can almost fool you into thinking it’s really mashed potatoes?.

In summer (or anytime) roasted cauliflower makes a great and filling salad and tastes nothing like any other kind of cauliflower. 


Bake those tiny florets at 400 with oil and salt and you have a worthy substitute for popcorn.  Not every husband agrees with this, but never mind.
The one thing we don’t suggest is boiling it to death and serving it plain. Just promise you won’t do that.

Today, we’re talking Nice As Rice.

As you may know, we’re on the wagon where big white things are concerned. That means flour, rice, pasta, and ice cream. We think potatoes are really yellow, so they don’t count.

The only big white thing that is included on our diet  is cauliflower. But is it white, really?

On a recent visit, MJ’s doctor dropped his voice conspiratorially and said, “But you know that cauliflower is really green".   See? That’s all part of the camelion qualities of this apparently unassuming veggie.

You can find various recipes for cauliflower ‘rice’ in low carb cookbooks and online. We really love any cookbook by Dana Carpender.

Here's our version - it's a mash-up of many.


1 head cauliflower, trimmed, cut into manageable bits and put through the shredding disc of a food processor.
1 ½ tablespoons butter
½ cup slivered almonds
4- 5 green onions, sliced, reserve some green bits for garnish
2 tablespoons prepared parsley. We use Gourmet Garden and we like it better than fresh parsley in this – but suit yourselves.
1 Tbsp chicken bouillon concentrate or 2 sachets (or some other flavorful salty add-on)

Put the cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water and ‘steam’ for about nine or ten minutes. You don’t want it overcooked!

In a heavy skillet, heat butter until foamy and add the first batch of green unions to the pan and cook for five minutes. Add the almonds and continue to sauté.  As you can see, we forgot to take the picture of the green onions, but trust us.

If you can’t do the butter thingie, you can toast the almonds in a pie plate at 350 F for about ten minutes or until brown. You could then sauté the green onions in a non-stick pan until slightly carmelized.  (We hope you can have the butter. After all, you’re not having the big white things.)

Add the parsley and the bouillon to the pan and stir until bouillon is dissolved. Stir in the cauliflower and blend well.

People who are not on low-carb programs like this too.  Just sayin’

  Enjoy your nearly carb-free treat!

You could add bits of chicken or shrimp or chicken and shrimp to this. Or slivers of fried egg. There’s endless fun to be had.

We chopped some cooked shrimp.
 We beat two eggs with a bit of water in a bowl, then fried them. After this part of the photo, we flipped the egg like a pancake and cut the cooked egg into strips.

We added the shrimp and egg to the Rice is Nice.  We think it would be good with strips of chicken too.

There you have it:  Shrimp fried Nice as Rice!

 Let us know how you make out with the great pretender.

Okay, who are these people? Well, we're not sure who the guys in the hats are, but
here's a little bit more about Victoria Abbott, author of the book collector mysteries. 

Victoria is an artist and photographer and MJ is the author of 13 books in three other series, as Mary Jane Maffini.  They really really like dogs. They try not to fight when they're working on their books or recipes.

Deep down, they really love each other and they really really love their book collector mysteries and are happily at work on The Wolfe Widow, third in the series.   

They're very excited about the The Sayers Swindle which is out now!

The Sayers Swindle, the second in the book collector mysteries is now available.

You can click here to order The Sayers Swindle!

Or here for the Kindle version!

Or order through your favorite bookstore - in person or online.

And don't forget to ....

Watch the trailer for The Sayers Swindle!


The Christie Curse, the first book collector mystery, launched in March 2013 to great reviews.

The Christie Curse is also available in Large Print! Tell your local librarian!

 Walter, the pug in the series is a dead ringer for Peachy, Victoria's new best friend. 

 Come over and friend Victoria on Facebook

Tell  her  you love the pug!


  1. Gosh, that sounds good. You could also make a curried Nice as Rice, with chopped carrots, garlic (or chopped garlic scapes), curry, cilantro and ginger.

    One of my favorite, but fiddly, ways to cook cauliflower is in Cauliflower Steaks Piquante. It uses capers, mushrooms and shallots, and gets baked in the oven.

    Look forward to the new book, and I hope to see you at Malice.

    1. Thanks, Karen. Now I feel I can't live without cauliflower steaks piquante. I'll be off in pursuit. If I can't find it, I'll wrestle it from you at Malice! Can't wait for Maryland in early May - not a bud on the trees until that week here in my neck of the woods.



    2. Mary Jane, I'm sorry--it's piccatta!! Not piquante.

      Clearly, I didn't have enough coffee this morning.

    3. Thanks for the tip! I'm on it. Hugs, MJ

  2. Who knew cauliflower could be so much fun? This is such a great post. I can't believe what you did to the cauliflower. I *have* to try this recipe. Can't wait! Love the photo of the "real" Victoria Abbott. Lots of fun things going on in your household!


    1. Thanks, Krista. My bad angel wanted to put the Murder She Barked scarves on it, babushka style. Hmm. Maybe my bad angel will do that somewhere else.

      Really I did have a lot of fun with this in a week where we needed brightening up around the house.



  3. Your cauliflower cracked me up! Love the one with the sunglasses and scarf! I had to laugh when you said not all husbands like roasted cauliflower--mine tolerates it--I roast it with olive oil and a little garlic then dress it with a squeeze of lemon juice and some toasted pine nuts. He does like the fauxtatoes though so I am definitely trying the rice. I try to keep at least one meal a day carb-free.

    1. I like the lemon and toasted pine nuts, Peg! Great idea.

      We all love fauxtatoes here and if visiting teens are hungry enough, they dom't realize until too late what they've eaten. Aieeeeee!

  4. Fun post, MJ, who cannot be cheered by a bust of Groucho from a head of cauliflower? Good eats, too. I'm completely on board with getting more veg on the menu. This is a brilliant way to do it. I have a cauliflower recipe, waiting in the wings, and I'll link to this one to keep the good ideas going!

    ~ Cleo

    1. Oh great, Cleo! I am always looking for new ones and I love the idea of linking. Note to self: find out how to do that.



  5. Those incognito cauliflowers are the best! Well done, silly you (two)

    1. We are all silly here, Libby. Even the dogs.

      Hugs and thanks!


  6. this is hysterical MJ! Loved every photo. and the recipes too. And I too, must have cauliflower steaks piccata now!!

    1. Thanks, Lucy/Roberta! I would have loved to have had those hats you and your daughter wore in your post this week. Can't get those steaks piccata our of my head.