A few days ago, I made appetizers for a gathering, dusting off a recipe you read here a few years ago called Jalapeno Cheese Bites. And because there is quite a lot of cauliflower coming out of the garden right now – hurrah – it occurred to me that a grand way to use it would be a mild variation on the jalapeno recipe.
The jalapeno recipe basically consists of a lot of grated cheese spread in a pan, sprinkled with chopped jalapeno, then yet more cheese spread over that, and then a couple of beaten eggs poured over all to glue it together in the oven. You cut it in little squares, dot it with salsa if you want to, and scatter chopped cilantro over it.
The same goes for the cauliflower bites, if you want a zippy version. A little hot sauce and honey makes a good dip or dribble over the bites. Or you can send the recipe in an Indian direction with curry powder added and maybe a bit of chutney on top. Dill, parsley, and chives chopped up and added to the cauliflower makes for an herby version. Or keep it mild, and the cheese, provided you use a sharp sort, provides the flavor needed. Add garlic if you like it as much as I do.
I chopped the cauliflower into small florets, steamed them until they were just tender but not soft then whirled them in a food processor for a short while until the bits were pea-sized.
As appetizers go, cauliflower bites are good warm or room temperature, so you can make them ahead if you want. They are really rich, so I don’t think you can offer them before a steak or fried chicken dinner or Lobster Newburg. (Does anyone even make that anymore?) And make sure you have cocktail napkins for your guests to use.
- 2 cups cauliflower chopped into small florets
- ¾ pound of very sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup milk or cream
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees
- Steam the cauliflower florets until they are barely tender then take them off the heat.
- Cool then chop them very finely.
- Grate the cheese.
- In a nine-by-nine-inch pan, spread about half the cheese, and spread the cauliflower bits over that, then top with the remaining cheese.
- Beat the eggs and cream together and add salt and pepper and any seasonings you desire and pour over the cheese and cauliflower mixture.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the mixture is firm and turns a golden color on top.
- Allow to cool and cut into bite-sized pieces.