Play with your food! Cauliflower Tart

(recipe follows)

Cauliflower tart with raw apple filo, sautéed spinach, white asparagus

Cauliflower tart with raw apple filo, sautéed spinach, white asparagus

I have a friend, Paul, who was always after me to take photos of what I cook. I really disliked doing it. Stop. Snap. Restart. Then hope it looked like what you made. I started this blog using my iPhone — which was okay, but I’m competitive. I unpacked my point and shoot — Nikon Coolpix S9300. I was learning, so it was okay — then the auto mode broke.

What to do?

Well, I bought a new camera, a Nikon D7100. I’m still looking for the lens, though I’m leaning towards the 105mm Macro. (opinions welcome)

I noticed that in just thinking about how to take pictures of my food, I’m was now paying attention to the shifts in light around me on the walk to work, to the subtleties in faces, to the way light changes throughout the day. Buying a proper camera is an opportunity to think about my world differently, and so I’ve made an educational, recreational, social investment. I’m looking foreword to the learning curve.


Camera-free today, I was kitchen-Wilde.

  1. For a future post on (homemade, reduced sugar) fruit syrups I have strawberry syrup to play with. I made a mock-Strawberry Bavarian Cream substituting Italian meringue for the cream, which was too sweet for my taste; so I made another, substituting Methylcellulose F50 whipped with strawberry juice.  Methylcellulose the mouthfeel of fat, bringing it closer to an authentic Bavarian Cream. It was very good and I will be playing with Methylcellulose more.
  2. Steamed cauliflower pureed with pinch of this and that, rolled into mock truffles and dusted in toasted seasoned bread crumbs.
  3. Alternative stock. I wanted to see how stock would taste if the mirepoix were juiced and both the liquid and the pulp were used. To attempt to remove the orange color (from the carrots) I used chicken feet to add gelatin. It’s freezing now. In the morning, I’ll defrost in a cheesecloth lined chinois. The gelatin should collect all the impurities and deposit them in the cheesecloth, a technique use to clarify consume.
  4. With the juicer out I juiced pears and melons (separately) With the pulp from the melon I’m going to see if I can make a mock-Calisson. With the pear juice I’m making meringues. I’m not sure what to do with all the melon juice. My first instinct was granites.
  5. With the methylcellulose out I wanted to test a theory. Methylcellulose stays solid when its hot and melts when it cools. It also repels fat. So, if I mix it with a liquid pie filling and bake it in cocoa butter lined tart shell, will the tart shell stay flakey? I set up everything I need for that tomorrow.

And other small kitchen projects that needed doing, including dinner. Check out this iPhone pic.

braised daikon with oven roasted broccoli and kabocya

daikon braised in 1 tablespoon butter and 3 tablespoons beef stock served with oven roasted broccoli and kabocya (the broccoli does look like that, I prefer the tips to be very dark brown and crispy)

Oh, I almost forgot. I promised you a recipe for a Cauliflower Tart. Well, as you can see I like to play in the kitchen. One of my go to places for ideas is They have created a database on the molecular profiles of foods. In short, on a molecular level certain food’s flavors should match. Famous examples are tarragon and chocolate, coffee and lemon, oysters and passion fruit. Looking through their list for cauliflower certain possible pairs caught my eye and I put them together: Cauliflower plus

  • anchovies — for their saltiness
  • garlic — their sweetness
  • lemon — their sourness
  • shallots — their sweetness
  • roasted cauliflower — their bitterness.

With those foods and flavors in mind I decided on a garlic infused béchamel base (for recipe follow the link). I cut the cauliflower into the smallest florets, put them in a bag with several anchovies and two thinly sliced shallots and mashed them all together with my hands (through the plastic bag) to spread the olive oil from the anchovies over the shallots and cauliflower. I roasted it at 250 Celsius for 50 minutes and let it cool. I strained the béchamel (to remove the garlic) into a whole wheat tart shell and sprinkled the roasted cauliflower mixture over it. I served it at room temperature with a few drops of fresh lemon juice.

Everyone loved it.

Each bite hits all the flavor centers. Sweetness from the shallots, saltiness from the anchovies, bitterness from the well roasted cauliflower punctuated by the occasional bite from lemon juice all with the faint essence of garlic in the background. The contrast between crust and filling, also lovely.

Cauliflower Tart

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 small head of cauliflower cut into florets, the florets separated into even smaller florets)
  • 5 anchovies in oil (minced)
  • 2 shallots thinly sliced
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 1 recipe for béchamel sauce (sauté one crushed clove of galic in the butter for two to three minutes before adding the flour. Proceed with the recipe but filter the garlic out at the end by pouring it through a strainer into a bowl or the tart shell.)
  • 1 tart shell (link to recipe coming soon)

Method: Place the cauliflower, anchovies, and shallot in a plastic bag and mash it together with your hands in order to coat all of the cauliflower with the oil from the anchovy. Place it in a roasting pan at a high temperature (up to 250 Celsius, depends on oven) for 30 – 50 minutes until the cauliflower is well browned. Cool.

Place the béchamel in the tart shell and layer the cauliflower mixture over the béchamel. Serve at room temperature with a few drops of lemon juice on each slice.

before roasting, notice how small the florets are and how the anchovies and shallots are there.

before roasting, notice how small the florets are and how the anchovies and shallots are there.

Cauliflower tart with raw apple filo, sautéed spinach, white asparagus

Cauliflower tart with raw apple filo, sautéed spinach, white asparagus

13 Comments on “Play with your food! Cauliflower Tart

  1. LOL, thanks for the mention. Now I didn’t totally twist your arm about taking pictures, just strongly enticed you in that direction.

    I’ll definitely back the recommendation of using a tripod, if you don’t already have one. It makes taking pictures easier, letting you set up the shot before you start working on the food itself. Also lets you take photos in lower light since you can take shots with longer exposure with no camera movement. A remote shutter button is also handy – wrap it up in cling film and you can take pictures even with gummy, saucy fingers. Terribly handy when taking shots of the actual, in progress food prep, not just the finished plate.

    Your bloggy pal,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the looks of the cauliflower tart. It’s funny how cameras make you look at things differently. I’m learning so many things about my new camera that I never noticed before.


  3. Forgive me if this seems complicated, it’s my first attempt at explaining it to someone else. Light fall off follows the inverse square law, meaning that the closer your lights are to your subject, the faster things fall into shadow. If your lights are further back it gives you more room to move around without affecting the way it looks, because the light is more even over a larger area. If you want to get fancy, you can create more drama (shadows) in your lighting by flagging areas, using pieces of black cardboard between your light and the subject to block light from hitting certain spots. You can also bounce more light onto areas using either white card, little pieces of silver card or mirror. I would suggest using a tripod, because changing the angle that you are shooting from completely alters how the lighting will look in your shot. I don’t know how involved you are planning to get, but I hope that at least one thing I wrote proves to be helpful to you!


    • The phrase “inverse square law” was a bit frightening, but everything else was crystal clear. Thank you. I need advice on how to take better photos. Just today I learned what a reflector can do.

      My trouble is that I cook mostly at night. I’d prefer to set up my kitchen so my photos create the illusion of natural light. I’m thinking of getting a speed light to go with my Nikon, detachable so I can play with the light more.

      Any opinions?



  4. I took a food photography course as part of my studies a couple of months ago and it was a lot of fun! I haven’t experimented with too many different lenses but of the 3 I have I found that my 50ml f/1.8 lens worked really well for shooting my food assignments. I’ve seen great reviews for the lens you are looking at as well, but something to consider with the macro… you will need to step back a little further to shoot with it, so if space constraint is an issue it may not be the best choice. I can’t wait to see the photos you take with your new camera!


      • I shall not comment until I get there: I go through all the posts that came in overnight, one by one … but I must admit that my eye lights on some and opens them out of order … [grin] Start holding your breath, mate! 😉


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