Mmmmm for Fake Foods made real!

As I sit here jazzing away to music making me think of bright Mardi Gras colors and Big Brass Jazz numbers ringing in the streets I can’t help but think of how very easy it is for one little shift in perception to make all the difference in the world.

This time I’m referring to food.  Namely, “Fake Foods“.  In particular, Smashed Cauliflower.  Now, as any other low/no-carb dieter or retiree from that full-time mental occupation can tell you, smashed up cauliflower (with a TINY smattering of butter and maybe spices) was intended to replace the texture and desire for good old mashed potatoes. And boy during my South Beach Diet era did I ever TRY to look at these mashed up white florets and BELIEVE that was the truth.  I mean, it was written down, others said it was so, it MUST be true!  Mashed cauliflower was JUST like potatoes…for those who had been denied actual potatoes for maybe 15 straight years. Living on an island that grows nothing but cauliflower. Devoid of potatoes. Or perhaps to someone never having tasted an actual potato….but I digress.

The point was that this tip was out there and Confirmed with Actual Confessionals (your results may vary) so I tried my damnedest to make these buggers taste like something they were not.  And you know what?  Not ONCE did this vegetable taste like a potato.  Not. One. Single. Time.  No, not even if you use enough butter (even more than that TINY smattering “legally” allocated in whatever plan you followed *gasp*) or if you whipped them beyond recognition so you could “fool” your friends at Thanksgiving.  Sorry.  No.  Still cauliflower in disguise.  Like a sad clown wearing his nose only half on and most of his make-up gone: it wasn’t foolin’ anyone. Yet I kept at it, determined that if I just tried HARD enough I would see this veggie as the potato it just knew it could be if I could just do it right.  But you know what, I’ve never been real good at those optical eye illusions either.

BECAUSE I was always forever trying to make this poor vegetable into something it was not (namely a delicious carb) I developed resentment towards its obstinate ways.  How it would just sit there; all mashed up and denying me potato flavor like that.   I never could appreciate how it DID taste because it would never taste the way I WISHED it would (you know, like a freaking POTATO!) Talk about never being satisfied; I was not at any point content with this cauliflower stubbornly refusing to alter its biological desire to REMAIN cauliflower and not magically form into a potato that I would be ALLOWED to eat on a low-carb diet.

SO. Now we come to today.  Or, rather, last night.  I had a  head of cauliflower in the fridge.  On sale.  I thought I’d give it a whirl again.  Let by-gones be by-gones and try to let this veggie redeem itself in my eyes.  I stared it down for a while, debating even making the attempt but I WOULD prevail.  I mashed it a bit after steaming, drained all the water.  Added a good few tablespoons of butter and spices and a bit of shredded cheese mix.

And then….I tasted heaven.  Pure, unadulterated food-porn style delight.  Creamy but with a bit of texture still, cheesy and spicy and so full of delicious cauliflower flavor!  It was in NO WAY a potato…but you know what, because I wasn’t trying to force it to mimic a food it would NEVER be I actually fully enjoyed each burst of amazing flavor it imparted into my willing mouth.  And now?  I look forward to when it will be on sale again so that this formerly Fake Food can again grace my palette with its Real deliciousness. Oh, and for the record, no it STILL did not remotely resemble mashed potatoes.

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27 thoughts on “Mmmmm for Fake Foods made real!

  1. OK, now I have to know which spices you used so I can make this. DH and I buy the cauliflower/broccoli steamers all the time (he has to watch his carbs because of type 2 diabetes), and this sounds like something he could eat and would like (and I probably would like it too). I’ve added onion and garlic to the butter we put on the steamers, but I’m not an adventurous cook, so are there other spices you use?

  2. You should ask The Rotund for her cauliflower cheese soup recipe… that stuff is GOOD. And I actually thought it tasted a little like potato soup. 🙂

  3. Oh, this made me laugh with recognition. DH and I tried our damnedest to make the cauliflower “potatoes” satisfying and you’re so right that it just doesn’t work. Maybe with enough gravy? 😉

  4. Vesta – Cauliflower with butter (mashed or unmashed) plus any kind of Indian or Middle Eastern spices – cumin, cardamom, turmeric, etc.- is y-u-m-m-y!

  5. I found a great recipe once for smashed cauliflower with butter and garlic and really wanted to try it, but was unable to find fresh cauliflower that wasn’t mildewed at the store. OH THE AGONY.

    I’ve heard of using it as a potato replacement but seriously. Nothing can replace potatoes. ❤

  6. Ha! I thought this was going to be another thread bashing that god-awful Hungry Girl website. Onion rings coated and baked in Fiber One anybody?

  7. Oh God, I’ve never forgotten – or forgiven – the Thanksgiving ‘feast’ prepared for us once by Atkins followers. I’ve loved cauliflower since I was a small child (hey, I was also the kid who requested spinach for her birthday dinner every year!), but when someone passes me a big bowl and says the white stuff in it is mashed potatoes, I set my mouth for potatoes. When I’m asked if I want cauliflower, I’m delighted to have it. When I’m offered potatoes, I don’t care how good a thing it is I’m really being offered if it isn’t potatoes.

    Then again, the ‘lasagna’ was paper-thin slices of zucchini sauteed lightly in butter. Talk about a bad joke. Again, I adore zucchini but not when it’s trying to be something it isn’t and can’t be.

    Vesta, my mother used to make a fabulous sauce for cauliflower with brown mustard mixed with Corn Flake crumbs. I don’t know the proportions (she died before I thought to ask her for the recipe), but it should be a thick, slightly grainy texture. Cauliflower is also good friends with dill, with a bit of cheddar cheese, really a lot of things. Like potatoes, cauliflower is a great sponge for other flavors.

    Nicole: nope, not even with a boatload of gravy. Nothing will ever make cauliflower into potatoes.

  8. Bree ~ For reals? Fiber One coated ANYTHING?? I mean I actually enjoy the crunch of Fiber One; great on yogurt. But blech…on onion rings?? Not that I’m a fan of onion rings; far prefer french fries but still.

    Fillyjonk I’m going to have to ask The Rotund because that just SOUNDS delicious!

    Nicole…mmmm gravy. One thing that I love on a lot of things!

    Vesta44 I usually use the same few spices on almost everything and did so here so maybe it will work for you too taste-buds wise:

    Seasoned Salt (the orange stuff), Black Pepper, Garlic Powder (though just a touch of that later last night). Then a few pats of real butter and some good shredded cheese. Yum!

  9. She happened to post the recipe on livejournal the day after we had bought a head of cauliflower and a block of cheddar cheese, neither of which we normally have around. It was the best coincidence EVER.

  10. That reminds me of using spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Everyone said it’s just as good and they couldn’t tell the difference. I thought it tasted like pumpkin guts with tomato sauce!

    • Moxie this made me giggle cause I remembered trying to MAKE spaghetti squash as pasta and just thinking it was crunchy and very much like pumpkin with sauce. Perhaps I didn’t cook it enough…or maybe I should have added gravy! 😉

  11. that reminds me of my love of cottage cheese. My grandfather instilled in my siblings and I the notion that large curd cottage cheese is a dessert and it has been a yummy treat that reminds me of childhood.

    But it was a diet food in the 80s, so when I had it in my kiddie lunch box I was asked if I was on a diet (WTF?!), and then when the atkins frenzy was at its height I was at my adult size and asked the same thing. Arrrggg!!! I just want to enjoy my cottage cheese! (never mind that it became next to impossible to find the large curd since the low fat was small curd…)

  12. I make my mashed cauliflower with salt, pepper, butter, parmesan, and a dash of heavy cream (not too much or it gets soupy). It’s not mashed potatoes, but then, I wouldn’t want it to be.

    Oh, and leftovers freeze beautifully, so I make a big batch and then have side dishes for future meals.

  13. I’ve never understood the underlying logic to trying to replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower. I mean, one is a very mildly flavored critter while the other is cruciferous (which in my book ALWAYS means “strongly flavored and don’t you forget it!”). Not that there probably is anything that will replace potato, but if you want to fake it I would have thought “bland flavor” would be your number one criteria.

    I like my cauliflower raw with ranch dip. 🙂 I also have a recipe for cooked cauliflower with Swiss cheese cream sauce that’s pretty good – I make it about once a year in a round casserole and put black olives and a baby carrot on it for a snowman face. 😀 Middle son and I like it with the black olives but everyone else prefers it olive free.

  14. Oh my goodness the freezing idea is great. I’ll have to get a couple heads next time to make a bunch so we can mix up the variety of “frozen” veggies and add home-made frozen ones; thanks for the idea TropicalChrome.

  15. OK, ew. Mashed cauliflower? What kind of cruel evil person would force anyone to eat such a thing while claiming that it resembles mashed potatoes?

    Cauliflower isn’t exactly my favorite veggie but it can taste great in certain forms (ie as pakora, where imo it actually tastes BETTER than the potato version). It’s good with Indian spices in general. But it tastes quite distinctly like itself and not at all like a potato.

    Then again I hate the whole idea of attempting to disguise any food in order to pretend that it’s another food. Like, no, tofu does not taste like chicken, no matter what you marinate it in. Which is ok, but why pretend that it tastes like anything other than tofu?

  16. Cottage cheese with a dollop of Russian dressing or a salad dressing from many years ago called “1890 French” dressing were always a condiment my family and I used and I still do. Probably sounds weird to most people but I still find it heavenly.

  17. Cassandra, that reminds me of one of my biggies with vegetarian food: Don’t Fake It. There’s a local Vegan restaurant that has “Swimming Rama” with “chicken nuggets”. Problem is, they don’t even tell me what the “chicken nuggets” are made of – but it’s not chicken, and so it’s a serious disconnect when I try them.

    I much prefer Cafe Flora, which has things on the menu like “Black Bean Burger”, with an explanation that the patty is made with black beans and rice and cheese and spices. Guess what? It tastes wonderful.

  18. living400lbs – Oh, I hear you. There’s a local vegetarian place where everything on the menu is labelled as “chicken” and “beef. With the quotation marks, just like that. Which is annoying for those of us who don’t digest gluten well and would kind of like to know if it’s the main ingredient in a dish. Plus agreed, it sets up an expectation of chickeny flavored things, so it’s a bummer when what you get tastes like tempeh. Also it bugs me that for a vegetarian restaurant there’s a distinct lack of vegetables.

    Funny thing – why is any meat type item that’s uncommon always described as tasting like chicken? I’ve seen it happen with everything from frogs legs (don’t taste like chicken) to snake (um, that would be a no) to alligator (again,does not taste like chicken).

  19. Do you want cauliflower to taste as good as Nature intended it? Then roast it. Coat with a little olive oil, sprinkle with paprika, and roast in the oven at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes. Food should taste like itself.

  20. “Food should taste like itself.”

    Well put Linda 🙂 Masquerading a food for something it will never be denies the actual flavor that the food already has!

  21. I love mashed cauliflower, with butter and yogurt. I wish cauliflower hadn’t become so expensive. My teenage son who likes mashed potatoes but not cauliflower eats it without complaint.

  22. Mmmm…this reminds me of an excellent cauliflower soup I had over New Year’s break — creamy cauliflower bisque very lightly flavored with cumin oil. Comforting, rich but not too rich, just the thing for a cold day.

    Raw cauliflower is also amazing with that red bean paste you get in Asian grocery stores. The slight cruciferous spiciness and the cloying sweetness counteract each other and become Crunchy Sticky Bliss.

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