Cooking the books: Cauliflower

Cooking the Books

If you’ve read Big Girls Don’t Cry, you might have come across a support character Max. Don’t worry if you missed her- it was a very brief appearance, mainly designed to set up the book I’m working on now. She’s the star of the show in this book.

Anyways, Max works in a garden centre in a village in the Cotswolds in England. Each month she writes a food blog for the shop, something about what’s being harvested and what you can do with it in the kitchen. It’s not so much recipes as ideas and I’m having a lot of fun with it- and with her.

The biggest challenge is flipping my thinking and my seasons around. I did a lot of research when we were in that part of the world recently, and I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting since I’ve come back.

Take cauliflower for example.

Of course there’s all the paleo type things you can do: cauliflower pizza, cauliflower rice etc, but Max’s audience isn’t into all of that. Plus, she’s writing this in January when it’s cold.

Naturally there’s cheesey cauliflower and cauliflower macaroni cheese- both good options. There’s also cauliflower soup, made even yummier by the addition of a handful of cheddar or some crumbled stilton.

But I’m writing this in summer. That means spicy roasted cauliflower or cauliflower salad.

If you haven’t tried roasting cauliflower, it’s super easy and super tasty. Simply take a cauliflower and separate it into florets. Don’t be too precious about it. Now, grab whatever spices you have in your pantry: ground coriander seeds, cumin seeds, curry or paprika, and turmeric are good. Use all of them, or just a couple. A teaspoon each of two will do- I like cumin and coriander. Stir the spices into a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a bowl, and then drop in the cauliflower florets.

Toss it all about a bit until the cauliflower has been coated, and spread it all out on a baking tray. Scrape and drizzle whatever is left over the florets; and roast in the oven that you’ve thoughtfully pre-heated (around 450F or 230C) until the cauli is a little brown around the edges and beautifully tender inside. It should take about 10-15 minutes.

This goes really well with fish and really really well with roast lamb.

If, by chance, you have any leftover- cauli and lamb- pop them together for an easy one-bowl salad. Add some tahini and yoghurt dressing.

What about if you don’t have any lamb left? Add in some hazelnuts or almonds, maybe some crumbled feta.

I also experimented with some proper salad recipes as well as made up and thrown together ones. My friend Zohra sent me a lovely one (thank you) and I also tried a couple from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem.


There’s a lovely cauliflower and hazelnut salad in there that’s done with maple syrup and pomegranate seeds. It’s amazing, but a tad too complex for what Max does. She’s more of a try this and add this type of girl.

I also made the fried cauliflower with tahini. You have to fry the cauliflower for this one- it adds a texture you don’t get from roasting the cauliflower. The pomegranate molasses is a difficult ingredient to find, but absolutely essential- even though you’re only using a teaspoon.

While on the subject of cookbooks, I accidentally bought three new ones the other day.

I’d gone to every bookseller in my local mall looking for Adam Liaw’s Asian Cookery Class, to no avail. So I went to Booktopia and was so thrilled that they deliver to my door that anther two books followed me home. Well, they would have followed me home except for the fact that my instructions to leave at the front door were ignored by the postman- which meant (given that I can’t get there during postal hours) that Miss T had to catch the bus up to get them and walk home with the box in 41 degree heat.

When I rang the help line I was told that even though they allow you to put the no need to sign instruction in, any orders over $100 must be signed for.

Let’s just say I will not be using Booktopia again.


I am, however looking forward to cooking from these over the next few weeks.

Do you have a favourite cauliflower recipe?


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

4 thoughts

  1. Hey Jo, you are Welcome! The fried cauliflower with tahini sounds yum too.
    I envy Max, living in the Cotswolds. All those honey-coloured stone houses and thatched roofs.

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