Have you ever cooked with Port? I used it in an an award-winning recipe I submitted to Bare Chicken recently for Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Port, Mushrooms and Cream. It was one of the best things I've ever made. The judges concurred.
I had about a third of a bottle of Ruby Port left over after I cooked and tested the chicken recipe a few times (read: gorged myself). So when I read Deb Perelman's recent recipe for Cauliflower-Feta Fritters with Pomegranate, I knew what to do. First, make a port wine reduction. Second, order a copy of her cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
With both satisfactorily accomplished, Rich and I sat down to dinner last night with candles lit and the kids in bed and indulged in absolute food heaven. In all my years of vegetarian cooking, this is most definitely in my top ten recipes. It's right up there with my Creamy Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas, one of the favorites from my own cookbook, Modern Family Table.
I did not follow the original recipe exactly. Do I ever? So here's my take on Smitten Kitchen's version.
1 head cauliflower
6-8 ounces Greek feta
2 shallots, minced
zest of one lemon
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup flour (we used a gluten-free flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup ruby port
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon cumin
sea salt to taste
pomegranate arils to serve
baby greens to serve
Blanche the cauliflower in salted water until it is fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and then shock in cold water. Pat dry and set aside.
Meanwhile, pulse the feta, shallots and lemon zest in your food processor a few times. Add them to the cauliflower and mash with a potato masher or a wooden spoon. Season to taste with sea salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add the flour, baking powder, stirring to combing. Finally, incorporate the egg to bring everything together. It should have a pasty consistency, somewhere in between cookie dough and cake batter.
In a clean small pot, cook the port over low heat just below simmering. Swirl the pan often until it thickens and coats a spoon. This will take about 10 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve. You can certainly do this ahead of time if you wish.
In a small container, whisk together the plain yogurt and cumin. Season to taste with sea salt. Cover and set aside until you're ready to serve. Again, you can certainly do this ahead of time.
Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until it's good and hot. Form small patties--at the most 1/4 cup volume--with your hands and place them in the pan for about 2-3 minutes on each side. The process reminded me of making pancakes far more than making fish cakes insofar as the fritter mixture is more viscous.
Set the fritters on a pan in your oven to stay warm if you need to fry them up in batches.
To serve, drizzle each plate with the port reduction and a dollop of cumin-scented yogurt. Stack the fritters and top with baby greens and pomegranate arils.
P.S. Normally, I do all of my own food photography, but last night, my husband had just come from a shoot and offered to do these for me. As usual, his work floors me. Check out his other work here.