This past week or so has been a funny one, food-wise. Normally I am a bit of a texture-head, loving a bit of crunch, a bit of snap (if not quite crackle and pop). But unfortunately a spring cold rapidly escalated into sinusitis, and all that entails.
I feel a few of you recoiling – sorry.
Fond of the old self-remedy thing I have been fighting fever and aches with infusions of golden turmeric milk and doses of assorted green smoothies (this and this are on heavy rotation) and my beetroot zinger juice. Noodles have also featured highly. And soup. All in quite small amounts for me. Mr A knows it’s serious when I am off my grub! Yesterday afternoon Mr A kindly magicked up a superbly tender and flavoursome roast chicken, with lots of veg and some Yorkshire puddings. That really hit the spot, especially as he makes amazing gravy. I almost instagrammed my two yorkie puds, filled to the brim with golden onion gravy. But it was just so, erm, brown 😉 Not very food to glow! Anyway, the amino acid cysteine in chicken is alleged to be very good for fighting infections and thinning congestion – one of the reasons homemade chicken soup is seen as so healing. Every little helps.
The thing about sinus infections that you don’t know until you get one is that not only does your head feel gigantic (I actually looked in the mirror to see if it was swollen. It wasn’t.) and very sore, but eating is a bit of a pain – and not just because you can’t breath.
Chewing is just too much like hard work.
So I have been eating and sipping soft foods. I have a soft food section here on food to glow, for those who need such things, so I was trying a bit of my own advice for a change. But I also still wanted to play with my food. To experiment.
For awhile now I have been wanting to make cauliflower pakoras. I have seen versions of these crunchy golden nuggets dotted about on the Interwebs and really quite fancied a taste.
Cauliflower as a snack is not new to me though.
An acclaimed Edinburgh takeaway down the street from where we used to live in my carefree 20s had as a specialty battered cauliflower. Actually they battered everything, but actual vegetables were a novelty. While others would order pearly white fish and twice cooked chips, or proper pizza (not battered, or deep-fried, before you ask), I would always want the cauliflower. *look of disbelief from staff* The nuggets were soft and salty, with a crispy flour and polenta crust. I liked them with a few shakes of something called brown sauce – kind of like a Scottish version of A1 steak sauce with added vinegar. Those were the days. I could eat a paper cone of these greasy treats, half a pizza, and still fit in my jeans. *sigh*
Enough mourning over lost waistlines and all that. Most versions of pakora are fried, but a few are baked. And a few more still are vegan. But while they sounded great on paper I just imagined that the result would be a rather chewy affair, rather than the crunchy textured treat I tend to crave. Even unwell I had no desire for chewy pakora. But I did want something easy to chew and a bit spicy.
After a bit of lolling around wrapped in a blanket and complaining about the cold (which I was assured it was not) I found myself hungry and in possession of a wilting cauliflower. I had bought it the week before and hadn’t felt a great urge to do anything with it – until now. I was hungry and I wanted a pakora. Or did I?
Actually, before I was even aware of what I was doing (there wasn’t much space in my head for thinking) I found my hand pulling down a jar of my Creole seasoning, along with some cashews and Doves Farm gluten-free self-raising flour. And – as you do – I had a bag of fairly freshly picked (um, week old) wild garlic kicking about from a foraging expedition that I forced my family to go on as their Mother’s Day present to me.
So, from a mindless craving for cauliflower pakora my addled brain came up with Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Wild Garlic Sauce and American Buffalo Sauce. A little bit random, but they did get the thumbs up from my esteemed panel of taste testers (okay, they were very hungry at the time). Even more so when I heated up the leftovers the next day and drenched them in buttery Buffalo sauce. And, as I was wittering on about soft food earlier, they are indeed soft, but also a little crunchy from the cashew crust. You could indeed deep fry these for a proper crunch and chip shop feel. Even serve them in a paper cone.
But you don’t want to do go and do that, do you?
Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Wild Garlic Sauce and American Buffalo Sauce
These soft yet pleasingly crunchy bites can go many directions. I’ve used my Creole seasoning blend, but you could just as easily use chickpea (gram) flour and garam masala for an Indian feel – accompanied by a minty raita or chutney. Or perhaps sub in an Italian herb mix, and dip the golden nuggets in a rich red marinara sauce. Basically I just wanted an excuse to use up a cauliflower, and also to make some buffalo sauce, so that’s what I did!
Although I have made these vegan, adding an egg to the batter – mixing in the yolk and then folding in the whisked white – will give the bites an ‘airier’ texture.
As for the sauces, use either dairy or non-dairy yogurt for the wild garlic one, and either real butter or something like Earth Balance for the American buffalo sauce. Note to non-Americans: there is no Buffalo in Buffalo sauce. It is named after the city in New York where it was first made.
1 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets – trimmed weight 400-500g (5-6 cups), steamed for three minutes then air-dried in a colander
Juice ½ lemon
1 ¼ c self-raising gluten-free or plain flour
4 tbsp Creole seasoning mix (less if yours is salty – mine has no salt)
½ – 1 tsp fine sea salt (only if your seasoning blend is salt-free)
¼ cup chopped wild garlic leaves/ramps OR 1 fat clove of garlic, minced
1 ¼ c soda water/seltzer water, plus a few tbsp. extra
1 c finely chopped cashews or other nuts/seeds (I used sunflower seeds for some of the bites)
1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
2.Toss the steamed cauliflower in the lemon juice. Set aside.
3. Dry whisk the flour, Creole seasoning, garlic leaves and salt. Pour in 1 ¼ cups of soda water and mix to make a thickish batter – a bit thicker than pancake batter. Add a little more soda water if it seems too thick to coat the cauliflower. Gently fold in the cauliflower florets. Let the mix sit for 15 minutes.
4. Line a two baking trays with parchment paper and sprinkle on a thin layer of the cashews. Or you could make little rounds of cashew for each cauliflower bite.
5. Using a tablespoon, scoop up a heap of battered cauliflower and place it onto the cashews. I found that when I let the mixture sit for the 15 minutes (which I didn’t initially do) I was mostly able to gently toss the scoop of mixture into the cashews to coat all around. But just having the bottom on the cashews and sprinkling more on the top is fine too. The images show a mixture of both but upon eating you can’t really tell the difference.
6. Bake in a 200C/400F oven for 20 minutes, or until golden. While the bites are baking, make the sauces (or just one sauce).
Wild Garlic Sauce: Mix together 6 tbsp plain yogurt of choice + palmful of chopped wild garlic leaves (or 2 tbsp chopped chives) + squeeze of lemon juice + ½ tsp salt
American Buffalo Sauce: Gently melt 2 tbsp butter of choice then stir in 2 tbsp evoo + 4 tbsp hot sauce (Franks’s Red Hot for preference) + ¼ tsp garlic powder + 1 tbsp cider vinegar. Add in 1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
Serve the Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites hot with both sauces and some salad leaves for a light lunch or hearty snack.
Note: If there are leftovers of cauliflower bites, heat them for 5 minutes in a hot oven.
Note 2: Eagle eyes will note that I have also posted Pan-fried Creole Cauliflower Fritters. I promise these are different! I am just a bit crazy for this combination I guess 😉
Miss R’s track of the week: Nick Mulvey – Cucurucu
40 thoughts on “Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Wild Garlic Sauce and American ‘Buffalo’ Sauce (vegan/g-f)”
These sound so good – and a great replacement when I think I’m craving chicken wings!
Indeed. The buffalo sauce really evokes the wing thing. I’ve never had Buffalo wings but I understand the sauce (and the blue cheese) make the whole thing. If Buffalo sauce can popularise cauliflower, I’m all for that 🙂
Wow, those look and sound fantastic! They also seem like they’d be a nice potluck item. I’m going to have to try these. Yu never fail to surprise and entice me with the food in your posts – thanks! 🙂
Wow, that’s so kind of you to say! So you weren’t scared off by my sinus confession 😉 If you were to potluck this I would recommend whacking them in a hot oven for 5 minutes just before serving. I don’ t think the texture would be impressive cold. Let me know if you make them and how they were for you. Cheers!
OK First of all… LOVE the blue polish! I am addicted to Old Bay seasoning (like creole mix) so any recipe I can use that in is a winner for me! I will definitely be trying this!
Great call, Susan! Just add some cayenne and you are good to go. AND, AND, I was thinking of you when I made these as vegan. Truly! PS I have passed round your Youtube video with D Anthony Evans – we love it 🙂
Anything with cauliflower and cashews (i.e. a nice bite/crunch), and I’m in! And these cauliflower bites look so perfect. I’m impressed you made these when you weren’t feeling well and hope you’re on the mend now!!
Thanks Katie. Until yesterday I was actually on the verge of going to the doctor – gasp! But I should have trusted myself to heal given that I was resting, drinking and trying to eat well even though I didn’t feel like it. I credit the cauliflower for my miraculous recovery 😉
Yep, I’m sure the cauliflower + your beetroot zinger juice had something to do with it !! 😉
Those looks so delicious. They could be a great appetizer of a side dish too I think, instead of a potato or something. I have to try these.
Oh this looks delicious! I’m pinning this one for later:) Thanks for sharing!
Wow! They look so fab and so innovative ☺️ You need to be ill more often! 😉
LOL! ROFL and all of those other teenager things 😉
Ha ha! Hope you’re feeling better xx
Autumn and spring are gorgeous seasons apart from the bit where our poor addled overstressed (overheated and over cold bodies tend to react the same way when stressed) bodies have to adjust to the new temperature swing and decide to go on strike. LOVE this recipe (and it’s sister recipe…no…I didn’t notice, blind as a bat 😉 ) and will be making it whether or not I succumb to the dreaded lurgy doing the rounds of our local environment at the moment. I doubt I will because I have been forced to quaff litres of kombucha as my home brewed batches had built up somewhat alarmingly in the fridge and I had reached a point at which we couldn’t actually fit “food” in any more so my penance is to quaff the lot (although Steve has given me a few weeks to accomplish this…lucky as there were 12 litres of it 😉 )
These are seriously awesome, Mr A x
PS really commenting to say thanks for the roast chicken credit 🙂
Giving credit where credit is due 😉
I am so sorry you have been so under the weather. I struggled with a similar sinus infection for 6 weeks a little while back. As well as being so painful, I find losing sense of smell knocks what little appetite is left away completely. So here is to you getting better soon. Do go get some antibiotics if it does not shift soon. I am sure I do not need to tell you but inhaling olbas oil in steam helps.
Anyway now to the food. I saw your pics on instagram when you were preparing this and have been looking forward to seeing your recipe. Love the idea of spiced coated cauliflower and since I have a little wild garlic I shall be trying out the sauce.
I tried replying to you twice but my own comments section gobbled it up! I didn’t know I could spam myself! Anyway, after a big delay I must say thank you for your sweet and thoughtful comment. I am MUCH better now, and only a bit tired. The rest of the symptoms dissipated rapidly under the onslaught of kale and turmeric! Do let me know if you make something like these (I know you would do a great franglais tweak). Thanks again, sweetie. Have a super lovely family Easter x
Get well soon, lovely!
Kellie, as I get deeper into the frenzy that is thesis writing and lose both the drive and the ability to feed myself, I think more and more how I’d like to move in with you for a little while. Just until the thesis is done. Would that be ok? I love love love the idea of these cauliflower pakoras. Perhaps because I’m feeling a tad under the weather myself and the idea of something soft and soothing but spicy is just the thing I need. Filing this away in the ‘must make in June’ category.
I wish we could make that happen, although Stockholm is so appealing I would want to do a home stay with you! June isn’t too far away. Best, best wishes. I mean that. Are you get papers published from your research? If so, where might I find them?
The goal is publication, but it’ll take some time to take the research from thesis to publishable. I’ll definitely let you know if it happens!
That’s good. Do let me know because your subject is fascinating and potentially v useful to my own work. Just being selfish here! PS I hope your poor blender holds out! That’s a lot of green smoothies coming out of your apartment 😉
These look scrumptious. I am tempted to make them, may be with chickpea flour. Do you think it would work?
Absolutely Anita. Even with the same seasoning that would be good. My hand just happened to reach for the gf flour 😉
I just made some cauliflower bites…love the idea of the nuts! I bet that makes them super crunchy and crispy on the outside! Love that idea!
I’d love to hear if you do the nut/seed idea. What kind of spicing (if any) do you put in your bites?
Wow, these look soooo tasty!! I was sick last week too and you’re totally right, the homemade chicken broth works wonders… I was cured in just a few days and my sore throat went away before becoming full-blown sinusitis, thank goodness. I’m impressed you had energy to cook – these look amazing! Can’t wait to try! Thanks!
Yay! Chicken soup! Who needs antibiotics 😉 I’m glad to hear you cured yourself
The bites sounds amazing and I love the cauliflower and the cashew nuts! 🙂
Arg, I only just got round to reading this and I feel terrible to hear you have been under the weather – I am a terrible friend! I will think of some post- sinusitis treats that I can take you on…think….think….bingo….a cool looking cafe I spotted just up from Canon Mills nearish marshmallow lady 🙂
With a trip to marshmallow lady?? But no need for a special treat. I am fighting fit now. Almost have the energy to clean my house. Almost *wink* See you soon xx
These look amazing! I would make them right now if I had the cauliflower. I guess I’ll have to save for till tomorrow. Thanks
How are you feeling now Kellie? I hope much better.
I lovd cauliflower with wild garlic, especially when crisp coatings or cheese are involved. I really like your choice of spice blend, it’s not too loud is it xx
If this is what your brain comes up with when your sick, I want you to come up with a menu for the dinner party I am hosting next month for 22! Genius 🙂 I do love pakora too, and on my list to try and make, but these cauliflower cashew bites look like a delicious alternative! Glad to hear Mr A is taking good care of you, and I hope you feel heaps better soon!!! xoxo
I hope you’re on the mend now. I’ve become a big fan of cauliflower. I love the kick in this dish. Have a terrific weekend. 🙂
Hey, I simply enjoyed exploring your space 🙂 Will be a regular visitor now on… Lovely to connect! Visit me!
Kellie those blue nails are fabulous, what’s the name of the colour? It had me thinking of mermaids….but then my brain has been doing strange things since catching a horrible flu/cold too. I’ve been treating mine with ginger chilli and garlic in large amounts in anything I can think of ( lots of noodles too!)…but thanks for the reminder about turmeric honey milk….so soothing 🙂
Love the look of the recipie once I can smell and taste properly again!
I hope you are on the mend as you see this. I’m fine now but it is a nasty one doing the rounds. Just in time for exams – boo! As for the nail polish, I will try and remember to ask Miss R and get back to you, Seonaid 😉