Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Waffling Leftovers: Buffalo Cauliflower

Today's adventures in Waffling Leftovers* isn't quite a success story.  Hey, sometimes it happens.  I haven't kept stats exactly, but I think that about 60% of the time, my waffling experiments are fine, (good, but not life changing), 20% of the time they manage to transform my leftovers in magical ways (I'm looking at you pizza, donuts, and more!), and then, like this, 20% of the time they pretty much fail.  But hey, I still have fun with it.

*please go read my master post to understand what I'm talking about, if this concept is foreign to you ...

Today's story also involves two totally different adventures in buffalo cauliflower leftovers - one batch prepared at a fancy restaurant, one prepared at home.

And one success, and one ... not so success.

Attempt #1 - Buffalo Cauliflower from Pine Restaurant

The first attempt was the least successful.
Buffalo Cauliflower ... Quasi-Waffled.
Here is the "transformation" of my leftover buffalo cauliflower ...

Buffalo Cauliflower: Will it Waffle?  The answer is clear.  Uh, no.
The Original: Buffalo Cauliflower with Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese.
The original dish was "buffalo cauliflower", from Pine restaurant in Hanover, NH.

Buffalo cauliflower is sorta what it sounds like - imagine treating cauliflower like chicken wings, smothering it in hot sauce, and serving with blue cheese (in this case, chunks of blue cheese and a drizzle on top).

The original was perfectly tasty, spicy, quasi-fried cauliflower, pungent blue cheese, but, our group was clearly not going to be able to finish all our appetizers, so I nominated this one to be saved for leftovers, imagining it would not only keep better than the others, but, also, perhaps it would waffle ...
Cold Leftovers ...
I had some of the leftovers cold first.  The cauliflower was soft and even hotter (spicier) than originally, as the hot sauce had permeated the cauliflower even further.  It was perfectly fine cold, and I considered not waffling it, and just tossing it with some greens to make a buffalo cauliflower salad.
Cooking on the Waffle Iron ...
But, my plan was to waffle it, so waffle if it I did.

I didn't think about this very well though.  I just put it into the waffle iron (350 degrees), and let it go.  I didn't try to bind it with anything, no crusting, etc.  Just, the cauliflower and little bit of remaining blue cheese

I'm not sure what I expected to happen, but when I opened the lid after a bit to check on it, I had to laugh.  Yup, cauliflower wasn't suddenly going to form into a patty and become a waffle ...

Still, I thought it would get crispy, and that is what I was going for.

It never did.  I let it go longer and longer, and even cranked the heat up, hoping for crispy bits, but, it never happened.  Once it reached the "I'm about to turn into a horribly burnt mess" phase, I gave up, and tried to remove it.  But of course it didn't remove easily, as nothing was stuck together.  Doh.
Kale Salad Topped with "Waffled" Buffalo Cauliflower.
I decided to serve it over baby kale, going back to my original idea of enjoying the leftovers as a salad, even though the cauliflower was now warm.  It was ... fine I guess, but really just heated up cauliflower, and reheating it in any other way would have been equally effective.  The waffle iron didn't add anything to it, and, I think it actually was better cold.

Clearly, not an experiment to repeat.

Attempt #2: Homemade Buffalo Caufliflower

Except, well, I did repeat it, just with a very different batch of buffalo cauliflower.  Homemade even.
Buffalo Cauliflower Transformation.
I'm not entirely sure why, but batch #2, using a totally different base, worked much, much better.

So now, when you ask, "Leftover Buffalo Cauliflower: Will it Waffle?", my answer is ... YES!
The Original: Buffalo Cauliflower with Blue Cheese and Shaved Fennel.
The original dish this time was made by my mother as a appetizer for our Christmas eve party.  The cauliflower was battered and baked, then tossed with Frank's hot sauce and baked again, then topped with blue cheese crumbles and shaved fennel.

I really liked the battered cauliflower, but next time I'd drizzle blue cheese dressing rather than just blue cheese crumbles on top, to provide more creaminess and counterbalance to the spice.  The shaved fennel was perfect, a more sophisticated version of celery, basically.

A tasty dish in its original form.
Leftover Buffalo Cauliflower.
The leftovers were fine cold, although the batter was now mushy, and that wasn't quite appealing.  Spicy flavor was still there, nicely complimented by the blue cheese.
Into the waffle iron ...
It was my mother who suggested waffling this, and I actually had forgotten my previous attempt, so I didn't raise any red flags.  We put it into the iron, no modifications, at 350 degrees.
Waffled Buffalo Cauliflower: Success!
About 7 minutes later, I raised the lid to find a perfect cauliflower waffle, albeit a bit burnt ... I got distracted and wasn't checking on it carefully enough.  It extracted perfectly.

This one worked great.  I think the batter on the cauliflower was the key, as it helped bind it together in a way the other version did not.

This, drizzled with some blue cheese dressing, and topped with shaved fennel, was perfect.  Spicy, crispy, creamy ... better than the original, and a fully composed dish, which, I totally failed to take a photo of.
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