I think it was last week that I thought I’d made chowder and tweeted about it. Well, I think I simply replicated the flavour of the clam (and lobster) chowder I’d eaten while down in San Francisco and Anaheim, California but nonetheless I’d made something tasty and it was made again. As cooking is often less precise than baking, it took the second round for me to get down the measurements or at least a fair estimate so that I could share it here. As much as I am fond of those recipes that leave you to your imagination and being creative – in other words, recipes that serve more as guidelines – it’s always helpful to have some pointers so that – later on, if you feel like it – you can improvise and make it your own.
I tried my hand at doing a bit of food styling – at least, more than usual as I’ve lately been inspired by the Donna Hay magazine and Katie Quinn Davies of What Katie Ate. I did a set up with a bamboo cutting board (one of my birthday kitchen gadgets – a cutting board can be considered a gadget, right?) and I folded a striped blue dishtowel that I thought would compliment the bowl holding the stew. A spoon was added later. As for the stew itself, afterward I wished that I’d added a little extra colour to make it more interesting (even adding corn kernels would have added some of that extra something) but I don’t expect myself to hit all the marks of food styling on the first round.
This stew is very simple. While it’s thickened with cornstarch, most of the help comes from pureeing cauliflower – if you’ve made cauliflower soup before, you’ll then get the gist of it: pureeing until it’s a very smooth puree, ideally without any lumps. The flavour comes from the beef, which is stewed with onion and mushroom – enhanced if you use beef or chicken stock also – and is rounded off by a pat or two of butter. For a dairy-free and casein-free alternative to the butter, coconut milk would also work I’m sure.
Cauliflower Beef Stew
1 onion, chopped
3 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 large beef tenderloin steak, cubed or about 8 ounces lean or extra lean stewing beef
Garlic powder, plus extra to taste
1 1/2 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1 head cauliflower
Water, beef, or chicken stock, enough to cover the meat and vegetables
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 small bay leaves
4 ounces unsalted butter or 1/2 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Other additions you may wish to add
- 1 tin corn kernels without salt or sugar, drained (if using, add last)
- Carrots, peeled and roll cut (2 to 3 carrots)
- Any other vegetables you want to use up (make it a kitchen sink stew!)
Cook the onion, mushroom, and beef together over medium heat, allowing the beef to stew for about 30 minutes so that the fat pools. This will help flavour the stew.
Meanwhile, cut the head of cauliflower in half, removing the stalk and leaves. Chop up one half and add to the stewing beef. Sprinkle in a light amount of garlic powder and stir. Once the beef is cooked and the onion and mushroom are soft, add enough water or stock to cover the meat and vegetables. Mix the cornstarch with cold water, stirring until it’s smooth without any lumps. Add to the stew, whisking so that it doesn’t lump.
Chop up the other half of cauliflower and steam for 20 minutes, or until soft. Once soft, transfer into a tall container and puree with a small amount of the broth, using an electric hand blender or mash. It should resemble mashed potatoes.
Stir the pureed cauliflower into the stew. It should be fairly thick now. Add bay leaves and stir in the butter or coconut milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve on its own or over a bed of freshly cooked rice or quinoa. Enjoy!