I am doing a fusion Mexican theme this Labor Day. Spices from South of the (U.S.) Border, but in ways that are probably non-traditional. As an additional vegetable dish I decided on cauliflower. As I was looking around I saw that someone had used annatto to make a bright red cauliflower. That gave me ideas.
Note: This spice is sometimes referred to as achiote, but that is actually the name of the tree that the seeds come from.
Karl’s Annatto Cauliflower
1 tsp. cumin seeds
½ coriander seeds
¼ cup corn oil
2 tsp. annatto seeds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 medium cauliflower
1. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan, until fragrant.
2. Process the seeds into a course powder and reserve
3. Add the oil and annatto seeds to the pan, over medium heat, until the oil starts to bubble.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes.
Tip: Keep an eye on the color of the annatto seeds. If they are in danger of turning black, remove the seeds from the oil. Burning the seeds will make for a bitter oil.
5. Strain the seeds from the oil and discard them.
6. Return the oil to the pan and reheat the oil over medium heat.
7. Add the cumin and coriander powders, garlic, black pepper, and salt to the pan and remove it from the heat.
8. Remove the stem and leaves of the cauliflower, but leave the head intact.
Tip: A whole uncut head of cauliflower makes a good presentation.
Note: When the head is fully cooked, it is easy to separate the florets as you serve.
9. Use a pot that is close to the size of the cauliflower, but a bit deeper. Add water to cover and bring the pot to a boil.
10. Add the cauliflower upside down, and then reduce the temperature to medium low.
11. Simmer until the cauliflower is ¾ done, about 15 minutes.
12. Transfer the cauliflower, right side up, to a shallow, Pam-ed baking dish.
13. While the head is still hot brush the sauce all over the top of the cauliflower.
14. When the cauliflower has cooled enough to handle, turn the head over and drizzle some of the annatto oil sauce in-between the branches of the florets.
15. Set the cauliflower upright in the dish and brush again with any remaining sauce.
16. Bake at 500º F until well done, about 15-20 minutes.
Tip: A fork inserted into the base should slide in easily. The top should not be burnt.
Note: I am barbecuing, so I am planning to set my baking dish in my barbecue and let it piggy back on my tri-tip’s cooking heat.