Grilled Cauliflower and Pickled Pear
This recipe for grilled cauliflower and pickled pear was developed by Chef Simone Caponetto for the classy restaurant Locale Firenze located at the Concini Palace in the centre of Florence.
A while ago I was contacted by the PR-team for Locale Firenze, who wanted a blog post on their globetrotting chef Simone Caponetto. I said okay, if I could try one of his simple recipes, and they sent me this starter of grilled cauliflower and pickled pear.
It is always challenging and a little presumptuous to try out grand chef recipes at home, because the result never holds a candle to the real deal. Yet I find it fun to try. It invariably improves my technique. Heightens creativity by pointing out unusual combinations of flavour like cauliflower, pears and laurel leaves. And it increases my appreciation of the authentic dish, if and when I finally get to taste it.
If you want to do the same, I have added my comments and adaptions in italics to the recipe received from Locale Firenze. At the bottom you can also see a photo of my achievements compared to the professional photo of the professional preparation. I must admit that there is a long way to go. But the taste was so good, that I will keep on trying.
500 ml soya milk
100 gr of pickled pear
10 gr laurel oil
Wood sorrel (6 leaves) Substituted with a little creeping wood sorrel
For the laurel oil
100 ml sunflower oil
100 g laurel leaves
For the pickled pear
200 ml apple cider vinegar
200 ml water
200 ml white wine
Juniper, laurel, black pepper, star anise
For the cauliflower puré
5 florets of grilled cauliflower
25 ml vegetable oil
25 g browned butter
Salt and pepper
1. Vacuum cook the cauliflower florets in soya milk 60 degrees for 3 hours, then roast it and
dress with salt pepper and oil. I didn’t have a sous vide so instead I placed the cauliflower nd soya milk in a bath of boiling water that gradually cooled down. It kept the cauliflower white and la dente.
2. Make the laurel oil: Blend the sunflower oil with 100 gr of laurel leaves, strain it and keep it in the fridge. I used dried laurels and did not give the oil very much time to rest. This may have affected the colour, which was basically transparent, compared to the oil shown on the restaurant’s photo.
3. Make pickled pear: Boil 200 gr of apple cider vinegar with 200 gr of water and 200 gr of white wine. Add spices such as juniper, laurel, black pepe and star anise, add the pears and let pickle in glass jars in the fridge for at least 3 days. I had not thought of making this three days in advance, so my pears were only pickled for about an hour, which meant that they had not absorbed as much taste, as they could have.
4. Grill the drained cauliflower in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they start to take colour.
5. Make cauliflower puré: Blend 100 grams cauliflower previously roasted with some vegetable oil and butter noisette, add salt and pepper to taste. I wasn’t really prepared to make a pureed sauce, which meant a lot of improvising. I used grilled cauliflower instead of roasted, laurel oil instead of vegetable oil and ordinary butter instead of browned butter. This along with a massive overuse of pickled pear may explain the very diverse appearance of my version.
6. To plate add some of the cauliflower cream, some cauliflower florets, the pickled pear, some drops of laurel oil and finish with the wood sorrel leaves. Enjoy and think about your next trip to Florence.