Fried Cauliflower with Spicy Avocado Cream (Chopped Cooking Challenge)
Inspired by Chopped, this Fried Cauliflower with Spicy Avocado Cream
is one delicious appetizer!
Do you guys watch cooking shows? It seems like there are a million to pick from these days. Hell’s Kitchen, Good Eats, Top Chef, Cupcake Wars…the list literally goes on and on. (I’ve always been partial to Top Chef Masters and Chopped myself.) So when a fellow food blogger suggested that a couple of us dude food bloggers get together and do a Chopped style post, I was all in! It’s fun to watch shows where folks get a bunch of random ingredients in a basket and then have to create something tasty…but it’s a lot more unnerving when you have to do it yourself! I threw caution to the wind and joined in…what’s the worst that could happen?
The 4 of us asked for suggestions via social media and we landed on a basket of ingredients that was usable, although a bit strange indeed. Wondering what was in our basket? Avocado, sriracha, cauliflower and mortadella. Well, that’s interesting. Avocados and sriracha was a cinch. But how could I work cauliflower into the recipe? And what the heck was I going to do with mortadella? (If you haven’t heard of mortadella, it’s a spiced pork sausage common in Italy.) I love Italian meats and cheeses, but mortadella is the one meat that I’ve never particularly cared for. This was bound to get interesting!
I mentioned the Chopped post to my wife, and she immediately suggested fried cauliflower. Apparently fried cauliflower is very common up north…or at least in Altoona, PA. I’m from the South, so I’m used to fried foods, but fried cauliflower was a new one to me. That’s ok! I figured why not give it a shot and see what happens. Once the cauliflower was taken care of, the other ingredients fell into place pretty quickly. Fried cauliflower needs a dipping sauce right? Of course it does! Check the avocado and sriracha off the list. But back to that darned mortadella…how could I incorporate that one?
I fried up a bit of the mortadella in a skillet just to see how it tasted. Um, woah! Hello, mortadella, where have you been hiding my whole life? It was like a crispy piece of peppery bacon. Not exactly the same, but close enough. I instantly knew how to use the mortadella!
I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical about this recipe, though. I mean it sounded good on paper…but a lot of things sound good. Would it actually taste good? Yes, yes, and more yes! I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this Fried Cauliflower with Spicy Avocado Cream turned out! I may or may not have nibbled on this the entire time I was taking these pictures.
Fried Cauliflower with Spicy Avocado Cream
For the Fried Cauliflower
- 1 head of cauliflower rinsed and broken into florets
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup flour
- 3 Tbsp parmesan cheese grated
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper optional
- 2-3 cups canola oil for frying
For the Spicy Avocado Cream
- 3 ounces mortadella cut into ¼” cubes
- 1 ripe avocado peeled and pitted
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ tsp lime juice
- ½ Tbsp sriracha
- ½ tsp salt
For the Fried Cauliflower
- Preheat fryer oil to 375°F. (Tip: If you don’t have a deep fry thermometer, then you can drop a pinch of flour into the oil. If it browns and bubbles immediately, then the oil is ready to go!)
- While the oil is heating, place the cauliflower florets in a steamer basket; steam for 8-10 minutes. (Note: The florets should still be fairly firm after steaming.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.
- In another medium bowl, combine the salt, pepper, flour, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, paprika and cayenne (optional).
- Place cauliflower florets into the egg mixture; stir until well coated.
- Transfer florets into the flour mixture; stir until well coated.
- Carefully transfer a handful of florets into the preheated oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes, or until florets are golden brown in color. Place florets on paper towels to drain.
- Allow oil to return to 375°F; repeat until all florets have been fried.
For the Spicy Avocado Dipping Sauce
- Place the cubed mortadella in a frying pan over medium-low heat; cook for 7-8 minutes or until slightly crispy. Transfer mortadella onto a paper towel and pat dry.
- Place the remaining ingredients (avocado, sour cream, garlic, lime juice, sriracha and salt) into a blender or small food processor. Pulse until smooth.
- Transfer Avocado Dip into serving bowl and garnish with the crispy mortadella.
What did my fellow comrades come up with? Glad you asked! Before we get there, I must say that blogging is an awesome way to meet people you never would have known otherwise. Take these 3 dudes for example. The dude food blogger world is pretty small, so it’s no surprise that we ended up finding each other on the interwebs. Ironically enough, we’re all based in New York…although I’m the only one who doesn’t live down in the City. I’ll take the apple trees and Saratoga horse racing of upstate New York! We’ve
adopted stolen the name Wolfpack for our little cohort from the four dudes in the Hangover movies…and I’ve enjoyed following these guys’ blogs. I encourage you to check them out, too!
Chris (Shared Appetite) is the resident wine expert of the Wolfpack, and his recipes are stunning. I seriously want to take a bite out of my computer screen whenever he posts something new! Rumor also has it that he’s pondering a move to upstate New York.
Southwestern Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Sean (Snack Fixation) is one awesome dude! I met Sean at SoFabCon this year, and it was great to chat with him. He focuses on delicious snack food…and he also offers reviews of the best places to snack in NYC. If you’re planning a trip to the City (or even if you aren’t), I highly recommend following Sean to see what he’s up to.
Spicy Mortadella Pasta Salad
Mike (The Iron You) rounds out our group with a focus on healthy cooking. Contrary to popular belief, Mike’s recipes are more paleo than vegan. Either way, they all look delicious…and I’m in constant awe of how he can create so many unique recipes! Plus, he is training for a triathlon in his spare time. And he likes soccer.
Cauliflower Crust Mortadella and Cheese Panini
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Ha man! I love that you went as well for a spicy avocado sauce/cream. Which I bet goes so well with that amazing fried cauliflower. You really aced this chopped challenge Grilling Troll, great job!
PS It seems like you finally came to terms with me not being a vegan. I know it was hard for you to accept this. So thank you 😉
Well, it was difficult to accept that you aren’t a vegan, Mike. But after much therapy and soul-searching, I’ve decided I’m at peace with it. 🙂
I admit to not being a fan of cauliflower, but when you added cheese and sriracha to it, you made my heart flutter. I’m all for trying this one, because as I’ve said… you pretty much rock my culinary world!
Man, did you ever think your heart would flutter at the thought of cauliflower?? I’d never had the fried version until my wife suggested making it for this challenge…and it was awesome! Like any fried food, it needs to be eaten when it’s first fried, but it was really flippin’ de-licious! Thanks for your kind words, Chef Bec!
This is such an awesome concept, David – kudos to you and the “Dudes” of the Wolf Pack for coming up with it!
I am a huge fan of cauliflower – but, don’t think I’ve ever had it floured and batter fried – and dipped in avocado cream! BRILLIANT!!
btw, I asked Mike this – but will yall be having a second entree round and a third dessert round?
Haha! I’m totally down to continue this into future rounds. We’ll make a meal of it…and then we can have a progressive dinner! Mike’s for appetizers, Sean’s for entree and then Chris’s for dessert! 🙂
Dude…. SO smart to fry the cauliflower and use the avocado and sriracha as a sauce… and frying up the mortadella… brilliant, pure brilliance. Why didn’t I think of that (palm to forehead). This was a lot of fun!
This was a ton of fun…thanks for organizing it, Chris! Yup, lots of frying going on here…but it was so delicious! I would never have thought about frying the cauliflower until Laura mentioned that all the bars in her hometown have it on the menu. That’s all it took to get the wheels upstairs turning…
So time for the next round??
Wow, David, this is genius!! I’m loving the cauliflower bites and the sound of the dipping sauce!
What a fun Wolfpack, looking forward to the main dish and dessert rounds! Now I gotta go watch some Chopped!
Haha! You’re cracking me up, Lyuba…I love how everyone has decided that the main dish and dessert rounds are happening. Hey, it sounds like fun to me! And that dipping sauce was delicious…totally gonna make that again soon. Thanks for commenting! 🙂
David! What a snack! If I had a frier at home, I would make (and devour) this awesome idea on Sunday night while I watch Ray Donovan. Matter of fact, maybe I’ll go down to Bed Bath and Beyond today and look at some friers 🙂
Haha! I totally had the same thought as you, Sean! A friend whipped up some fried chicken bites one night at his place using a mini-deep fryer…and I knew I needed one of those! They are surprisingly inexpensive, too. Granted, I don’t use it much, but it’s super handy to have around!
I love watching cooking shows : D I think I’d be horrible on a show like chopped. The pressure would kill me! I love that you guys decided to do this challenge. Pretty awesome. Wow, you really made that cauliflower look amazing! That avocado cream sounds delicious!
Yeah, I’m fairly certain I couldn’t have come up with this in the like 25 minutes or whatever they have on the show! But it was still a fun and challenging task to take some random ingredients and turn it into something tasty. 🙂
yum.. that spicy avocado cream is definitely being recreated in my kitchen. love that you used sriracha.. i cant get enough of that stuff!
Me, too, Thalia! We used the leftover spicy avocado cream for all sorts of stuff. I bet it would be delicious on tacos!! Thanks for commenting. 🙂
I am a Chopped addict (it’s really the only cooking competition show I watch) and I love it!! The hubby and I play it at home once in a while where someone picks up random things and the other has to use them all for dinner…lame I know but it’s fun. I love what you did with the basket ingredients. I’ve had fried cauliflower before. Must be a north thing indeed.
That’s pretty much what we did here, Zainab! We had some random stuff in a basket and tried to figure out what to do with it. You should totally post one of your versions of Chopped…just make sure the hubby doesn’t pick up something like squid ink for that day. Haha!
I love fried Cauliflower one of my favorite things to get at the fair.
Thanks, Brent! I gotta admit that fried Cauliflower was a new one for me. I grew up with Fried Pickles which are amazing…but the fried cauliflower was surprisingly delicious! Definitely a fun appetizer. Thanks for commenting!
Hi David! Fried cauliflower is one of my absolute favorites! Years ago my son’s girlfriend would pick it up at a local bar and grill for us to have lunch. But your sauce is way better! I picked up a small deep fryer with a temp control and a basket last year – I don’t use it often, but sometimes I just need it!
I totally hear ya, Dorothy! We have one of those little mini-fryers, too. I only pull it out a couple of times a year, but sometimes it is just super handy. Like for a batch of fried cauliflower! This was a fun project to come up with a recipe using all sorts of crazy ingredients. Thanks for checking it out! 🙂