Saturday, 21 August 2010

Cauliflower truffle cakes

Every time we go to Trattoria Montalbino there is a great debate on the way over what we
will eat. Bistecca with truffles, or just porcini? Carpaccio with truffles instead? Yes if its hot. Maybe coniglio (rabbit) with truffles instead for a change. The one dish that is always ordered is a starter of little round cakes made from cauliflower, topped with shaved truffles.

At first sight this is an unlikely favourite. It remains this way until you bite into the crisp, lightly browned shell, inhale the heavenly scent of truffles, white or black depending on the season, and savour a mouthful of the hot fluffy interior, with its slightly grainy texture and earthy aroma.

We have endlessly argued over what the ingredients are, and finally today the proprietors gave in; not only did they give us the recipe, they gave us a whole bowlful of batter to take home.

Measurements to come, once we have finished the bowl of batter and survived food coma...

1 egg, beaten
Cauliflower purée
Béchamel sauce, made with flour, butter and milk
Truffle oil
Parmesan, grated
Sea salt and pepper
Dry breadcrumbs
Truffles, if you have them

Preheat an oven to 200 degrees Celsuis.

Whisk the cauliflower purée into the beaten egg until smooth. Then add the Béchamel and do the same. Add truffle oil and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan to taste. The dry breadcrumbs should be added last as they will soak up all the juice and product a batter with a thickish consistency.

Spoon dollops of batter into a buttered muffin tin, then bake for 10 minutes or so. The tops should be firm and lightly browned, with a springy texture when poked with a finger.

Turn out the cakes and let them allow enough to handle. Shave over your truffles and serve - eat immediately while they are still warm.

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