These recipes are from Godey's Lady's Book of Reciepts and Household Hints ©1870
One of the prettiest dishes of vegetables we know consists of a cauliflower of ivory whiteness resting upon a bed of well made tomato sauce. To insure the immaculate appearance of the cauliflower, a moderate quantity of flour should be put in the water it is boiled in, and the cauliflower should only be put in when the water is boiling fast. When two or more cauliflowers are used, they should be moulded into one to serve them. To do this, when they are boiled, cut off the stalk, and dispose the pieces of cauliflower head down wards inabasin; press them gently together, turn them out dexterously on a dish, and two or three small cauliflowers will by this means present the appearance of one large one. Care must be taken to have the basin quite hot and to operate quickly. This cannot very well be done with the small purple cauliflower or brocoli; but all the formulas given for cauliflowers proper may be applied to brocoli likewise.
The sauce should be put into the dish and the cauliflowers over it; but if the moulding process has not been successful, or if the cauliflowers are not very nice looking ones, then pour the sauce over them, so as to hide their deformity.
The very best way, however, to treat cauliflowers is au gratin, and this has the advantage that it may be applied to the remains of the cauliflowers served at the dinner of the day before. This is the simplest form of it: Dispose the pieces of cauliflowers on a dish, pour a good supply of liquified butter over them, and plenty of grated cheese, with a judicious admixture of powdered white pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Put the dish into the oven for a few minutes, or brown with a red-hot salamander, and serve.
Here are other modes of proceeding: Rub the dish very slightly with garlic, mould your cauliflowers in a basin, and pour into them, before turning them out, some melted butter, into which you have dissolved a good allowance of cheese; turn them out on the dish, strew plentifully with grated cheese, a few bread crumbs, pepper, and salt, pouring the remainder of the sauce over. Brown and •serve.
Instead of moulding the cauliflowers, dip each piece in the sauce, and dispose them flat on the dish, filling up the interstices with bread crumbs and cheese in equal parts; pepper and salt according to taste; brown and serve.
The great thing to be avoided is not to make these preparations too dry, and yet there should not be over much butter. The browning must be carefully done, so as to produce a surface of a uniform golden color—not in patches, some burnt black, and others not browned at all, as is too often the case in the preparations of the careless and hasty operators who preside in kitchens.
To such people as may object to cheese, I can recommend the following receipt, which has great merit of its own : Dispose your pieces of boiled cauliflower upon a dish well rubbed with garlic, over them strew a mixture of bread crumbs and anchovies, capers, and olives, mixed fine pepper, and salt; over all pour a judicious quantity of fine salad oil. Bake for about ten minutes, and serve.
Celery may be dressed according to the above formulas also; but we prefer treating the latter in the same way as asparagus, which it emulates in delicacy of flavor—i. e., by plain boiling in salt and water, and serving with some simple sauce.
Boiled Cauliflower.—Soak the head two hours in salt water, and cook until tender in milk and water; drain and serve whole with drawn butter. This makes the best appearance, but it will be found to suit the taste better cut up and seasoned richly with butter and a little salt and pepper. In either case it must be well drained.
Cauliflower Omelette.—After boiling a firm head of cauliflower allow it to grow cold, chop it very fine, mix it with sufficient well beaten egg to make a very thick batter. Fry brown in fresh butter, and serve hot.
Cauliflower In Milk.—Choose those that are close and white, cut off the green leaves, and look carefully that there are no caterpillars about the stalk; soak an hour in cold water, with a handful of salt in it; then boil them in milk and water, and take care to skim the saucepan, that not the least foulness may fall on the flower. It must be served very white and rather crimp.
Fried Cauliflower.—Having laid a fine cauliflower in cold water for an hour, put it into a pot of boiling water that has been slightly salted (milk and water will be still better,) and boil it twenty-five minutes, or till the large stalk is perfectly tender. Then divide it equally into small tufts, and spread it on a dish to cool. Prepare a sufficient quantity of batter made in the proportion of a tablespoonful of flour, and two tablespoon fills of milk to each egg. Beat the eggs very light; then stir into them the flour and milk alternately ; a spoonful of flour, and one of milk and eggs; season with pepper and salt. Dip the cold cauliflower into the batter, and fry each piece in butter and lard until brown.