A few weeks back I came home from my cooking demo at Eastern Market with some extra cauliflower. It was already prepped and seemed like a horrible waste not to use it. Looking at the Yukon Golds I had diced to thicken a soup, I started thinking about potato pancakes.
Potato pancakes are the ultimate leftover. Out of the fridge come desiccated mash potatoes, crumbly and bland. Add an egg et voilà! you have a creamy, crispy cake of goodness – even more satisfying than Mom’s Turkey Divan, which reliably appeared on the table two days after every Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Inspired to attempt cauliflower cakes, I steamed the leftover cauliflower and braised the potatoes. I added Porcini mushrooms for depth of flavor, Pecorino Romano for bite and Panko breadcrumbs to firm up the wet mixture. They came out rich and creamy: the texture of fish cakes with a crisp, caramelized crust.
Cauliflower Porcini Cakes
- 3 oz. dried Porcini mushrooms
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
- 2 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- 1-2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbs butter
- Olive oil
- Crème fraîche
- Chives for garnish
- Cover mushrooms with 2 cups boiling water. After 20 min, strain, squeezing liquid from mushrooms. Reserve liquid and strain it through cheese cloth. Chop mushrooms finely.
- Over medium heat, sauté onions in 2 tbs olive oil for 3-5 minutes.
- Add potatoes, sauté 5 minutes more.
- Add porcini liquid and thyme then cover. Cook until potatoes are soft and pan is almost dry. Add water during cooking if needed.
- Steam cauliflower until soft.
- Mash together cauliflower, potato, egg, Panko, cheese, cayenne, parsley and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.*
- Sauté cakes in olive oil over med-low heat. The lower heat allows them to dry out a bit. Two tablespoon cakes are perfect for hors d’oeuvres. 1/4 – 1/3 cup cakes are the right size for a side dish.
- Serve topped with crème fraîche and chives.