Leftovers rule!

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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 Porcinis 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

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 med 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

Directions:

  • 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 min 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. 2tbs 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.
*When checking the flavor of a mixture like these cakes, which contains raw eggs, simply cook one small cake and taste it. This trick also works well for meatloaf and hamburgers.
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