Category Archives: CAULIFLOWER


12301481_523460571155581_6765352164488669537_n Italians love fried little bits…fritti…and the fritti come in many forms.  Depending on the region you will often find little street stands or stores that specialize only in Fried Foods. Stop.  I see your eyes rolling.  Life’s too short not to enjoy a fried treat now and then.  The list of Italian fried bits is very long AND delicious but let me introduce you to this one from Sicily.  The CAZZILLO.  Plural, CAZZILLI.  Now pardon my comments here but Sicilians love the bawdy and love things that make you laugh in embarassment.  Cazzo is Italian for the male organ…Cazzilli is Sicilian for, well, a little one LOL.  Are you embarassed and shocked?  The Sicilians have done it again.  Have some fun, life’s too short not to laugh a little.  This dish combines the Sicilians love of a good joke with a few of their favorite foods, potatoes and cauliflower.  VRUOCCULI is actually a type of cauliflower, a little greener than our pure white American Cauliflowers.  This CAZZILLI recipe is a version of the typical Sicilian potato croquette combined with mashed cauliflower.  Sicilians make their potato croquettes either simply rolled in flour and fried OR breaded and fried.  Generally when I’m making a Napoletana style Potato Croquette (Panzarotti) I will bread them. But when making Sicilian ones I don’t bread them.  These Cazzilli have a hefty helping of grated Caciocavallo cheese in them.  Now Caciocavallo is not available everywhere so instead you can use the more accessible Provolone or Pecorino.  See, I”m not going to give you a recipe that you can’t reproduce in your kitchen.  Truth be told most cooks in their homes will use what’s on hand to make a dish so it’s fine to use any one of the three.  Caciocavallo is most Sicilian.  If you have a good cheese store by you see if they carry CACIOCAVALLO RAGUSANO, from Ragusa, Sicily. It’s amazing.   Now here’s a few tips.  Start with leftover or day old Mashed Potatoes.  Many recipes tell you to make it all the same day.  No.  There’s a magic that happens when a cooked starch sits overnight.  Trust me.  ItalianAmerican Moms and Grandmothers would make their versions of Potato croquettes usually with leftover mashed potatoes from the day before’s dinner. Same for RiceBalls (Arancini).  The end result is just better, and they don’t fall apart.  You’ll need 3 cups of mashed potatoes of this recipe.  Steam the cauliflower the day before as well.  One head of cauliflower for 3 cups of mashed potatoes.  When the cauliflower is still warm, mash it well.  set it in a strainer and let it drain overnight.  OR if you have leftover cauliflower, simply mash it.  So those are the starting points for these CAZZILLI.  Let’s get cooking now!!

TIME: 24 hours                   SERVES: 6 (up to 3 per person)

3 cups chilled day-old Mashed Potatoes

1 mashed steamed Cauliflower head

2 beaten eggs

1 1/4 cup grated CACIOCAVALLO or PECORINO or PROVOLONE cheese

2 tbs. All purpose flour

1 tbs. minced flat leaf Italian parsley

salt, fresh ground black pepper

Olive oil for frying

Lemon slices for serving

Simply blend ALL the ingredients and season with salt and lots of black pepper until you can form a small oval shaped croquette, about 2 inches long.  Roll each one in flour, and then chill for 1/2 hour.  In a large heavy high sided pan (pull out the cast iron skillet for this!) Bring 2 inches of  oil to 360 degrees F and start frying the Cazzilli.  DON’T CROWD THE PAN!!! 5-6 at a time works well.   Fry till golden on all sides, takes about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels.  When done frying transfer to a nice serving platter and garnish with lemon slices.  They are wonderful hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy your CAZZILLI!!! HAPPY COOKING.



cauli 005  Inspiration for cooking, where do you get it?  Books, TV, the store, a friend or family making something, the seasons, it comes from many places…ahhh..from Facebook or Instagram? Twitter? Certainly we are bombarded with images today and sometimes they give us our ideas for cooking.  On Friday while shopping for pecorino at a local Salumeria I noticed their Catering menu and saw the words “CAULIFLOWER SCAMPI” on the list.  HMMM, I said, i guess you take out the shrimp and add cut Cauliflower and cook it in the style of Italian-American Shrimp Scampi.  Cauliflower is a wonderful cooked vegetable AND very Italian/Sicilian I may add, although we take no ownership of it, it’s loved in cuisines around the world but most people don’t associate it with Italian cuisine.  Anyway the idea intrigued me and having a head of cauliflower at home meant that I would have to experiment with this idea over the weekend.  I played around with a simple, basic “Scampi” style preparation and was very happy with the results.  Took the pictures using the wonderful light that was bouncing off the fresh falling snow and beaming through our windows.  Perfect for some indoor amateur food photography.  I posted on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and suddenly I was in demand, well, not me…but people were asking for a recipe…YIKES!!!  Know this about me, A FOOD OBSESSION, I don’t have a recipe when I cook, i have an idea in my head of what I need to do to get a dish to the table, what type of cuisine, flavors, etc.  So when asked on the spot for a recipe this is something I can’t give back, i need to backtrack my steps and tweak it to make sure YOU will be able to make it like I did in your kitchen.  So….here goes…

SERVES: 6                                        TIME: around 45 minutes

2 heads of Cauliflower, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (the thicker they are, the longer they will take to cook, keep it to 1/2 inch)








In a large skillet heat the olive oil, then in a single layer add the cauliflower, you may need 2 pans or to do it in batches. Let them cook for at least 12 minutes on medium, checking the bottoms to make sure they are only browning, and not burning.  Sprinkle with salt and turn.  Let them cook an addition 10 minutes.  Test one, it should be nicely colored and al dente or medium tender.  Now add the garlic, raise the flame a bit and gently shake the pan.  Let the garlic cook for about 2 minutes then add the Vermouth or White Wine…hear that sizzle?? how’s that aroma that’s coming off the pan?? HOLLA! you’re loving this!!, now let this cook for 8 minutes on simmer as the cauliflower absorbs all those flavors.  Remove from the heat and add the parsley and the fresh lemon, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.  Done.

If you want to increase that lemony flavor, 1/2 tsp of Lemon zest added at the end will do that for you.  Cheese?  Parmigiano or Pecorino, a little..i personally prefer this with no cheese (can you imagine that I just said that? I just think in this dish no cheese is better but , that’s up to you).

This dish is Vegan and  Vegetarian Friendly.

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