Pickled Purple Cauliflower | Cooking With Bells On

Pickled Purple Cauliflower

You’ve seen Portlandia, right? Wait, you haven’t? Okay, take a minute to consume the spot-on hilarity that is this clip and then I’ll get back to you.

Now that we are on the same page, let’s talk about pickles. Somehow pickles recently got cool, and they have been making a trendy appearance on restaurant menus everywhere. Chefs have been utilizing little bits of pickled vegetables as an alternative to citrus or vinegar, a new way of bringing acidic contrast to a dish. And while I’m sure that pickles will one day be as cliché as foams or truffle oil, I am at the moment really excited to experiment with pickling in my own kitchen.

To tell you the truth, I actually never imagined I would pickle my own vegetables until recently. Pickling seemed to fall into the category of Too Much Work For Home – something I think is a great idea, but too weird and time consuming to bother doing myself. As a result of media inundation (thanks Bon Appetit), though, pickling has gone the way of grinding coffee beans and making ice cream: it’s something I now enthusiastically do.

The purple cauliflower recipe you see here is actually a recipe I developed based on my initial foray into pickling, which was an unexpected success. I made those cauliflower pickles on a whim, an attempt to use up this beautiful hunk of purple mass I had brought home from the grocery store that day. The ratios for vinegar, salt, and water were at best an educated guess, and after mixing everything together I stuck the heavy jar of liquid and vegetable in the back of the fridge, expecting that I would pull it out in the morning to find it perhaps halfway palatable.

What I found the following day really caught me off guard. Not only had the cauliflower actually pickled, but it had taken on the spices I had added in a surprisingly effective way. Where I had expected to find muddy taste and crunchy texture, I instead found toasty heat and pungent anise flavor with a tender bite. I was an instant convert.

Pickled Purple Cauliflower

Makes 1 quart

I call for whole spices in this recipe, and I unfortunately can’t recommend that you substitute with ground spices, which would create a muddy flavor and coating on the vegetables. Feel free to make this recipe without spices, it will still create deliciously pungent pickled vegetables.


1 tsp cumin seeds

3/4 tsp coriander seeds

3/4 tsp fennel seeds

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup honey

1 tsp salt

1 head purple (or white) cauliflower, cut into florets

1 1/2 cup boiling water

Toast the spices: Combine the spices in a pan and toast over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from heat and crush with a mortar and pestle. (Alternatively, grind in a spice grinder or small food processor.) You only need to crack open the spices; do not grind into a powder.

Combine ingredients: In a large bowl or quart-sized jar, mix together the toasted and crushed spices with the vinegar, honey, and salt. Add the cauliflower, then top off with boiling water. Stir or shake to combine.

Pickle overnight: Place this bowl or jar in the refrigerator to pickle overnight. Pickled cauliflower will keep up to 2 weeks.


Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows | Cooking With Bells On

Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows


Mom: So, what do you have planned for Easter?

Kirsten: What do you mean have planned for Easter? Why would I do something for Easter?

Mom: You know, to celebrate.

Kirsten: Uhhh, Mom, well…… You know, Mom, Brian isn’t religious and I don’t really….

Mom: But it’s Easter. You should do something special.

So that’s more or less the conversation I had with my mom earlier this week. To put things into context, Easter is my mom’s absolute favorite holiday. I’m not sure what in particular she loves about it – the colors, the celebration of spring and rebirth, the festive activities for little children, or maybe even the proximity to her birthday.* Whatever it is, it certainly compels her to celebrate, and the celebrations of Easter in our house were always something special, indeed. Egg hunts, feasts, chocolates, gifts… we did it all, and it all was beautifully and thoughtfully prepared by my mom down to the last detail.

Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows | Cooking With Bells On

I may have given up my religious persuasions, but our conversation nevertheless rekindled for me happy memories of Easters past. In the spirit of these memories I decided that maybe I ought to do something special to celebrate, after all.

These fluffy, honey-scented marshmallows are the product of that decision, and I have to tell you they are a very good addition to a celebration. I chose them with my mom in mind; she prefers light desserts, and I wanted to make something frivolous and pretty for her, something in which she could indulge a few bites without regret.

Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows | Cooking With Bells On

Of course, I also had plenty of influence over how these turned out. As I scanned the recipe for marshmallows I had relied on before, I found that I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase one of the particular ingredients called for. That light corn syrup… it just doesn’t fit in with the way I think about food. Perhaps if I could find corn syrup made from non-GMO corn I could come around, but even then… I still can’t find a way to think about syrup made from corn as a real food. Honey, it seems to me, is a reasonable substitute. And more than just providing a safer source of sweetener, honey imparts a lovely nougat flavor. Not that I’m about to get carried away with thinking my marshmallows are healthy – they’re still sugar – but if I’m going to take a lashing from the devil or his assistant, I’ll choose his assistant every time.

*Happy (early) Birthday, Mom. I love you so much.

Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows

Makes about 24 marshmallows

Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows | Cooking With Bells On

I think you might be surprised by how simple it is to make marshmallows at home, and how rewarding, too. Homemade marshmallows are one of those foods that barely resemble their store-bought counterparts. They’re fluffy, not springy, and delightfully sticky. Oh, and they have actual flavor, rather than tasting mostly like air. 

If homemade marshmallows aren’t quite special enough for you, or if you (like some people I know) can’t call something dessert if it doesn’t contain chocolate, scroll down to find out how to enrobe these in dark chocolate. Coating them in chocolate is only one little extra step, and though I was reluctant to go there with these marshmallows (which I think are perfect on their own) I have to admit that it’s totally worth it.

Ingredients for Very Fluffy Homemade Marshmallows | Cooking With Bells On


4 packets gelatin (if I had more forethought, I would have used 4 tbsp of this)

1 cup water, divided

coconut oil or cooking spray, for greasing

1 cup honey

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, split & scraped

1 cup powdered sugar

Special equipment:

candy thermometer

Soak the gelatin: Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin overtop. Stir gently to evenly coat the gelatin. Allow to bloom for at least 5 minutes. (The gelatin will turn into a firm mass. Don’t worry, you didn’t ruin it, it’s supposed to look that way.) While the gelatin blooms, grease a baking dish. I used a 9×13″ dish, but would use a 8×8″ pan next time to produce taller marshmallows. Line with parchment paper then grease the parchment, as well.

Make the honey syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water with the honey and salt. Place over medium-high heat and boil for 8-12 minutes until the temperature registers 240°F on a candy thermometer.

Whip the marshmallowsCarefully pour the honey syrup over the gelatin, beating with electric beaters (or in a stand mixer) as you pour.* Beat the mixture on the slowest speed, and over the course of several minutes gradually increase the speed until the mixer is going as fast as it can. Continue to beat until the mixture is very stiff and forms shiny, heavy ribbons when you lift the beaters, another 8-12 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and seeds and beat until well combined.

Pour the marshmallows: Pour the marshmallows into the prepared pan, using a wet spatula to scrape and smooth. Place aside for at least 2 hours (or overnight) to set.

Cut the marshmallows: Sift powdered sugar over the pan of marshmallows. Invert the pan onto another sheet of parchment, remove the greased parchment from the top, and sift over the exposed side. Cut the marshmallows into squares and coat all exposed edges with powdered sugar (either with the sifter or by rolling them in a bowl of powdered sugar). Marshmallows should keep in the fridge for 4 days.

*Caramel burns are serious business, I know from experience. If you’re as clumsy as I am it might be wise to get a responsible friend to do the pouring for you while you beat the mixture.

Marshmallows Coated in Dark Chocolate

Marshmallows Coated in Dark Chocolate | Cooking With Bells On


7 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

1 recipe Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows

Melt the chocolate: Place the chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30 second increments, stirring between. Heat until there are a few pieces of chocolate lingering in the dark pool of melted chocolate and allow these to melt on their own.

Coat the marshmallows: Dip marshmallows individually into the melted chocolate, using a spoon to help coat all sides. Remove coated marshmallows to a parchment lined baking tray. Refrigerate coated marshmallows for 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Serve fresh from the fridge; the chocolate will melt if left out at room temperature for too long.