Recipe: cauliflower, almond and last season’s blueberries

By Nobu Lee – Head Chef of Clooney, Auckland (NZ).

New Zealand cuisine is defined by its plentiful and exceptional ingredients, which are interpreted diversely by the chefs who use them. This interpretation comes through regional and seasonal diversity and cultural awareness of their past. 

At Clooney’s, they choose to take our story one step further, through a selection of canapés bought together by a narrative that speaks of the Maori’s influence with ingredients, and their colonial past that has made the simplest of ingredients iconic.

By using the most sustainable ingredients New Zealand offers, technology achievements allow them to develop a sustainable pathway to preserving ingredients that could easily otherwise find themselves extinct.

Serves: 2



2 cauliflower florets

2 tbsp of unsalted butter

1 bay leaf 

1 clove of garlic

Pinch of NZ coarse sea salt

Almond puree

300 g whole blanched almond 

220 ml almond milk  

1.5 litres water

30 ml verjus 

Pinch of NZ coarse sea salt

Last season’s blueberries

150 g (1 punnet) of blueberries 

1/4 litre apple cider vinegar 

1/4 litre water

50 g curing salt

50 g brown sugar

Pine oil

100 g pine leaves 

200 g Waiheke Island extra virgin olive oil 

Puffed cauliflower

1/2 head of medium cauliflower

Oil for deep-frying

Pinch of NZ fine sea salt

Almond sauce

1 kg sliced almond 

700 ml NZ vermouth (Karven)

2 litres organic full cream milk 



Select one head of cauliflower with very white and tight flowerets. Choose two large florets and remove them from the stem carefully. Trim both sides of the florets so they sit flat on the surface.

Melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter in the pan over medium-low heat until the butter starts to foam, add the cauliflower florets, the bay leaf and clove of garlic. Cook the cauliflower in foamy butter without burning it, and continue to baste it with spoon until it is golden brown on both sides and the florets are cooked through. Season with NZ coarse sea salt.


Almond puree

Gently toast the whole blanched almond on a baking tray lined with baking paper, bake at 170°C oven for five minutes without browning the nuts.

Transfer the almond to a pressure cooker with water, cook for one hour or until the nuts are cooked through, transfer the nuts and remaining cooking liquid to a pot and continue to cook until all the water is evaporated and the almonds are glazed.

Puree the cooked almond with almond milk and verjus in a blender to a smooth puree, then pass the mix through a chinois, season with NZ fine sea salt, and leave it to set in the fridge for at least four hours. Stir well before use.

Last season’s blueberries

Pickle the blueberries in the apple cider vinegar and water solution for a minimum of 10 months. Drain off the liquid and cure the blueberries in salt for 4-5 days, or until the berries start to lose its water content. Wash with water several times and dry well with paper towel. Cover the berries with brown sugar and pack them down tight. Cure them for one week in the fridge, topping up more brown sugar, since it will melt as the berries releases its own liquid.


Pine oil

Pound the pine leaves with the side of a chef's knife to release their aroma and gently warm them with the extra virgin olive oil to 60°C, leaving them to infuse in a zip lock bag for two days. Strain the liquid with a coffee filter.


Puffed cauliflower

Thinly slice the cauliflower to two-millimetre slices and dehydrate them at 45-50 degrees until completely dried. Dip the cauliflower chips into 220°C oil very quickly and remove them straight away to prevent from burning. Season with NZ fine sea salt.


Almond sauce

Toast the sliced almond at 170°C oven until lightly browned, transfer them to a heavy base sauce pot with the vermouth. Bring the liquid to boil over high heat and burn off the alcohol, turn down the heat and let it reduce until all the liquid evaporates. Add the organic full cream milk and bring it to 40°C, crush the nut and milk with a hand blender and let it infuse for one hour. Strain the sauce with a fine chinois.Then thicken the sauce to a spoon-coating consistency by rewarming it over gentle heat.