Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tater Tots Grow Up

As a kid, I loved tater tots. One of my jobs, as a 10 year old, was to make dinner. Mom worked all day as a schoolteacher, then after school would go to my father’s pharmacy and do the bookkeeping in those prehistoric days before computers. So by the time everyone was gathered home for dinner, it was late, she was pooped, and I loved to be put in charge of the family’s dinner.

Mom gave me my assignment and went to relax a little. My repertoire was pretty slim at that age and tater tots were on the short list. Dinner was a broiled meat (we often had flank steak), a vegetable (frozen, from a bag), and some kind of starch (frozen French fries or tater tots, sometimes Rice-a-Roni, "that San Francisco treat.")

Now that I’m (very) grown up, my repertoire has expanded but my early lessons in balanced meal planning stuck. But these days, to try and keep my waistline from expanding along with my cooking repertoire, I don’t cook potatoes as often and look for low-carb alternatives.

Suzanne Somers’s Caulifower Tater Tots are one way to do that. Remember Suzanne Somers? The ditzy blond on the old TV sitcom “Three’s Company”? She’s become something of an institution – selling all kinds of health, food and beauty products both on Home Shopping Network and on her own site, and is outspoken about hormone replacement, breast cancer, and carcinogens.

One of her brainstorms was to create tater tots from pureed cauliflower. I’ve often pureed cauliflower and passed them off as mashed potatoes, despite the sidelong looks from my husband. But I’d never tried the tater tots till the other day, even though the well-worn index card I’d dashed down the recipe on would make it seem otherwise. (In how many different ways can I keep recipes! Index cards, magazine and newspaper clippings, scribbled bits of paper, internet pages. I thought my computer was going to help keep me organized, not add to the mess!)

But one day last week, I tried them and I really liked them. (My husband, the ultimate judge, wasn’t around; I froze the rest.) They were surprisingly good, although the texture I got was not as stiff as I would have liked. Perhaps there was too much water in the cauliflower, or too much pureeing. And next time, I’ll add some chopped onion. But they were still pretty good. And my grown up condiment, instead of ketchup? Roasted red pepper salsa.

Cauliflower Tater Tots
from Suzanne Somers

1 pound cauliflower florets
2 T water
4 T butter
2 large egg yolks
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower and water in 2 quart casserole. Cover and cook in microwave -- 8 to 10 minutes until very soft. Drain and place in food processor. Add butter, egg yolks and cheese. Process until smooth. Put in plastic bag and cut corner to make tip for piping into 1 inch lengths on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until browned.


  1. Now I know where your culinary talents began! Isn't it amazing how many of us food bloggers found our starts during childhood? I loved reading about your early cooking days. And these cauliflower tots look and sound delicious. I can't wait to give them a try. Thank you for sharing with me. I hope you have a great Monday!

  2. Yeah, I started pretty young. And Sunday afternoons were for cake baking day; I'm still working on baking!


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