Sunday, March 17, 2013

Humble, humble

Here we are again. Sunday, the blinds closed, and I spend the morning paging through cookbooks on the floor in front of our gas fireplace, inching myself as close as I can get without crawling inside it. The temperature has tanked to 13 degrees again. This just ain't right.

Speaking of tanked, I went for a nine mile run on Saturday, which I then countered with, I'm not kidding, chips and queso dip, deep fried walleye fingers, chicken wings, a couple beers, chicken nachos, deep fried pickles, a couple more beers, cheese curds and sweet potato tots.

I wasn't even celebrating St. Patty's day; that's the worst part. I was wearing blue and going to non-Irish pubs. This was just another average night that got the best of me. When will I learn?

Today, I am secretly excited that there isn't enough snow for another cross-country ski attempt, because God knows I should be out there getting some exercise. At one point last night, guilty with mouths full of chips and sour cream, hands greasy with deep-fried batter, we all agreed we would need to have boiled cabbage and water for dinner on Sunday to counteract some of the damage we were in the middle of inflicting upon ourselves. There would have to be another long run before the weekend was over. The diet starts on Sunday.

We sure say some crazy things when we've been drinking!

Instead, today has been a day of staying inside, of standing in front of the hot stove stirring together a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and, for dinner, a creamy pot of cauliflower paprika to warm us to the bones. And maybe soak up a little of that grease, if I'm lucky.

This cauliflower paprika recipe caught my eye when I was paging through a copy of The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home at Half Price Books a few years ago. This recipe alone won me over - cauliflower, mushrooms, sour cream - I didn't stand a chance. There's something about these humble eastern European-style dishes that really calls to me; it's one of my favorite types of cuisine. I'm also drawn to recipes with paprika; I love the warmth and sharpness it brings to a dish, especially when it's rounded out with spoonfuls of sour cream like it is here. I must have been a peasant in a past life.

I purchased the cookbook that day, and this cauliflower paprika was the first recipe I made. I've been making it ever since. Served on a bed of egg noodles, this is the type of comfort food that fills your belly and sticks to your ribs, but somehow doesn't weigh you down. It helps that it's vegetarian; and, truthfully, I find it more flavorful than any chicken paprika I've ever attempted. I have tried adding cubed chicken to the mix for a complete meal, but I found myself picking around the chicken - I swear, vegetables are so much more flavorful than chicken. Since then, I have typically served this with a piece of simple roasted chicken on the side.

And maybe a nice dark beer and a warm fire, for cold nights like this.

Cauliflower Paprika
Adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Note: Make sure to use good paprika for this recipe. Sometimes, if I'm feeling sassy, I'll substitute a teaspoon of the sweet paprika with a teaspoon of sharp paprika, which gives the sauce a nice kick. I serve this on a bed of egg noodles, and often with a simple roasted chicken thighs on the side.

10 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 Tbsp sweet paprika
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
cooked egg noodles, for serving

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt to help draw out the juices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have browned and most of the liquid they released has evaporated, 7-8 minutes.

Add the onion and red pepper to the skillet and continue to cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until the onions and peppers soften. Add the paprika, and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the sherry, cook 1-2 minutes (most of the liquid will evaporate). Add 1/2 cup of water, then the cauliflower; stir to combine everything, then cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 8-10 minutes, lifting the lid to stir occasionally, until the cauliflower has softened.

Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the sour cream. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve over egg noodles, and maybe a piece of roasted chicken on the side.

1 comment:

  1. Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that seems to have so much potential, but whenever I see it at the produce section I'm uninspired. So I love seeing dishes like this that look delicious and remind me of how much I love eating cauliflower when it's prepared well!