Not every meal I prepare turns out well. There have been (are) plenty of courses (entire meals) that turn out as disasters. The perplexing meals are the ones I find God-awful, but that other people love. Invariably the discrepancy centers around vegetables.
If you've been paying attention, then you know that Crabby is highly carnivorous. I understand and extol the virtues of vegetables. I prepare vegetables. I know that vegetables are good for me. I eat vegetables. I hate vegetables.
Most males I know feel the same way: Veggies are nice, some help sop up gravy, they help make the "real food" look good and, if they get caught up with the meat, they don't usually taste too bad. Hooray. My farmer thanks you. My grocer thanks you. My doctor thanks you and my colon thanks you.
Women on the other hand seem to have a genetic attraction to vegetables. Many meals I hate are raved over by the female diners. Whether it's as a main dish, side dish or spousal option, women love veg.
So here's my recipe for one of the most boring of all veg, cauliflower. Actually, my best recipe for cauliflower is: fry a pound of bacon, boil a head of cauliflower, throw out the cauliflower, eat the bacon. Let's assume that isn't a recipe you want to try; this time of year cauliflower are fresh, abundant and massive. They look like something that should taste great. My wife and her friends loved this dish. I thought it dull and tasteless. Go figure.
Smashed Cauliflower with Corn, Mushrooms & Red Pepper
1 head of Cauliflower broken down into small florets
14 oz (1 can) no-salt or low salt chicken stock
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup thawed, frozen corn (or 1 cup blanched fresh corn)
8 oz mushrooms, white button or Crimini, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed or 1 small leek, sliced (white part only)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
Chopped Chives for garnish
In a medium sized pot, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add cauliflower. Cover with lid slightly ajar and boil for 15 minutes until cauliflower is very tender. Note: Pay attention to the amount of liquid in the pot. You may need to add water or additional chicken stock. (If adding more chicken stock be very aware of the salt content, most canned stocks are overwhelmingly salty).
Drain off excess liquid into a soup bowl.
Roughly mash the cauliflower. I look for small, bite-sized chunks.
While the cauliflower is cooking heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot add olive oil and butter.
When the butter is completely melted add the mushrooms and walk away for 1 minute. After 1 minute stir the mushrooms and add the garlic. Wait 1 more minute. After that minute add the remaining vegetables. Saute over medium-high heat until vegetables start to show caramelized spots, about 5 minutes.
Add the vegetables to the mashed cauliflower.
In a medium soup bowl mix the Dijon mustard and sour cream. Add up to 1/2 cup of the drained cauliflower stock, (This is a judgement call on your part. If the sauce strikes you as too thick then add the broth. If you like a heavier sauce then omit this step). Mix well to combine. Pour the mixture over the vegetables to coat.
Adjust seasoning, garnish with chopped chives and serve.
There, that's it. A vegetable course that most men will hate but women will find hypnotic.
Other ideas might be to throw in some chopped green onions, crushed red pepper or if you're particularly adventurous, (and would like to appeal to the male Troglodyte in the family), put all the veg in a casserole, cover it with cheddar cheese and broil it until melted and slightly browned. It won't be as healthy, but you'll probably be able to get the kids to eat it.
OK, enough. Next time the carnivore returns, but until then, remember, you can do it, you can cook.