I was saying to Cranky today that ever since I've had this blog, I don't use my cookbooks quite as much.
I'm one of those people who think it's kind of unimaginative to write about a recipe somebody else dreamed up, that I replicated, and photographed, and I ate it, and it worked (or it didn't), and that's my story, where's my gold star?
I mean, I WILL do that. I'm not a total snob. I've blogged about my success with Jacque Pepin's homemade pork sausage recipe, and that's because it so amazed me to even be able to do this at home, I wanted to share it with the rest of you. I've bragged about Deborah Madison's uncanny recipe-writing skills, something I know because I've followed them carefully despite my initial apprehensions (she's a genius; trust her, and then once you've done that, take it from there — trust me).
But blogging publicly seems to make me want to be a little bit more original than just following Recipe 101 — to take chances, to blaze trails.
Look, I only know what I know because of what I've learned so far, and a lot of that has been book-learning.
Or newspaper food-section recipe learning.
Case in point: A roasted cauliflower recipe I saved from the New York Times a few years ago. Here's the learning curve: It was the first roasted cauliflower I had ever tasted, and it was good. No, really good. But the recipe was needlessly complicated. It produced "overage," if you will; too much garlic-infused olive oil, which we were told to "save for another use." Also: many, very messy, steps, including a blender, an oven and a stovetop. Yeesh.
However, from that recipe I learned about flavors. The sexy, burny flavor of roasted cauliflower. The sultry blend of olives, lemon, garlic and capers in oil. The — oh, hey, maybe that's it. Yeah, that's all. Enough.
So here's today's sleek spin on a byzantine recipe, "cookiecrumb-style."
I cut up my beautiful green cauliflower into florets (saving about 1/3 of the head for another fun project; more later). I sauteed these succulent chunks in (cue the religious music) Bacon Fat from Fatted Calf Bacon! It just happened to be in the pan, left over from yesterday (and anybody with half a brain can tell you cauliflower is almost meat). This grease had all the salt I needed; none extra added.
Saute until brown corners happen. This is where the flavor is. But it won't be done yet.
Now: Smash a big, fat clove of garlic. Add it to the pan with a bay leaf and a fresh lemon leaf. Drizzle — nay, glug — a demi-bath of white wine over this. Apply lid to pan and frizzle until the florets are to your tender-crunchy liking.
With me so far? Yes. Take a slotted spoon and remove the cauliflower to a bowl (and put the lid over the bowl). Throw away the two leaves, but save the garlic. In the pan, you will now add chopped (pitted, duh) kalamata olives in the quantity of your preference and chopped capers, also ITQOYP. Oh, plus a moderately intelligent portion of olive oil. Your call. And chop up the garlic and add it, too.
OK: Sizzle, fast. The cauliflower is threatening to cool off!
Happy? Yep. So dish the florets on serving plates and spoon the magic over.