Again, I pretty much kick ass in the kitchen.
I like cooking, and it’s often my own personal therapy. Well, that and the gluttonous consumption of all kinds of wine. And thank goodness the two so frequently go hand-in-hand. Anyway, it’s how I unwind, how I transition from desk-job to couch-time, both of which involve staring at a computer, so doing something hands-on and using a different kind of concentration… well, for me, it’s therapeutic.
I often search for dishes and recipes that take some trial and error, allowing for some flexibility and experimentation, and that will take enough time for me to decompress after work yet not go so hungry that I eat my elbows.
For me, that recipe tonight was Kate’s Cream-Less Alfredo Sauce. I’ve heard of using cauliflower as a healthier potato alternative but never a sauce base, so I was intrigued. The process was really quite simple – steam/soften the cauli, throw in some parmesan cheese (the good kind, mind you), and salt and pepper to taste. Kate added broiled Romas for color and a pop of flavor and mentioned something about kalamata olives. This little detail is what stuck with me, and I believe was the driver in the success of this dish.
While I grocery-shopped for this meal, I perused Byerly’s olive bar for the right kind of olive. I’m not typically a kalamata fan – I mean, I’ll do ‘em in a Greek salad or whatever, but they’re really salty and the pits get kind of annoying. But… Kate said kalamata, so I looked for kalamata. I also saw some roasted red peps and some baby portabellas bathing in olive oil and garlic that caught my attention, so I decided to grab a few of those too.
Walking towards the produce section in the back led me right past the fresh seafood coolers, so instead of the chicken I had waiting for me at home, I opted for fresh and ready shrimps. [Side note: the meat/seafood guy was super adorable, in a my-grandfather kind of way and really nice]
Produce: picked up a cauli head and a little pre-cut/mixed container of veggies including broccoli, cauli and tomatoes.
At home: Cooked the fettuccine noods, simmered all of the olive bar options plus some broccoli in white wine, a little EVOO, and lemon juice, and steamed the cauliflower.
To make the sauce: when the cauliflower was soft, I put it in the food processor (a little at a time! My FP is TINY!) with a little butter and some parm cheese and blended it up. I continued to do this, every other batch mixing in some of the veggies I’d simmered. I also cooked the shrimps in the same bath as the veggies.
So the finished product was fettuccine noodles, topped with a buttery, parm-cheesy puree of steamed/simmered cauliflower, brocooli, mushrooms, red peppers, garlic, onions, and kalamata olives. I topped it with the shrimps and a little bit of fresh Italian parseley. My plate looked like this:
It was heaven. I ate the shit out of it, shovel-style, giant fork-fulls at a time.
YUM. Thanks, Kate!
(Sorry I’m a bad recipe-giver, but by now you guys should all know that Doniree’s Test Kitchen is most successful when ingredients are thrown together – haphazardly – and result in a final display of relatively simple deliciousness.
Oh, and drinking wine and kitchen dancing to Mark Wheat’s Friday night line up on 89.3 The Current makes it taste EVEN better.