Friday, October 15, 2010

Something Tasty This Way Comes...

I don't know how many of you watch the TV show "Chopped" on Food Network, but it's a favorite in the Goodlaff household.  The premise is this: four chefs compete to win $10,000, but they have to cook dishes that include the four mystery ingredients inside a basket.  Everyone gets the same ingredients, and sometimes they get crazy things that they have to cook with: Flank steak, chicory, granola bars, and pepino melon; treviso, octopus, lotus root, and guava nectar.  There are three rounds: appetizer, entree, and dessert, and after each round, the person who cooked the worst dish (for whatever reason) gets Chopped. 

Mr. Goodlaff and I are both really into cooking, and I also love to bake.  Early on in our relationship, we decided to cook dinners together once a week, every Thursday night. Once we moved in together, we cooked together more and more often, trying new recipes and techniques and cuisines. It made us better cooks, but I think it also helped make us better partners.  We had to work together to prepare dinner, and trust that the other person knew how to properly cook the chicken, chiffonade the basil, or not brown the butter. We had many great successes, and quite a few misses (cocoa coated pork with sesame seeds—not so much), but learning to cook together has been a great adventure.

Every now and then, we do a Chopped-style challenge, where we try to use random ingredients sitting around the house to make new, exciting dishes. Cooking a new recipe is great, but there's something about the possibility of complete and total food failure that makes experimenting so much fun!  So, even though it's not strictly wedding-related, I present to you the recipe from our latest "Chopped” night: Cauliflower Tacos.

What you need:
Taco Seasoning (we use this recipe, minus some of the chili powder, but you could use a seasoning packet)
1/4 cup of water
1/2 to 3/4 cup of sour cream
Your favorite taco fixin's

What to do:
Cut cauliflower (including some stems) into small, hamburger-esque bits.
Boil or steam the cauliflower until it's soft, but hasn't lost all of its crunch.
Place your taco seasoning in a saucepan over medium low heat, and start streaming in the water. You may not need all of it. Your sauce should be about the consistency of a marinade--not too thick, but not runny either. Once you have a good consistency on your sauce, add about a half to three quarters of a cup of sour cream (whatever your tastes--adding more sour cream will mellow the taco seasoning's heat). Stir in and heat through.
Toss your sauce with the warm, cooked cauliflower and then build your tacos with your fixin's of choice. The cauliflower turns out nice and creamy, and it's an interesting alternative to beef.

We had it for dinner last night, and I couldn't wait to have the leftovers for lunch today!  Tastiness!

Have any of you experimented and come up with great recipes (or cautionary tales)?

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