I was cooking for a small dinner party last night and had two recipes in mind. We were having the get together at a friend’s house, so I had to cart all my ingredients over there. Needless to say, I forgot a couple of key ingredients which made me totally revamp the recipes.
I used a tagine for the first time and a beautiful, huge cast iron skillet I received for my birthday. Originally I was going to make Carrot and Potato Tagine with Peas. Well, I forgot both the carrots and the peas. Ugh! My second dish was to be a Three Cheese Curried Cauliflower au Gratin. Except my dear friend, who only has one pot and one pan as she doesn’t cook, had no flour to thicken the cream sauce. Really, my friend? No flour? Okay, time to think quick on my feet…and I only had an hour before company was to arrive.
First, I took out the butter. Double cream Devonshire butter, absolutely fantastic! I put the tagine on the fire, the large, cast iron skillet, the small pan my friend had, and her pot. Butter went into everything. (Not Paula Deen portions, mind you.) My friend washed off some small potatoes and chopped some shallots while I cut the cauliflower into florets and the butter began to melt. I chopped some garlic and gave it a couple of minutes in the butter. I added the cauliflower to the tagine and tossed it in the minimal butter and garlic. Then added a little organic chicken stock, just enough so there would be liquid in the tagine as the cauliflower steamed. What I noticed about the tagine, is the lid is perfect for capturing the steam and cooking whatever is in it without too much heat. I’m now in love with my tagine where I was once afraid to use it… I thought I’d crack it by putting it on direct flame, but that didn’t happen. With the cauliflower cooking, a added some more chopped garlic to a small pan, then after a few minutes, added shallots and let them caramelize which takes patience. Then I took the halved potatoes and covered them in cold water and added a vegetable bouillon. I let them boil until for tender, but not at all mushy as I wanted the potatoes and cauliflower to keep their shape so the dish didn’t look like mush. Next was the large skillet. After I melted a little butter, I added some Indian spices to the hot pan: cardamom seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin, and turmeric, about a tablespoon of each. I stirred to allow the flavors to develop. The smell was intoxicating. My friend found some frozen carrots, string beans, peas, and corn. Why not, I figured. And I added them to the skillet with some vegetable bouillon and chicken stock. There were a lot of vegetables, so the salt content wasn’t too much. I tossed the veggies and let them gently simmer in the seasoned juice.
Back to the cauliflower. It had steamed perfectly and with so much flavor from the chicken stock. I took it off the flame. Soon the potatoes were done and I drained them. And the shallots were caramelized beautifully. The liquid was reducing from the pan of vegetable sauce, so I added the shallots and the cauliflower with it’s juice. I then added some curry powder for a bit of added taste and color. I turned off the heat. I added the drained potatoes back to the pot with more butter and a good amount of chopped flat leaf parsley and put it aside. Lastly, I made a cheese sauce with three kind of cheese: Cantal, Emmental, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I added two pints of heavy cream, and more butter to help it thicken. When the cheese melted and the sauce came together, I added it to the spiced vegetable mixture. The vegetables maintained their integrity so it had a nice array of textures, and I served the parsley potatoes on the side. I probably would have added the potatoes to the skillet as well, but had no more room.
I don’t know what you would call this dish. To me, I made it in a whirlwind, so I dubbed it my “Crazy Curry”. Bottom line, it looked good, but smelled and tasted fabulous! Everyone went for seconds of both the curried vegetable mixture as well as the potatoes. It was a hit!
My suggestion to making your own variation of this dish would be to make sure you use enough stock &/or bouillon, and butter. The cauliflower and potatoes need to absorb some salt. Next time I would make a roux and thicken the cheese sauce a bit. And, had I more time, I would have liked to have added curry leaves and some other spices in my repertoire. I’m so sorry I didn’t take a picture. I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table and had served everyone right away while everything was still hot. (Another plus of both the tagine and cast iron, they both maintain their heat.) When we had all dug in, my friend reminded me we didn’t take a picture. So, I guess I’ll just have to make it again… With pleasure.
So, that’s my “Crazy Curry” experience. I hope you were somewhat entertained. 🙂