I have a very small repertoire of idiot-proof recipes that I make on a rotating basis. But every once in a while I get stupidly ambitious and try something different in the kitchen. More often than not, it ends up in disaster. Back in late September I took a couple of classes at a co-op in an effort to expand my culinary horizons. Thus emboldened, I’ve tried out a few of them over the past few weeks, with vary degrees of success or failure.
The first class was on fermenting vegetables. I’ve attempted sauerkraut twice so far. The first time I didn’t really have the right bowl for crushing the cabbage (a flat bottomed wood one works best) so I made a bit of a mess. Actually, more like a pretty big mess. My second attempt, after purchasing a more appropriate bowl and a decent mallet, was considerably more successful. I’m hopeful the third try will be the charm. Thus emboldened, I gave kimchi a try. From a taste perspective, it wasn’t terrible but the overwhelmingly pungent stench of garlic threatened to ruin everything else in the refrigerator. So I consigned it to the trash, where it stank up the entire garage until garbage day.
My second class was on Paleo cooking. We learned three basic recipes with flavor variations. The first was a very simple veggie dip that I’ve managed to make twice now without screwing it up. The second was meatballs. My first attempt at the meatballs was pretty good and my husband made a few suggestions for the second try. One was to accompany them with a marinara sauce. Of course I was stupid enough to try making the sauce from scratch. Which took FOREVER. But the end result was tasty enough to make this recipe a keeper.
Today’s overly ambitious experiment involved making pizza using cauliflower “dough” for the crust. Cauliflower is a popular substitute for starches among the low carb crowd. It’s used for “rice” and “mashed potatoes.” I’ve tried the latter and it’s actually pretty tasty, especially with the addition of an enormous quantity of butter. The trick to making the pizza crust is to rice the cauliflower in a food processor and then steam it. With the addition of an egg and shredded cheese, it makes a passable crust.
My efforts were once again undermined by the lack of proper tools. I have a tiny food processor, so I had to chop the cauliflower in many tiny batches. A lot ended up on the counter and the floor. I don’t have a proper steamer, so I bought a crappy little folding one at Target. It was too small to hold much, so I steamed it in three batches. Towards the end of the third round, I noticed a burning smell, which I attributed to the cauliflower I had spilled all over the stove. Turned out to be the pot burning because I had let all of the water boil away.
So, I managed to make a hideous mess of the entire kitchen, ruin a pot and spend 90 minutes in the process. All to make a couple of pizza-like crusts which took another 30 minutes to cook. The end result tasted decent, but I’m not sure I can afford the collateral damage that might result from another attempt.