Wee Sprouts
Pierre Reboul's Concord Grape Clafoutis

Russ Parsons' Garlicky Braised Cauliflower with Capers

Are you getting sick of Russ Parsons yet? I'm not, though I realize it might sometimes make for monotonous blogging when I post entry after entry about recipes of his I've made with success. I'll try and be more varied, I promise. In the meantime, drown yourself in a plateful of this cauliflower. You might think I'm kidding, but I ate an entire head of cauliflower prepared this way, in one sitting. I'll admit that it's all I had for dinner, so it might not really be as gluttonous as it sounds, but still!

Some people think cauliflower is a vegetable to be scorned, as it's usually cooked into a putrid state of wobbly cellulose. But I am here to tell you that this need not be the case. Caramelized cauliflower a la Orangette is a gorgeous thing, all crispy and nutty, but so is steamed cauliflower with a light and creamy mustard bechamel sauce (I'll post the recipe when I figure out where my stepmother found it) and definitely this braised dish, full of deep, sharp flavors and tender florets. I'd take out the capers next time, or at least use only those in brine and not the salted ones, as I practically burned my tongue off with the overload of salt (and lest you think I did not soak them enough, I am here to tell you that I did! Soak them for quite a while. Anyhoo.).

Now for those of you who hate anchovies, you who think they are little devil fish, with their hairy bones and their pungently fishy taste, I tell you to fear not the wee anchovy. It wants to make your dinner better, not worse! Melted into a puddle of warm oil, these fishlets give the dish a deep and lovely flavor that has nothing to do with funky marine aromas. Trust me, once you're forking into the cauliflower at the end, you won't even remember that there are anchovies, albeit in a most deconstructed state, lurking about.

To make this dish, mince up a few anchovies and let them melt slowly in a pan of hot oil.
Using a wooden spoon, I like to nudge the anchovies towards disintegration.
Add some chopped garlic and a healthy pinch of red-pepper flakes, cooking until the garlic has softened slightly. Then add a head of cauliflower florets and some water. With the top tightly on the pan, let the cauliflower cook over low heat for about 7 minutes, or until it's tender but not mushy. Remove the top and turn the heat up to cook off the water and concentrate the sauce. Add a handful of fresh, chopped parsley (and the capers, remembering my note from above). Eat with abandon.