The days and nights are very cold now. I drink cup after cup of hot tea and hot chocolate in an effort to comfort myself from the cold. These cold days call for some comforting food too. I made a dish a few weeks ago that my mom hailed as "great comfort food," but when I tell you the main ingredient, you may be surprised! The dish is called, "puffed cauliflower cheese" and I made the recipe, because the title intrigued me so much. Until that day, I never would have pictured cauliflower as a potential comfort food, but the dish turned out warm, hearty, and satisfying.
1 medium head cauliflower, broken into small florets
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Some of the commenters had complained about the cooking process taking too long. I read the recipe and I realized that I knew some tricks to make the cooking easier and shorter. Knowing that I had some tricks to share was another reason why I chose this recipe.
On to the recipe!
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Step two leads me to my first trick-the original recipe tells you to boil the cauliflower, but I never boil or steam vegetables anymore. Instead I follow the directions on the Ziploc Zip'n Steam bag. So much easier!
3.Melt the butter in a small pan. Stir in the flour, and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk, and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in most of the bread crumbs. Remove from the heat, and stir in the egg yolks, cheese, and finally cauliflower.
4.Whip the egg whites in a large glass or metal bowl until stiff.
This is trick #2-If you've got a KitchenAid mixer, use it! Doing this by hand would take a long time, but the mixer mixes so fast that the egg whites were stiff in no time. It was pretty cool!
Fold the cauliflower mixture into the egg whites. Transfer to a ceramic or glass 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs on top.
This is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven-a bright, cheery yellow!
And this is what it looks like when it's about to go into my mouth! Yum!
Besides food, there's another kind of comfort that many people need this time of year. The holiday season is a time when many people become depressed or anxious. It's hard not to be when the media pushes us to have the "perfect" social gathering. During the holidays, we're supposed to make the perfect meals at the perfect family and friends get-togethers where we're supposed to give the perfect presents. We spend our days thinking about the things we want and the things we need to do, which causes deep dissatisfaction. It also causes an inability to be grateful for what we have and to live in the moment. The peace and goodwill that we are supposed to feel at Christmas, in reality, is often absent. This week the advent theme is peace. I find the many passages about peace in the Bible to be comforting when I am stressed out. Here is one:
8 In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
It helps when I read these words, to close my eyes and meditate upon them. I am trying to slow down my pace, so that I can enjoy the moment and can feel some inner peace, which is so important to my recovery. Last week, I made some decisions that made me very stressed out, because all I could think about was how people were going to react to my decisions. I spent so much time and energy worrying that last Friday I ended up not being able to attend an event, because I was too tired. Of course, once I finally talked with the people I needed to, I discovered that there had been no reason to worry! I am trying to let last week's intense worrying be a lesson to me. I want peace to enter into my soul this week and not spend my time worrying so much. Advent is a time when we wait for the coming of the Prince of Peace. Let us make room for his peace to enter in our hearts.