As promised, here I am again, on another Tuesday, with another recipe—only, after reading your comments on that last post, today doesn’t feel like just another Tuesday. In the time since we last spoke, I’ve received kind emails and comments full of wise words and advice, and I’ve found myself stepping back a little, at least internally, asking myself what exactly this space should be. (I’ve also found myself breaking down crying in a Trader Joe’s parking lot, but that’s just me being real.)
Today, while I’m bringing you a recipe for the craziest, creamiest cauliflower enchiladas that Tim and I made last week and ate again for two more meals (it serves four to six, just note that now), I’m also bringing you a few more thoughts, as they likewise come pouring out of me, and not in the abbreviated way I’d originally planned.
First off, if my last post felt too vulnerable to you, I should tell you that blogging isn’t always as pretty as it looks on the computer screen (not that it has always looked pretty on the computer screen, at least around here). If you could see behind the scenes, you’d know that sometimes, in order to meet my self-imposed deadline of getting a post up on Tuesday morning, I’m holed up in the bedroom Monday night, wishing words would come and feeling unsatisfied with the way they finally do. Other times, Tim and I are arranging our weekly plans around making and photographing new recipes, and we’re looking at this new weekly menu plan thing we’re doing, adding to the already existing considerations of schedules and costs the additional and ever-present thought of, but what will we blog? And, you guys, every time I finish a post and schedule it for a deadline, I feel an enormous relief. It’s kind of like turning in a research paper or making a speech or meeting a new person at a coffee shop for the first time. These aren’t things you don’t want to do, but they require effort, and so when you exert the necessary effort and then finish the task before you, it’s a tiny victory. It’s like lifting a weight off your shoulders. It’s wonderful.
(Until, of course, you have to do it all over again.)
When I describe it that way, I feel like I’m describing running marathons or competing in chess matches or something otherwise important and challenging. But you and I both know that what I’m talking about isn’t the kind of thing you win medals for—maybe awards, if you’re very popular, but not objective, fastest, smartest medals—this is blogging, remember?
Blogging’s little. It’s cute. It’s amateur.
I almost never talk about blogging with people who aren’t bloggers. (Those of you who are bloggers, do you?) I think I feel this complicated inner need to always talk with other people about the things that they find interesting instead. When I sense you don’t want to hear about my blog or, worse, that you’re asking about it to be nice, the way the kid in third grade sat with you at lunch because her mother told her to? I feel terrible it’s happening to you. I want to remove my blog from your consciousness. Let’s talk about TV or books or dinner instead! I’m so, so sorry for making you spend time thinking about this silly space. It’s just a blog. Geesh. Blogs. Who’s into those?
And I think that’s one of the biggest things I’ve been thinking about since Sunday and Monday, since I’ve been reading your comments and thinking through the dynamics of blogging being a hobby or blogging being an art or blogging being self-indulgence. My artist friend Jonathan said to me once that he felt bad telling Tim and me about his work because it seemed selfish, and I said, No! Anytime you communicate something true, it resonates with people! We need to hear your stories!
But then sometimes I look at our little blog and think, But well, that’s not the same thing.
So I guess what I’m saying is that reading your encouraging comments reminds me of truth: There IS value in sharing our stories, be it on a blog or through a painting or across a dining room table. There IS value in creating, reflecting the one who created us. There IS value in, as someone commented, building relationships, even across a computer screen.
But what is also clearly true is that I forget this. In the midst of my daily work of writing for money and then coming here to write for no money, I forget that there are greater rewards than paychecks and pageviews, even if no one around me gets that. Maybe you need to be reminded of it, too.
It’s true that in my current season of life, I need to be reevaluating how much and what kind of time I get to spend here. I need to consider a few more income-generating ideas that might make it possible to stick around as much as I have. But I also need to mentally rehearse the reality that connections and creativity are worth pursuing, however you can. Thank you for that.
Cauliflower Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce
Adapted from Feasting at Home
Serves four to six people
This recipe is a little fussier than I typically like, and while you’re making it you’ll have pans on the stove and in the oven, not to mention the sink. But it’s worth trying because (1) it demonstrates yet again the amazing potential of cauliflower and (2) one bite in to these vegetarian (!), delicious (!), unique (!) enchiladas, and you’ll wonder if you ever want any other kind again.
1 large head of cauliflower
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted; plus more for brushing enchiladas before baking
Salt and pepper
2 fresh poblano chiles
1/2 a large onion, chopped
12 ounces Queso fresco cheese, divided (or monterey jack or mozzarella, the original recipe said)
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
12 tortillas (we used sprouted corn)
for the poblano cream sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour (we used einkorn)
3 cups hot chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 cups yogurt
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F.
ROAST THE VEGETABLES:
Break apart the head of cauliflower into same-sized florets, placing them all in a large bowl. Add melted coconut oil and toss to coat all the florets with oil. Salt and pepper well. Place on a baking sheet or in a large roasting dish in the oven, roasting for 20 to 25 minutes, until they come out golden and slightly crisp. (Warning: Taste at your own risk because try one, and it will be hard not to eat them all.) At the same time, rub the poblanos with a little coconut oil and place on a baking dish in the same oven, letting them get blistered and blackened throughout. They’ll be ready about halfway through the cauliflower’s baking time. Take them out, place them in a bowl and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel while the peppers cool.
SAUTE THE ONION:
In a small saute pan, melt a little oil and then add the sliced onion. Saute until golden and fragrant over medium heat; set aside.
MAKE THE SAUCE:
Start by setting chicken or vegetable stock on the stove to heat it up; you’ll need it in a minute. Then, in a medium (not small!) saucepan over medium-low heat, melt three tablespoons of butter. Add three tablespoons of flour and let the mixture cook about five minutes, turning a lovely brown. Add one cup of the hot chicken or vegetable stock, and whisk it into the butter-flour mixture. Once well combined, add the rest of the stock, and stir until thick and bubbly. Next, add two cups of yogurt, and whisk until smooth. Leave on very low or remove from the heat.
CHOP THE PEPPERS:
By now, the cauliflower should be out of the oven and the poblanos, cooled. Under running water, rub off the blackened pepper skins, carefully tearing the peppers open and pulling out the seed pods and stems inside; rinse all the seeds away. Finely dice the peppers and divide in half. Place half the poblanos in the pan with the cauliflower, and add the other half to the sauce, whisking until smooth. Taste the sauce for salt and keep adding salt and tasting until it seems right. Bring the sauce back to a simmer, if necessary, and remove from heat.
Combine the tray of cauliflower and poblanos in a bowl with 2/3 of the crumbled queso fresco, the sauteed onion, half of the chopped parsley, cumin, coriander and a few cracks of pepper. Fold in 1 cup of the cream sauce. Taste for salt, and add if needed.
Now it’s time to make the enchiladas. Everything leading up to this has been prep work. Grease two 9 x 13 pans and place a little bit of the cream sauce in the baking pans, just enough to coat them and create a thin bottom layer.
If your tortillas are not already soft and pliable (i.e., if you’re using sprouted like we do), you may want to warm them in the oven or on a skillet just enough to make them easier to work with. Working one tortilla at a time, place a tortilla in your hand, dollop a few tablespoons of filling inside (enough to spread it evenly amongst the tortillas), roll up, and place, seam-side-down, on the sauce in the pan. We wedged ours up next to each other in order to make them stay better.
Brush with a little melted coconut oil, and place in the 400 F oven for 10 minutes until crispy and golden. Then cover with remaining sauce; sprinkle with remaining cheese; and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Garnish with the rest of the fresh parsley.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.