Alex Marsalek, Challenge 4

This week I prepared a beef and beer stew with cauliflower latkes.

I decided to make this dish because the mystery ingredients were all very hearty, so a stick-to-your-ribs dish made sense. The ingredients are easy to cook, but it was a challenge bringing them all together for a coherent dish. I have had cashew butter before but never the salted caramel kind. When I tasted it, the salted caramel flavor was very strong; it nearly overpowered the cashew flavor! Since the salted caramel flavor was so strong, I wanted to play off of and pair those flavors. The caramel flavor would complement the beer while the sweetness would balance out the onions and mustard.

In the end, I was very happy with the depth of flavors that were in the dish. One of my taste testers, my father, Ed, was a big help with the latkes. I have seen latkes made with vegetables besides potatoes, and I have made some before, but never with cauliflower. I was worried the moisture level in the cauliflower would be too different than the moisture level in potatoes, and the consistency wouldn't come out the same. He helped me narrow down what worked and didn't work with the latkes to produce one that is very similar in texture to the potato counterparts.

This makes me want to try making latkes with other vegetables now! Overall this competition has reminded me to keep pursuing new dishes and not to get too comfortable. There are endless possibilities with any set of ingredients. A simple but delicious meal can be made by any home cook as long as he or she has a little creativity.

Beef and beer stew with cauliflower latkes

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