First newlywed kiss

It’s official. The last Githens brother is happily married up.

Andy and Jessie took their vows on the shore of Lake Conroe near Houston, although the balmy southeast Texan air could have fooled me into believing we were on the Gulf of Mexico. Turns out that’s no accident; Galveston is only an hour and a half to the south, where the newlyweds shipped out on Sunday for a honeymoon cruise.

Dillan as the flowergirl

Andy’s daughter Dillan, in this her third appearance as a flower girl, even agreed to toss the flower petals as she walked down the aisle—she had nothing to do with this nonsensical notion at Tommy and Molly’s wedding.

Exchanging rings

Jessie looked radiant, as you can see.

Father-daughter dance

Dillan stole the show on the dance floor.

Playing with fire ants

And Uncle Tommy and Uncle Mikey generally caused mischief, as pictured here toying with fire ants.

If we did one thing while we were in the Lone Star State, we feasted. We ate legit Texas roadhouse BBQ—twice—, a seven-course Italian-American rehearsal dinner, and for the wedding reception, honest-to-goodness Brazilian churrascaria. I’m still stuffed to the gills with steak, sausage, chicken, pancetta, chorizo, and yes, bacon-wrapped filet mignon.

And did I mention the chocolate cake? And IHOP pancakes? And Tommy Bahamas deep-fried shrimp? Hooh boy. By the time we arrived at the Oakland Airport I needed some vegetables.

Earlier this week I had designs to cook kale, or Swiss chard, or some equally nutritious leafy green that waves like a flag in the grocery cart, announcing, “Look at me! I’m a healthy eater!”

Obnoxious, I know.

But then I stumbled across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, whose scrumptious food photography entices me to cook everything she blogs about, even quizzically named recipes like Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake.

Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake

This recipe is a quirky glamorpuss. It’s the kind of dish you bring to brunch and people say, “Wow!” and then, “What is that?” But despite the eclectic mix of ingredients it’s not too fussy to pull together, with the exception of buttering the springform pan, lining it with parchment paper, and then buttering it again… I’d be tempted to simply butter the pan next time.

The end result is a savory dish that falls somewhere between a crustless quiche and a riff on a Spanish tortilla (as in: egg-and-potato tortillas, not the Mexican variety used for wrapping burritos). I followed Smitten Kitchen’s recommendation and served this “cake” of sorts with a green salad.

My one complaint is that for a dinner entrée, the flavor of the cooked onion and cauliflower is a tad sweet for my liking. But as the Githens boys have taught me, it’s nothing a shake of hot sauce can’t fix.

My dining companion

Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake

As adapted by Smitten Kitchen. Originally by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Serves 6 to 8

1 medium cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds)
1 large red onion, peeled
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
10 medium or 8 large eggs
Handful basil, chopped
Scant 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 generous cup of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (feel free to use more!)
Salt and black pepper
Butter, for greasing pan
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (I used poppy seeds by mistake… no harm done)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) degrees. Break cauliflower into medium florets (this will cause less mess than chopping it). Place floret in a pot with a teaspoon of salt, cover them with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite soft. Strain and let drip in the colander for a few minutes so they dry and cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Halve your red onion and cut a few thin rings off the end of one side; set them aside. Coarsely chop the remainder of your onion. Heat all of your olive oil in a saucepan (I won’t tell if you use the one where you cooked your cauliflower) and saute the chopped red onion and rosemary together until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Whisk eggs and olive oil and onion mixture together. Stir in basil. Whisk flour, baking powder, turmeric, cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (use 1 teaspoon if you are nervous about this amount) and many, many grinds of black pepper together in a separate bowl and add to egg mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Stir in cauliflower gently, so most pieces remain intact.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch (24 cm) round springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides generously. Put the sesame seeds in the pan and toss them around so that they stick to the sides. Pour in the cauliflower batter, arrange the reserved onion rings on top and bake cake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Remember to run a knife around the pan before removing the sides of the springform pan.

Lastly, I have no idea how to tie this song into this post except to say: listen to it. Consider it a slice of Texas to enjoy with your supper: Way Out Here, by Josh Thompson.