I say “little” because it had been a day full of recipe testing and I felt like keeping things simple.
I call it cozy because the spoonfuls of tender wine-steamed cauliflower bathed in a creamy shrimp sauce were warm and comforting, the essence of koselig.
Americans have been fascinated in recent years with hygge—the word that describes the coziness and wellbeing in the Scandinavian lifestyle. They’ve adopted the Swedish concept of lagom, with its “just enough” approach to life. (Think moderation, packaged in a more appealing way.) And then there’s fika, that reversal of the syllables in kaffe or coffee. They don’t seem to have caught on to the Norwegian kos or koselig as much yet, however.
With words like hygge and koselig, it’s important to realize that they do not translate exactly to cozy or coziness. There’s something about the definitions that are wrapped up in a way of life. It’s not as simple as adding soft textures and candles around one’s home, although the environment one creates is certainly part of it. It’s a way of life that includes hospitality and enjoying time in nature, eating good food, and finding contentment.
As someone who loves being at home but is also quite social, I love the idea of a koselig lifestyle. To me, it looks like long mornings spent making art with my children, leisurely evenings reading a good book, hosting dinners for friends, and occasionally giving myself permission to keep things simple.
That’s where today’s Norwegian recipe comes in.
I first encountered cauliflower with shrimp sauce in Authentic Norwegian Cooking by Astrid Karlsen Scott. It wasn’t one of those dishes I grew up with, but the flavors intrigued me. After researching different ways to prepare it, I set out to create my own version, one that would come together quickly and easily.
A typical dinner at my home involves the standard components: protein, vegetables, and some sort of grain or starch for those who wish to eat it. A meal like this takes time and collaboration; the kids set the table, my husband and I cook. On this particular night, however, my husband was away and I had spent the day recipe testing. Simplicity was in order. After the cauliflower steamed–a process that requires little effort from the cook–I made a quick creamy sauce and stirred in the shrimp to heat it through. That was it. Dinner–our cozy little meal–was served.
I could have just ordered pizza or takeout and avoided a couple of dirty pans, but the effort–though slight–was worth it for theexperience of nourishment I still managed to provide for my family. Now that, to me, feels like the essence of a koselig life.
Wine-Steamed Cauliflower with Creamy Shrimp Sauce
I’ve seen different ways to make this dish, from whole cauliflower to cutting the cauliflower into florets. I prefer the latter, as it makes for easy serving and ensures that the creamy sauce seeps into each bite. I chose to steam the cauliflower with white wine to infuse the vegetable with a special touch. Plus, the cooking liquid is incorporated into the sauce, making it extra flavorful. Serve with the remaining wine, well chilled, if you wish.
1 large cauliflower
2 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 pound small shrimp, cooked and peeled
Chopped curly-leaf parsley, for garnish
Trim the leaves and stem from the cauliflower, and cut it into large florets.
In a large pot, bring water, wine, and salt to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cauliflower. Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender but still firm, about 20 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to a serving dish using a slotted spoon; cover to keep warm. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid and add to the milk.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until it absorbs all the butter. Gradually whisk in the milk and cooking liquid, letting the sauce thicken slightly with each addition before adding more. continue to whisk constantly until it’s thick enough to coat a spoon. Stir in the shrimp and allow it to heat through.
Pour the shrimp sauce over the cauliflower. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
PHOTOS: All photographs by me, except for the ones with the turquoise dress, taken by my wonderful mom.
UPDATE: Find even more seafood recipes in my book!