Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

Cooking is one of my life’s passions, and I fancy myself quite the accomplished home chef. Like a lot of hobbies and passions, you never stop learning, do you? A couple of years ago, I discovered a recipe for Veal Paprika. The recipe encouraged me not to use your garden-variety paprika, but instead to find and shell out some decent cash for “smoked paprika (sweet)”. Besides salt and pepper, that was the only spice used in the dish. Okay, I thought. I’ll go find some. When I brought home my little tin and opened it to see what all the fuss was about, I literally swooned when that smoky oak scent wafted through my kitchen.

Sweet paprika
Smoked Paprika (Sweet) Pick some up today!

Needless to say the Veal Paprika I made was amazing, and there was no doubt in my mind that it was all down to the smoked paprika. In my home chef like mind, I thought I had discovered a spice that would revolutionize some of my standard dishes, like meatloaf, my pork roast tenderloins, perhaps a little in my homemade marinara sauce, or better yet…how would it taste if I added some to my homemade egg pasta?! I couldn’t wait to try it in every single thing I made…and I did, much to my family’s disappointment. During what was I think the sixth or seventh meal that I had added my new spice best friend to, I yammered on and on about it. I wanted to “add it to this and that dish, it would be great if I did this with it,” etc. etc. My daughter, ever patient with me, looked right at me, a tad bit of trepidation in her eyes, and said, “Uhm Dad, just cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

She was so right. I went a bit loopy cause I was excited by something new, something that I thought would add extra flavor and enhancements to my dishes that were already darn good to begin with (if I do say so myself).

Website creation is another of my life’s passions, and I know I’m quite accomplished at it because it’s how I’ve made my living for the past 13 years. And, the one thing I’ve learned when I’m building a site is to always tell myself “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Sure, I have the ability to use “exotic spices” like animations, flash, videos, music, etc., when I’m creating a website. But I won’t if it doesn’t enhance the overall “dish” or main focus of the website, because sometimes that extra flavor can just ruin the whole thing.

So if you’re looking at your existing website, or thinking about having one created, remember…just cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Oh, and in case you’re curious here’s my recipe for Veal Paprika (modified a bit from the original I found in a Williams Sonoma cookbook)

Veal Paprika

1lb of Roma Tomatoes
2lb of *boneless veal shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 green peppers, diced
4 tablespoons smoked paprika (sweet)
salt & pepper to taste
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)

What to do with it all:
Core and peel the skins of the tomatoes. Sounds easy, right? Well it is actually, here’s how to do it:

Get out a saucepan and fill it 3/4 of the way up with water and set it on the stove to boil. Meanwhile, use a paring knife and cut out the cores, and then cut an X on the opposite end. Get out a big bowl, fill it with water and some ice cubes…it needs to be cold! Then, when the water is boiling, stick the tomatoes and wait about 30 seconds, take `em out with a slotted spoon or strainer, and put `em in the big bowl filled with water and ice cubes. Let `em set in the water for a few seconds, take `em out…and peel off the skins with your fingers…they should just slide right off. Once all the skins are removed, cut each tomato in half, and carefully squeeze out the seeds, and then give all the tomatoes a coarse chop.

Now, in a dutch oven (which I prefer) or a heavy sauté or saucepan, warm up the olive oil to medium heat. When its “hot”, add the veal cubes in batches (don’t crowd the cubes!) and sauté gently until lightly seared on all sides (about 3-4 minutes per batch) and stick it on a plate and repeat with the next batch until you’re all done. Do NOT allow the cubes to brown! I can’t stress that enough.

Now that you’re all done searing the veal cubes, add the diced onion to the same pan (add more oil if you need to) and sauté until their translucent…about 3 minutes or so. Now…add the tomatoes, peppers, paprika, salt and pepper, and stir occasionally for a few minutes. Then, turn your heat down to medium-low and add all of the veal back into the pan and let cooked, uncovered, for a couple of hours. Stir gently every now and again…if the sauce gets too thick add a little bit of water.

That’s it. Get out a big server platter, cook up about 16 ounces worth of homemade extra wide egg noodles (you’ll have to email me for that recipe) and place it on the platter…and then top with the Veal Paprika and a little garnish of the chopped parsley.

*Note. If you can’t find boneless veal shoulder, try using flank steak, that works pretty good as well.