Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mashed Cauliflower and Cajun Parmesan Chicken

Let's have dinner! 

I got the original mashed cauliflower recipe from Albert Burneko at Foodspin.  He cusses a lot, but that's because he's one of those East Coast city boys who's trying to compensate for the fact that he actually lives there by choice.  Whatever--the dude can cook.  I've tweaked his recipe a little because that's how I roll.

I started with orange cauliflower, since it was on sale, tastes the same, and has lots of that Beta Carotene that us old folks need in order to put off the day when we run our Cadillacs into the side of a building because we didn't see it.  On top of that, you'll need whole milk, or heavy cream, or evaporated milk(which I went with).  Also, a heapin' helpin' of cream cheese, some black pepper, a whole mess of grated Parmesan and a couple of tablespoons of minced garlic because, garlic.  Preheat the oven to 400.

The first thing to do is shave all the leaves and trunk off the cauliflower(which I swear has been genetically altered to be fully half leaves and trunk), and then chop it up into sections, which will reduce your steaming time.  I realized, just before I started, that I did not, alas, have a steamer pot.  However, I do have an electric wok, a large pot screen and some water, so with a bit of redneck engineering, I had it steamed in a little under 30 minutes.

Now, let's toss our steamed cauliflower in the blender with the rest of the ingredients:  about a cup of milk, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, a dusting of black pepper, a pinch of salt and the garlic.  Blend to a smooth consistency and pour into a baking dish.  Break out some grated mozzarella or whatever cheese crust you fancy, and top your cauliflower with a layer of cheese, a bit more black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake about 20 minutes, or until the surface starts to brown and bubble.

(Sorry about some of the blurry shots--my camera's apparently decided to be slow on the uptake at random.) 

Now the Cajun Parmesan Chicken.  Ramp the oven up to 450, and break out your chicken.  I'm using tenderloins, but any Boneless Skinless Chicken Parts will do.  You'll need some grated Parmesan, some bread crumbs of some sort--Panko, Italian, Plain, whatever--and Boar's Head Remoulade, which I picked up at Fry's one day and decided I'd better do something with.

(Ignore the beer, it has nothing to do with the was what I was drinking when I put all this together.)  Mix equal parts Parmesan and bread crumbs.  Coat your chicken with the remoulade, dredge it in the bread crumbs, and toss it on a lined baking sheet.  Bake 15-20 minutes.

Jen gave it a thumbs-up, and we definitely have leftovers on the cauliflower, which will give us side dishes for the rest of the week.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A few words about beer-boiled brats

Now, let's get things clear; we're speaking of bratwurst.  German sausage.  Under no circumstances should you boil your children in anything, even if they did just wreck the new Benz.

Jen was all nostalgic for a taste of the Northland, so we did up some beer-boiled brats(pronounced "brahts").  For those who are curious about this delicacy, a few tips are in order, thus:

1)  Johnsonville is synonymous with bratwurst.  Period, end of story.  Ask anybody from Minnesota, Wisconsin or any other north-central state--if it ain't Johnsonville, it ain't a real brat.

2)  When beer-boiling, use a real, straight-up German beer, such as Beck's.  This will add something amazing and wonderful to the brats, known as "flavor."  Cooking with American corporate beer is on the level of using soda water, for all the taste it ends up adding.

3)  Use just enough beer to cover the brats in your pan/skillet/whatever.  Boil, covered, for about 10-12 minutes and they're ready to go.

4)  Brat purists top them with sauerkraut only, though some people consider relish and/or mustard to be acceptable toppings.  If you put ketchup on a brat in Minnesota, I'm pretty sure you can be legally shot.

It's a simple and hearty meal.  Give it a try sometime!

Playing with fire

So I got a birthday present from my wife...something I've wanted for years.

Yep, it's a welder.  It won't build a battleship or anything, but it's pretty good for anything I'd need to do.  Once I got everything set up, I decided to take a couple of lengths of scrap rebar and an old washer and make my first project.

It now hangs on my garage wall.  Thank You, Lord, for all the blessings You've bestowed upon me.  Please help me never to take them for granted.