The Second Half

Anything goes. Within the bounds of propriety, of course.

Broccoli demon lingers in cauliflower heaven: Day 2 — November 6, 2017

Broccoli demon lingers in cauliflower heaven: Day 2

So, the Earth did its rotation thingy and a new day dawned on my cauliflower project. After the euphoria of day one, I felt like something creamy for the next round. My thoughts strayed to the two options I typically debate in my head: mayonnaise with mustard or blue cheese sauce?

Frankly, I stick with those because they are easy to make, especially the first one. I mean, you just mix mayo with mustard and you’re done! Sometimes I add a spoonful or two of yogurt, depending on what else is in the dish to keep it from getting too rich.

I decided to go with blue cheese sauce. Since that’s quite the extravaganza in my book, I thought, “What the hell, let’s go wild and throw in some mushrooms!” And that’s what I ended up with: cauliflower with mushrooms and blue cheese sauce.

Cauliflower in blue 🙂

All right then, you have your steamed mixture of cauliflower and carrots. You’ll also need the following:

  • A few mushrooms (I had five mid-sized ones)
  • A little butter
  • Parsley
  • Ground black pepper

And these for the sauce:

  • 100ml of cooking cream (mine came in one of those small cartons)
  • 50g of blue cheese
  • 50ml of milk

And…action!

Cut the mushroom up however you want and throw them in the pan, where the melted butter is sizzling and beckoning. My two cents: use as little butter as possible because there’s plenty of fat in the sauce. Of course, if your attitude to butter and similar fats is summed up by “the more, the better,” don’t let me stop you.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, turn off the heat, sprinkle with black pepper and chopped parsley and give the mixture a few good final stirs. Then remove the pan, take a deep breath and proceed with the sauce.

Did you notice how I gave you exact measures for the sauce ingredients? People who have read my recipes know that I have quite the disdain for precise quantities, but I’ve come to realize that sometimes you just have to do what you’re told. This sauce is a case in point. The first time I made it, my passion for blue cheese got the better of me and I plonked in the entire piece, which was 100g. I tell you, it was a massive waste of material as the sauce turned out too salty. I may or may not have cried in anger and despair.

Anyway, here’s how you make the sauce. Pour the cream into a pan and bring to boil while stirring. Add the milk and the mashed blue cheese and keep stirring until the cheese fully melts.

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That’s it! All you have to do now is mix everything together, give it a few minutes to settle and proceed to devour with gusto. I think I gave my cats a scare because I was practically growling while I ate. I probably sound disgusting…Maybe I should just keep some things to myself.

See ya soon!

It had me at broccoli and blue cheese! — May 29, 2017

It had me at broccoli and blue cheese!

I tend to improvise a lot when cooking. I also go with my gut where quantities are concerned. That’s not to say I go completely rogue, but I generally use the amounts provided in recipes as more of a guideline than gospel.

What I just said does have a point, I promise. I’ll give you the recipe for a meal I cooked today and I must say it’s the tastiest thing to emerge from my kitchen in perhaps five years! Absolutely, insanely, indescribably delicious! I didn’t come up with the recipe. I’m not really an original in the kitchen; my creativity begins and ends with adding or removing ingredients and sometimes tweaking the serving suggestions.

I found this recipe on a website where I usually go for culinary inspiration or just an idea for a quick dinner. However, it’s a Bulgarian portal. Google Translate might be of some help but be prepared for quite a bit of guesswork and occasional examples of the ridiculous. In this particular case, you’ll get my help along with my personal choice for execution. Let me just repeat what I said in the beginning: I don’t deal with exact quantities so you might want to take a peek at the original recipe if you’re a stickler for such things.

So, what are we talking about here? It’s essentially chicken with vegetables and a scrumptious sauce.

1) The veggie mixture

I chose baby potatoes, carrots, sweet corn and broccoli. If I had any say in it, governments would pass a law making broccoli mandatory for daily intake! When I die, I want broccoli wreaths on my grave!

But back to the task at hand. Pick your favorite veggies and stir-fry them. I think I had about 450g of baby potatoes, two carrots, canned sweet corn (about 420g) and a head of broccoli weighing just under half a kilo.

I began with the potatoes as they require a bit longer to cook. Then in went the carrots, and the corn and broccoli joined towards the end. I like my broccoli crunchy, but if you prefer it well-cooked, you can add it earlier. Just a few pinches of salt here, nothing else. When the veggies are cooked, remove the pot, set it aside and get cracking on the chicken.

2) The chicken part

I had about 400g of chicken breast, but you can put as much as you want. Still, keep it reasonable: more than 600-700g would be overkill.

You can cut the meat into strips (as the original recipe suggests) or into mid-sized chunks, I don’t think it really matters. Season the pieces with a little salt and pepper. I recently bought one of those grinders that come with a mixture of peppercorns: black, white, red, green, some other color may have been inside as well, I’m not sure. So I used that on the meat. Then you just throw it in a pan and fry it until ready. Put this one aside too and start on the sauce.

3) The saucy bit

I suspect that my choice of this recipe had much to do with blue cheese being among the ingredients. Love, love, love it! But if you don’t, there’s no reason to give up on this dish. You can substitute blue cheese for another kind. Just make sure it’s some kind that will melt in water.

So, you need a piece of blue cheese and a small carton of sour cream. I had 100g and 200g, respectively. Pour about 150-200ml of water into a pan and bring it to a boil. It’s best to have the blue cheese mashed with a fork before you add it to the boiling water because it will melt faster. When it’s melted, add the sour cream and keep stirring until you get a smooth mixture. That should take less than five minutes.

And now you have all the parts ready! The original recipe calls for mixing the chicken and the sauce and serving it with the veggies on the side. However, I chose to mix all of them together in the pot where I’d cooked the vegetables. And I ended up with this:

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Is it any good? Well, let me put it this way: I nearly burst into tears when I tasted it! Tears of joy and pride, of course. The same thing happened a couple of years ago, when I tried my hand at another dish. I’ve since experimented a bit with it and made it even better (at least I think so) but I’ll tell you about it another time.

I really hope you give this recipe a try. It doesn’t take long to cook: depending on the vegetables you choose, it will be 30 to 40 minutes in all. If broccoli and blue cheese are things you love, you’ll be sobbing after your first bite. If not, you can pick veggies that you like and some other cheese and still end up with a mouth-watering meal. I believe that’s the secret of good cooking: take an idea and give it your own treatment!

Bon appetit! I’m off for a second helping.

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