The Second Half

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

Broccoli demon goes to cauliflower heaven: Day 1 — November 1, 2017

Broccoli demon goes to cauliflower heaven: Day 1

Those who’ve read my article on fruit and veggies know that I turn into a demon at the sight of broccoli, a fiend losing all regard for familial ties, any sense of propriety and basic human decency. Must-have-all-broccoli-no-touch-you-die…..that kind of thing.

While not as demented, my reaction to cauliflower may also seem unhinged. Domestic peace has endured due to the exceptionally fortunate fact that my son doesn’t much care for either broccoli or cauliflower.

What I’m going to do over the next few days is share with you how I consumed a massive head of cauliflower (not all at once, of course, I split it into several portions). These are concoctions I felt like trying out, but I won’t claim originality – it may very well be that some ideas have stuck during my frequent browsing of recipe sites. I don’t even know what to call them: some are neither properly cooked meals nor salads. What I can tell you for certain is that I found every single bite orgiastic!

To spare myself some keyboard clacking and your good selves reading time, here is something that unites all recipes: the cauliflower is steamed together with some sliced carrots and this is later mixed with the cooked portion of the meal. OK? So every recipe has this as its foundation. Quantities are entirely up to you.

Some of these combinations probably violate a rule or two or a dozen of proper cooking. I kindly ask you to note that I’m clueless as to said rules and I’m solely guided by my taste buds and intuition.

Now, let’s see what came out of my kitchen on day one.

Broccoli meets cauliflower in epic merger of near-equals 🙂

In addition to the steamed cauliflower-cum-carrots mixture, you’ll also need:

  • Some broccoli (I got the frozen variety because my store had no fresh broccoli right then and I couldn’t wait)
  • A cucumber
  • A couple of tomatoes
  • Chili pepper flakes
  • Cooking oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt (perhaps)

As I noted above, this is a hybrid of sorts. I may like veggies, but I’m not too keen on steamed ones; they are depressingly bland. But combine them with some stir-fried goodies and you bring a good thing into this world.

All you need to do is stir-fry the broccoli, adding the chili pepper flakes near the end. I love spicy dishes, but if you don’t, you can just use sweet pepper flakes. Mind the salt because the soy sauce has plenty of it.

 

broccoli flakes
Phase 1: broccoli done

 

And that’s all the cooking, I kid you not! I mean, involving heat and some stirring. Remove the pan, add the cauliflower and carrots and mix well. I suggest leaving this to cool before proceeding to the next step.

 

mixture
Phase 2: broccoli mixed with steamed veggies

 

Once the mixture has cooled down, grab that cucumber and the tomatoes and chop them up, in as small or as large pieces as you want, in whatever shape pleases you. Add them to the pan and mix carefully so as not to squish the tomatoes.

 

final
Phase 3: all done

 

What next? Just scoop some of it onto a plate, drizzle with soy sauce and tuck in!

I realize I’m excessively biased in this case, but I have to tell you I was stuffing my face to the sound of heavenly trumpets and angel choirs. It was all in my head, of course, and I plan to seek professional help. That said, I hope somebody is intrigued enough to give this a try and get back to me with a comment. Happy cooking, fellow broccolites and/or cauliphiles!

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:

IMG_20170529_173644

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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