Creamy, Cheesy, Mashed Cauliflower

Creamy, cheesey, mashed cauliflower
Creamy, cheesy, mashed cauliflower

     Hello all my loyal readers. How are you enjoying “National Barbecue Month”? If you follow Griffin’s Grub on Facebook (and you really should), you probably saw how I feel about “National BBQ Month”. Not a fan. First off…one month? Like we grill/BBQ one month a year? Second, all the people jumping on the bandwagon…TV personalities, morning talk shows, radio, magazines, newspapers and even bloggers coming out of the woodwork offering tips and advice. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust the advice of somebody who grills/BBQs one month a year telling me what or how to cook something.

     So what am I doing to celebrate “National BBQ Month”? How about bringing you a totally non grilled (or barbecued dish) cooked on that oversized clock/timer thingee located in everybody’s kitchen…mashed cauliflower. Yeah, yeah…its probably been beaten to death by others already, but since I can’t eat potatoes I needed to find something to eat with all those meals that just scream out for mashed potatoes. Like meatloaf. And fried chicken. And chicken fried steak…mmmm…chicken fried steak…drool.

If you think you don't like cauliflower, try it like this just one time. For me?
If you think you don’t like cauliflower, try it like this just one time. For me? Please?

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (plus a bit more for garnish)
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese (sorry, didn’t measure that out, just grated into the food processor)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 green onion, optional (for garnish)
Cauliflower boiling away. Its really not the most appealing, mouth watering vegetable out there being all white.
Cauliflower boiling away. It’s really not the most appealing, mouth watering vegetable out there being all white.

Directions

  1. Remove the leaves and chop up the cauliflower. Rinse in a colander.
  2. Peal two large cloves of garlic.
  3. Bring water to a boil (don’t forget to salt your water). Add your cauliflower and garlic and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the cauliflower and then return to the hot pot and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. (This will help some of the excess moisture to evaporate)
  5. Add the cauliflower, butter and cheeses into a food processor. Pour in about half the milk, and pulse.  Add more milk if needed to reach your desired consistency.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Top with extra cheddar cheese and green onions.
Pulsing away in a food processor. Kinda looks like white baby food, doesn't it?
Pulsing away in a food processor. Kinda looks like white baby food, doesn’t it?

     I included in the ingredients 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. That’s just a guideline. You may like things more or less salty that I do and depending on what kind and how much Parmesan cheese you use, you may need to adjust. Sorry I didn’t measure the Parmesan cheese. I just grated it over the food processor until I thought it was right.

Pour the cauliflower into a bowl and garnish with green onions.
Pour the cauliflower into a bowl and garnish with green onions.

I thought the above picture looked a little boring. What to do? Add more cheese. Cheese is good for you. It’s got calcium and “stuff”.

Doesn't that look more appetizing?
Doesn’t that look more appetizing?

And what should we serve our creamy, cheesy, mashed cauliflower with? How about fried chicken?

Fried chicken and creamy, cheesey, mashed cauliflower.
Hey Doc,  I don’t know if you are still following my blog or not, but you can just ignore that fried chicken. I really didn’t eat it, I promise. 😉

     I’m not going to lie to you like some other bloggers would and pump you full of false hopes and promises. You plop this down in front of a potato loving guy or gal (like me), don’t expect to pull the wool over their eyes. They are going to know that this isn’t their beloved mashed ‘taters. No, the flavor and the texture just aren’t right. Cauliflower is sweeter than potatoes and they are going to notice. That being said, it was pretty darn tasty. If your eaters have an open mind and/or can’t have potatoes for whatever reasons, this is a good substitution. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Mrs. G was a bit skeptical and only put a little bit on her plate. After sitting down and tasting it, she immediately went back and added more. That, to me, says something and I’m happy knowing that I now have something that I can fix with fried chicken (just so you know, Doc, this is the first time in 2 months I’ve had fried chicken), meatloaf, chicken fried steak, turkey…you get the idea…whatever you would normally serve mashed ‘taters with.

What I’d Do Differently

     Not much needs changing with this one. Mrs. G asked if maybe we could cut down the milk and cheese and butter to make it a bit more healthy. We could probably try that. I’d like to maybe let the cauliflower sit a bit longer after draining it so more of the moisture would evaporate or maybe bake it off at 350 for 10 minutes just to get it to firm up a bit more, but it was good the way it was. For sure, we’ll be having it again. And soon. 🙂

 

Flat Iron Steak Salad w/ a Horseradish Dressing

 

Manly Salad
Manly Salad

     We’ve got another healthy recipe for you. Or a semi-healthy one, anyway. Are you getting sick of healthy recipes? Even though this one includes beef and grilling? I know salads get boring…trust me. I’ve been eating enough of them. If you have to eat a salad, why not make it a manly salad with steak? I am sure you women will like it just as much, I know Mrs. G did. 😉

     Don’t get anxious when you see the list of ingredients for this salad. Nothing to be intimidated about. Sure there are a bunch of items, but you can make your salad as simple or as complex as you want. You can opt to use your favorite salad dressing instead of making the Horseradish Dressing, but I highly recommend you try this one. The bite from the horseradish really plays well with the beef.

Red Wine Marinade

  • 1 lb flat iron steak
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 4-6 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

Place your flat iron steak in a large gallon Zip-lock bag. Add in the ingredients for the marinade, squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours up to overnight. When ready to grill, remove the meat, pat dry with a paper towel and apply your favorite steak rub (we used Dizzy Pig’s Raising the Steaks which is similar to a Montreal Steak Seasoning).

Horseradish Dressing

  • 1 cup  mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated horseradish (yes, freshly grated, not out of a jar. I’m not sure how much you would use if you use the jarred stuff)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (we like Louisiana hot sauce, but Franks or Tabasco or whatever you prefer will be fine)

In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, horseradish, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the dressing for 1 hour.

Salad Options

  • mixture of lettuces (we like to use the bags of Spring Mix which has a variety of flavors and textures)
  • tomatoes (grape, cherry, plum, whatever you like)
  • red onions, thinly sliced
  • green onions
  • nuts or seeds
  • cucumbers
  • any other vegetables you may like in your salad
  • cheese (freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, Bleu cheese, Gorgonzola or Feta would all work nicely)
Grilling the steak
Grilling the steak

     Ok, you’ve marinated your steak for at least four hours, you’ve mixed up your dressing and its chilling in the fridge doing its thing, flavors marrying and mingling away. Time to get started. Fire up your gas or charcoal grill to high. My Egg was running about 600F for this cook. Take your flat iron steak out of the marinade and pat dry (wet steaks don’t sear, they steam). Apply your favorite steak rub liberally to both sides and toss it on the grill. You are going to want to grill it for about 4 minutes, flip and continue grilling for another 4 minutes or until it reaches your desired temperature (we were shooting for 135).

This is what ours looked like when we pulled it at 135 and let rest for 10 minutes.
This is what ours looked like when we pulled it at 135 and let rest for 10 minutes.

       Now we’ve talked about this before, but let’s go over it one more time. DO NOT slice up your steak when you pull it off the grill. You want all those juices to spill out leaving you with a dried out steak? No? I didn’t think so. Loosely cover your steak with foil and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the temperature of the steak to carry over a few more degrees, allow the meat to relax and the juices to reabsorb. It is worth it to give it time to rest.

Your patience will be rewarded when you slice into the meat.
Your patience will be rewarded when you slice into the meat.

     While you are waiting for your meat to rest, go ahead and toss your salad with the horseradish dressing, coating every bite in creamy deliciousness. Maybe scrape down the grates on your grill. Possibly enjoy the remainder of the wine you used in the marinade if you haven’t done so already. Once the meat has rested for 10 minutes, slice it against the grain in thin strips. Cut it on a bias if you are so inclined.

That's a salad any man can enjoy.
That’s a salad any man can enjoy.

     After you have sliced the meat, pile up your salad on a plate. Lay the strips on top of the salad and then add your cheese. We opted for thin shaved slice of Parmesan cheese for our salad.

Time to enjoy
Time to enjoy

     We were both extremely happy with this salad. The meat was tender and melted in our mouths. The horseradish dressing paired beautifully with it. Creamy with a bit of tanginess and just the slightest bit of heat. Not to strong, but enough to compliment the beef. It was enough to fill me up and satisfy me.

What I’d do Differently

     I’m not sure I would use the red wine in the marinade. Yes,the acidity and the alcohol helped to tenderize the meat, but it really didn’t add anything flavor wise. No…I think I’ll save the wine for the cook next time and use a different liquid for a tenderizer. I would probably also use the Gorgonzola cheese that I specifically bought for this salad and then promptly forgot. I think it would have gone perfectly with the beef and the horseradish. Whoops on my part.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Spaghetti and Meatballs

     Sorry Folks, I don’t have any interesting stories to go along with this post. No story about cute kids calling it “sketti”. No stories about sitting in my Italian Grandmother’s kitchen while she loving prepared her meatballs. In fact, as far as I know, I don’t have any Italian blood in me. But what I do have is an appreciation for meatballs.

     Growing up as a kid, I loved spaghetti and meatballs. I mean what kid doesn’t. As I grew older, my tastes changed and I began to experiment trying every dish on the menu. There wasn’t a plate of Italian food that I didn’t like. A few years ago, that started to change again. The spaghetti and meatballs that I had passed over as to plain, simple and childlike started to become a go to meal for me. Especially if I was trying out a new Italian place for the first time. There’s just something about it…what seems like such a simple item to prepare can be so easily screwed up in so many ways. Too dense, dried out, flavor less, too much flavor. The meatballs became a way for me to gauge the quality of the restaurant. I mean if they can’t get a meatball right, how can they possibly prepare more elaborate dishes?

     All that being said, I wanted to try my hand out at making meatballs. As critical as I am on restaurants, I knew this was going to be no easy challenge. After looking up countless recipes online and comparing them, I finally decided to go with the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. After all, “America’s Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.” If they don’t know what they are doing, who does?

Preparing the bread to soak in buttermilk
Preparing the bread to soak in buttermilk

Spaghetti and Meatballs

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 2 slices of white bread (crusts discarded), torn into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 lb of ground beef (or 3/4 lb ground beef and 1/4 lb of ground pork)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp of fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil for pan frying
  • your recipe for marinara sauce or store bought marinara sauce (gasp!)
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese to grate on top of pasta
All the ingredients for the meatballs ready to be mixed.
All the ingredients for the meatballs ready to be mixed.

Directions

  1. Combine bread and buttermilk in a small bowl, allow to sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, mashing occasionally with a fork, until a smooth paste forms.
  2. Mix all meatball ingredients, including bread mixture in a medium bowl.
  3. Lightly form 2 tbsp of mixture into a 1 1/2 inch round meatball. Repeat with remaining mixture to form approximately 18-20 meatballs. (Compacting them can make the meatballs dense and hard. The meatballs can be placed on a large plate, covered loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours)
  4. Heat about 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high in a 10 or 11 inch non stick saute pan. Fry, turning several times, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer browned meatballs to a cooling rack and set aside. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. When all meatballs are done, add to the sauce and keep warm over a low flame (We held ours for one hour as we weren’t quite ready to eat yet).
Frying the first batch of meatballs
Frying the first batch of meatballs

     The original instructions I found on the internet had you transfer the meatballs to a paper towel lined plate. For ease of cleaning, I can understand that, but I’ve never been a fan of moving hot and/or greasy things to paper towels. I prefer to let them drain on a cooling rack over a plate.

My preferred method
All browned up and ready to go. My preferred method for resting foods.

     At this point, with the meatballs frying up and the sauce that Mrs. G was preparing, our house was smelling so good. What is it about just cooking onions and garlic can produce such a mouth watering aroma?

Meatballs simmered in the sauce until we were ready to eat (about one hour)
Meatballs simmered in the sauce until we were ready to eat

     America’s Test Kitchen really didn’t say anything about how long to allow the meatballs to simmer in the sauce. Just to keep warm over a low flame. At this point, neither of us were ready to eat and we knew that the flavors would only get better if they were allowed to simmer, so we let them go for an hour.

That's the kind of plate that makes me happy!
That’s the kind of plate that makes me happy!

     I’ve eaten a lot a ton of meatballs in my time and I’ve got to say these were just about the best meatballs I’ve ever had!! And I’m not saying that to brag on myself. It wasn’t the skill of the cook. No, I give all the credit to America’s Test Kitchen and their hardworking staff and all the hard work they put into this recipe. The meatballs were light and juicy, not dense and dry. I believe soaking the bread in the buttermilk was the key. They had just the right amount of flavor. Not enough to overpower the meat, but rather complimented it just right. I just wish we could have let it sit overnight and really let the flavors do their thing, but I do have some left over that I brought for lunch today. Can’t wait to try it.

What I Would Change

     Not much, if anything. I had pulled out what I thought was ground venison to mix with the ground beef. Turns out it was actually pan sausage (I hate it when things aren’t labeled properly). I’d still like to try it with venison, or pork or a pork and veal combo, but straight up beef was good. I’d also like to try and give the meatballs a light smoke of the Big Green Egg, but we had not had pasta in six weeks due to my diet and Mrs. G wasn’t keen on the idea thinking I might screw it all up. I will try that one day, though. 😉