I am a person who likes to be settled. I like to have a schedule and to be able to write everything I have to do on my calendar and to have the same routine every day. And this goes back an embarrassingly long time, because as I admitted to Gerrit’s family the other day as we were talking about early computer games, one of my favorites as a little girl was the Keroppi Day Hopper that we had, and I would just sit and make pretend calendars (to my credit, they also had super cute graphics, which was half the fun).
But routine and schedules are not something we have right now, as we are staying in my in-law’s basement until moving date (t-minus 13 days!), and, while our staying with the in-law’s situation is about as good as you can ask for, it still has us all kinds of out of sorts.
And this applies to the kitchen as well, because as many times as I have visited here, now that I have offered to cook for the whole family occasionally, I realize I have no idea where anything is, or even what exactly is in the kitchen. And this doesn’t help when you are trying out a new dish without a clue of how it will turn out (and even feeling a little fuzzy on the process because, even though the recipe was sitting right in front of me my constant thought was, “wait, I’m not sure that’s how it looked on TV!”).
And then it especially doesn’t help when you aren’t sure how to work your in-law’s blender and you lift up the blender jar to find that you have somehow worsened the crack in the plastic cap on the bottom (which supposedly was not my fault) and all of your semi-mashed cauliflower comes pouring out the bottom.
We managed to salvage it somehow though and still have it for dinner. (And the blender only needed a replacement part instead of a complete replacement). I was a little hesitant about how I would feel about this dish, which is usually never a good sign. Mashed cauliflower trying to act like mashed potatoes? I don’t think so. But once you take a bite you realize it’s not trying to act like mashed potatoes at all. It has a completely different feel….it’s thinner and the cheese flavor is more subtle. The roasted garlic adds a deeper sophisticated flavor, and in the end I think I did what is the goal of so many people: impressed the in-laws.
Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese
adapted from The Neelys
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 large head cauliflower, finely chopped
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1. Begin by roasting garlic. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 3 unpeeled garlic cloves in the center of a square of tinfoil (measuring at least 8 or so inches). Drizzle olive oil over the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Fold the corners of the tinfoil square up until it forms a nice little pyramid-like packet. Place in the oven and let garlic roast for about 30 minutes. Then remove from the oven, unfold the tinfoil, and allow the garlic to cool.
2. Place the cauliflower in a medium-sized saucepan with the chicken stock (use more stock if you have a large piece of cauliflower, less if you have a smaller piece–don’t worry about adding too much though because you can always drain it away before mashing the cauliflower). Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.
3. If necessary, drain the cauliflower of some of the excess chicken stock (but not all of it!).
4. Add the roasted garlic to the cauliflower by squeezing the garlic out of its peel–it should come out easily. Season cauliflower with salt and pepper. Stir in milk.
5. Puree cauliflower with an immersion blender until fairly smooth.*
6. Add cheese, stirring until melted.
7. Serve cauliflower warm, topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chives.
*While I used a regular blender because that is what we had, I really really really think an immersion blender would work so much better here.