Ghosting your machines

There’s this new relationship term—ghosting.

It’s a no fuss, no muss way to break up with someone.  One simply disappears.  They stop calling, texting, smoke signaling.

And you’re probably doing it right now, as you read this.

I’m not talking about your love life.  I’m talking about all those machines in the cabinets, and pantry, and that closet where stuff goes to die.  Those gadgets that you thought you couldn’t live without (but did).

A couple weeks ago, while perusing the interweb, I stumbled upon a recipe that intrigued me.  It was gluten-free biscuits.So, here’s the thing; for various reasons, I am extremely skeptical about the whole gluten-free, celiac thing.

1.)Gluten-free products.  Gluten’s job in food is to make it stretchier so it can rise, and not having it makes the food dense.  There’s a reason gluten is present, so when it’s not, you notice.

2.)Gluten-free people.  There are two kinds of people; those with celiac, and those without.  Unfortunately, there are lots of people who don’t have it that are absolutely convinced that they do.  In truth, only 1% of the population has doctor-diagnosed celiac disease.

3.)Cauliflower abuse.  Ever since gluten and celiac became part of popular lexicon, poor old cauliflower has been abused.  It’s mashed “potatoes”, pizza crust, even (sadly) brownies.


This is all made with cauliflower.  And I’d have to be mighty hungry…

Because of this, when I saw the recipe from Cooking Light magazine, it was a minor miracle that I even read it.  But I did read it, and decided it sounded so tasty that I would make it.  And I used three kitchen gadget and appliances.

But I can’t call it a biscuit, ‘cause it’s not.  It’s actually a soufflé.  A soufflé that tastes really good at only 25 calories each.

Cauliflower Soufflé Cupscauli souffle4 cups steamed, fresh cauliflower

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

¼ cup grated Parmesan

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place cauliflower into food processor along with garlic and whole eggs.  Blend until smooth.  Add yogurt, salt and pepper.  Mix until smooth and creamy.

While blending cauliflower, put egg whites into mixer with whisk attachment.  Mix on high until stiff peaks form.

Pour cauliflower mixture in large bowl and stir in cheeses.  Stir in one spoonful of beaten whites to lighten the mix.  Then gently fold in the rest of the whites.

Spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray.  Put a heaping spoonful into each cup.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is browned and edges are caramelized.  Let sit ten minutes before removing from pan.  Makes 24 mini soufflé cups.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo get in there and break out some neglected kitchen toys.  You’ll remember why you thought they were such a great idea in the first place.

But some stuff you just gotta have.  I’m going to Amazon and ordering a paper towel holder that charges electronics, and a carrot sharpener.  I’m positive I’ll use them all the time.Thanks for your time.

Not a spud, or a dud

I had some rice and some mushrooms that I’d picked up at Costco.  Although “picked up” is a relative term.  Coming from Costco, I needed a forklift to lift the rice, and a weightlifter’s belt to hoist the ‘shrooms into our cart.

Just me, warming up for a Costco run…

The Kid was coming for dinner.  On the menu was pork chops with pretzel crust, and blistered green beans with garlic oil.  Since I had approximately 140 pounds of rice, it would be the starch portion of the program.  I also wanted use the mushrooms with the rice.

My first impulse was to maybe make a pilaf.  But I just couldn’t work up the slightest bit of enthusiasm for pilaf.  Maybe it would have been okay if there was some kind of sauce with the pork, but it was going to be baked.  And, they were loin chops, which is the leanest part of a pig.I kept thinking.

Some type of sauce with mushrooms over the rice might work.  My very favorite is Marsala.

Maybe somewhere in this world there’s a totally delicious, yet light and healthy Marsala sauce, but I’ve never heard of it, let alone tasted it.

It’s like Big Foot.  There are people who’ve never seen him, yet are convinced he exists.  Then there are people who swear they’ve seen him, but their credibility is, shall we say, less than stellar.  As with low-cal Marsala, definitive documented proof of the beast has never been established.My version of the sauce contains mushrooms, garlic, Marsala, and enough cream to supply Starbucks for weeks.  It’s as rich as Lady Gaga’s wig maker and as caloric as a day at the state fair.

Tasty?   Unquestionably.

Able to stop a healthy young heart by the third bite?  Yeah…probably.

So, back to thinking.In the end, I decided to try something new, and once more use my unsuspecting family as guinea pigs.  I would make twice baked stuffed potatoes, but use rice instead of potatoes.

It still isn’t spa food, but it’s not as life-threatening as Marsala sauce.

Loaded baked ricetwice baked rice1 ½ cups uncooked long-grain rice

3 ¼ cups water

8 slices bacon

1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 large shallot, sliced thinly

2/3 cups white wine

1 ½ cups light sour cream

1-8 ounce block of cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 cups shredded hoop or cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

Slice bacon into ½-inch pieces and place into a skillet.  Cook on medium-low until crispy.  Put bacon on paper towel-covered plate and set aside.  Pour bacon grease out, leaving about a tablespoon.

Turn skillet to medium-high and put in mushrooms and shallots.  Lightly season.  Cover and cook until liquid’s released from mushrooms.  Uncover and cook until veg are dry and caramelized.  Pour in wine and cook until it’s completely absorbed.

Make rice: put rice and water in saucepan with lid.  Throw in a pinch of salt and pepper.  Turn on medium-high and bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 17 minutes or until all the water is gone.  Leave covered and take off heat.  Let sit 15 minutes undisturbed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a three or four quart casserole dish.

Uncover rice.  Add mushrooms and shallots, 2 cups cheese, half the bacon, sour cream.  Stir until well combined.  Gently fold in cream cheese.  Season, and re-season if necessary.

Pour into casserole and smooth the top.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until rice begins to brown and crisp up around the edges. 

Uncover, sprinkle with cheese.  Sprinkle remaining bacon on top.  Cook under broiler until cheese is bubbly and brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before service. Serves 6.

Since this is a riff on loaded, twice baked spuds put in them what you like to put in your own baked potatoes.  I would have put in at least a couple handfuls of chives or scallions, but they are food-a non grata for The Kid (and Petey could live a long, happy life without them, as well).But hey, go nuts.  You know, actually nuts would probably be pretty darn good in the rice.

Thanks for your time.