Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I Write The Songs That Make The Young Girls Cry ... - Count DeMoney Cauliflower

... and the old ones too. Last night I did something I've been promising to do for 40 years. Last night I went to a Barry Manilow concert, part of his "One Last Time" tour. He's not retiring, but this is his last big concert tour. It was Robert's idea for all of us to go - Cory and I are both big Manilow fans, although I'm a bigger fan, because I've had much more time to work at it.

I love music, all types from Gregorian chants to Lady Gaga, Donna Summers to Deadmaus, Classical to Coolio. Rock is my middle boomer generation's contribution, but early boomers gave us Elvis while later boomers brought us into the Age of Disco, and in my opinion, Disco Never Dies. My taste in music is totally eclectic.

Oy, I could go on and on about music till the proverbial cows come home, but the simple truth is if I was on my deathbed and could only have one bite of food, it would be chocolate, and if I could only listen to one performer's music while eating my chocolate, it would be Barry Manilow. Because his music has brought me great joy for 40 years and let's face it, he's from Brooklyn. As I told Robert, the concert was one of the best experiences of my life. I laughed, I cried, I clapped loud and long, and I sang along with everything except "Brooklyn Blues" which I had never heard before. Fancy that.

I was too wrapped up in the whole experience to take decent pictures, but both Cory and Rob got a whole bunch of great ones.

I took it relatively easy yesterday, preparing the barbecue potato salad but holding back on the cauliflower, so that I had plenty of spoons for my evening out. I also knit quite a bit more of the sock, and I can see another pair of half-started socks at the end of the tunnel.

I've also been practicing my chess game using a rather nice app. I set my ability at "novice", but I still stink. Last time I tried to learn chess was when Bobby Fischer was the rage - my brother Elliot and I picked up an inexpensive travel board and played for a while, but lost interest and any knowledge of chess we might have gained.  It's just one of the things I do to exercise my faltering brain. Like Words with Friends. By the way, if anyone would like play Word, you can reach me by searching for "brkexpat" or going through my Facebook page. I'm a fairly decent player, but I do lose graciously on occasion.

Now, the cauliflower.  It took me a while, but I pulled it together.

Count de Money Cauliflower

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
granulated garlic
granulated onion
dried herbes de Provence
crushed red pepper flakes
1 large head of cauliflower, divided into large pieces (use a sharp knife to cut the stem of each "flower" close to where it attaches to the central stem. This recipe only uses the "flowers", but the stem is perfect for spiralizing for use in some other recipe.)

For the DeMoney (Mornay) sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups warm milk
pinch of nutmeg
1 - 5 oz. pouch of Sargento Artisan shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the olive oil into the bottom of an aluminum baking pan, then sprinkle on the seasonings, to taste. The total amount of seasonings should be around a tablespoon.

Rinse each piece of cauliflower under water and place it, along with any water clinging to it, into the prepared pan. With your fingers, sprinkle a little bit more water over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil (I used 2 pieces). Set the pan on a baking sheet, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. 

Remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn each piece of cauliflower so that the other side or the top are facing down against the seasonings. Cover and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and check the stems for doneness. Carefully move the cauliflower to a clean baking pan and set aside while you prepare the DeMoney sauce (yes, it is a Mel Brooks' joke. I got it from Hedley Lamarr.) Do not discard the pan with the spices.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking till smooth.  Add about a teaspoon of the spices from the bottom of the pan, whisk, and add about a third of the warm milk. Over medium heat, bring to a boil (whisk throughout) and add another teaspoon of the spices and another third of the milk. The sauce is only going to be slightly thickened - we have made what is called a thin white sauce - but it works perfectly. Add the remainder of the milk and a good pinch of ground nutmeg. Whisk until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken slightly, then taste it. Add a bit more of the remaining seasoning if needed (I added about a half teaspoon), whisk until smooth and remove from the heat.

Add most of the Swiss cheese to the sauce, leaving just enough to sprinkle over the top. Let the cheese melt and stir till smooth.  Spoon the sauce over each piece of cauliflower. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Return the pan to the oven just long enough to melt the cheese. Serve one or two of the cheese sauce covered "flowers" to each person. Serves 6-8.

This is one of my recipes, developed to avoid boiling or steaming the cauliflower on top of the stove (it gets waterlogged). Roasted cauliflower is good, but not with a Mornay sauce, so I oven-steamed it instead, and it works perfectly. I also oven-steam tamales, but that's another blog post.

If you want to get fancy, use the entire bag of Swiss cheese in the sauce, and sprinkle the top with another kind of cheese, like parmesan, sharp cheddar, or even pepper jack.

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