Cooking in another man’s kitchen is a lot like trying to wear his stokies on your head. Nothing fits the way it should, and in the end everything just smells a bit too much like other people’s feet.
I’ve been housesitting a newly-married couple’s place for about two weeks now while they’re on honeymoon (Mauritius, in case you were wondering…) and so of course this means I’ve had an entirely new environment in which to burn myself on a pot I’ve left on the stove for too long.
Now I have some incredibly nosey habits when it comes to temporarily occupying someone else’s house. For example, I will judge you on the contents of your bookshelf (one cock-punch for every book by Kathy Lette), I will judge you on the DVDs you have chosen to pay money for (one trip to the evil dentist for every Saw sequel), and I will also judge you on the content of your kitchen cupboard. According to this scorecard my honeymooning friend totally killed the first two categories, but was then sadly let down by cupboards that were almost entirely filled with bottles of Wimpy mustard and seven tubs of smooth peanut butter that wasn’t Black Cat. Two cock-punches and a root canal for him then.
Cooking in a new environment is always simultaneously a totally fun thing and also the biggest pain in the ass ever. There’s usually only one knife for everything and it’s never as sharp as you’d like it. The oven requires you to sacrifice a virgin just to get the door open (this particular oven is a fancy-looking industrial beast with a polished metal door, the first time I opened it a piece of the handle literally pinged off it and across the room – wtf?), and there’s always some ridiculous situation where they have seven cheesegraters but no pot to boil pasta.
Anyway – I haven’t cooked properly in a while and for some reason I’d been obsessing about cauliflower cheese and so this seemed like as good a time as any.
Now firstly, the right thing to think at this point is in fact: what man in his right mind thinks about cauliflower cheese when there’s things like Currie Cup finals, Guitar Hero and naked girls with which to occupy his mind. I can’t offer any explanation other than… um, shurrup go bother someone else, cauliflower makes me happy dammit.
I have to say that I might have started this whole process thinking about alternate takes on cauliflower cheese, but ended up as something quite different, as is often the case. The guy who invented the fax machine originally started by trying to develop a waistcoat that also played vinyl.
Also, I totally didn’t have my camera with me at the time and so a Samsung cellphone had to come to the rescue.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 red onion, chopped
3 sprigs of rosemary stripped of leaves and then finely chopped
a handful of strong mushrooms, either Shitake or Porcini, chopped
half a chorizo sausage sliced into rounds
6 new potatoes
2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
1 handful of grated mature cheddar cheese
Mr Spice Portuguese Chicken Spice (hey – I found it the cupboard and was intrigued….what can I say?)
What to do
Fill a medium sized pot with water, add a general sprinkle of salt and bring it to the boil, then add the potatoes.
In the mean time, chop up the onions, rosemary, mushroom and chorizo and then break the cauliflower into florets.
Heat some olive oil in a pan, and add all the ingredients with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and Mr Spice Portuguese Chicken Spice (or nearest crappy alternative). Once everything has started to brown, turn the heat down and go and play Guitar Hero for as long as it takes to not get booed off stage during Muse’s Knights of Cydonia.
Drain the potatoes and cut them roughly into halves and then add them and the two tins of peeled tomato to the pan, put the lid on and let things simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
Spoon portions into a bowl and grate some strong (mature) cheddar cheese over it and serve.