Easter came & went and I’m finally resurrected from the blogging dead. Between a full hardrive and an external crash, I was graciously interrupted by a perfect vacation to Miami with Dre. I’m back in Philly now with some catching up to do, so here goes!
In early March, Sunshine suggested meeting up for dinner snacks at Varga Bar. I’ve been wanting to give it a try and surely looked forward to catching up with one of my favorite people. There was some Yelp! drink special going on so I went for the Cadillac Margarita & Sunshine chose the Renegade Root Beer, both $4 apiece.
Soon after our cocktails arrived, the waitress presented a marble slab with 5 cheeses & accoutrements. I’ve blanked on the specific cheese varieties, but I know we had (2) raw goat cheeses, a goat’s milk sharp cheddar, a creamy blue, and a gouda that was definitely not a gouda (but still delicious!). The platter included pairings of garlic dolce de leche, some other dolce de leche, bourbon honey mustard, grapes, granny & gala apple slices, & a fruit relish. We each had our favorites and surely appreciated the server who graciously brought us a 3rd plate of baguette.
Next up, a tower of crisp fries topped with melted white cheddar, parmesan, & tender jump lump crab. With or without the peppery homemade ketchup, they were quite tasty. Overall, the service & ambiance were ok, the food was good, & the company was certainly great!
Cheese Plate & Jumbo Lump Cheese Fries - Varga Bar
I finally took Dre on an Amish adventure to Lancaster County complete with a stop at Shady Maple Smorgasbord. I regret that I went to one of my favorite places to eat and didn’t take any pictures! Shame on me! We did, however, make a few farm stand stops on our scenic ride home where I picked up a beautiful head of Cauliflower. I knew I’d have to transform it into a tasty creation though, if anyone was going to enjoy it as much as I would!
I recalled an episode of 30 Minute Meals where Rachel Ray make a quick batch of her Smashed Cauliflower with Cheese. I stuck to the basic parameters of the recipe but impressed myself with the addition of shredded Smoked Gouda (from the never ending wedge in my fridge). The smokiness really enhanced the depth of flavors in such a simple dish. It was so good, I didn’t even have to pass it off as mashed potatoes, though you know I tried!
Farm Fresh Cauliflower & our Jack-o-Lantern
P.S. We also picked up a pumpkin on our Amish adventure that Dre & I carved for Halloween. BOO!
CHEESY SMASHED CAULIFLOWER
adapted from Rachel Ray’s Smashed Cauliflower with Cheese
- Cauliflower – 1 large head cut into florets
- Chicken Stock – about 3 cups, 2 cans, or enough to cover Cauliflower
- Butter – let’s say 2-3 T of the REAL stuff, no oleo here!
- Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, Parmesan, etc. – (1)+ cup of your favorite shredded cheeses
- Place Cauliflower florets in a medium pot & cover with Chicken Stock.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Then cover & reduce heat to a simmer until Cauliflower is tender, about 15 min total.
- Drain the cauliflower once tender, reserving the stock. (You could also turn up the heat and reduce the stock instead of draining, but who has the time?!)
- Add the butter & cheese. Smash with a potato masher, adding in stock until you reach desired consistency. Think “thick grits”!
- Season w/ S&P and serve. It reheats really well, too, so feel free to make a double batch to enjoy all week!