Mack's Corner

This Week -

This week 3-01-16

50 nurses and my toe caught in my underwear!

When you turn 50 everything changes. You have to start getting a physical every year. They still look in your ears and listen to your heart, but they want to look other places too, I'll let you guess .. To do this you have to go to a different doctor at a different place and they actually knock you out. So my first time, I get there and the nurse takes me back to a little 10 ft by 10 ft partitioned room with a curtain that looks like something they had stolen from the shower in the Holiday Inn. There were about 50 nurses on the other side of the curtain by the nurse's station .. She hands me 2 pieces of paper and says "Take off all of your clothes and put that on. Don't tie the back!" .. "put THIS on?" Turns out one of the pieces of paper folds out in to a gown and the other one to a bed sheet that looks like a giant paper towel. 10 minutes later she pulls open the curtain, I'm sitting in this rolling bed and off we go. We get to another room and the doctor says "We're almost ready, I'm your anesthesiologists. I need you to take 3 deep breaths while I put this in your IV." OK.. 1st breath, 2nd breath, 3rd breath .. nothing. I'm thinking I'm so manly that it takes more of this stuff to knock me out than your normal wimpy person .. Then the nurse starts shaking my leg say "wake up honey, time to go home!" (I love when they call me honey) .. "What do you mean time-to-go-home? When are you going to start?" ..Then my wife says "ready to go home?" .. Somewhere between breath 3 and breath 4 they did all the stuff. A whole 2 hours had gone by. I've still got my piece of paper gown on and I'm still in the same bed, but I'm back in the shower curtain room. I guess something happened?? I sat up and the room started spinning. Kinda like when you were a little kid and used to spin round and round with your forehead on a baseball bat and then try to run in a straight line.. I was a little wobbly. So I've got this paper gown on and I'm trying to put my underwear on and I'm wobbly and I get one leg in and I get my toe caught on the other side and I start hopping toward the curtain trying to get my foot in and there are those same 50 nurses on the other side and I'm getting closer and closer to the curtain and a picture forms in my brain: I'm getting ready to hop-scotch across the nurses station with my toe caught in my underwear, I may end up in the waiting room by the time I stop, I could be on the national news!! I just fell on the bed, anything to stop. By the time we left I was still running in to walls but at least I had my clothes on..

Gods like that: When we pray, he does all kinds of things that we never see. We can picture what might happen but God almost always has something bigger planned. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it's not happening. At some point you have to trust God..

Next time I'm wearing my bathrobe and PJ's. No toe holds in that..


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

If you've ever been to a chain owned steak places you've seen various vegetables on the menu that you can order as sides. And if you want they will do the vegetable "Gratin". The way they do it is lazy and stupid. They put the vegetables in a steamer, then cover them with cheddar cheese and put that in a broiler kind of thing until the cheese melts. You would be better off getting the $10 baked potato.

Here's the real thing: Anything cooked "Gratin" is easy and it can add a bunch of flavor. One of the things you want to do is buy the best and most flavorful cheese you can. Go to Murray's cheese in Kroger and taste, ask questions. Get something good, you only need a little.  But it makes a big difference in the taste. I'll do some more Gratins next week.

Squash And Tomato Gratin

1/3 cup grated Parmesan
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large tomato, sliced
2 large summer squash, thinly sliced
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs

Toss breadcrumbs with Parmesan and 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomato; cook, tossing occasionally, until juices are bubbling, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Top with squash and breadcrumb mixture. Bake at 350° until squash is tender and breadcrumbs are golden brown, 20–25 minutes.


Root Vegetable Gratin

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for baking dish
1½ cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1½ cups grated Parmesan, divided
6 sprigs thyme plus 1 Tbsp. leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1½ pounds celery root, peeled, sliced 1/16” thick
1 pound rutabaga, peeled, sliced 1/16” thick
1 pound turnips, peeled, sliced 1/16” thick
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/16” thick
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a shallow 2-qt. baking dish. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs; cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and toss with ½ cup Parmesan and 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Bring cream, broth, thyme sprigs, and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes; discard thyme. Cover; keep warm.

Toss vegetables in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Arrange ⅓ of vegetables in dish and top with ½ cup Parmesan. Repeat layers; top with remaining vegetables. Pour cream mixture over; place a piece of parchment paper directly on top of gratin.

Bake until vegetables are crisp-tender and cream is thickened, 50–60 minutes. Uncover, top with breadcrumb mixture, and bake until gratin is bubbling and breadcrumbs are brown, 15–20 minutes longer. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.


Collard Green Gratin

4 oz. very thinly sliced country ham or prosciutto
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bunches collard greens (about 1 lb.), center ribs and stems removed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°. Place ham on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, 20–25 minutes; let cool and break into pieces.

Combine breadcrumbs and 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium skillet; toast over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat and add thyme and ¼ cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Mix in ham and set aside.

Cook collard greens in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl of ice water, and let cool. Drain and squeeze dry with paper towels. Coarsely chop greens and place in a large bowl.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden, 15–20 minutes. Transfer to bowl with greens; set aside. Reserve saucepan.

Increase oven temperature to 400°.

Melt butter in reserved saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth and very pale brown, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, ½-cupful at a time; add nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until thickened, 5–8 minutes(((This is
béchamel sauce that you just made))). Whisk in remaining ¾ cup Parmesan. Add béchamel to collard green mixture and mix to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Transfer collard green mixture to a 10” cast-iron skillet or 9” pie dish and top with breadcrumb mixture; place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until gratin is bubbling, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Do Ahead: Ham and breadcrumb mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


Posted by Mack Oates at 9:49 AM