Cauliflower Tater Tots


Everybody loves a tater tot. Eh-vreh-body.

cauliflower tots

Tater tots and ligers. Both favorites.

A place The Hubbs and I hit up a few times a year has straight up ol’ skool tater tots and ketchup. Before going there, I had not indulged in a tater tot in about 20 years. And then, just like that, I was totally obsessed. For obvious health reasons, being obsessed with tater tots is not a good thing. So, I set out to make a healthy alternative.  A good place to start for carb-bread substitutes is cauliflower.  Man, I was pleasantly surprised! A little snappy sauce and they’re a perfect guilty pleasure packed with nutrients. AND they’re baked. You’re welcome!

Cauliflower Tater Tots

  • 1 head of Cauliflower, riced, and squeezed of it’s liquid
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 TBSP almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • salt to taste

Prepare a baking sheet with a parchment sheet that has been lightly sprayed with high-heat cooking oil or cooking spray. Rice, steam, cool, and de-juice your cauliflower like the technique used in our cauliflower crackers.

cauliflower tater tots

Cut your head of cauliflower into florets

cauliflower tater tots

Next up…the Cauliflower is ‘riced’ and steamed. Doing so allows us to get the most moisture out of the cauliflower when you give it the big squeeze.

Next, add the eggs, cheese, almond flour, onion powder, white pepper, and salt.

cauli tots

Throw in all of the other ingredients and mix well.

Mix the ingredients well. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Using the space where your hand meets your fingers, form your cauli tots by gently squeezing and rolling a small amount of the mixture while lightly tapping down the ends to create the familiar barrel shape. Place your tots on the parchment, leaving a bit of space between each one. When all of your tots are lined up, spray the tops lightly with high-heat cooking oil or cooking spray.

cauliflower tots

Your tots are ready to pop into the oven. Having tots without the guilt and carbs is so worth the wait!

Pop your tots in the oven and bake for 12 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Roll each tot a quarter of a roll and cook 5 or so minutes until the new bottom is browned. Repeat the quarter-turn roll and cook another 5 minutes or so until the bottom is browned. Repeat the roll one last time to make sure all sides are browned and crisp.

cauliflower tater tots

Ermagahhhhd. Tots! Even Napoleon Dynamite would stuff these into his pants pockets!

I’m a big fan of serving these tots with a mayo-ketchup-horseradish sauce. After all, if the tots are all full of goodness you can get a little cray cray with your condiments!

Cauli tots

Eat them up!

Cured Egg Yolks


So, I’ve decided to conquer the yardbird. It seems I tend to tackle certain foods or techniques every season. Three was the season of shortribs and braising (and waist expansion). The season of learning how to master my smoker. The season of soups. The season of the barbecue. I really tend to avoid chicken. It is just so much work. And I usually love the skin or sauce more than the actual chicken. But I’ve decided I will conquer that yardbird (Yaahdburhd if you’re into the correct southern pronunciation)! To get going, but not ruin my day, I decided to start where the chicken started…the egg. Don’t worry, I’ll move on to the whole chicken later, but we’re starting with something I already love. Now that we know why we’re tackling this egg, why cure it? Salt. Fat. Umami. Fun. Need I say more? And hey, if the Zombie Apocalypse hits, you’ll still be able to eat like a king!

Don’t go thinking I’m some kind of culinary genius. Salted, cured egg yolks have existed for a long time in the form of Bottarga. Bottarga is salt cured fish roe sacs. Don’t worry a bit, with shad roe season starting here, we’ll be making some of that too! I digress. Salted hen yolks have a slightly salty, fatty, magical flavor. They’re quick and easy to make and can totally transform pasta, salads, and soup. Just use a fine grater or micro planer to give your dishes a little dusting. I’m practically drooling thinking of a yukon gratin with sage and a little dusting of cured egg yolk.

To kick off your cured egg yolk addiction:

  • 1 container, about 2 inches high, 8 inches long, and 6 inches wide
  • 2 cups of Kosher salt
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks (freeze the whites in ice cube trays for later use, make a little Angel food cake, or make some cloud bread)

Thoroughly mix your salt and sugar and place a decent layer in the bottom of your container. Make four little nests in your mixture with the back of a spoon. Separate the whites and yolks. Place each yolk in its nest.


Just look at that little golden globe of goodness!

Gently cover with the rest of the salt-sugar mixture. Place your lid and tuck into your fridge. Let sit for 1 week. After the week has passed, gently remove the yolks from your mixture. They will be slightly translucent and the firmness of a dried apricot.


You can see the difference between fresh egg yolks going down for a little salt slumber and those that I’ve just dug out of their cozy cocoon.


These little gems are like adult salty jelly beans!

Rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.


Don’t be afraid of the cold water rinse. It’ll get rid of excess salt and the yolks won’t melt.


Good morning sunshine!

Place in a dehydrator set at 145 degrees. Dehydrate for 3 hours or until firm.The yolks will continue to firm up as they cool. Grate, grate, grate away! They’ll last a month in a sealed container in the fridge, but I guarantee they won’t stick around that long!


Serious goodness. I prefer the uber thin tendrils produced by a micro planer, but the slightly more dense shavings produced by a grater work well too and may stand up to robust dishes a little better. Either way, just get that goodness on there!


15 Real World Tips for Eating Rooter to Tooter


For most of my adulthood, I shied away from liver with the extent of my interaction  consisting of picking at a fried chicken liver or two.  Even then, the livers were smothered in a sauce.  I’d like to blame my Dad (a.k.a. The Pirate) who so aptly described butcheries and food-packing plants, WHILE I was reading Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle‘, WHILE I was eating a hotdog. I was nine years old. I haven’t eaten a hotdog since.

Then, about 10 years ago I became more concerned about the source of my food and in visiting farms where my food was grown or raised, I actually met the pigs that became the bacon. And just like that, my belief in ‘rooter-to-tooter’ eating was born.  If an animal dies to sustain my life, I should at least try to be respectful and not waste their gift.  Over the last 10 years, I’ve opened my mindset and taught myself to eat all kinds of foods I wouldn’t have considered in the past:  liver, blood pudding, sweetbreads, tripe, knuckles, heart, marrow, tongue, and so much more.  I actually found other cultures do a very good job of using all of the bits of an animal and I learned in turn to appreciate the foods and cooking techniques of other cultures in the process.


All the glory–from rooter to tooter! (Image from Baju BBQ Porknography)

I’m telling you, embracing rooter-to-tooter eating is all win, win, win. It’s not only ethical and tasty, but until everyone else figures out the unique experience of cooking with the odd bits, it is also pretty dang cheap.  In order to help you embrace the beauty (and fun!) of whole-animal use, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. Take one or two at a time and before you know it you’ll be in full swing.

  1. Stock is the gateway food. Making really, really good stock (or consomme) is a great way to use the lesser-used bits of the animal. Collagen gives great stock or consomme that satisfying mouthfeel or body. Bones, joints, feet, and tendons release their collagen when braised. You’ll be more comfortable and confident once you get used to seeking out the weird bits, handling them, and successfully producing stock. Then it’s on to other uses! Don’t forget you can save bones from a roasted chicken, ham, or otherwise in the freezer and use them in your stocks too.
  2. Braise or stew ‘a mess’ of greens or beans. Every time I cook collards or field peas of any type, I start by braising some ‘weird bits’ meat until it is falling off of the bone and the water is transformed into a flavorful liquid. Great cuts for this are ham hocks, smoked neck bones, smoked pork cheek, or pig feet. My preference is for neck bones as they become tender quickly and impart tons of flavor. Make sure to pull the meat and throw it back in at the end.
  3. Learn how to braise.  Most of the tough, connective-tissue laden meats are turned into silky, soft meat clouds when braised low-and-slow in a slightly acidic, flavorful liquid (think tomato paste, wine, vinegar, or citrus additions). You won’t regret it.
  4. Bacon and cracklin’. Make use of the pork belly (not stomach, but belly meat) by making bacon. Bacon can, of course, be eaten straight away but it can also be made into pork candy or bacon jam. Use up pork skin by making cracklings.
  5. Learn how to make sausage. Natural sausage casings are made from thoroughly cleaned animal intestines. Varying types of sausages use different parts of the small and large intestines of different animals.  For example, cow bung is used to make bologna. Small sausages might use sheep casings which are a bit smaller than pig casings. Now you know.
  6. Eat marrow. Marrow is nutrient dense. It’s also delicious. Ask your butcher for marrow bones, soak the bones in salty water for a bit to clear out impurities and blood, rinse, and roast until the marrow is soft. Then get in touch with your inner caveman and use a butter knife to pick out the marrow. You should absolutely look like a monkey trying to get termites out of a nest with a stick. You may even growl at whoever is brave enough to be elbow deep in marrow bones you.  If you can’t plop it in your mouth, spread it on toast.  The fat that gathers in the pan during roasting can also be used in cooking (umm, hello best grilled cheese of your life! Bone Marrow Bread Pudding anyone?).
  7. Get friendly with pate or mousse. Pate and mousse mix fat in the form of eggs and cream with liver and often aromatics such as caramelized onions and cognac. If the taste of liver turns you off, know that the fat tempers the fumigating minerality of the liver. Serve with sweet and pungent items and the liver flavor will be almost completely tempered. My favorite pairing is with a tart cherry compote in a bit of a rosemary and Madeira base, quality Dijon-style or grain mustard, and buttered and toasted baguette rounds.
  8. Get a bowl of Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup. Not only is it delicious, but it can be ordered with tripe (stomach). The tripe is generally cut into very thin strips that are cooked until tender and practically disappear among the noodles. I’d bet if you didn’t know they were there, you wouldn’t notice them!
  9. Learn how to make a civet. A civet is essentially stew thickened with animal blood. This technique is centuries old and is used around the world. If you don’t have access to fresh blood (i.e. you didn’t kill and dress the animal), you can use a bit of liver blended with heavy cream as your thickener. Either way, you’re making use of animal parts that would otherwise be discarded. I made Rabbit Civet with this recipe from Hunter Angler Gardner Cook as an inspiration and it was incredibly delicious.
  10. Embrace hogshead or head cheese.  This gem is actually made by braising the head of the hog in order to soften up the meat (um, pig cheeks anyone?) so it can be picked from the bone. The braising also releases collagen. The pulled meat is placed into a dish with some of the collagen-rich liquid, chilled until firm, and then sliced. Yes, it’s pretty much the meat version of tomato aspic. I make a version with aromatic vegetables, pork shoulder, pig feet, and pig knuckles since it’s almost impossible to find pig heads.
  11. Embrace blood pudding/sausage. Blood pudding is merely sausage made from fat (all sausage has fat), some blood from the same animal, and a binder such as oatmeal or rice depending on the region from which the sausage hails. Everyone has always talked so poorly about blood sausage that I never even tried it. I vehemently snubbed it actually. Then I had a couple of glasses of wine at the Glass Onion and gave it a whirl (after all, Chris Stewart seems to be seriously good at offal cooking, so I couldn’t go wrong). It tasted like an adult version of Salisbury steak. Yep, hooked.
  12. Use caul fat. Caul fat is essentially the greater omentum of certain animals. It is most often wrapped around other meats to hold them together during cooking. It can also be used to surround pate. Some sausages make use of the caul fat as a casing.
  13. Love your organs: I know, I know. Organ meat. That’s why this one is listed after you’ve tried a few of the above. Don’t knock organ meat, though. It can be incredible if prepared correctly (and disastrous if not). For example, Tacos La Lingua (beef tongue) have some of the most tender meat I’ve ever eaten. Barbecued beef heart in the yakitori style is divine (go try some at Myles and Jun Yakitori!). I dream of sweetbreads prepared in the French manner (thymus and/or pancreas; St. Jack in Portland, OR made a delightful tarte with grilled sweetbreads, whipped butternut squash, caramelized onions, and Gruyere).
  14. Strip your pig (ears, tails, feet): Ears and tails can be fried. I’ve had thin slices of ear, fried, and served on a simple salad with buttermilk dressing (thank you again Glass Onion). Feet (and knuckles) can be braised until the tender meat falls off of the bone. Pair it up with some homemade sauerkraut for a real treat.
  15. Chitlins. I still haven’t mastered this one. I swear I’m trying. Maybe hitting up the SC Chitlin’ Strut will help?  They can be braised or fried. All recipes welcomed!

Now go forth with confidence and curiosity into the world of odd and weird bits. Do you already have a favorite rooter-to-tooter recipe?  Feel free to share in the comments.  Up to track down those weird bits so you can fully experience the rooter-to-tooter lifestyle.

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy


What comes to mind when you think of a work-related celebration? Yep. Veggie trays. BBQ Meatballs. Ranch dip. Before you start getting angry, I love those things too and they all have their appropriate day in the sun. However, I had something else in mind entirely to mark my transition from the chaotic environs of healthcare management to full-time academia. Flaky buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy. It’s not something I eat all of the time (once or twice a year?), so it would be a real treat to make some French press coffee, pop open a buttery biscuit, ladle on some down home goodness, and saddle up next to my buddies to enjoy the deliciousness in full-mouthed silence.

Now. Some biscuits and gravy are terrible. Dense, dry biscuits paired with pasty, bland gravy makes no man happy. Others are just “meh”, tasting more of pepper than anything else. This joyous duo of recipes for laminated biscuits (what I like to term “The Criscuit”) and flavorful sausage gravy is the bees knees. Seriously, if you need a celebratory meal, really screwed up with the ol’ significant other, or are trying to impress your new beau,  Otherwise, use these laminated biscuits and sausage gravy to induce serious dead-as-a-doornail nappage in others when you need a little peace and quiet ’round the homestead. The resultant food coma makes for a lovely Sunday.

The ingredient list is small, so use quality ingredients. Also, a combination of whole milk and evaporated milk makes for a gravy that in no way resembles Elmer’s glue. No paste allowed! A browned roux and few spices kick up the flavor as well. Pair up a flaky, buttery biscuit with the gravy and you’ll take home the blue ribbon. I won’t bother with nutritional information. I mean, would you look at the nutritional information on cake? Now, go forth in celebration and joy with your biscuits and gravy!


For the Biscuits:


For the Gravy:

  • 2 pounds of high-quality breakfast sausage. I don’t use hot or sage, just normal sausage.
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 12 ounces of evaporated milk
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1/2 tsp dehydrated onion
  • 1/4 tsp cracked pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • pinch cracked peppercorn melange
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 shots (? 1/4 tsp) of Cholula hot sauce

Prepare biscuits up to a day ahead of time. If made ahead, they are better stored in a ziploc bag on the counter after completely cooled. Doing so keeps you from overheating refrigerated biscuits.

Brown the sausage over medium heat, breaking it into fairly large chunks.

sausage gravy

Here we go. It’s like those moments when you’re climbing the big hill on a monster roller coaster…anticipation!

Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set it aside on a plate. Add the 2 TBSP of flour to the pan and cook until slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.

biscuits and sausage gravy

Cook up the roux. You can use anywhere from blonde to chestnut.

Lower the pan temperature to medium-low and slowly whisk in the whole milk and evaporated milk. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Bring the gravy to a low simmer and cook until thickened and the gravy coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved sausage to the gravy and stir to combine.

sausage gravy

A match made in heaven.

Add the dehydrated onion, cracked pepper, white pepper, peppercorn melange, bay leaf, and Cholula. Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes to meld the flavors.

sausage gravy

Man, that’s looking goooood.

If the gravy thickens too much (remember, no paste!), add water as needed. Prior to serving, salt to taste. Serve with Criscuits. Bask in the goodness.

biscuits and gravy

So good. The perfect little meal with good buddies!