Theme song by Kung Fu Jesus “Double Dragon” from Celestial Gold
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Sometimes you have a recipe theme song. Other times, the recipe theme song finds you.
For my second mac & cheese mashup recipe, I knew I’d be using kung pao cauliflower, a BGC leftover staple, as a topping. As my mac & cheese recipe is “Cheeses Of Suburbia” and the cauliflower recipe is “Kung Pao Fighting”, I knew I wanted this leftovers mashup to be called “Kung Pao Cheeses” as a sort of very loose “Kung Fu Jesus” pun. A search for songs that might fit led me to a band I had never heard before, the perfectly named Kung Fu Jesus on Spotify.
Usually, when I discover a new artist that fits a Music & Food recipe, I do a Wikipedia search for background info while listening to their albums. This time, however, I found NO Wikipedia listing for a band clearly on Spotify with multiple albums. A Google search only returns articles about a Kung Fu Jesus videogame (which I would play the hell out of) from Celestial Gold Studios. Yes – CELESTIAL GOLD. So, best I can tell, this is some sort of multiplatform multimedia surreal psychedelic shoegaze yacht rock game art project.
And yet, Celestial Gold is a delightful surprise despite this slightly cringeworthy backstory. It sits in that current Alterna-pop zone that clearly owes a debt to ’70s yacht rock AND ’60s psychedelia. What I hope are tongue in cheek lyrics float over that sort of chilled out but bouncy guitar and cheesy keyboard sound so prevalent in the leisure suit years. It’s a perfect backyard grilling summer vibe and, while not strictly perfect for this dish, evokes the same sort of happy joy I get from eating mac & cheese.
This is not the first time I decided to use vaguely Asian vegetarian leftovers as a topping for my straight-up Midwest mac & cheese. It was the first time using what I consider to be an Asian main dish leftover, and the delicious results having me wondering about other Asian topped Midwest Macs. I’ve now got plans for a General Tso’s Mac and perhaps a Szechuan Beef Mac. To be clear, pretty much ANYTHING laid on top of a bowl of delicious Midwest-style mac & cheese will be at least edible if not delicious.
This kind of mashup or recombinant cooking is at the heart of my prep philosophy. I often will spend a Sunday or Monday prepping a variety of dishes that go into the fridge for meals throughout the week. I’m not a “meal prepper” per see, but I do look at how leftovers can recombine into something different later in the week. If I’ve made a big batch of mac & cheese, there are only so many days I want just mac & cheese. So, I need to plan something to go on it or with it. That usually results in planning something like chili, or kung pao cauliflower, or even broccoli tots. Leftovers can get monotonous unless you throw a few mashups in the mix to make new dishes and find new flavors.
KUNG PAO CHEESES
Three cheese stovetop mac & cheese topped with kung pao cauliflower
Makes 1 serving
Take two small pans (I use small skillets) and place them over medium-low heat. Add the mac & cheese to one pan and the kung pao cauliflower to the other. Gently reheat until completely heated through.
Take a nice medium-sized bowl. Place the reheated mac & cheese in the bowl and top with the reheated kung pao cauliflower. Add a bit of hot sauce if you want it spicier. Enjoy your simple but classy leftover mashup meal.