My Jazz Solo

I first started to learn the trumpet when I was in the fifth grade. I can remember that at the end of the fourth grade year, a local band director came into the classroom with several instruments. There was a violin, clarinet, snare drum, alto saxophone, flute and trumpet. To me nothing beat the bright sunny noise of the trumpet and I had to learn how to play.

Like all young musicians, my interest was not strong on practicing. Especially in the early days when it was often just learning scales and very basic songs. When I moved into my seventh grade year, I was at a new school and found myself with seven other trumpet players. While I wasn’t the worst, I was closer to that end of the line than the front. My band director asked me if I would try switching to euphonium (think mini tuba). I was skeptical, but tried it. The transition was easy and soon I was excelling.

In high school I switched to tuba and actually became quite good. I loved playing the bass line for the rock songs and in most orchestral pieces spent a lot of time counting measures between notes.

My senior year I joined the Jazz band and unfortunately the tuba was not considered a jazz instrument, so I found myself with a trumpet back in my hands. In every song a subset of us would take turns improvising a solo. My first months of attempts were either very timid or just plain wrong. They didn’t fit the song. Wanting to get better, I kept listening to those whose solos were great.

The best solos were variations on the theme of the song. They weren’t measures from the song, but they were very close to them. You could hear the theme of the song within the solo and it just worked. Eventually I learned to do this for a few songs, but the concept of variations of a theme stuck with me.

In some cases, cooking has a variation on a theme. This dish takes the Mashed Blue Cauliflower to the next level. Think of it as my jazz solo.

Cauliflower Stuffed Portobello Caps

1 large Portobello mushroom cap per person

1/2 head cauliflower

3-4 green onions

1/2 C bacon bits (leave out for kosher or vegetarian versions)

1/3 C milk

1 C shredded cheddar cheese

pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrape out the inside of the cape to remove the stem and gills.

Chop the green onions.

Chop the cauliflower into large pieces. Steam for 6-8 minutes. Place hot cauliflower into a food processor and puree. Add milk as needed to achieve a mashed potato-like consistency. Add pepper to taste. Mix with bacon and onions.

Fill caps with cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar. Place on a cookie sheet and into the oven until the cheese melts and the mushrooms are hot (about 5 minutes).


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: appetizer, Baking, Cheese, kosher, Low Carb, Lunch, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

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37 Comments on “My Jazz Solo”

  1. May 13, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Great Post!. I can’t wait to try it.


  2. May 13, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    OMG these look gorgeous!! I want one!


  3. May 13, 2012 at 11:29 am #



  4. May 13, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    You and I had a very similar high school experience. I was never very good at the trumpet, but then I switched to the Euph. It made quite a difference in my motivation, as well. Jazz wasn’t necessarily my strong point, but my boyfriend is a jazz musician. He’s studying the neurological actions of the brain when improvising.

    Your food looks great, too! Love a stuffed mushroom…and cheese. 🙂


  5. Andrew
    May 13, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    The Miles Davis of cooking?


  6. May 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    definitely in the YUM category!


  7. May 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    As a former classical musician, I have nothing but the highest appreciation for jazz. You have to be a really, really good musician to be anything more than adequate at it. I never got into playing or listening to jazz though. As much appreciation as I have for it, it just doesn’t speak to me.


  8. May 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I’ll definitely try to make this! Thanks!


  9. May 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Man, those look yummy! Anything with cheese and I’m sold!


  10. May 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Wow! GREAT SOLO! This sound wonderful. I don’t like cauliflower, but I think I would like this so this is a great way to “get” me to eat cauliflower!


  11. biggsis
    May 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    This is the best kind of solo because it leaves even more room for interpretation – the basic melody that you present can be altered a bit here and there according to personal taste and diet! I’m looking forward to riffing on your solo – just cause that’s the way I heard it!


  12. Naomi
    May 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    A great post all around! Wonderful story, great metaphor, and amazing looking/sounding recipe. Can’t wait to try it! And wondering what a flute/piccolo equivalent might be for me… maybe some counterpoint ….


  13. May 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    I look forward to eating these with some Chuck Mangione for mood music. Love Jazz trumpets (and variations).


  14. May 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    That is an awesome reference and the stuffed mushrooms look awesome! Going to attempt to make my own haha


  15. May 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Looks REALLY yummy!


  16. Lisa Nicholson
    May 14, 2012 at 4:22 am #

    Mushrooms are the best! I will be making these this week for sure (a veggie version of course).


  17. May 14, 2012 at 5:25 am #

    Same experience in 5th grade – however I choose the flute. And even with a new school, moving and college, the flute gave me a free pass into a “new club”. Not to mention a strong appreciation for all kinds of music. Never felt wild enough to do jazz – but I loved to listen to it. Congrats on the recipe, this looks great.


  18. rigmover
    May 14, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    Maybe a good way to get my kids to eat more veg. Looks nice.


  19. May 14, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Thank you for liking my blog – I love yours! I’m just getting into Lo-Carb eating and these mushrooms look amazingly good. Can’t wait to try this and the other recipes you have. Yumm!


  20. May 14, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Instead of leaving out the bacon bits for the veggie or kosher versions, try adding a few drops of hickory liquid smoke for a similar magical effect.


  21. P.S. I Love Soap Co.
    May 14, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    looks delicious…..


  22. May 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    These look yummy. I’m always on the lookout for new recipes for cauliflower. I wonder what they’ll taste like with goat cheese (the only cheese I can eat.)


  23. May 15, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    These are looking pretty tasty! Hey if you still pick up that horn now and again and want to see a great jazz method, check this out…


  24. May 15, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I MADE THESE TONIGHT! Nice. I like that this recipe “forced” me to blend the cauliflower, got me over that hurdle 🙂 and it is really good. I bet this is AWESOME with bacon. I left it out this time, but I can’t wait to make ’em again with the bacon!!! Yay! I’m eating cauliflower!!


  25. May 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    I was a trumpet player, too, and my brother played trombone and tuba. Never was good at musical improvisation, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of improv in the kitchen. 🙂

    Love the idea of stuffing mushroom caps with veggies instead of just breadcrumb stuffing or fancified crab. These sound delicious!


  26. May 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    I picked violin, and in third grade we performed and were perpetually called “the squeaky sisters.” Never mind. I took up guitar at age 50 and while I only have time to properly hydrate it these days, I love singing ballads to my husband and dog. The sixties and early 70’s are my milieu. Thanks for your post and for liking my blog Dee


  27. May 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Oh, your cooking idea sounds great, may try it on my nephew who doesn’t like veggies in a couple of weeks. Thanks! D


  28. May 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    these look so delicious! I started the piano around 4th or 5th grade, I believe, and the flute in 8th grade. ended forgetting how to play both and using my vocal instrument from high school on instead. do you still play?


  29. Christine Foster
    August 2, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Naomi mentioned these to me and I will definitely be trying. I’m thinking I may make with roasted cauliflower rather than steamed. What do you think?


    • August 2, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      Roasted would bring a good flavor. Would be less like mashed potatoes but sounds good.


    • Naomi
      August 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

      I made it this week and got thumbs up from my family!



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