Thursday, February 11, 2016

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Feta

AFTER SEVERAL ATTEMPTS AT ROASTING a whole cauliflower, I finally met success with this method which begins by simmering the cauliflower in a flavorful broth. Afterwards, save the savory broth as a fantastic cooking liquid for soup and especially for grains.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower
1 whole cauliflower, leaves removed and stem trimmed
2 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
Freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
8 cups water

Bring wine, oil, salt, lemon juice, pepper, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, and water to a boil in a large pot. Carefully lower the cauliflower into the liquid. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the cauliflower and simmer for another 10 minutes, until a knife can be easily inserted into the center.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and prepare the whipped feta.

Remove the cauliflower from the simmering liquid and drain. Place into a rimmed baking pan and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan half way through, until the orb is golden and beginning to char in places. If you want more char leave it longer or put under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

Transfer to a platter, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with whipped feta.

Whipped Feta
4 ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup yogurt or sour cream

In a mixing bowl, mash feta with a fork until mostly smooth. In a separate bowl, whip cream until it is just barely holds peaks. Fold whipped cream and yogurt/sour cream into feta until combined.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Egg Salad

EGG SALAD IS NOT ON A REGULAR ROTATION in our home. Why? It has just never been part of our repertoire. I don't remember my mother ever making it at home. I don't remember it being served at school or anywhere else for that matter. My husband doesn't especially like it so we never think about it. Except at Easter--to make use of some of those Easter Eggs.

There are so many ways to make this simple spread, the most basic being chopped hard boiled eggs mixed with mayonnaise. All kinds of add-ins can help up the flavor. Pickles, dill or sweet, are popular, onion, scallion, or shallot are good, celery, peppers, cheese, bacon, anchovies, and more.

Mustard is often used and I pondered the various types I had in the kitchen--stone ground, Dijon, honey mustard, and yellow ballpark mustard. Ultimately, I decided to use some mustard powder and I'm so happy that I did. I loved the flavor it imparted and the inner warmth reminded me of wasabi. In fact, next time I think I will try using wasabi.

I served the egg salad on sour dough bread with alfalfa sprouts. Delicious!

Egg Salad
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 rib celery, with leaves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 - 3 Tbsp. finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 - 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise (more to taste)

Mix all ingredients together to desired consistency. Chill before serving.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pasta e Ceci

PASTA e CECI IS NOT A FANCY DISH and I probably would not serve it for a dinner party. It did, however, make a perfectly delicious, healthful, and easy weeknight supper packed with flavor from olive oil, onions, garlic, anchovies, plum tomatoes, and fresh rosemary.

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs but I must admit I don't enjoy pine needles in my food. There are a couple of ways to avoid this, one is to wrap it in cheese cloth to be removed after cooking. I prefer to chop it very finely, always using fresh.

I hope you will use the anchovies; they add such an unrecognizable depth of flavor, never fishy.

I used the adorable and tiny acini de pepe but any small pasta will work just fine. I loved the appearance and texture of the miniature pasta with the chickpeas. Because the pasta is cooked in the same pot, right along with the beans, the starchy cooking liquid helps to form a sauce. Not to mention this is a one pot meal making cleanup easy.

Pasta e Ceci
1 Tbsp.olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 - 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 springs fresh rosemary, or 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
4 cups broth or spring water
6 - 8 oz. small pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Warm olive oil over medium low heat. Stir in onion, garlic, and anchovies, cooking until anchovies are melted. Add chopped tomatoes and saute for 10 - 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are fully cooked.

Increase heat and add can of chick peas, the broth or spring water, salt to taste, along with the rosemary. Bring to a healthy simmer and stir in the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked per the package, or taste.

When the pasta is done, spoon into warm bowls. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper, and garnish with shavings of Parmiigiano Reggiano.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Indian Lentil Soup

AN ERRAND HAD ME DRIVING TO A NEARBY TOWN in pouring rain. And I mean pouring. I had my wipers going as fast as they could go and still had to slow down to about 35 (in a 65) because of such poor visibility. Fortunately, other drivers were being sensible. Some had pulled over, but I kept pressing on. I ended up being in my car for about three hours.

When I got back home, I really wanted to cook up a steaming pot of soup. I knew I had all the ingredients on hand for one of my favorites--Indian Lentil Soup. I have made this recipe many, many times over the years and it is well loved by all who have tried it. I have posted it before but in case you missed it, here it is again. I served it with Naan and yogurt.

As we sat at the table, around six o'clock, enjoying our soup, I started noticing an unusual light coming in from outside. I commented on it and kept looking at all the windows. As a photographer, I am always observing light. I finally stopped eating and said I had to look out. I looked out the back door and reported my observation as a pale yellow sky. Then I walked to the front window, pulled back the sheers and gasped, "Oh Wow! It is a Huge Rainbow!"

We had to go outside to see the entire thing. It was the biggest and most intensely colored rainbow I have ever seen. What a blessing after that odious car trip.  Once it began to fade, we went back inside to finish dinner.

Life is good.

Cabbagetown Cafe Cookbook by Julie Jordan, 1986

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mandarin Chicken Salad with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans

AFTER ROASTING A CHICKEN AND EATING IT for a couple of days, I decided to pick off the rest of the meat for a chicken salad. I knew I wanted fruit in it--maybe apples or grapes or both, neither of which I had on hand. Then I spotted the bowl of Clementines and thought, sure, why not.

I decided to add celery and scallions, and I knew I had some pecan halves leftover from Christmas baking. I also thought I would add some blue cheese and further thought I had some in the fridge, only to discover a little mouse (my husband) had eaten it. I did find a chunk of smoked Gouda so I used that.

After I got the ingredients together and dressed, I was stirring it and thinking how dull and colorless it looked. I was thinking, if I had some dried cranberries, I would add some for color as well as flavor. Then I remembered I had some homemade whole cranberry sauce in the refrigerator. Lovely. Perfect.

For serving, I garnished with additional tangerine sections and a dollop of cranberry sauce.

Mandarin Chicken Salad with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roasted pecan halves
2 Clementines/tangerines/cuties/satsumas (whatever the grower calls them, they are all Mandarin oranges) peeled, sectioned, and halved
3 oz. smoked Gouda, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup fresh whole cranberry sauce

1/2 cup mayo
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar or honey
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and chill while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Stir together the shredded chicken, celery slices, scallion slices, pecans, tangerines, cheese, and cranberry sauce. Pour over the chilled dressing and toss until evenly distributed. Chill before serving.