Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Whole Roasted Cauliflower w/ Yogurt & Spices

Dear Cauliflower,

You have never had a good reputation, especially because mothers served you to their children boiled or steamed.

You always needed melted cheese and tons of hot sauce for me.

But now, cauliflower, you are the "it" vegetable.
You've made it, you are in vogue.

You are served on every NYC restaurant menu w/ capers and anchovies and raisins.

Since I've learned to roast your bland little florets, you have become my favorite vegetable.

But people still can't leave you alone.

Instead of just roasting you with kosher salt & olive oil to caramelized perfection, they have to find new ways to bring out your flavors.

Turning you into rice or pizza crust is very hip right now.

Some like to wrap you in bacon, and others like to place your whole body in the oven coated in spices, roasting you whole.

I apologize that I followed this trend.

I dipped you in yogurt and spices and sliced into you like a steak.

Unfortunately, I found the only thing I tasted were the spices.
Your beautiful flavor was missing for me.

But the presentation was nice, and everybody oohed and aahed, but I was not fooled.

I promise that I won't do this to you again.

I love you just the way you are.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower w/ Yogurt & Spices: (adapted from this recipe)

1 head cauliflower, stem trimmed
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons chile powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix the yogurt w/ the spices in a bowl.

Dip the whole head of cauliflower in the bowl and help spread the yogurt mixture with a spoon.

Place on an oiled baking sheet or roasting pan.

Roast for 40 minutes at 375F until the crust is a nice golden brown.

Let rest 15 minutes before cutting into slices.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Carrot Tarte Tatin

You read it right.
Carrot Tarte Tatin.

An upside down caramelized tart w/ carrots instead of apples.

This was delicious and so easy!

The only pain was getting the carrots to fit into the 9" skillet. I had to trim them to fit.

This was the perfect lunch w/ a salad.

Frozen puff pastry is magical and you can turn out a fancy appetizer or dessert in a matter of minutes.
I always keep a few sheets in the freezer for recipes like this.

Carrot Tarte Tatin: (adapted from Rachel Khoo's Little French Kitchen)

5 large carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 tbsp butter
3 sprigs thyme
pinch of kosher salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
9 oz/250 g puff pastry (1 sheet, defrosted)

Heat the butter in an ovenproof skillet (I used a 9" cast iron skillet) and add the carrots and thyme leaves.
Cook until the carrots are browning and caramelized, turning them a few times, about 12-15 minutes. Season w/ kosher salt.

Remove the carrots and add in the honey and the vinegar and cook a few seconds.
Add the carrots back into the skillet and arrange them however you like. You can place them side by side (which makes more sense than my idea of making a pinwheel!).

Roll out the puff pastry to fit the pan.
Place the pastry over the pan and tuck the edges inside the pan.

Bake in a 375F oven for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Let rest in the pan 10 minutes, then invert the tart onto a plate and serve!

Garnish w/ some fresh thyme could also add some feta or goat cheese to the top if you like.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Easy Peasy: Chicken & Peas w/ Lemon Buttter Sauce

Do you have a package of boring boneless chicken breasts in the freezer?
Do you have a bag of frozen peas?

Then make this dinner.

There is no real recipe here, just an idea.

I saw this on Jen's site and my mouth started to water.

I love peas, and I never could understand why kids don't.

Serve this with pasta or rice, or couscous. The sauce is wonderful.

I will make it easy for you and try and write out amounts, or else I know I will get emails complaining.

With the leftovers (if there are any), I suggest a Chicken Giambotta (or Chicken Murphy, as some call it).

Fry up some good Italian sausage and potatoes with onions, and cut the leftover chicken into chunks.
Use this sauce and the peas to create an even better dinner than the first one.

2 for 1.

Jen's Chicken & Peas w/ Lemon Butter Sauce (adapted from Last Night's Dinner):

4 boneless chicken breast halves
salt & pepper
4 tbsp of butter
olive oil
1 cup of chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 cup of defrosted frozen peas
juice and zest of a lemon

Mix the flour w/ salt & pepper in a pie dish.
Flatten out the chicken breasts and coat them in the flour, shaking off any excess.

In a large skillet, heat a tbsp of butter w/ some olive oil.
Add the floured chicken breasts and cook about 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove to a platter.

Deglaze the pan with the juice of a lemon, then add in the chicken stock. Simmer this liquid 1 minute, then add in the peas and chicken back into the pan. You may need to add some more broth, but a cup was fine for mine.

Simmer another 2 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked thru. Swirl in 3 tbsp of butter at the end for richness.

Serve in bowls and mop up the sauce!


Friday, February 27, 2015

Prune Clafoutis a.k.a. Far Breton

Do you have an extra half gallon of milk lying around? If you do, make a custard or clafoutis.

I always have milk in the house.

Would you believe that I buy 2 gallons of organic milk a week and 2 dozen eggs for 2 people?
It's true.

We do love dairy in this house, and I use eggs everyday in some way.

Next house, we are getting our own chickens, so I can have fresh eggs.

Now about the recipe.

If you make this in a cake pan you can call this a Far Breton, a delicious custardy cake from Brittany in France, made w/ armagnac and prunes.

If you just make it in some souffle dishes then you can call it a clafoutis (which is from the Limousin region of France, usually made w/ cherries).

I had some lovely prunes lying around (aren't prunes lovely?), and a big gallon of whole milk waiting to expire, so let's make this.

Forget that these are prunes, and try and get over that word.

Prunes are just dried plums, and are very good to relieve constipation, so I am told.

I love raisins, prunes, dates and dried figs, so you don't have to sell me.

This is a great breakfast, because it's nice and eggy, and it's best served warm, however, I am happy to eat it all day sitting on the counter.

It won't be great tomorrow, but it's great today, so eat it now.

Prune Clafoutis or Far Breton:

3 eggs
5 tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups of whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
zest of a lemon
15 dried prunes plumped up in water

In a blender, mix the eggs, butter, flour, sugar, milk and vanilla.

Let this batter sit in the fridge for 2 hours or more.

In a small saucepan, heat about 1/4 cup of water and simmer the prunes with the lemon zest until they are soft, about 8 minutes. If the water evaporates, just add in some more.

Butter a 9" cake pan, pie dish or individual souffle dishes and place the prunes and reserved liquid on the bottom.

Pour the chilled batter over and bake in a 375F oven for 40 minutes.

The custard will puff up then deflate.

Let cool about 15 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Best Quinoa Cakes w/ Sweet Potatoes & Kale

I am using yesterday's leftover quinoa salad w/ sweet potatoes and kale to make the MOST delicious quinoa cakes you will ever eat.

Hands down, these win for a few reasons.

First, for the first time in my life, the ratio was correct using just 2 eggs. These did not fall apart during frying!
Almost EVERY recipe I have tried for quinoa cakes has been disastrous. I have had to throw so many away, and usually end up having to add more breadcrumbs or more eggs. :(

Not here. Perfection.

The other reason these are the best, is the taste.

The smoked paprika in the recipe works so well the sweetness of the potatoes.
And adding harissa to the yogurt made these off the charts good.

If you did not make yesterday's quinoa salad, and you want to just make these patties, then of course you still can.

The original recipe uses pureed sweet potatoes, which would be fine too, and the recipe uses cornstarch, which I don't have, so omitted.

I had great success using my large All-Clad stainless skillet frying these with coconut oil.
I am usually not a fan of coconut oil, but here it was great for frying the patties.

These are my favorite quinoa cakes so far, I hope you try them!

Sweet Potato & Kale Quinoa Cakes (adapted from Yes, More Please)

2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into dice and roasted (see yesterday's recipe)
2 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup of the cooked quinoa from yesterday yields a little over 2 cups)
2 cups Lacinato (Tuscan) kale, stems removed and sliced into thin slices
2 eggs
1/2 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs, fresh or panko (to make these gluten free, you can use oats or almond meal, but I haven't tried them that way)
1 tsp of SMOKED paprika (also known as Spanish paprika or pimenton, do not use regular Hungarian paprika)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

If using yesterday's salad, then it's easy. Just mix the 2 eggs with the paprika and breadcrumbs to the mixture. Season w/ salt & pepper and you are ready to fry.

If starting from scratch, then add the cooked sweet potatoes (pureed or roasted) in with the raw sliced kale, eggs, cooked quinoa and rest of ingredients.

Using a small ice cream scoop place the patties into a skillet heated with coconut oil.

Fry 2 minutes on each side, then transfer to a cooling rack.

These don't need any dipping sauce, but if you like, mix some plain Greek yogurt w/ a tsp of harissa paste.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Quinoa Salad w/ Sweet Potatoes & Kale

I loved this simple quinoa salad.

But the best part of it will be tomorrow, when you have saved half the bowl for the best damn quinoa cakes you will ever try (you will have to wait till tomorrow for the recipe).

Here is how to make your healthy, delicious lunch today:

Quinoa Salad w/ Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Kale:

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
olive oil
a few shakes of good quality chile powder (I used New Mexico Ancho)
kosher salt
bunch of kale, stems removed, and leaves torn or cut into thin slices
1 cup of quinoa plus (I make extra so I have it in the fridge for other recipes)


2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp minced shallots
pinch of sea salt & pepper

Whisk the dressing ingredients with a fork and set aside.

On a large baking sheet, toss the cubed sweet potatoes w/ kosher salt, some chile powder (about a teaspoon), and roast in a 400F oven for 20-30 minutes, turning them one time during baking.

Cook the quinoa as per package directions.

When the potatoes are done, add them to the cooked quinoa and torn kale into a large bowl.

Add the dressing and toss. Season w/ sea salt if you like.

I saved half the bowl for the quinoa cake recipe tomorrow, but you don't have to.

That's it! So delicious.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Provencal Crustless Quiche w/ Onions & Anchovies

Patricia Wells is a beloved French cook.

Every year, I attempt to take a cooking class with her while in Paris, but they fill up so quickly, and are quite costly.......

Her paperback cookbook BISTRO COOKING is a classic.
Why do I always forget about it?
There are simple, lovely recipes in it, every one a winner.

Sam posted this recipe and reminded me how nice and easy her recipes are.

This is almost like a pissaladiere, but without the crust!

I didn't have heavy cream in the house, so used creme fraiche, which made this even better.

Of course you can make this without the anchovies and olives, but then why bother?
Make yourself an onion omelet instead.

Provencal Crustless Quiche w/ Onions & Anchovies: (adapted from My Carolina Kitchen & Bistro Cooking)

3 large onions (about 1 lb.), sliced thin
2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
pinch of nutmeg
black pepper
4 eggs
1/4 whole milk
3 tbsp creme fraiche (or heavy cream)
a few black olives, sliced in half
6 anchovy filets, rinsed
3 cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook the onion slices on low heat in the butter and olive oil with the thyme and nutmeg. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt while cooking.

This should take about 8 minutes, until light golden (you don't want to caramelize them).

Place the cooked onions in an 9" glass or ceramic buttered pie dish.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and creme fraiche, seasoning w/ black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Pour the custard over the onions in the baking dish.

Carefully arrange anchovies, olives and tomatoes in a pinwheel fashion.

The original recipe calls for a 425F oven, but that is way too hot to cook a quiche without a crust.
I baked mine at 375F for 30 minutes and it came out perfect.

Let cool a few minutes then serve with a nice arugula salad and glass of wine (or in this case, water).

The perfect lunch (for me!).

Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Vegetarian Cassoulet w/ a Mexican Twist?

You can call this baked beans, or you can call this a vegetarian cassoulet.
I have no clue, I just call it good.

I wanted a hearty dish without pork or meat or chicken for a change.

I've been reading a lot about eating for your blood type, and since I am A-, the experts say I should have a plant based diet, and very little meat. Fish is ok, and dairy is fine (thank GOD!), however, my blood type does not process animal proteins well.

I'm not sure if there is any truth to this theory, but why wouldn't I try it?
It makes sense to me.

Before ever reading about this, I have felt this way.

I like meat, but I never feel great after eating it. It's hard for my body to digest, and I just feel better eating more of a vegetable based diet.

It doesn't mean that I am going to become a vegetarian, or stop taking a few bites from my husband's bacon cheeseburger, cause I'm not, but when I can, I will choose the healthier option.

By the way, the books says that 0 blood types should have heavier diets rich in meats, since they were the first blood type, and were predators back in cave man times.


Click here for WebMd info on eating for your blood type.

Don't worry, I will still be posting plenty of recipes using beef & pork.

Back to this dish.

I thought I would give this dish a Mexican twist by using hatch chiles (which I love), and top it with cotija cheese and breadcrumbs.

Make it healthy by adding chopped spinach.

Though this dish was delicious, I do feel it missed the flavor of the sausage, bacon and duck fat.
However, if I didn't call it a "cassoulet", then maybe I wouldn't have missed the meat!

My husband DEFINITELY missed the pork here, so I fried up some chorizo for him and all was right with the world.

Vegetarian Cassoulet? with a Mexican Twist? (Yeah, why not?)

2 cans of white beans, rinsed and drained (I use Goya cannellini)
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 small can or 2 tbsp of diced hatch chiles (found at Trader Joe's)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
hot pepper flakes
olive oil
kosher salt & pepper
16 oz. frozen chopped spinach, drained (you can use fresh spinach that has been blanched)
dried breadcrumbs (seasoned or panko)
1/2 cup of crumbled cotija cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano)

In a large skillet, cook the garlic and onion on medium heat until translucent.

Add the canned tomatoes, beans, hatch chilis and spinach and cook together for a minute or two.
I also added in some fresh cherry tomatoes.

Season w/ salt & pepper.

Spread the breadcrumbs and cheese over the top and drizzle with some olive oil.

Bake for 25 minutes in a 425F hot oven.

Serve with a side of sausage or bacon (wink wink).


Friday, February 20, 2015

Tuscan Chocolate Hazelnut Bread Pudding

It's winter (in case you haven't noticed), and it's bread pudding season!, plus I had leftover chocolate bread from Il Buco Alimenatari sitting on my counter!

There's nothing better than a stale loaf.

Giulia, a cook from Tuscany, tells us that Italians don't waste food. They would never throw away a leftover loaf of bread.
Neither would I (at least I would throw it to the birds).

Croutons, panzanella or bread pudding.

In this case, since the bread was of the chocolate variety, a bread pudding it was going to be.

I will write out the recipe for using a whole loaf (about 5 cups of torn bread), but if you only have half a loaf leftover, just cut the ingredients in half and bake in a small casserole dish or individual buttered ramekins.

Tuscan Chocolate Bread Pudding: (loosely adapted from Jul's Kitchen)

5 to 6 cups chocolate or Itailan rustic white bread, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (I use 70% dark)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups whole milk, heated
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (if using Italian white bread)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, tear up your bread into small pieces and add the hot milk to the bowl. Mix together with a fork until nice and mushy.

Now add in eggs and rest of ingredients.

Pour into buttered 9" x 9" oval baking dish.
Bake at 350F for 40 minutes (bake 20 minutes if baking in individual ramekins).

Delicious for breakfast, served with a dollop of yogurt.