Green eggs, without the ham. If you ever feel like scrambled eggs and toast may not be the most balanced breakfast, a hearty handful of herbs and other vegetables from your fridge will remedy that quickly.
This is a take on the classic cauliflower and cheese sauce that I grew up eating, but baked for a nice crunchy topping. I threw in some kale so I could feel a little better about it, but make no mistake, this is a rich dish!
Here’s a nice tutorial on making béchamel from The Kitchn, if you’re not sure of the process. For a whole head of cauliflower you might need 1/3 - ½ of the amount this recipe calls for, but it’s all based on proportions so it’s easy to modify! I used 1T. butter and 1T. flour with about 1 cup of milk for half a head of cauliflower…it’s pretty forgiving though.
Because I’ve come to accept it with self-deprecating acquiescence, none of my friends in Canada think I can cook.
To be honest, I couldn’t cook. Since coming to Canada, being spoilt all summer with three meals a day plus staff snack at camp, and then having been looked after regally at Michael’s house, I’d seemingly lost any culinary ability I’d possessed at home in England. When I moved into my various sublets, I’d eat at a restaurant, or eat noodles, or occasionally conjure an omelette. I was a gastronomic dunce.
Fast forward to last night’s dinner party with Zannah, Preet and Sheena. On the menu (mainly gathered from recipes on madeweekly.tumblr.com);
Sautéed cauliflower with capers
Cumin roasted carrots and chestnuts
Posh macaroni cheese with spinach and tomatoes
Quinoa with kale and beets in a balsamic dressing
I was pretty pleased with myself. Sure, the day before I’d spent half an hour peeling an avocado for a salad, only for it to be so under ripe I couldn’t even chew it. Sure, I didn’t prepare the quinoa properly and I’ve had crippling stomach pains for the last 12 hours. As far as I’m aware, everyone else is OK, and we all make mistakes. Right?
The point is, I’m cooking again, and enjoying it, and getting creative in the kitchen. A skill I thought had left me when I moved here is beginning come back, and that’s a pretty delicious prospect.
My entry into the Great Tumblr Book Search, sponsored by Chronicle! To demonstrate my concept, I’m recapping Grapefruit Week in one gallery.
Synopsis Ingredient by ingredient, season by season, teaching the art of home cooking through simple, visual recipes. Instead of prescribing every spice down to the quarter teaspoon, these recipes encourage readers to experiment and taste as they go – the best way for any cook to learn. And with basic preparation notes for each featured ingredient, home cooks should have all they need to experiment with new dishes, make the most of what they find in the fridge, and learn to love the kitchen.
So I made this awesome dish from Madeweekly. I just tweaked it a little. I had this yummy bacon leftover from breakfast for supper yesterday, and I was like “self what goes well with bacon?” The answer is everything. So I cooked the bacon and sautéed the cauliflower and etc in the bacon grease. And added smoked paprika (I don’t have dried red pepper), plus everything else on the recipe. This was SO GOOD. And super filling. I am a stuffed mushroom.
Tarts and quiches are another great way to feature vegetables, or to clean out your fridge. I had a handful of minced chives left over from an event, so I decided they’d make a nice mild oniony complement to the chard and goat cheese.
I made a cornmeal shortbread crust, which means you can just press the crust into your tart pan instead of rolling it out. Since I’m a bit messy, this is a big plus to avoid flour on all surfaces of my kitchen. Here’s the recipe for the crust.
½ c. white or yellow cornmeal (fine ground, not polenta) ¾ c. all-purpose flour ¾ t. salt 6 T. unsalted butter, cut into ¼ - inch cubes and frozen for several minutes (the colder the better) 4 - 5 tablespoons ice water
Whisk together cornmeal, flour, and salt. Add butter and incorporate with a pastry cutter or by hand, until the butter is in very small pieces. (note: I used to do this in a food processor, but found my butter always ended up too finely incorporated, making my dough tough.) Add ice water and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is no longer dry (it should hold together if you pinch it). Press evenly into a 9 - 10" tart pan with removable bottom, and par-bake for 15 minutes at 375 before adding the filling.
I almost never eat sweet breakfasts. Eggs win every time, especially when I’m eating out. But every once in awhile I can get behind a good pancake. These are lightly sweetened, and slightly less guilt-inducing with the addition of the carrots. This recipe makes about 12 pancakes (they are smallish but that amount will feed 4 people easily).
This recipe inspired me, but I wanted to simplify the spices and go with maple-pecan flavoring on top instead of cream cheese. Although obviously both would be delicious!
The trick to crepes is making them aggressively thin (it only takes a few tablespoons of batter, and swirl that pan!) and using a non-stick or very well-seasoned pan so sticking is not an option. They only take about 30 seconds to cook on the first side and then flip for another 15 seconds or so. Just like pancakes, the first one will probably be messed up but that’s just your sacrificial crepe (it still tastes good). I forgot how easy they are, and how yummy some creamy, garlicky mushrooms are spooned on top.
This amount of crepe batter will make about 8 crepes, depending on the size of your pan. You could easily double it and refrigerate your leftover crepes. They warm up in seconds in a dry pan and then you can have crepes for breakfast AND dinner!
This is one of my favorite, super simple Italian side dishes. It really takes no time – tangy, a little spicy, and with just a bit of richness from the cheese. Toss it with some pasta or on top of a bunch of spinach for a main dish.
I had to include at least one strawberry & rhubarb recipe this week. This recipe hails from Smitten Kitchen via Martha Stewart, so you know it’s good. Keep this one handy all summer and experiment with all the lovely berries and stone fruits that are going to start showing up!
And remember, follow me at my new facebook page and instagram, for behind-the-scenes shots and other fun stuff!!
Although pizza dough is quite easy to make, I had this whole wheat dough from Whole Foods that was even easier. You could certainly add sauce and a meltier cheese but I like non-traditional pizzas with a higher vegetable-to-cheese ratio. And this happened to use ingredients I had in my fridge!
Herb oils are a cinch to make, and are a wonderful finishing element to have on hand.
Cilantro oil is awesome drizzled over soups (like gazpacho!), on top of scrambled eggs, or whisked with lemon juice or vinegar to make a vinaigrette. You shouldn’t cook with herb oil because heat will affect the flavor, but think of it as the finishing touch.
Cover and keep in the refrigerator. It’s best if you use herb oil within a day, or it will lose its potency and within a few days it will go bad.
Just one of many variations on this open-faced sandwich, with cream cheese. You could also use creme fraiche, flavored butter, hummus, you name it. Top with crunchy radishes and it’s the perfect afternoon snack.
I don’t even know why we eat tomatoes in the winter. If any of you have read Barry Estabrook’s fantastic book “Tomatoland,” it’ll convince you to never buy another tomato grown in Florida (or really, any commercial tomatoes at all).
That leaves us with late summer market tomatoes, and they’re so much better than the tasteless, mealy, pink-fleshed things we call tomatoes in the grocery store that you’ll never look back.
I put heirloom tomatoes in a salad at the wedding I catered recently and had someone talk my ear off for 10 minutes about how good the tomatoes were. “But they taste like tomatoes!” Yes, yes they do.
Varieties: Heirlooms come in a few categories: Commercial Heirlooms, Family Heirlooms (I wish my family had heirloom tomato seeds!), Created Heirlooms, and Mystery Heirlooms. The main premise of heirlooms is that the seeds have been passed down for generations, or are varieties that have occurred naturally or have been in circulation for over 50 years.
Appearance & Buying: Heirlooms can come in all kinds of colors, from flame orange to greenish to purple to bright yellow to mottled and striated. They’re more delicate than store bought tomatoes, so don’t squeeze them too aggressively or they’ll bruise (and be careful getting them home!). Just buy tomatoes that are firm, but not rock hard, with no soft spots or bruising.
Storage: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT refrigerate your tomatoes. It ruins the flavor and texture. Store on the countertop and they should be fine for a few days.
As a reformed tomato hater turned tomato lover, I invite you to tomato week!
I know, cilantro is polarizing. The only reason I accept that people might not love cilantro as much as I do is that their aversion is supposedly genetic. Cilantro-haters can’t help it, so I forgive them.
Many of the cuisines I love the most use cilantro frequently – Mexican, Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern. Cilantro has a wonderfully bright flavor that enhances and complements the strong spices often found in those cuisines.
Cilantro / Coriander: Technically the plant is called coriander. Here in the US, we call its fresh, leafy version cilantro, and the dried seeds coriander. In other countries, the fresh herb is also known as coriander.
Storage: Cilantro has a tendency to go bad quickly. My most successful storage technique is to wash it upon bringing it home and dry it as well as possible (in a salad spinner if you have one). Wrap in a couple of paper towels and store in a large ziplock bag, with the air pushed out.
From root to leaf: The entire cilantro plant can be used for cooking – its pungent roots are often used in Thai curries, its stems are tender enough to chop up along with the leaves, and its seeds have a lemony, mildly spiced flavor.
WTF is Culantro?: Apparently another plant called culantro (also known as Mexican Coriander) exists, which is related in flavor but looks like a leafy aloe plant. I have yet to come across culantro, but when I do, I will be sure to report back.