On the Side: Mashed Cauliflower

I’m on a continual quest to add more vegetables to our diet. I love veggies, but Jeremy’s not as crazy about them. So, I like to experiment with new dishes that highlight veggies.

The other night I was making a sauté of mushrooms, asparagus, onions, cherry tomatoes, and diced chicken sausage and wanted something to serve alongside. The head of cauliflower in the fridge became my ingredient inspiration and thus the mashed cauliflower recipe was found. I thought it was quite delicious; Jeremy liked the veggie sausage sauté over the cauliflower.

So, if you’re looking for a new veggie dish to try, or a lower carb option to replace mashed potatoes, I suggest you give mashed cauliflower a try. I know I’ll be making it again.

MASHED CAULIFLOWER
(based on a recipe from EatingWell)
Print This Recipe

8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4-1/3 cup buttermilk
1-2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
snipped fresh chives, for garnish

Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender, 15-20 minutes.

Place cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. Add buttermilk, yogurt, olive oil, salt and pepper; pulse several times, then process until smooth and creamy. Add more buttermilk or yogurt until desired consistency. Garnish with chives and serve hot.

Advertisements

Off the Shelf: Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That

We are so delighted to have Sarah Bailey return with a guest post today!
Please join us in welcoming her!
_________________________________________

(Sarah) If you want to make Hors d’oeuvres that would impress some dinner guests without acting like a slave to the stove, you might appreciate How Easy is That? (Barefoot Contessa).
 
Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, which sits at number one on The New York Times bestseller list for hardcover advice, offers a beautiful picture for every recipe and cuts ingredients to the bare essentials. The colorful book with pictures for every recipe helps those who lack the imagination of knowing how to make a sophisticated yet nearly effortless dish.
 
However, the mediocre reviews on Amazon suggest that the Barefoot Contessa has executed better cookbooks in the past. One reviewer, for instance, complains that some of the recipes (think red velvet cupcakes) are pretty easy to find on the Internet.
 
Since my husband prefers less creamy dishes and ingredients he can easily identify, the many of the sections—cocktails, starters, lunch and even desserts—offered little benefit to me. As delicious as they sound, I can’t convince him to take a bite of “savory coeur à la crème,” “rum raisin tiramisù,” or “roasted eggplant companata.”
 
The finest section of the book premieres with the dinner section, where Garten makes divine dishes—provençal lamb, roasted shrimp with feta, and panko-crusted salmon—look like a piece of cake. A cook with an herb garden could especially appreciate the recipes as she blends fresh herbs throughout the dishes.

Sprinkled throughout the book, she includes 68 easy tips to help smooth out the cooking process. However, if you work in a small kitchen space, some of the tips are somewhat impractical. I don’t have room for a second dishwasher, since we don’t even have one dishwasher to begin with. Or, for instance, she suggests you have Le Creuset dutch ovens, All Clad sauté pans, and an extra bowl for a food processor and your Kitchenaid mixer, which might lean on the pricey side or take up too much room for some cooks.
 
She also recommends a Cooks Illustrated subscription, but I prefer to cut down on the paper and get the website subscription (where you get excellent video demonstrations and a rich archive of recipes). On the other hand, I wholeheartedly agree with her recommendation to own or save up for a large stockpot, thermometers, a box grater, and a cooking scale.
 
The book doesn’t just showcase recipes; it also includes tips for entertaining. In describing how she sets the table, she balances elegance with simplicity. “We’ve all seen some pretty over-the-top settings with a million crystal glasses, ceramic dishes filled with candy, lots of flowers, candles napkin rings, place cards, and chargers. Frankly, I’ve never known that kind of party to be more fun; in fact, it’s usually just the opposite—it’s more intimidating!” Instead, she recommends a one-color theme appropriate for the season.
 
I tested the cookbook, serving the “weeknight bolognese,” “garlic-roasted cauliflower,” and the “easy cranberry & apple cake.”

Weeknight Bolognese
Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?  Ina Garten
serves 4-5
 
2 Tb. good olive oil, plus extra to cook pasta
1 pound lean ground sirloin
4 tsp. minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 Tb. dried oregano
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 ¼ c. dry red wine, divided
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 Tb. tomato paste
Kosher salt & black pepper
¾ pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ c. chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
¼ c. heavy cream
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
 
Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a large (12 inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5-7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tbs salt, and 1 ½ tsp pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.
 
While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and ½ cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower
(How Easy is That?)
Serves 6

1 head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into large florets
4 1/2 Tb. olive oil, divided
kosher salt, ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
3 Tb. pine nuts
2 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds. Drain, pee, and cut off any brown parts. Cut the largest cloves in half lengthwise.
 
On a sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with the garlic, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Spread the mixture out in a single layer and roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing twice, until the cauliflower is tender and the garlic is lightly browned.
 
Scrape the cauliflower into a large bowl with the garlic and pan juices. Add the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, the parsley pine nuts, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with another ½ teaspoon of salt, toss well, and serve hot or warm.

Easy Cranberry & Apple Cake
(How Easy is That?)
Serves 6-8

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
½ c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 Tb. grated orange zest (2 oranges)
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
11⁄8 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 c. plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ c. sour cream
1 c. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1⁄8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Market Fresh: Chocolate

Just about everyone (except my husband) loves chocolate. But how many of us think about using chocolate in savory cooking? It’s the truffles, chocolate chip cookies, and decadent chocolate cake that fuel our cravings. Thinking outside the box is good once in awhile and using chocolate in a savory dish exercises creativity and sparks the imagination.

Today I have a lovely Spinach-Pear Salad with Chocolate Dressing and Roasted Cauliflower with Paprika and Cocoa for you to try.

I made this salad with spinach, spring salad mix, and pears. However, as we were eating, we dreamed of substituting strawberries for the pears, adding Gorgonzola and toasted pecans, and later on we even suggested bacon. So, make the salad with whatever ingredients you think sound good to you and enjoy the sweet, tangy bite of this Chocolate Dressing.

CHOCOLATE BALSAMIC SALAD DRESSING
(adapted from www.recipezaar.com)
Print this recipe

1/2 c. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 oz. (2 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate

Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and dissolve over a gentle heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate. Leave to cool to room temperature. Do not refrigerate or dressing will solidify.

Roasted cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetable side dishes. I’ve made it often in the past, but this was my first time to try it with the cocoa and paprika. To be honest, I didn’t really taste a strong note of either coming through. Perhaps the two added more to the overall color of the dish. In any case, I will definitely be repeating this — I always make a full head of cauliflower and it is never enough.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH COCOA AND PAPRIKA
(Heather)
Print this recipe

1 head of cauliflower
canola oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
paprika
unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut cauliflower into florets. Rinse and drain and pat dry. Spread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with canola oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and cocoa powder. I probably used about 1 tsp. of cocoa powder for the entire pan, perhaps the same for the paprika. Use your hands to turn florets and make sure they are coated evenly.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until nicely browned and tender.

Market Fresh: Vegetable Side Dishes

Everyone needs more ideas for easy veggies to serve alongside the main course. Today I have two very simple ideas: Baked Garlic Butter Mushrooms and Roasted Cauliflower. Both dishes take very little effort and can be popped into the oven and forgotten about until they are ready. You will find both these dishes are hard to stop eating once you have taken the first bite.

Image065

BAKED GARLIC BUTTER MUSHROOMS
(Heather)

1 pkg. mushrooms
3 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, pressed
salt & pepper

balsamic vinegar to serve

Clean the mushrooms and place on a baking tray. I like to remove the stems from the mushroom tops so the garlic butter can sit inside the cup. The stems can roast alongside the tops. Melt the butter and add the garlic. Gently pour butter over mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350F (or thereabouts if you have something else in the oven calling for a different temperature) for 30-40 minutes until mushrooms are tender and have a lovely, roasted appearance. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Image009

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
(Heather)

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
canola oil
salt & pepper

Wash cauliflower and break into florets. Dry the cauliflower off with a paper towel or tea towel. Place cauliflower on baking sheet and drizzle with canola oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands to rub the cauliflower in the oil to evenly coat. Place the cauliflower in a 350F oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your florets. The edges of the florets should begin to brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.