Creamy Horseradish Mashed Kale and Cauliflower

Mashed cauliflower is the greatest thing since mashed potatoes.

It’s creamy, it can be as rich or as virtuous as you desire, it’s fast to make, and it’s GENIUS if you are cutting down on carbs.

But you know what I say…lose the carbs, keep the fat.

So here it is…one of my fave mashed cauliflower dishes ever, with a little something healthy mixed in.

Creamy Horseradish Mashed Kale and Cauliflower

2011-08-25 fritatta and cheatloafIngredients:

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

1 bunch kale, torn into small pieces and cleaned

1.5 cups shredded horseradish cheese

1 bunch scallions, diced

1/3 cup cream cheese

3 tbsp. seasoning (throw some salt in there, too!)

IMG_09041. Toss the kale and cauliflower in a large stockpot filled with water. It’s okay if the veggies almost overflow from the pot – the kale cooks waaaayyy down. Cover the pot and cook for at least 40 minutes at a full rolling boil. I mean, you want that kale WILTED into submission. It should be almost as tender as spinach. You cannot overcook this – cook it longer than you think is necessary.
IMG_09182. When everything is totally limp (that’s what she said), turn off the heat, drain the veggies well, and return it to the pot. IMG_0920 3. Add the cheese, seasoning, scallions, and cream cheese to the pot. The cheese should instantly start to melt. IMG_0923 4. Puree with a hand blender (ie, the best thing on our registry…I LOVE this thing!).IMG_0925 5. Taste for seasonings and serve.

THIS is the way that you get someone to eat kale. This is the way that you get someone to forget that they can’t eat potatoes. This is the way to use up that cauliflower that is about to go bad. This is just awesome. The horseradish really gives a sharp, spicy hit  and the cream cheese makes the dish both buttery and creamy. The scallions make the whole thing taste like loaded mashed potatoes, and – guess what? – you don’t taste the kale. Such a great way to sneak in some roughage. It’s the ideal one-pot meal, especially with the stick blender – serve it right out of the pot, like I do. IMG_0927Then, scrape the remnants with your finger, like I do.

Tomato Sandwich Redux – No Mayo!

When I read about this tomato sandwich on some food forum or other (what, you don’t spend your days trolling sites for restaurant reviews and recipes?), I knew that I had to try it. I have had at least 4,000 tomato sandwiches in my lifetime, but never one like this.

This isn’t your traditional tomato sandwich. 

Why, you ask?

Well, for one, there is no mayonnaise. Now, I LOVE tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches, but sometimes, they can be a little too much – too creamy, too goopy, too messy.

Also, there are seasonings beyond salt and pepper. A TRAVESTY in the tomato-sandwich making traditional school of thought.

Also…well, it’s not really tomato season yet. It’s early. The tomatoes are fresh and juicy at the farmer’s market, but they aren’t quite those sweet, dripping with flavor, sun warmed tomatoes that August is sure to bring.

But it was a long winter. And I need some tomato sandwiches NOW. 

So, without further ado…here is the simple way to make a nouveau tomato sandwich.

20140702_074652 1. Take your piece of bread. I had sour rye, but fresh white bread or even some thinly sliced pumpernickel would work well.20140702_074803 2. Spread it thickly with unsalted butter. The butter must be spread thickly and it MUST be unsalted. I always buy unsalted butter because it’s so easy to season your own butter to the saltiness that you prefer, and then you control the sodium. Also, keep that butter at room temperature when you are spreading it so you don’t tear the bread. 20140702_075109 3. Layer on your tomatoes, none too thinly sliced. The heartier the bread is, the thicker the slices must be. Also, the tomatoes aren’t fully flavored yet, so you need thicker slices to taste them fully. Come August, you can use a razor blade to cut those slices and still have the taste burst through. 20140702_0751345. Top with your seasonings of choice – I prefer a spicy lemon pepper seasoning with red pepper flakes, salt, and dried lemon zest. 
20140702_0751436. Eat openfaced, in front of the air conditioner and with an ice old root beer, if possible. 

This sandwich blew me away. The butter seems less important than the mayo is – it really lets the tomato be the star of the show. It is more of a barrier than anything else – it keeps the tomato’s juices from making the bread soggy. The bread was a good choice – a slightly sour bread highlights the tomato’s natural sweetness. And the seasoning was really exciting – tart and spicy and salty enough to make every other flavor sing. I really felt like such a rebel – who puts extra seasoning on their tomato sandwiches?! Who AM I?!

I’m jut a girl who was ready for a freakin tomato sandwich.

And it. was. good.

Lazy Creamy Spinach

I have always loved creamed spinach.

My earliest memories it involve the California institution Lawry’s. I haven’t been back in years and don’t know if I can bear to every visit again. From what I hear, it is an overpriced tourist trap with salty meat and overpriced drinks, but I remember it as my first truly fine dining experience. I loved getting all dressed up and eating prime rib as heavy as I was, a baked potato that came with a cute little poem encouraging me to eat the skin, and  - of course – that creamed spinach.

Lawry’s spinach was dense and rich – it barely tasted of spinach at all, it was really just a vehicle for gallons of cream and loads of butter.

Look, it was so delicious that it upstaged the Yorkshire pudding. How many dishes can say that?

This dish isn’t creamed spinach and it isn’t nearly as delicious as I the version that I recall from Lawry’s.  But, then, I wonder if anything would be as delicious as that memory?

Lazy Creamy Spinach

spinach and meatloaf quesadilla

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 lb. fresh spinach

1 tbsp. butter plus 2 tsp. oil

1/4 cup creme fraiche

a few dashes of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

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1. Sautee the garlic in the butter and oil over medium heat until it is fragrant but not brown – we don’t want any bitter taste here.

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2. Throw in the spinach. Turn it for the next 5 minutes or so. It will wilt down very quickly.

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3. When it is wilted – I mean really wilted – turn off the burner and add the creme fraiche. it will get a little soupy but not too much.

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4. Add seasonings, taste, and serve piping hot.

This is such a great side dish to meatloaf or honey mustard chicken. It’s rich but not super heavy and the creme fraiche adds and unexpected tang along with its creamy richness. You don’t have to boil cream forever or strain out any complicated spices – just sautee, add the creme fraiche, and go. It’s similar to sour cream but with an even denser texture and slightly sweeter taste. Speaking of sweet, if you don’t have fresh nutmeg you can skip it, but it really does add that “je ne sais quoi” - like how orange rind perks up carnitas or a bay leaf enriches chicken stock. This is comforting, savory, and tastes leagues better than the frozen stuff. It isn’t the same as real creamed spinach, but it does the trick.

You can’t go back to your youth, but it doesn’t hurt to update your classic memories. 

Warm Lentil Puree with Shallot Vinaigrette

I love a good twist.

Making Romeo and Juliet into West Side Story – brilliant!

Combining a blanket and a bathrobe into a Snuggie – inspired!

And turning familiar food into something totally new, interesting, and delicious – well that is right up my alley.

Whether it’s deli approved egg rolls or a beef-less fully decked cheeseburger, I am all about the flavors I love in a new and interesting way. That’s where this side dish came from. I took flavors that I love – lentils in a  bright vinaigrette – and it turned into a hearty, soothing side dish.

Warm Lentil Puree with Shallot Vinaigrette

lentils

Ingredients:

1 cup lentils (only use red or yellow lentils – these are the ones that break down. Green or Puy lentils are delicious, but don’t break down and become creamy.)

1 dried bay leaf

2.5 cups veggie or chicken stock

1/2 shallot, finely diced

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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1. Put the lentils, bay leaf, and stock in a heavy bottomed pot and simmer (not boil) gently for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft and start to break down.

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Be sure to stir the lentils occasionally or they will stick to the bottom of the pot (if they do, they come off easily when scrubbed so don’t worry.)

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2. Take them off the heat, discard the bay leaf, and add the olive oil, shallots, lemon zest, and seasonings.

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3. Stir and serve

This couldn’t be easier, cheaper, or more delicious. Just one cup makes 2 very large side dish portions. It cooks, prep time included, in half an hour. And the taste is hearty, earthy, and incredibly fresh. The lemon zest lifts it brightens it without being too sour. The flavors here are what you might see in a lentil salad, but because it’s warm those flavors are intensified. The shallots and lemon release their aromas with the heat of the lentils and the olive oil is thick and rich, smoothing out the shallot’s rough edges. Don’t forget plenty of salt, because lentils really need it. With a filet of salmon or some chicken meatballs, this is a filing and unexpected meal from totally expected flavors.

A twist on an old favorite brings a whole new dimension to your dinner.

Like I said…the West Side Story of foods.

Celery Root Remoulade – Winter’s Favorite Salad

This recipe is reposted from my older days – hence the unorthodox structure of the post. It’s one of my favorite recipes, especially for a winter salad, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do!

See you Tuesday, after the long weekend!

I love complex flavors.
 That’s why I am so drawn to southeast Asian foods-the sour salads of Thailand, the fragrant curries of India, the spicy soups of Vietnam…these are the layered, multi faceted flavors that I crave.  When other little kids were asking for meatloaf for their birthdays, I wanted Kimchi Jigae.  Go figure!
But…every now and then…I crave clean, uncomplicated food.
Just for a change in pace…or, more often, a little rest for my spice laden taste buds.
That’s when I whip up some Celery Remoulade.
Celery Remoulade is celery root in a tangy, mayonnaise based sauce.  Celery root is easily found in gourmet grocery stores, and often in regular grocery stores this time of year.  It is literally the root of the celery stalk, and has a sweet/savory flavor with celery and apple notes.  The texture is like a radish-crunchy but yielding, and porous enough that it absorbs the dressing quickly.
1. Cut your celery root in half, then cut away the peel with a sharp knife.  Then you cut the cleaned root into thin discs.
2. Pile the discs on top of on another and cut the discs into matchsticks.  You can also do this by cutting the cleaned celery root into small pieces and tossing it in the food processor.
3. Combine equal parts mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, and a bit of vinegar.  Also throw in a hearty dose of salt, black pepper, and maybe some diced scallions or shallots if you like strong flavors (as I do).
4.  Now whisk all that up and taste it.  Is it too tart?  Add some more mayo.  Too bland?  Some more pepper or mustard…you get the point.  Then toss it on your diced veggies!
 5. Refrigerate it for at least one hour or – even better – up to 6 hours. 
6. Serve.
Man oh MAN is this amazing!  It is like cole slaw’s richer, more filling cousin.  Creamy, tangy, tart, spicy from the pepper, with the toothsome bite of the celery root.  The clean celery flavor juxtaposes that rich, fatty mayonnaise so perfectly.  Perfect alongside a burger, a turkey sandwich, or even just a piece of bread and a hunk of cheese, this is my favorite simply flavored dish on the planet.  Although…looking back on how I have described the flavors of this awesome French side dish…I guess it’s not so simple after all.  Yeah, I take back what I said earlier.  I just like complex flavors.  What can ya do?

Meyer Lemon Roasted Zucchini and Scallions

Remember when I said that this cooking class would be a great gift?

That because Chef Fed, while fun and funny, is really an excellent teacher. He teaches why and how flavors go well together, and really hones your techniques so you can take his pointers and fly on your own at home.

What I learned more than anything was how important acid is. Acid, acid acid. My flavors at home are way too one level, and acid is going to take all of my recipes to the next level.

Like this one –  a little bit of summer that can only be made in the dead of winter, thanks to the sweet-tart taste of Meyer lemons.

Meyer Lemon Roasted Zucchini and Scallions

zucchini and boeuf bourgignon

Ingredients

1 sheet pan full of baby zucchinis

1 bunch scallions, ends chopped off and slimy outer leaves removed

3 Meyer lemons, juiced

2 tbsp. chili infused olive oil, or olive oil mixed with Tabasco

Plenty of salt and pepper

IMG_05341. Preheat oven to 350 and put zucchini and scallions on a cookie sheet with a lip. Then,  roll the veggies in olive oil and DOUSE them in in lemon juice. You want some of the pulp on there and everything. Really sour  up that pan!

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2. Top with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. You will hear lots of popping and sputtering and the veggies will turn so caramelized that they are almost black. That’s good.

3.  Enjoy hot, warm, or cold out of the fridge.

Delish. Spicy and salty, with crispy scallions that are like the lightest onion rings and tender zucchini, steamed inside its burnished skin. This is fabulous as a side dish for steak or fish and is also delicious the next day with a poached egg for breakfast This isn’t a word-for-word recap recap as much as a technique It’s remembering that acid is your fiend-  especially sugary-sour Meyer lemons. It’s remembering that sweet and spicy and salty and sour must all work together to create a truly round, fleshed out flavor profile. It’s remembering that heat is also your friend when working with sweet vegetables that give up their sugars when they are warmed quickly. It’s realizing that as much as you might cook, there is ALWAYS room for improvement and learning.

Thanks for this awesome recipe inspiration, Chef Fed!

Classic Pommes Puree

This isn’t the most interesting recipe for mashed potatoes.

But it is the best one.

This is adapted from Joel Robuchon’s famous potato puree. It’s pure tasting and incredibly simple.

This isn’t about bacon or cheese or extravagant cooking techniques. It’s about the perfect union that is potatoes and butter.

Just prepare yourself to fall into the glorious pit that is butter and carbs.

Classic Pommes Puree

thanksgiving pics

Ingredients:

3 lbs potatoes, peeled and boiled until they have totally become soft, even mushy.

4 – 4.5 sticks butter

salt to taste.

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1. Melt the butter over very low heat.

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2. Add the potatoes little by little and keep stirring.

Magically, the potatoes will continue to break apart and absorb the butter. If it looks like the potatoes will end up watery, just keep stirring. Don’t worry, the butter will continue to be absorbed into the potatoes. Just don’t add any more butter than is called for – the potatoes can break if the butter overwhelms them and I haven’t been brave enough to try adding any more.

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3. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.

This is the purest, butteriest, potatoey-est mashed potato dish in the world. It’s almost as good as Joel’s, though I’m sure that he uses better potatoes and even more butter. You will need to add quite a bit of salt – potatoes need it and butter loves it. The tsate won’t be salty at the end – it will be very earthy and rich. This is delicious alongside elegant meals, like filet or pan fried sole. But it’s also great with meatloaf or leftover gravy.

Don’t even talk to me about how good leftovers are for breakfast.

Or about how good this would be with truffle butter instead of regular butter.

Or about how, yet again, the French get it right. Damn them. 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Well, it’s here.

Fall, that is.

Welcome to 5 pm sunsets, the sniffles, and pale skin.

Naw, I’m just complaining.

There are some things about the fall that are quite nice. Like, for example, this insanely easy and really quick-cooking soup.

Oh yeah, and even though you will be bundling up in layers for the next 9 months, this might as well be served in the summer.

Because it’s dairy free, gluten free, potentially vegan, and generally bikini-riffic.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

squash soup and mac cupcakesIngredients:

one 3 lb. butternut squash, cut into pieces

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 large onion, chopped

1 bunch carrots, chopped

1 bunch celery, chopped

1 clove or 2 small cloves garlic, chopped

2 serrano chiles, chopped

2 tbsp. curry powder

2 tsp. each cumin and coriander

salt and pepper to taste

1 bunch clean cilantro leaves

2 tsp. olive oil
IMG_04121. Put the oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. When it starts to sizzle, toss in the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and chiles. Let them cook for about 12 minutes, or until the veggies are translucent. The won’t be soft yet – that’s ok!IMG_04192. Add the curry powder, cumin,a nd coriander. Your kitchen is going to smell like a Bollywood film; i.e. magical and tantalizing.
IMG_04223. Toss in the butternut squash and…IMG_0423the chicken stock! Now, let it simmer with the cover on for about 30 minutes. By the time you take the cover off, the vegetables should all be incredibly soft – the squash should really be falling apart.
IMG_04255. Blend with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Blend it well until the entire soup is thick and smooth, then taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.

This soup is just what the doctor ordered on a chilly fall night. It’s sweet with butternut squash and carrots and zesty with the curry powder. It’s spicy, fragrant and incredibly complex – them mixture of sweet and spicy is an oldie but a goodie.  I served it with a chicken meatball cooked in coconut milk, but it’s just as good plain. It’s so thick and creamy that you will never believe that it isn’t loaded with fat and cream.

Although, let’s be honest, there will be more fat and cream to come.

Because that’s one of the GOOD things about the weather getting colder.

Quick Mac and Cheese Cupcakes

I am a gambler.

I enjoy the occasional cocktail.

And, yes, I sneak foie gras sandwiches into movie theaters.

But one thing I am not is a thief.

So I will direct you to this site, where you can get an awesome mac and cheese cupcake recipe. I followed it almost to the word and they turned out just great.

Here are the few places where I strayed from the original recipe:

IMG_03951. Smaller noodles

They cooked in less time. And I’m impatient. So use those teensy elbow noodles. And cook them a little more than the recipe advises – I like mine just past al dente.

IMG_0397 2. Add more cheese

Because the 3 cups recommended is NOT enough. It’s more like 4 to make it cheesy enough. Also, the egg WILL start to scramble – please don’t worry. The cups will turn out perfectly. IMG_0398 3. Seasons of love

Season this like you love it – that is, hard and without reservations. I added Worcestershire sauce, mustard, seasoning salt, and jalapenos to one batch. You really need to bump up the seasonings, since the original recipe relies on seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese to provide all of the flavor.
IMG_0402 4. Oil

Don’t bother to mix the oil with the breadcrumbs. Just throw the breadcrumbs and cheese atop the cupcakes then drizzle with oil – a little extra is okay! The noodles will absorb them but they wont’ become soggy. Once, I jazzed it up by using truffle oil instead of olive oil and that was awesome!

IMG_04055. Eat anytime, anywhere

These are so great. Best hot, but perfectly fine room temperature. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. An ideal appetizer or potluck dish.

I only wish that I could say that I created them!

Sesame Eggplant Dip

I just love summer vegetables. They seem juicier and more vibrant. They take less time to cook than winter squashes and I never tire of inventing new recipes for them.

This eggplant dip is perhaps related to babaganoush, but it’s a little spicier and a lot lighter. That’s because instead of creamy tahini, I use roasted sesame oil. That gives it a roasted, perhaps even more intense nuttiness with none of the thick, uber-rich texture of babaganoush.

Oh yeah..and this uses an entire head of roasted garlic.

You’re welcome.

Sesame Eggplant Dip

2013-08-06 pixIngredients:

1 large eggplant, cut in half lengthwise

1 head garlic, roasted (or you can roast it with the eggplant)

2 tbsp. chile olive oil, plus more for drizzling (or use a drop of hot sauce in your oil)

2 tbsp. lemon juice

drizzle of sesame oil

salt to taste

pix 0231. Cut a cross-hatch pattern in the eggplant. There is no need to cut all the way through the skin, but if you do, it’s no biggie. Preheat the oven to 350F. pix 0242. Drizzle the oil on the cut eggplant and really rub it into the flesh. pix 0253. Place the eggplant skin side up on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for 30 minutes or so. In the upper part of the photo, you can see my foil wrapped garlic, ready to roast right on the same sheet tray. If you want to do this, just lop the top off of the garlic head so a few cloves are exposed, drizzle with olive oil, then wrap the whole thing entirely in foil. This will take closer to an hour to bake, but when it is totally soft and sticky, that is done, too!pix 0384. When the skin has become wrinkled and collapsed and the flesh is totally soft, the eggplant is done. pix 048Let it cool until you can comfortably seperate the squishy flesh from teh skin. The skin itself is an awesome snack – oily and savory and crispy – but you don’t want it in the dip.

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5. Mash together the eggplant, some of the lemon juice, a bit of oil, ENTIRE head of garlic (just squeeze those juicy morsels out of the skin…try not to eat them all plain like I tend to do…), a bit of sesame oil, and some salt. Then stir, mash, blend and TASTE. The sesame oil is potent, so don’t start with more than a teaspoon. I like mine rather spicy and acidic, so I really go heavy on the lemon juice.

pix 0736. Serve warm or room temperature with pita chips. 

This is da bomb.com.

It’s my blog, I can bring that phrase back if I want to. And I do.

This is creamy but not gloopy. It’s spicy but not overly hot, and it’s lush without being a gigantic oil slick. The flavors of the eggplant are really pronounced – grassy and earthy, juxtaposed with the high, tingly note of the chile oil. The sesame oil adds a super nutty taste that makes it almost a main course. This would be great in a sandwich with feta cheese or even over pasta or rice. It is such a wonderful way to let summer eggplants shine.

And it really makes me wish that summer would last forever.