Monday, February 28, 2011

Stampeding Herd of Cauliflower Soup

It has been super cold lately, and when I say cold I mean below 50, which is cold for Californians. What better way to spend a cool Saturday night than cooking with neighbors. The weather, further contributing to the soup kick I've been on, we made Cauliflower Soup with Stilton and Walnuts. We combined various recipes but this is the one that inspired the meal.
Also we dubbed it Stampeding Heard of Buffalo Soup because there were people coming up and down the outside stairs, and they sounded like they were either being chased by buffalo or maybe they were buffalo themselves.  I am going to call it by its hybrid name
Stampeding Herd Of Cauliflower Soup
  One medium head of Cauliflower cut into florets
1/4 cup of butter
One onion diced
About a quarter of a leek chopped
one diced turnip
Full Container of Vegetable Broth
2 Cups of Milk
3 Tablespoons of Walnuts plus more for garnish
Salt and Pepper
Smoked Paprika
3 oz crumbled Stilton

Melt the butter in a large pot, when it starts to foam add cauliflower, onion, leek, and turnip. Let the vegetables start to brown a little, and or until the onions start to become translucent. Add the broth and let come to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer until the cauliflower is soft. Add the milk and walnuts and cover. Stir periodically until the soup is thickened and the vegetables have fallen apart. 

Soup being Pureed
Remove from heat and in batches add to your blender or food processor and puree. Put pureed soup back into pot on low heat season with salt and pepper, a little paprika, and the crumbled Stilton. When the cheese has melted into the soup, it is ready to be devoured. Garnish with toasted walnuts and smoked paprika.
The Stampeded Soup

 The Cauliflower while looking picturesque with all of its foliage, was a little bit on the smallish side. We ended up using another half of cauliflower, to make up a medium sized head. 

Aside from that this was a great soup. While it was cooking, every few minutes, someone would respond how good it smelled, and it did. The Stilton could be tasted at the end of each spoonful. I also really enjoyed the walnuts as well, giving it a richer flavor. There was discussion of perhaps next time making Stilton Croutons and adding them instead of melting the cheese. It's a great meal to cause a stampede of your own.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Split Pea Soup with Mixed Greens

Leafy Green Mix
The Weather has turned cool and rainy again and all I've wanted to do is make warm food. I found this recipe for Split Pea Soup with Greens and nothing is better on a rainy night than a bowl of split pea. This recipe calls for 3 to 4 cups of kale. I tried to use a majority if not all the leafy greens that were hanging out in the refrigerator, but mostly some red mustard, curly mustard, and Siberian kale.
The Finished Product
While I liked the outcome of this soup it was a little thinner than what i normally like for split pea. It had a nice smoky flavor from the sausage and combined with the various greens it had a little spicy kick. The greens are a good addition to the soup, giving a crunch. A perfect meal to enjoy while watching the soupy weather. 

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Braised Late Lunch

Black Kale

Sometimes I have days where I will be at home and I become engrossed in whatever I am doing, and I realize that I haven't eaten. As much as I would like to believe that coffee is a nutritional balanced meal, I don't find it filling. A quick meal of braised Black Kale helps fill the void. I blanched the kale in a pot of boiling water, for about 4 minutes. Then warming up some olive oil and garlic sauteed the kale with salt and pepper.  I served it over polenta, but it's also good just plain. An easy late lunch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Showoff Salad For Valentines Day

When it comes to Valentines Day, I am a fan of just cooking a nice dinner at home. Making a meal that is not to extravagant but also making something that is a treat, food that we don't eat or make too often. With the arrival of the newest box, I knew there would be a gorgeous heart of Romaine that I had plans for.

A while ago I read Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl. It's a book about her memories of food and the stories that go with them. At the beginning of each chapter she has a recipe that accompanies each of her stories.  Since reading it, her recipe for Showoff Salad has been in the back of mind. I thought Valentines dinner would be a perfect time to make it.

Ingredient line up
It's called Showoff Salad because you place all the ingredients in front of you and then proceed to make the salad in front of your valentine (or guests), like you were at a fancy restaurant. Showoff Salad lives up to its name by letting each individual ingredient show off. The crispness of the salad mixes well with the lemon and the salty surprise of an anchovy.
This is the the condensed version of Showoff Salad by Ruth Reichl.

Showoff Salad
Assemble all your ingredients on a tray at the table. In front of your guests peel a clove of garlic, cut it in half and crush the half in the bottom of a salad bowl. Add the romaine lettuce leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces, and about 1/3rd of a cup of olive oil and toss thoroughly and dramatically until every leaf is coated. Add 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste. 
Break a coddled egg over the lettuce and toss until leaves glisten. Stick a fork into a lemon half and squeeze the juice over the lettuce. Toss until the dressing has a creamy look. Toss in anchovies and mix some more. 
Now taste it. Add whatever you would like if you think it needs more lemon, or more pepper, do it. When it is seasoned to your liking add croutons and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix one more time and serve.
Speaking of showing off, here is the box.

Some hints of spring are starting to appear, with a few carrots, bok choi, and a really nice head of purple cabbage. Cauliflower, black kale and other various greens are still coming strong. Which is good because now that it's getting cool again I need something warm and filling.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eggs and Broccoli

Since the start of the year I am trying to make more of an effort to be more organized. One of the first things I've tackled is to purge the ever growing stack of cooking magazines that have accumulated through the years. I've been tearing the recipes out that I would make, be interested in making, or have made. Putting them in a book and organizing them by meal. I even started a separate vegetable book for CSA cooking.
In my recipe organizing mania I came upon a recipe for a poached egg on toast sprinkled with Parmesan and a basil pistou.  This recipe inspired two thoughts.

One being that I love a good poached egg, especially on toast. The second thought was instead making a  pistou I thought about vegetables. What about sauteing broccoli instead.

Which is what I did.
I Sauteed  the broccoli in olive oil and a little garlic.
Then taking a toasted slice of french bread sprinkled with a little Parmesan, I placed the broccoli and then the poached egg.
This was satisfying and filling. The saltiness of the Parmesan worked well with the egg and the broccoli.
I probably could have sauteed the broccoli a little longer because it was still crunchy. I also could have cut it into smaller pieces so the broccoli wasn't overtaking the whole plate. None of that deterred from my enjoyment of such a simple dinner. Even as I write, I find myself thinking about wanting to make this for lunch.

Poached Eggs and Broccoli with a side of bacon.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

I Dream of Cauliflower

I have had two dreams about cauliflower in the last week. No, I don't find myself dreaming about vegetables often, but I decided to listen to my subconscious and make something with cauliflower.  I found a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Cakes. This looked easy to make from ingredients that I already had at the house.
Red Romaine
Everything mixed well together and and they formed into little mounds of  cauliflower cakes but when cooking the cakes turned flat like a pancake. Aside from them not being aesticatly appealing, they tasted great, kind of crab cake like, if the crab had been replaced with cauliflower. I could also see modifying these to work with other types of food. I'm thinking Indian. On the side we had a little salad of Romaine with an orange mustard vinaigrette that I made up. For such a light meal it  was filling and satisfying.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Drinking My Greens

The Newest Box of Fun

A new box has arrived and while braising, sauteing, and blanching are all good ways of using the various types of greens, I've been thinking about them in smoothie form. Coming from a yoga class I felt inspired to experiment.
Bloomsdale Spinach
Using about 2-3 cups of loosely packed spinach
A cup of orange juice (from about 3 oranges)
A package of frozen mango puree, I bought at Trader Joe's, it has four individual packages of puree.
Half a banana, I don't like a lot of banana because I find it can overpower everything.
A little water, to cut the thickness.

It tuned out great. It was filling and refreshing. The mango, just tasted sweet but because it was frozen it made the drink cold and delicious. The spinach didn't really taste, I knew it was in there because it turned everything green, and there were little emerald specks of green. This is something I would make again and there are so many ways to modify it, that smoothies with greens could become a staple.

The spinach gave it a bright green color but that didn't translate into the photo.