Tag Archives: food

Cauliflower Soup… Simple and Delicious

29 Jul

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is frequently over looked. Not only can it be a bit intimidating to cook, it can also stir up memories of bitter, soggy, over cooked nightmares from your childhood. Well my friends, cauliflower is no longer the white villain of yesterday. It’s actually very delicate, sweet and tasty!

One of my favorite ways to prepare cauliflower is to roast it. This is simpler than you might think:

Roasted Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt 
Toss the cauliflower with the oil and salt and roast in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn the pieces and then cook for another 5 minutes. Serve as desired.

What can you do with this cauliflower once you have have it roasted? Well, eat it for 1 but I like to make soup. The cauliflower creates a delicate flavor that needs minimal enhancements. You can garnish the soup with toasted walnuts, pesto, sour cream, or even plumped raisins, but I like to keep it simple with olive oil, cracked pepper and a few snipped chives. The recipe is below.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 head of cauliflower prepared as directed above
2 cloves of garlic
3-4 cups prepared chicken stock
1/2-1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Puree all the ingredients in a Vitamix blender or in a food processor until smooth. Pour the pureed mixture into a saucepan and reheat to desired temperature. Garnish as desired and enjoy.

Try this recipe with grilled or smoked cauliflower as well. It will stay on the top of your go to list for awhile. It also freezes well and reheats like a dream. And, if you are feeling hot… try it chilled with a fresh herb garnish and drizzle of really good olive oil. Oh, and a perfectly chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc 🙂

Always thinking about the next meal

-Katie

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Confit… con? or fit?

2 Jun

Confit: [kohn-FEE, kon-FEE]

This specialty of Gascony, France, is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a crock or pot and covered with its cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative. Confit  can be refrigerated up to 6 months. Confit d’oie and confit de canard are preserved goose and preserved duck, respectively.

© Copyright Barron’s Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER’S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/entry?id=2028#ixzz1OA1VZ100

Confit, as defined above is reserved for slowly cooking poultry in their own fats for preservation reasons. But, lately, it seems as though you can “confit” anything. I’ve seen recipes for tomato confit, garlic confit, lemon confit and most recently, chickpea confit. Personally, I feel that confit is turning into one of those culinary terms like carpaccio. You see anything sliced paper thin is a carpaccio of “fill in the blank.” Granted anything salted and slowly cooked in fat sounds delicious to me, but is it really a confit?

It’s an interesting thought really. Why not just poach these items in oil. They certainly done have their own fat to bring to the party. But what’s the different between oil poaching and confit? Mostly, when you poach something in oil, you are removing the item from the cooking liquid whereas with a confit it is being stored in the fat. Still, doesn’t tomato confit sound so much more luxurious than tomato dip or even preserved tomatoes. And an oil poached tomato kinda sounds like a greasy mess.

Confit or not, I made my version of chickpea confit. The bottom line is that this is a dip or spread. It’s similar to hummus but with infinitely more flavor and texture. Plus it sounds so elegant for a dip. Here’s the recipe:Chickpea Confit

Chickpea Confit
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large garlic cloves
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low for 45 mins-1 hour. Let the mixture cool slightly and mash with a fork. Serve chilled with fresh baguette or crackers.

So what is my final verdict on the proper nomenclature? Well, I think that whenever something sounds exotic and exciting it makes me want to eat it more. I’m still not convinced that radish carpaccio should be allowed… but the idea of elevating a simple vegetable to new heights by cooking as if it was as special as duck or goose, can only be a good thing.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Pickled Beets and Strawberries

3 Apr

Pickled Beets and StrawberriesPickled beets are not just for the salad bar. Come on, you know the ones. Their neon glow reflects so queasily on the sneeze guard. You know, it’s not that pickled beets taste bad, really I think they taste good… it’s just… they are so intimidating.

I know beets are good for you and they are a natural source of sugar, and even though I make beets quite often, I am always intimidated by the pickled version. I guess I’m always thinking that they are going to taste like an odd combination of dill pickles and roasted beets. So the other day I was at Whole Foods and I saw a jar of pickled beets and strawberries. Sounds good…definitely no weird dill garlic beets combo in there. Problem… 8 bucks. I passed…on the jar, not the idea.

I came home and started playing. What I discovered was a crazy amazing combination of flavors!

Pickled Beets and Strawberries

Step one: Roast 2 large beets

2 large beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
sprinkle of salt

roast at 400, wrapped in foil for 1 hour.

Step two: prep the strawberries and peel beets

Slice 1 pint of strawberries
Let the beets cool to room temperature and then peel the skin off the beets and then slice the beets

Step three: prepare to pickle

in a small bowl combine the sliced strawberries and beets with the juice and zest of 1 blood orange and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar.
Put the whole mixture in a air-tight container and let sit for 3 days.

Serve with crackers and goat cheese or just eat out of the jar… they are that good!

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

You don’t have to hug a tree to love granola

31 Mar


I love granola. I mean what’s not to like about sweet crunchy whole grains mixed with fruit and nuts. I make granola a lot at work. I serve it to the kids to mix with yogurt and fruit. It holds up well without going stale and it can be flavored in so many ways. Since today is a very rainy day I figured it was a good day to play with the food in the house.

If your pantry is anything like mine, you have a few items in there that are partially used. I always seem to have a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips or a handful of nuts. I also seem to have an assortment of dried fruits left over from different recipes. Granola is great what to use up all those odds and ends. As with most things, granola is a technique. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can tweak the ingredients to customize your mix.

Here’s the basic formula for granola:

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the mixture is crumbly and the syrup has been evenly incorporated. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Below is a table of combinations to give you an idea of how you can mix and match flavors to make a personalized granola…

Basic Base Dry Goods Syrup Flavor 2nd Flavor Additives
oats no additional maple cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats wheat germ agave pumpkin

pie spice

vanilla powder pecans
oats coconut honey cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats shredded wheat honey nutmeg clove white chocolate chips
oats puffed rice agave espresso powder vanilla powder chocolate chips

Today I made a tropical granola… here’s the recipe:

2 cups oats
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup shredded coconut

Added after the base was toasted and cooled:
1/2 cup dried mango, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup banana chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts

I followed the above technique and viola, a yummy granola! I would also recommend using macadamia nuts instead of the peanuts or omitting the chocolate chips for a slightly healthier granola, but ce la vie… This is what you get what you’re cleaning out the pantry

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Lemon Chicken on the Grill

7 Mar

I love chicken. Seriously, I think I might have to join an “anonymous” group to get over this. I know there are a few chicken nay-sayers out there. They think chicken is boring and dry… why eat chicken when there’s juicy medium rare beef and fantastically fatty pork parts. To be honest, I have never ordered chicken at a restaurant. Well, maybe a chicken sandwich, but otherwise I keep to my own chicken. And not that I like to toot my own horn, but I make a damn good chicken.

Tonight I made grilled lemon chicken. Just as with roasting, when you grill the chicken whole, you get all the extra flavor of the skin and bones and drippings. In hind sight I should have taken pictures to demonstrate how to remove the backbone and keel bone of the chicken before you grill the chicken. I guess that means that I’ll have to do another post detailing it. Until then you can check out this page

The recipe is simple. Flatten the chicken and then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and then toss on a hot grill skin down. I sliced 2 lemons in half and thew them on the grill as well. Let the chicken cook for 5-7 minutes and then turn it 45 degrees. Allow the chicken to cook for another 10 minutes and the flip. Squeeze the lemons on the chicken and close the grill. Turn the heat to medium let the chicken cook for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked to about 155 degrees. Then wrap the chicken in foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice the chicken and re-season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve hot.

This recipe works with thighs, breasts, whole chicken and wings 🙂

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

The thing about buttered noodles…

1 Feb

noodlesHere’s the thing. What is so bad about trying something new? I know that the new is scary. When you walk into a dark room you never know what awaits you. It’s the momentary terror your minds spins into reality. You’ve seen way too many episodes of CSI and NCIS to believe that nothing is lurking in the shadows. But wait… what if instead of a horrifying beast or the suspicious murderous foe, waited a surprise party? All your friends joyously welcoming you to a festivity of laughter and merriment. This my friends, is why the new cannot be missed.

Everyday at work I make the obligatory pan of buttered noodles. Not really a big deal but it did get me thinking. Everyday I have kids that choose buttered noodles over anything else. Some of them I truly believe only like buttered noodles, but others take them simply because they don’t know if they will like the other offerings. It makes me wonder what is so wrong with trying something new. I know that when I was a kid we ate what was put in front of us and we were happy. (Well, unless it was my brother and beef barley soup, that combination was more drama then Jersey Shore) Anyway, the point is this: why don’t kids like to try new foods. They try new games, and TV shows. They make new friends and read new books, but when it comes to lunch it seems to be the old standby, buttered noodles.

Do you ever remember looking a food that you had never seen before and then looking at your mom or your dad and asking if you liked it. Usually they would lean down and say yes. In my family when this happened and we did not actually like what we had just tasted, we would say that our taste-buds had changed. And, rightly so as your taste-buds do change over time. What I can’t seem to wrap my head around though, is the complete lack of curiosity. How do you know you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it before. My philosophy is try something twice. Just like when tasting wine, the first taste clears your palette. The second taste is when you really get to know the food. It’s the second date if you will. If the first bite left you unsure, the second will most definitely help you decide.

I can’t knock buttered noodles completely. There was a time during my college career that buttered noodles made up at least 70% of my diet. And, now and then, I love a little butter and parmesan on my pasta. But, if I was presented with the choice of buttered noodles or something much more glamorous, the noodles would fall to second place in a heartbeat. I know what you’re thinking as you read this. If it bothers me this much, why not stop making them. The real answer is that there are kids that will not eat anything else. Literally these kids would rather starve without lunch then eat what else is for lunch. So, I must continue with the buttered noodles. Just in case you’ve never had them and are wondering what’s the big deal…

Buttered Noodles alla Katie

1 pound pasta, cooked
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

in the microwave melt the butter with the salt and garlic. Pour the butter over the cooked noodles and stir to combine serve hot, garnish with grated parmesan cheese if desired. (the last step classes it up a bit)

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Guacamole, Tatziki and Salsa… oh my!

16 Jan

guacamole, tatziki, and salsaLiving in Florida has definitely made me love happy hour. I love a good discount and happy hour usually has them to spare. The problem, I also love good food. Most of the places that have the dynamite specials, usually fall flat on the food. My resolution? Happy hour at home.

I know it might not be as social, but the alcohol is cheaper than any bar special and I can have whatever appetizer I want to whip up. A few nights ago that was a trio of dips. I poured a glass of wine and checked out the fridge for what I could make.

Granted I have more ingredients in my fridge than most people, but you can be creative with just about anything. (I once made a dip from cream cheese, old bay and celery) I had just opened a jar of salsa so that was an easy decision. Don’t judge me, some jarred salsas are pretty good. I also had the makings of a pretty wicked avocado salsa or guacamole. Let me just say that salsa is Spanish for sauce. Guacamole doesn’t really fit into this category since its thickness is much denser than a sauce. Traditional guacamole (at least for me) is simple. Avocado, salt, and lime juice. But, seeing as thought I was feeling creative… I channeled my inner Mexican (also my friend Shaddai Barron’s recipe) and started cooking:

Avocado Salsa

1 large Florida avocado, small dice
1 large jalepeño, minced
a solid hand-full of fresh cilantro, rough chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup sour cream
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Serve with chips or veggies.

While I was feeling good about my dip/sauce, I wanted more. Ever excited by variety and never limited by cuisine I found the makings of tatziki sauce. Again this sauce is very simple to make. I wouldn’t have thought to have the 3 sauces together, but çe la vie. For the tatziki I mixed 1 5.5 once container of greek yogurt with 1/2 cup cucumbers cut into a small dice. I like the skins on for texture, but feel free to peel if you prefer. Add 2 tablespoons freshly minced dill, season with salt and pepper and viola! You can also add lemon juice to bring some acidity to the party, but you don’t have to.

So my happy hour turned out wonderful and the best part was that I didn’t have to drive home… I was already there

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie