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Cauliflower and Lemon Pasta – Take Three

17 Jan

I keep playing with this recipe.  I have since given up on recreating the original since it was so long ago, and I’ve tried so many other things since then that I’m not sure I even remember what it tastes like now.

Last night, I did the following:

roasted a head of cauliflower (split into florets) with olive oil, salt & pepper at 400 degrees

cooked a few slices of bacon til extra crispy and crumbled what I didn’t devour right away

sliced a large shallot, and cooked it in some of the bacon fat

put the cauliflower in the pan with the shallot to hang out while I did other things

zested and juiced one lemon; added the zest to the veggies

cooked up a batch of pasta

Tossed the cooked pasta in a pan with a little bit of the cooking liquid, the veggies and zest, crumbled bacon, then added the lemon juice and some parmesan cheese.  It’s definitely the best so far, and I guess it just proves that everything really is better with bacon.

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta in a Lemon Cream Sauce

23 Mar

Chef Chris DiMinno at Clyde Common in Portland is my new hero.  He made a dish of roasted cauliflower with a lemon cream pasta that blew my mind.  Of course I had to try to make something similar, and this looked like just the recipe to start me off, even though the reviews are pretty hit or miss with some people loving it and others thinking it was too bland.
To start things off, I oven roasted my cauliflower with olive oil and garlic powder – 400 for about 30 minutes, with a quick stir in the middle until it’s soft and a bit golden brown.
I put on some whole wheat rotelli pasta once the cauliflower was done and while that was cooking, I started on the sauce.
The juice of one lemon to start, with a packet of concentrated chicken stock from Trader Joe’s (I love that stuff), then a little bit of pasta water once the pasta was done to make a sauce.  I cooked the pasta til it was still a bit underdone so it could continue to cook with the sauce.  I used some fat free half and half, and a scoop of fat free sour cream to thicken the sauce and make it creamy – though it really just went kind of gritty – I guess I DO need some fat in there somewhere.  I seasoned it up with a bit more garlic powder and the juice of another lemon, some salt & a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
I had some (boiled – I know, shush) chicken that I used to give the dish a bit of protein power.
The texture was all wrong, but the taste was really good.  I’ll keep working on it.

The recipe I mentioned above seems like it might offer up better results – I should’ve taken my own advice.

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (8 ounce) package rotelle pasta
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place chicken in a lightly greased baking dish. Squeeze lemon over both sides of the chicken breasts and season both sides using 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake for 40 minutes, or until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink inside. 

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, season the chicken broth with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and add lemon juice and pasta. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. 

Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and stir into cooked pasta, along with the cream and lemon zest. Cook, stirring, over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir thoroughly before serving.

A big ball of meh.

24 Feb

Had the parentals over for dinner this weekend, something it seems I don’t do often enough. I was working with a few restrictions (no bell peppers, no citrus, no pork since they had it the night before).
I had been on a mad hunt for verjus (or verjuice, but verjus sounds much more sophisticated, non? Plus it’s how I heard about it first, so that’s the term that sticks in my memory.) since I thought I could take advantage of its acid type flavors to use in place of citrus juice versus vinegar which is TOO acidic and vinegary for many recipes in my opinion. I finally found some at Andronico’s (thanks Chowhounds) but then didn’t even end up making chicken paillard, which is what I had planned.
Because I was now stuck rummaging through cupboards and cookbooks for some other interesting variation of “chicken breast,” I had to make do. I found a raspberry chicken breast recipe similar to this one, and altered it based on what I had.

The recipe actually called for raspberry vinegar (I had fig), Worcestershire sauce (I had!), red wine (I had, but thought port would go better with the fig), and garlic (I only had powder – who doesn’t have garlic?!?!). I marinated it for an hour or so in that mixture which didn’t seem to be long enough. Grilled it up (and yes, the marinade does burn) and it turned out okay. I wasn’t wild about it, but everyone else said it was good and they ate it, so you know. It’s not poison at least. Maybe next time reserving some of the marinade and cooking it down to use as a drizzle on top would make me happier.

The next semi-fail came in the way of Ina’s string beans with shallots. The recipe calls for three shallots which seems like a lot to me. I knew I had one shallot at home so I picked up one more. Only to find out once I arrived home, that not only was the garlic gone, but so was my other shallot. Having roommates is such a surprising and action packed way of life sometimes! So now, with only a third of the required shallot, I made do. Guess what, the recipe could’ve used more shallot. Again, it was still a hit and everyone ate it all, but I was unimpressed. I mean, nothing is Aylene’s green beans aside from Aylene’s green beans, but I did at least want to TRY to branch out.

Finally – a recipe I have had bookmarked for YEARS. And it’s not like I forgot about it. It’s in my bookmarks, so every time I start to type “foodnetwork” it pops up as an option. Yippee, I was finally making it!!!! And hey, guess what, I totally didn’t like it. It was more cheese than cauliflower and I didn’t think the flavor was good at all. Again, everyone else liked it – was I having an off tastebud night or am I just too critical? Don’t answer that please. At least now I can let go of the dream. Dad doesn’t like cauliflower much, but even he liked this (not too surprising since seriously, there were more bites that were just cheese and no veggie at all). I did tweak it a bit though. . . . me and my fat free half and half. . . .

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cups (1 pint) of ff 1/2 and 1/2
1/2 pound Monterey Jack, coarsely grated (I used Clover Organic)
2 c grated Parmesan (I got mine from the cheese section at Andronico’s)
8 oz goat cheese, broken into small pieces
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the cauliflower, heavy cream, and the 3 cheeses in a large bowl and then transfer to a medium casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

We wrapped up with the God awful black bean brownies which were politely tasted, not really enjoyed, and abandoned altogether once I shared how they were made. I’m not sure that my folks will ever come back after this, no matter how much fun they had playing Wii.

Craving Curry

3 Aug

If there is one thing I love about SB it’s the variety the diet affords. I’ve been craving Indian food lately, and so I whipped up a tasty SB curry last night, with some lentils – which were AMAZING, and totally made the dish.
I’m all about the lentils right now it seems.
(cook’s note: recommended appetizer)

Indian Chicken
1 1/2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 (2 lb) head of cauliflower, cut into florets (4 cups)
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 c low sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper

Season chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over med-hi and cook chicken til lightly browned. Remove chicken to a plate using a slotted spoon.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add onion, garlic, curry & ginger. Cook about 2 minutes. Add cauliflower, coconut milk and broth; cover and simmer – stirring occasionally until veggies are crisp-tender (about 5 min). Add chicken back to pan, and let cook uncovered to thicken sauce – about 5 minutes.

Indian Spiced Lentils
4 tsps evoo
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1 c dried lentils, picked over and rinsed (I used the already cooked beluga lentils from TJ’s)
1 1/2 c low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (which I totally did not know went into this recipe until right now – which means you can skip it and it’ll still be good)
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion and sautee about 3 minutes til soft. Add garlic and sautee another minute. Stir in curry powder and lentils. Add broth, bring to a simmer, cover and cook til tender about 20 minutes (or less if you got the already cooked kind!). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fight over spoonfulls to eat with your chicken and cauliflower curry.

Speaking of cauliflower. . .

22 Oct

I love it. So do the bacteria that live in my intestines however, which makes for a deadly combination.
Moving on to more appetizing thoughts, cauliflower is damn delicious. As a child, some brilliant woman (my grandmother) convinced me cauliflower was some sort of indulgent treat and I used to sneak into the kitchen and break chunks off when no one was looking. I didn’t catch on for several years and then didn’t eat cauliflower until oh, 10 years ago or so. Man, what I was missing. Here are a couple of my favorite cauliflower recipes.

Pan Roasted Cauliflower
Easiest. Recipe. Ever.
1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and broken/cut up into florets
Garli Garni (or if you must, garlic powder, DON’T USE GARLIC SALT!)
olive oil
Heat oven to 500.

Spread the cauli out on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and top with copious amounts of Garni. Seriously, like a lot a lot. More than that. Keep going. A tiny bit more. Okay, good.

Pop in the oven until fork tender and brown on the edges. If it gets tender but not very brown, I put it under the broiler for a few. The crispy, garlicky bits are like the yummiest garlic bread. I can eat an entire head of cauliflower this way, much to Eel’s dismay. Sorry baby.

4 cups of cauli florets
1 oz I can’t believe it’s not butter
1 oz ff half and half
salt & pepper

Steam cauli til soft. Puree in a food processor adding butter and half and half to taste. Season with s&p. No, you won’t really think it’s potatoes, but it’s a good stand in.

Cauliflower Soup
2 heads of cauli, separated into florets
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3 c chook broth
1 c water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cups heavy cream (OR TJ’s ff half and half of course)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl (or in your roasting pan) toss cauli, oil, garlic and shallots. Roast til tender; 30 minutes or so.
When done, transfer to a large soup pot and pour in chook broth and water. Season with thyme and bay and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Puree using an immersion blender (so much easier than doing batches in the blender) and return to pot. Stir in cream, s&p and taste. Heat through for serving but do not allow to boil. Serve with yummy crusty bread and/or those delicious little parmesan crisps.

Speaking of gratin. . .

22 Oct

I remembered that I bookmarked this one long ago and have yet to try it out, even though I drool every time I go anywhere near it. Why? Goat cheese, that’s why. Did you even question it?

Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin

Prep Time: 15 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 6 servings

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
2 cups grated Parmesan
6 ounces goat cheese, cut into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Layer the cauliflower, heavy cream, and the 3 cheeses in a medium casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Note: Recipe can be doubled and made in a roasting pan.

Blogger’s Note: * wonder if it can be quadrupled. . . *

Thanks Bobby Flay!