Roasted Cauliflower

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

We experienced a little remnant of cooler weather last night so I prepared a slightly more warming dish along with a lighter one.

It was cool enough to turn the oven on for a Roasted Cauliflower dish I’ve been wanting to make. I saw one version of it in the newspaper last month and I took the idea and created my own version and served it with a lighter dish—steamed kale and shiitake mushrooms with tofu.

Roasted Cauliflower (Serves 4-6)

  • One large head of organic cauliflower (about 2 pounds) washed and cut into florets.
  • 1/2 large onion cut in half and each layer separated
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • sea salt
  • spices of your choice. Tonight I used paprika, coriander, cumin and garlic.
  • fresh ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Spread the cauliflower and onions onto a roasting pan. In a bowl, mix the olive oil, vinegar, sea salt and spices to suite your tastes. Drizzle the seasoning mixture over the cauliflower and stir to get each piece coated. Sprinkle with pepper.

Roast the cauliflower until it’s tender, about 35 minutes. Stir occasionally while it’s cooking.

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Roasted Garlic Trio

I’d like to share my family’s New Year’s Eve tradition with you.  It’s not an old tradition for us because I’m the one that started it. (And I am not old, I swear!) But it seems to have taken hold in our family circle and I certainly plan to continue making and eating it.

What can I say?  I make no excuses.  Some people jump into icy water with their Polar Bear Club every New Year’s Day–I eat garlic.

ROASTED GARLIC WITH BLACK OLIVE PASTE CANAPES (Serves 4-6)

  • Three whole bulbs of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Black olive paste or black olive tapenade (found in gourmet and specialty stores)
  • Crackers–your choice

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the top off the garlic and drizzle olive oil into the inside of the bulb.

Cut the top off the garlic and drizzle olive oil into the inside of the bulb. (Photo credit: Patty Allread)

Find well-shaped, full bulbs of garlic, and wipe the outside clean with a damp cloth.  You can remove any loose outer skin but we aren’t going to peel the garlic.  Make a horizontal cut across the top of the bulb so the tip of each clove is trimmed off 1/4 to 1/2 inch.  Place the garlic bulb root end down in a baking dish.  If they don’t stand up well, try using a muffin pan or individual ramekins.  The trimmed end will be face up.  Drizzle olive oil into the bulbs of garlic, getting the oil into the crevices of each clove – about 2 teaspoons per bulb of garlic.  Cover the bulbs tightly with aluminum foil and roast them for 40-60 or more minutes.  Start checking it after 45 minutes or so. Cooking time depends on the size of the garlic.

These bulbs were very “tight” so about half-way through the cooking when they had loosened up, I drizzled a little more olive oil into them.  They took one hour to finish cooking.

The cloves will be very soft when they are done.  Stick a fork or chopstick in it to test.  They are so soft, you can squeeze the roasted garlic paste right out clove by clove.  When the garlic is done roasting, let it cool off enough to handle without getting burnt fingers.

Spread some black olive paste on a cracker and squeeze a garlic clove onto it.  Voila!  This is a delicious treat and goes well with beer or champagne. (I will serve this with my favorite sparkling mocktail)  You could prepare the garlic ahead of time and assemble all the crackers with the toppings just before your guests arrive.  We just sit around the table, each with a bulb of roasted garlic and do it ourselves while we wait for the Times Square Ball to drop.

Midnight Snack (Photo credit:  Patty Allread)

Midnight Snack (Photo credit: Patty Allread)

Roasted garlic is quite sweet and nutty and rich.  This is very different from raw garlic that is minced or chopped because the more you chop or cut garlic, the more allicin is released. Allicin is what gives you bad garlic breath and when you cook the garlic cloves whole, there is much less allicin.

But I must say, if you eat enough of it (such as a whole bulb in one sitting) you may exude garlicky aroma from every pore of your body for a day or two. Remember–the best defense against having a garlicky odor is, after all, for everyone else to have it too! So invite (your friends, your neighbors, your boss, your customers, your spouse, your date, your Aunt Bessie) to join you!

The simple combination of roasted garlic and black olive paste on a cracker is absolutely divine.  You should try it! If you do object to smelling like a South Philly Neighborhood Italian Bistro, eat some parsley to help counteract the garlic. (Honestly, it would take a lot of parsley.)

If the idea of noshing on garlic cloves does not appeal to you at all, there are lots of other ways to use the roasted garlic such as roasting it and extracting the soft cloves to be added to mashed potatoes or to make a unique version of garlic bread or roasted garlic soup. (Now there’s an idea!)

ROASTED GARLIC SOUP (Serves 4)

  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 3-inch piece of dried kombu seaweed, wiped clean
  • 6 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 quarts of spring water
  • 1 head of escarole, cleaned and chopped into approx 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup of roasted red peppers, packed in water or homemade
  • 1 bulb of roasted garlic, extract each clove
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • traditionally brewed soy sauce if desired
  • parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Broth:  I prefer to make my own vegetarian broth for this soup but you can use any broth you like.  I think many people would choose a chicken broth or broth made from their leftover turkey carcass.

For vegetable broth there are two ways to go–1) use the cooking water from whatever veggies you have steamed or boiled or 2) intentionally create a broth.  Mine is usually a combination depending on the flavor of the vegetable cooking water I have.

Today I had some boiled cauliflower and to that boiling stock I added a large sliced onion, several chopped stalks of celery and a three-inch piece of dried kombu seaweed.  I avoided anything that would color or darken the water too much such as carrots or winter squash because I want a clear(ish) broth. I also avoided any vegetable with a very strong character of its own, such as asparagus, because of how it would influence the taste of the stock.

I simmered the onions, celery and kombu for about a half hour and strained out the vegetables and seaweed.  The kombu, by the way, adds a great deal of minerals and flavor to the broth. The strained veggies and kombu can be used as a base for another soup or just the veggies–perhaps pureed–as a base for a sauce.

Note we are starting off with two quarts of spring water.  By the time you have made your broth and your soup you will have a little more than a quart left.  To get a deep enough flavor for this soup, do not add more water unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

Assemble the soup

Chop the red peppers into bite-size pieces.  Saute the escarole in olive oil and a pinch of salt until wilted.  Add the red peppers and saute a minute or two.  Add these to the soup stock.

Take the flat of your knife blade and crush each clove of roasted garlic.  You don’t have to do more than just crush each clove open.  Add the garlic to the soup.  Salt and pepper to taste and/or add a bit of soy sauce.  I usually don’t complicate the flavors further by adding herbs or spices to this soup, but you should feel free to experiment. (And let us all know if you find something you liked!) I could be convinced to add a little basil.

Simmer the soup a few minutes to let the flavors get to know each other.  Another good way to do this is to turn the heat off and just let the soup rest with the lid on, then gently reheat.

Serve with a garnish of parsley and maybe a chunk of crusty bread.  If you like to use cheese, try a sprinkle of parmesan.  There is nothing more warming on a cold winter’s eve than roasted garlic soup.  I will probably pair this with traditional Hoppin’ John, Collard Greens and some cornbread for New Year’s Day.

To finish off this Garlic Fest, here is something I created while writing this post.  That’s right! Many times when I cook I create blogs and when I blog, I create recipes.  The final recipe is for salad dressing.  I would use this on a green salad, on a warm wilted salad such as wilted spinach and mushrooms, or you can take leftover steamed or roasted veggies and dress them as a chilled salad.

ROASTED GARLIC DRESSING

  • 3 or more cloves of roasted garlic
  • oil of choice (I’m thinking avocado or extra-virgin olive oil)
  • fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • a touch of apple cider vinegar to brighten things up
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • celery seeds (just a pinch)

To start, you want 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar/lemon juice.  Volume depends on how much you want to make and as you may know if you’ve read my recipes before, I don’t measure, I “eyeball” it. Thoroughly crush your roasted garlic into the mixture and add the seasonings.  Whisk these together until they are emulsified*. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

This is a hearty enough dressing to use on a main course salad.  If you’d like to make it the centerpiece of the meal, try the wilted spinach and mushrooms mixed with cooked shell pasta and either cooked tempeh, soy-based sausage or (if you eat meat) cooked Italian sausage.  Top with toasted pine nuts.

* Emulsified:  When two liquids that would normally separate (like oil and vinegar) are mixed together in such a way that they don’t separate.  Some emulsions like this vinaigrette are temporary and some, like mayonnaise, are permanently mixed.

Here’s an additional blog post on garlic that I thought was excellent by fellow good blogger, Jovina. 

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil, Georgia O’Keeffe and Inspiration

No matter where I go, my cooking life is easily inspired.

My husband and I took a little 24-hour vacation this weekend and went to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  If you haven’t been there, it is nestled about an hour north of Albuquerque and has an altitude of about 7,000 feet which makes it a cool relief on a hot weekend.  Being true blue to you, my blogging friends, I always have my eye out for something good to write about and I certainly found some things!

I can always count on Santa Fe to surprise me!  Last time I was there on a warm, spring weekend, this happened:

But this time, we were surprised by one of the Santa Fe shops we found instead of by the weather.  We discovered a shop called “Oleaceae” which sells olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt from around the world.  Not much of an inventory you say?  Think again!  This store had dozens and dozens of plain and flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

The oils were incredible extra virgin olive oils and the flavored ones were infused with wonderful things that sent my imagination out-of-this-world with culinary ideas.  What would you make with Blood Orange Olive Oil?  Olceaceae suggests using it as a substitute for shortening in brownies and cakes or to pair it with Cranberry Pear, Dark Cocoa, Pomegranate or Fig Balsamic Vinegar.  Or how about making your hummus with Harrisa Olive Oil that is infused with cumin, coriander and garlic?

All the oils were available for tasting and the staff at Olceaceae can suggest the most outrageous pairings of oil and vinegar for you to try.  I found an oil there that was not an olive oil and it is one I have only heard of but never found available anywhere:  roasted pumpkin seed oil!  This was a very intense, rich unrefined seed oil made by roasting pumpkin seeds and then crushing them to extract the oil.  This is the one I purchased!

I understand that pumpkin seed oil is used in Austria on just about everything and I will be experimenting with my precious find and sharing what I come up with.

All the balsamic vinegars were aged for at least eighteen years and all imported from  Modena, Italy.  There were two main types:  dark and white balsamic vinegar.  And these came in a myriad of flavors!  My favorite dark balsamics were Lush Black Cherry–which you could actually drizzle on ice cream or mix with sparkling water with a slice of lime; the Cafe Expresso Balsamic, and the Blackberry Ginger.  Even the plain dark balsamic vinegar was divine and it was so sweet and delicious, you wouldn’t even need oil in your salad dressing.  And it could definitely be an ingredient for either savory or sweet dishes.

The white balsamics–which I’d never tried before–were wonderful too!  Mmmmm . . . what could you do with Island Coconut Balsamic or Fragrant Oregano Balsamic?  Tasting these was better than any wine tasting!  I know I have a whole new world of variations ahead of me using these beautiful condiments.

The Oleaceae Oils

The Oleaceae Vinegars

This company does mail order through their website, which is Oleaceaeoliveoil.com.

Having tasted more than a dozen oils and vinegars, we wandered out to the Santa Fe Plaza and decided to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.  I hadn’t known much about Georgia O’Keeffe before, except that she spent quite a lot of time in New Mexico painting the mountains, mesas, flowers and desert landscape.  The museum was very worthwhile and included a great selection of her work as well as fascinating insight on her philosophy of life.

She said, “I simply paint what I see.”  And she said, “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else.”

Of course we went into the gift shop and having been thoroughly impressed with the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and the fact that she lived at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico for years communing with nature and painting it, I was drawn to two particular photos of her.

In her kitchen, of course, where I imagine she was also quite creative.

Making Stew at Ghost Ranch

Pouring Tea

When the day was about over and we sat in the historic Santa Fe Plaza as the shops began to close, we met the apparently extremely popular “mayor” of the Santa Fe Plaza.  He was very friendly and very hip at the same time.

Motion, Mayor of Santa Fe Plaza

Back home, I’ve already opened my toasted pumpkin seed oil and savored the aroma again and again.  I’m dreaming of roasted vegetables with pumpkin seed oil, a lovely quinoa whole grain summer salad and a pumpkin seed with lemon zest dressing for tomato salad.  You will be the first to know!