27 April 2012

Roasted Cauliflower with Curried Noodles

I love roasted cauliflower so much (how much do you love it) that I grab a head whenever it's on sale at my favorite hippy-dippy grocery store.  But I like a little variety, so I have begun trying to come up with other recipes that can stand up to its sweet, toasty, earthy flavor.  If you don't like roasted cauliflower, you could easily substitute roasted chick peas in this dish, or just leave it out completely.

Roasted Cauliflower with Curried Noodles

Serves 6

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons peanut oil
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 can (15 oz.) coconut milk
2 tablespoons curry paste
1 tablespoon Sriracha or other Asian hot sauce (use less for less heat in the dish)
2 tablespoons lime juice
8 oz. cooked fettucine or other wide noodles
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, optional
Salt and black pepper to taste

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the cauliflower out in a single layer.  Spray with a little cooking spray and sprinkle with salt; roast at 425°F for 20 minutes or until browned.  Set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Cook the onion, carrot, and potato until onion is soft and potato begins to get soft.  Lower heat to medium-low and stir in coconut milk, curry paste, and Sriracha.  Cover and cook until potato is tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in peas and lime juice and cover, to heat peas.  Stir in pasta, roasted cauliflower, and cilantro (if using); season with salt and pepper.

20 April 2012

I LOVE COOKIES!!!! : Earl Grey Shortbread

Does this recipe need an introduction?  It's a simple, perfect shortbread (butter-phobic, look away) made even better with the addition of crunchy, fruity-pebbles flavored Earl Grey tea.  Enjoy.

Earl Grey Shortbread
Makes 6 dozen cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves, from approximately 6 tea bags
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
 Heat oven to 375°F. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized. Add the vanilla, 1 teaspoon water, and the butter. Pulse together until a dough is formed.
Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes. 
Slice each log into disks, 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. 
Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. 

13 April 2012

Toasted Pine Nut cookies

I like to enjoy a little something sweet with coffee in the middle of the afternoon (a nasty habit I picked up while in Germany, hanging out with a bunch of crazy theater people).  I don't really have that much of a sweet tooth, however--cupcakes with mountains of frosting make my stomach churn just looking at them. I like this recipe because it's easy (and easy to remember), and can be adjusted for use with different nuts for a new flavor each time.  If you use larger nuts like pecans or almonds, make sure to chop them.  Although I prefer pine nuts, the photos below are from a time when I experimented with sesame seeds.

Pssst...these also work with strong sweet cordials like limoncello, if you need an extra reason...

Toasted Pine Nut Cookies

Makes about 32 cookies

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (or 1 cup toasted sesame seeds, for a cheap and tasty alternative)
1/2 cup whole wheat flout
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars, and vanilla.  Stir in the egg and pine nuts.  Add all remaining ingredients and combine into a sticky dough (hands work best for this).

Scoop tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets and roll into balls; press into 2-inch rounds. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

06 April 2012

Things that make drinks better: #1, fruit syrup

Besides the requisite alcohols (gin, tequila, vodka, and rum are my staples), a home bar benefits from some flavoring that don't require a lot of work.  This makes mixing drinks while already buzzed a snap. Luckily, they're usually easy to make at home (do the cooking before getting buzzed).

Fruit syrups are incredibly easy to make, and they can quickly be combined with some booze and/ or soda for a great drink.  You can also blend them with yogurt for a smoothie, though perhaps it wouldn't be as healthy as typical smoothie recipes.  Syrups keep in the refrigerator for quite a while, and they're a great way to use up ripe fruit in a hurry.  I particularly like making mine with strawberry, mango, and raspberry (because I always have too many growing in the back yard), but I can't imagine a fruit that wouldn't work.

Basic Fruit Syrup

1 cup chopped fruit (could also use fresh mint leaves for mint syrup)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water 

Cook fruit with sugar and water until thick in a small saucepan over medium heat. Smash fruit while cooking. For thinner syrup, push through a sieve after cooling.  Store in refrigerator.  

And here's an easy drink to make with your new syrup:

Spring Fever

Makes 1 drink

3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. mango syrup
2 oz. orange juice
1 1/2 oz. tequila 
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice; blend thoroughly and strain into a collins glass over ice.  Garnish with a slice of fruit of your choice if preferred.  

05 April 2012

Getting creative with deviled eggs

Since I also write a food column, I must address every major holiday in order to be like everyone else and maintain my readership.  Honestly, Easter does nothing for me, though I do like a good zombie movie...but deviled eggs, on the other hand, are worth caring about.  I have loved these delectable little nuggets of chicken dropping ever since I was a wee lass, and my mom would obsess over the eggs, filling them with a pastry bag so they'd look fancy, then topping them with a little slice of pimento-stuffed green olive (the cheap kind).  They were beautiful, and they were delicious.  Why don't we make deviled eggs more often?  I dream of a cocktail party in which I lay out nothing but various flavors of deviled eggs to go with some tasty old-fashioned gin and bourbon cocktails.  Here's what I'd serve:

Basic Deviled Egg Recipe:
 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise (will yield 12 deviled eggs)
¼ cup Light Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 
Paprika for garnish

Remove the egg yolks and place in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Fill the empty egg white shells with the mixture and sprinkle lightly with paprika.
And variations...
Sriracha Deviled Eggs: Add 1/2-1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot garlic-chili sauce), 1/2 teaspoon lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro to the filling.  Replace paprika garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and pickled daikon and carrot.
Horseradish Deviled Eggs with Seared Steak and Blue Cheese: Add 2 teaspoons horseradish sauce, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley to filling. Garnish with thinly sliced seared New York Strip steak and crumbled blue cheese. 
Pesto and Gazpacho Deviled Eggs: Add 2 teaspoons prepared pesto and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice to the filling.  Garnish with minced cherry tomato, cucumber, and carrot. 
Green Chile Deviled Eggs: Add 2 teaspoons chopped Hatch green chiles, 1 teaspoon lime juice, and 1 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro to filling.  Garnish sparsely with your favorite chunky salsa. 
Goat cheese and Asparagus Deviled Eggs: Add 1 teaspoon fresh goat cheese, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon chopped chives to filling.  Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and blanched asparagus tips (or you could use finely chopped green beans).
Curried Deviled Eggs: Add 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh mint or cilantro to filling.  Garnish with tiny pieces of roasted cauliflower or a couple of peas.