Wednesday, March 14, 2012

how to cut cauliflower [what-mom-taught-me wednesday]

rare is the occasion when i cook something without thinking of my mother in one way or another.

with every movement through the kitchen, every stir of the spoon, i hear her voice, telling me what she is doing and why, as a much younger me watches or helps her cook for her husband, eight children, and whatever friends and family might be in the house at that moment.

so.. each week i will try to highlight a lesson whose source i otherwise may have forgotten... things i am grateful my mother taught me about cooking.

what-mom-taught-me wednesday #4: how to cut cauliflower (and what to do with the scraps)

it's so easy. but it's the kind of thing that when you haven't done it in a while, and your recipe states, "break cauliflower into small florets," you find yourself staring down a ginormous brain-like head of cauliflower.
that's right.
i said it.
cauliflower looks like brains.
source: flickr clayirving
but don't despair, you can do this! 

my mom used to make cauliflower by steaming it in milk. 
as a child, this was pure magic to me.
cooking for eight children, my mom was a frugal cook. if milk was leftover from cereal or glasses in the morning, it was put away in a separate bottle in the fridge, as "cooking milk" for baked goods. so seeing my mom use FRESH milk to cook the cauliflower showed me that cauliflower is truly special. broccoli - you could make with water. but cauliflower, it must have been extremely precious if you steamed it in milk.

so anyway, back to how you cut/trim cauliflower into florets for eating...

step 1: peel away the leaves (do not discard them, set them aside) and quarter the head of cauliflower.

step 2: cut the thick central stem away from the cauliflower at an angle (do not discard the stem, set it aside).
step 3: break the cauliflower into florets, in similar size to the other things you are cooking or as dictated by your recipe.
 see? florets! you've done it! yay!
 now you can put them into a delicious recipe like this...
sneak peak of my rosemary sage roasted sausage and veggies recipe to come soon!
now what about all those bits and pieces of the thick stem and outer leaves you set aside?
that's foooood, people! if you are living on a budget, or trying to eat healthy, or trying to be green, or just into trying new things, you might want to save these bits and pieces instead of dumping them into the trash bin or the compost heap. you can dice them up and saute them, or shred them and make them into cole slaw (which is what i will be doing!).

i don't have a recipe for you yet, as this bag of goodies is still sitting in my refrigerator, but this recipe from lauren's latest looks good.

and, if you are interested in learning about getting more from the food you eat, this is a great article from the NY Times about Ann Elder from the Community Farm of Ann Arbor.

question... did your mom steam cauliflower in milk? or am i the only one?

Friday, March 9, 2012

{this moment}

a friday ritual.
a single photo – capturing a moment from the week.
a moment i'd like to pause, to revisit and remember. 
and sometimes, like this week... to giggle about...

i don't know what i did to embarrass him this badly.
{this moment} inspired by SouleMama
if you are inspired, too, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to see, and head over to SouleMama's blog to do the same. I have discovered so many great blogs this way! xoxo

Thursday, March 8, 2012

baked artichoke kielbasa puttanesca

do you see this doggy? 
what i am about to share with you. 
do you know why?
it's not because what i am about to share with you is a wholesome, healthy, three ingredient meal that is super flavorful and delicious. (although it is indeed all of those things. and as a bonus, this recipe also meets my workweek lunchtovers criteria for weeknight cooking!)

why is she looking up at me with such adoring eyes then??  well, keep reading. you'll see.

baked artichoke kielbasa putanesca
active time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 45 minutes
  • 3 12 oz bags frozen trader joe's artichoke hearts
  • 1 jar trader joe's puttanesca sauce
  • 2 12 oz packages trader joe's turkey kielbasa

  • preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • pour your frozen artichokes into an 8x13 inch casserole dish

  • slice your kielbasa lengthwise and then into quarter- to half- inch- wide slices.

here's where that enamored pup comes in. she knows she never gets handouts from me... well, almost never... because i really hate to see anything go to waste and meat can't go into the compost pile and it can't go into recycling but there's this big old dog looking at me who eats $100 worth of kibble a month and here i am with these meat trimmings that are just going to go to waste anyway and boy she is awful cute and expensive to feed so it just makes sense, right? so when i'm cooking something with meat, she looks like this:

pleeeeeeeease mum can i have those rubbery little ends of the kielbasa that don't taste very good in the casserole?

[[sorry if it's unappetizing to have pictures of my pup on a food blog. but we have a very small house and honestly it's hard to even get pictures of the food without her in the background. so sometimes, miss adel will be featured. :) anyway, back to the recipe!]]

  • dump your sliced kielbasa on top of the frozen artichokes.
  • dump two-thirds of the jar of putanesca sauce on top of the artichokes and kielbasa.

let's take one moment talk about what makes trader joe's (or trader giotto's, as they call it) puttanesca sauce so special. it is only $2.99 for a jar, and which is actually a pretty good value when you consider all the luxurious and flavorful ingredients in it, like black olives, kalamata olives, capers, anchovy paste, onions, garlic, and herbs. it sits on your shelf, full of flavorful potential for whatever you pour it over. it's much more special than any other tomato sauce! 
hello, olive you!
aaaand back to the recipe!

  • now, stiiiiir it up, little darlin, stir it up. blend all the ingredients evenly throughout the casserole dish.
  • take the remaining third of the sauce left in the jar, and evenly pour it out over the top of the ingredients in the casserole dish. spread this out evenly with your spoon so bits sticking out of the pan don't get dried out during cooking.
  • now put the whole kit and caboodle into the oven at 375 F, and cook for about 45 minutes or until edges are browned and middle is bubbling.

enjoy! serve alone, over rice, or with crusty bread. this is really great the next day cold or reheated as leftovers.. or as we call them in our house, lunchtovers!

Monday, March 5, 2012

sweet balsamic oven roasted whole onions

this one is so easy and quite impressive and will make your whole house smell like angels. (angels smell like carmelized onions, right?)

sweet balsamic whole oven roasted onions
active time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 1 hour
one onion (or as many as needed)
salt, pepper, oilive oil, and balsamic vinegar

preheat oven to 425 degrees

slice off the top and bottom of an onion.
slice the top at a bias to expose a little more onion white. 

set the onion on a foil lined cooking sheet (for the love of all that is good, do not use your french stoneware wedding present baking dishes like i did because you will be scrubbing off baked-on grease for hours. live and learn.)

sprinkle salt and pepper over the exposed onion. generously drizzle on a good quality balsamic vinegar, followed by a drizzle of olive oil.

place in oven for about an hour, until soft all the way through and carmelized on the outside. you may wish to add a little more balsamic during cooking.

remove from oven, pinch off outer skin.

using a fork and knife, smush the onion around in a dish, adding a little more salt as needed.

they are great alone as a simple side dish, or spread them on a hearty bread.
shown here on some awesome toasted, buttered 100% rye pumpernickel!)
if you make a bunch and keep them in your refrigerator, they are a great flavor boost to add to almost anything you are cooking.

source: after making some whole roasted garlic, i was inspired try whole roasted onions. a bit of googling turned up this recipe from Andrea Reusing, which, with a couple of tweaks, yielded the recipe you see here. :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

{this moment}

a friday ritual.
a single photo – capturing a moment from the week.
a moment i'd like to pause, to revisit and remember.

...helping me do the laundry. a thankless task...

{this moment} inspired by SouleMama
if you are inspired, too, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to see, and head over to SouleMama's blog to do the same. I have discovered so many great blogs this way! xoxo

Thursday, March 1, 2012

greek yogurt with figs, honey, and walnuts

we call this 'fruit-on-the-bottom', mediterranean style.

when my husband and i first moved in together yeeears ago, he decided to surprise me with a special breakfast one morning. he went out to trader joe's and bought greek yogurt, honey, and walnuts, and served me a concoction he had been treated to once by family friends who had just returned from greece.. a simple dish that became a new standby in our home. this all happened back when the only brand of greek yogurt you could find was Fage, when everyone pronounced it FAYJE or FAJAY because that was before they wrote "pronounced fa-yeh!" on the container. this was before you could buy greek yogurt at stop n shop, and long before dannon maid "oikos" brand gross fakey greek yogurt. so don't use that. use fage or chobani or trader joe's brand.

so this one is quick...

ingredients (for one serving): 
  • 2 tablespoons fig preserves (you can find dalmatia dried fig spread in the cheese section of any grocery store)
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • a handful of walnuts, chopped
  • honey for drizzling


put two tablespoons fig spread in bottom of bowl

 add a serving of greek yogurt
drizzle honey to taste over yogurt

sprinkle chopped walnuts on top

and serve!

i serve it with extra walnuts on the side for those of us who like to go a little nut crazy.

this creamy treat was served with our splendid 
valentines day brunch menu
greek yogurt with figs, honey, and walnuts (you are here)