Vegetable kingdom

Cauliflower Chowder

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After enjoying these days of caloric ecstasy and extravagances, it’s hard to immediately switch to the light and healthier road. It feels like you are giving a kid a candy and 5 minutes later you change that to a cucumber… it is just plain hard. All my taste buds are still in frantic mode and my serotonin levels are a roll a coaster. But Nature is wise, and perhaps knows these facts by sprouting a great Winter abundance of greens, root vegetables, cabbages and cauliflowers among other vegetables.

These are my saviors for this caloric transitional period. I need soup to warm me up and fill up my belly with out the extra filling out of my pants.. ahem.

Last weekend at my farmers market I ran into these beauties, a warm yellow and a purple cauliflower, rainbow carrots, sweet potatoes and fresh dill. How can you not be inspired when you see all this colors? Soup it is, I was craving the creamy textures and luxurious caloric meals, but with no guilt. So I decided to make an all vegetable chowder using all these winter bounty.

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Cauliflower has a delicate flavor. When it is cooked and pureed it resembles potatoes. You would be surprised how close you can prepare it to mimic the potato. I’m sure you’ve heard of cauliflower mashed, cauliflower rice or cauliflower mac & cheese in which this humble Brassica acts like a carb-chameleon. With this premise I started my vegetable chowder by cooking and pureeing part of the cauliflower as the soup base to give that rich starchy like consistency that characterizes a chowder. I reserved some of the cauliflower into little florets which are added latter to the soup to add texture and enhance the cauliflower flavor. The extra creamy chowderiness comes from unsweetened coconut milk which gives this soup the luxurious velvety chowder texture and it adds lots of good healthy fats that are well needed at this point of the healthy road transition. Do not fear about the coconut over taking the flavor on the soup, you barely can tell is here. Carrots, sweet potatoes and onions add sweetness, texture and light flavor. Fresh dill adds a great herbal aroma to the soup and complements the cauliflower flavor in a very delicate way.

I recommend organically grown vegetables if possible. I know that’s not easy, but increasingly supermarkets are adding those options if you don’t have access to a farmer’s market. In my opinion the flavor is better and I think with a lightly seasoned dish like this one, those flavors are going to shine through.

This Cauliflower chowder will warm you up, fulfill your starchy desires, and settle down your taste buds. I would say this soup is the ticket to redemption road.  Time to tame the growling carb lions…

You also might like this recipes:

 Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic and Cumin rub or My favorite Cauliflower Ceviche …check them out!

If you want to know more about the wonderful benefits of Cauliflower, please check out this unique and complete article, written by Helen Nichols, 28 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Cauliflower  Enjoy!

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Cauliflower Chowder

Serves 4 or 2 hungry Vegans.

2 small or 1 medium Cauliflower heads. Any color is great about 6-7 cups of small cauliflower florets total, use organic if possible they have the best flavor.
6-7 small carrots, diced or sliced into rounds.
I used red, yellow, and orange, use what ever is freshest available at your market.
1 medium sweet potato peeled and diced.
1/2 large sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups vegetable stock
1 – 14oz can unsweetened coconut milk/cream
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 sprig fresh dill, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if using dry and upon your taste.
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or 2 sundry tomatoes**
6-8 good cranks of fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon Sea salt

Garnish with:

Fresh dill/not fan of dill?… Basil, Thyme, Chives, Tarragon are great substitutions.
smoked paprika
(Crostini or toast drizzled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese optional)

*I used water instead of vegetable stock, because I wanted the cauliflower flavor to come through. The first time I made this soup I used vegetable stock and I felt it masked the cauliflower flavor to much. Feel free to use whatever you prefer.
** Recently I made this soup adding 2 sundry tomatoes. It was a delicious variation, it gave the chowder a slight tint of color and deep of flavor.If using sundry tomatoes add them on step four so they can soften up before pureeing the chowder.

Preparation method:

1. Chop and diced your vegetables. With a small paring knife cut the cauliflower into small florets. Reserve about 2 cups of the little florets to add to the soup at last. For this soup I used the yellow cauliflower for the soup base and the purple florets to add whole to the soup, it adds eye appeal.

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2. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Pre-cook the diced carrots and sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes, until al-dente, rinse with cold water. Set aside.
3. Over medium-low heat in a medium size pot, add the extra virgin olive oil, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic until translucent, season with salt and pepper.
4. Once the onions are translucent, add ¾ of the cauliflower florets. Toss and add 2 cups of vegetable stock or just enough to cover the florets. Add bay leaf, thyme, fresh sprig of dill/or dry,  salt, and pepper, cover with a lid and let them cook for 7-8 minutes or until very soft and tender. Once cooked, purée them in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth.
5. Place this cauliflower purée back into the pot, add the coconut milk and stir well until blended. Season with celery salt, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add a bit more vegetable stock if the consistency is too thick.
6. Add the reserved mini cauliflower florets, and the pre-cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a slow simmer cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Check for doneness on the vegetables; I like my vegetables on the al-dente side, not hard but not mushy. Taste them and decide if you like them softer keep cooking them for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve immediately into warm bowls, sprinkle fresh dill, a little drizzle of olive oil, salt, and fresh cracked pepper.  One or two whole wheat crostinis won’t hurt right?… Enjoy!

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Cauliflower Chowder

Course Soup
Cuisine wholesome
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 small Cauliflower heads, Any color is great about 6-7 cups of small cauliflower florets total, use organic if possible they have the best flavor.
  • 6-7 small Carrots, diced or sliced into rounds.
  • 1 medium Sweet potato, peeled and diced.
  • 1/2 large Sweet onion diced
  • 2 medium Garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups Vegetable stock*
  • 1 14-0z can Unsweetened coconut milk/cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme, dry or fresh
  • 1 sprig fresh dill, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if using dry upon your taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika or 2 sundry tomatoes
  • 6-8 cranks Fresh Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt, or more upon your taste

Instructions

  1. 1. Chop and diced your vegetables. With a small pairing knife cut the cauliflower into small florets. Reserve about 2 cups of the little florets to add to the soup at last. For this soup I used the yellow cauliflower for the soup base and the purple florets to add whole to the soup, it adds eye appeal.

    2. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Pre-cook the diced carrots and sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes, until al-dente, rinse with cold water. Set aside.

    3. Over medium low heat in a medium size pot, add the extra virgin olive oil, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic until translucent, season with salt and pepper.  

    4. Once the onions are translucent, add ¾ of the cauliflower florets. Toss and add 2 cups of vegetable stock or just enough to cover the florets. Add bay leaf, thyme, fresh sprig of dill or dry, salt and pepper, cover with a lid and let them cook for 7-8 minutes or until very soft and tender. Once cooked, purée them in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth.

    5. Place this cauliflower purée back into the pot, add the coconut milk and stir well until blended. Season with celery salt, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add a bit more vegetable stock if the consistency is to thick.

    6. Add the reserved mini cauliflower florets, and the pre cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a slow simmer cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Check for doneness on the vegetables; I like my vegetables on the al-dente side, not hard but not mushy. Taste them and decide if you like them softer keep cooking them for another 2-3 minutes.

    *If using sundry tomatoes add them on step 4 so they can soften before pureeing the chowder.

Music Pairing:Paris Combo- Je te vois partout”

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Mariana’s Mexican Mushroom Soup – a.k.a. M-mmm Soup!

Mexican-Mushroom-Soup_Yes,-more-please!

Cold weather, soups and blankets. The time has come and I’m setting you up with the most delicious Mexican mushroom soup. I was planning to make cream of mushrooms since one of my friends asked me for a recipe I made many years ago when I was a student in Guadalajara. (Rosi, if you are reading this please make this soup I think you’re gonna love it more than the cream of mushroom…although the cream of mushroom recipe is in your e-mail by now.)

As usual my brain went in multiple directions when I was at the market. I saw the epazote, smelled it and immediately thought of the Pasilla peppers I had at home. Suddenly it evoked the smells and flavors the recipe which were in my head and I could almost taste this delicious mushroom soup.

As you can see it has nothing to do with the cream of mushrooms I had plan to made, but I have to say that when I trust my instincts and let go, a wonderful recipe arises. I think when the soup was ready, it knock me down it tasted so good and it is so easy to make.

Warm and earthy yet light at the same time, this mushroom soup has the distinct flavor of the Pasilla peppers which tint the broth with a mahogany color and a faint spice. The Cremini mushrooms’ heartiness shine through along with the epazote licorice-minty flavor. The corn masa rue gives the broth a nutty corn flavor and great consistency.
To top it off, I recommend a bit of fresh crema or a dollop of plain greek yogurt which can be added along with some queso panela or queso fresco. For a Vegan version, you can add tofu squares, and a bit of unsweetened coconut cream. If you are looking for a soup that will warm you up with a friendly calorie count this Mariana’s Mexican Mushroom Soup might be just what you where waiting for… Mmm!!!

Mexican-Mushroom-Soup_ingredients

Mariana’s Mexican Mushroom Soup – a.k.a. M-mmm Soup!

Serves 4 or 2 hungry Mexican Yetis.

1 lb cremini mushrooms, clean and medium thin sliced.
1 large or 2 small dried pasilla chile seedless and cut with scissors
1 tablespoon corn masa-harina “Maseca”
½ medium white onion small diced
1 medium garlic clove finely diced
4 roma tomatoes
4 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock
1 glug corn oil or extra virgin olive oil (what ever flavor you prefer)
2 sprigs of epazote (if you are using Mexican epazote, use just one)
Sea salt to taste.
2-3 cranks of Fresh Black Pepper

Garnish with:

Fresh Mexican crema, crème fraîche or plain greek yogurt
Queso Panela or queso fresco
Fresh epazote

Vegan substitutions:

Vegetable stock
Garnish with: unsweetened coconut milk, and firm tofu squares.

Preparation method:

1. Cut a little cross on the bottom of each tomato. In a small pot boil your tomatoes until soft. Remove the skins. Reserve one cup of the boiling water and blend them until smooth. Set aside.
2. Remove the stem of the chile pasilla and shake to remove all the seeds and core.With the help of kitchen scissors slice the chile pasilla into an 1/8” inch thin strips.

Mexican-Mushroom-Soup_how-to-cut-Pasilla
3. Have everything ready beside your stove to start the soup.
4. In a medium large soup pot, over medium high heat add the oil, wait until warms up and then add the pasilla strips. Toss with a wood spoon for 1-2 minutes until they start looking crispy and they release their flavor. After 2 minutes the color of the oil is orange. Remove the crispy rings from oil and reserve them for garnish.
5. Lower the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of the corn-masa harina and stir until slightly golden brown. Add the diced onions and garlic, toss for 1-2 minutes, add the tomato pure, toss and season salt and pepper, bring to a boil.
6. Add the chicken stock, and the epazote sprig. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cremini Mushrooms and crush some of the fried pasilla reserved. Bring to a slow simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the broth has a richer consistency.

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7. Taste for salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and let the soup rest for 10 minutes.
8. Meantime prepare your garnishes. Warm up some corn tortillas, serve the soup and garnish with crema, queso panela o fresco, some of the crispy pasilla rings, fresh epazote, and Warm up!

Note: If you are the spicy soul like me, toast some chile de arbol with a little bit of oil and crush some of this spicy chile on top… mmm spicy!

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Warm up!

Note: Now that I think about it.. it will be delicious if you add some kale or swiss chard, even baby spinach…at the end  of the preparation…yum!

Music Pairing: Lila Downs – Llorona Frida Kahlo

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Green Green Coleslaw

Green_Green-Cole-Slaw_ready-to-eat!_Yes,-more-please!

Texas summer heat is like Kryptonite. Do you remember how Superman used to get exposed to this green glowing Kryptonite and you could hear a sound like this: ~ waaayioh, waaayioh, waaayiho )) ) ) ) ) you could almost see the waves that debilitated the strongest blue and red caped man in the comic world… Well, I’m not muscled or caped like Superman, but the Summer sun is my Kryptonite.

I often can see and hear the heat waves whispering:

~ waaayioh, waaayioh, waaayiho )) ) ) )

~ Am I delirious?…

No, the truth is that I’m in much need of a little break from the high temperatures. I needed a boost of fresh glowing green in my life and I could not resist some leafy crunchy vegetable medley action. We all know what this leafy greens are brimming with fiber along with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances. Imagine what they can do for you.

August is a hard month to get great produce; too much heat here in Texas. I know the green leafy season is not here yet, but thanks to California’s amazing weather and hard-working farmers, I armed myself with some of my favorite green vegetables: kale, mustard greens, green cabbage, green apples, celery, onions and a little fresh corn. After a little chopp-ah-rooh, and combining all this shredded goodness with some light vinaigrette, this Green Green Coleslaw was born.

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The combination of the different greens add great flavor and texture. A tangy oil honey and apple vinegar dressing, with a good punch of dry oregano, and seasons, make this green-green coleslaw light and crunchy. It is lightly dressed. No soggy cole slaw for me, thank you. If you are the creamy cole slaw type, this will convert you into the vinaigrette version.

This Green Green Coleslaw, makes a great side dish for, salmon, any white grilled fish, chicken, pork, beef , shrimp, tofu, tempeh, rice, lentils, white beans…you name it. You can add some roasted almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds and it will be a great left over for next day lunch.

Nice and easy, this recipe is all about fresh and nutritious green power all in one bowl. A salad
with great personality and flavors, this green-green cole slaw will restore your energy and refresh you on this fiery Summer. Like a good Kryptonite, you know? hehehe Enjoy.

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Green Green Coleslaw

Serves 4-6 or 1 super man.

The vegetable action:

½ half of a small green cabbage head
4-5 San Jacinto Kale leaves
1 large mustard green leaf.
2 celery stalks
1 ear of sweet yellow corn
1 medium-large green apple
½ medium onion

For the dressing:

¼ cup grape seed oil
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 heaping teaspoon dry oregano. (Not crazy about oregano?, tarragon, dry basil will go great too…)
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
The zest and the juice of one lemon.

Feel free to add some nuts, for crunch and protein, toasted almonds or walnuts will taste fantastic.
Or some golden raisins will add an extra sweet note. If you are a Mayonnaise lover, substitute the oil for 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons of plain greek yogurt.

Preparation:

1. Finely chop the cabbage, the kale (remember to remove the hard steam on the kale and the mustard greens), Finely chop the onions, celery and de-kernel the sweet corn. Chop the apple like  matchsticks.

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2. In a large bowl, whisk all your dressing ingredients, add all the chopped vegetables and toss well.

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3. Set a side and let it rest for 10 to 15minutes before serving.
4. Taste, adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. Serve and Enjoy!

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Zucchini Ginger Brown Rice Bowls

Zucchini-Ginger-Brown-Rice-bowls_ready-to-serve-Yes,-more-please!

Light and refreshing is what best describes this recipe. A one bowl meal! It’s no fuss, maximum flavor, raw zucchini with a gingery-soy sauce over a nutty sesame seasoned brown rice. This Zucchini Asian flare recipe, is so light, refreshing and savory, you are going to want to eat it more than once a day.
I know what Brown rice does not have a great reputation among the grains because it tends to be mushy and it can taste like cardboard… Well my friend, I have you covered on this one, you will love the quick easy method that I use. Cook the brown rice as you would cook pasta. Use  a large pot with plenty of water and pinch or two of sea salt. The brown rice boils loosely for about 25-30 minutes; stir often and check for an al-dente consistency. When is up to my desired doneness I strain it and the heat of the steam dries the excess water in the brown rice,  leaving you with perfectly cooked,  fluffy individual grains, with great texture cooked trough and slightly  al-dente.

Using this method, I cook larger batches of brown rice and use them later for a quick sautéed, salads, soups or in this case; this humble and refreshing Zucchini Ginger Brown Rice bowl.

As you can see there is hope for this misunderstood grain. I assure you once you try this method you will love brown rice again.

Enjoy the bountiful zucchini season and stay fresh!

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Zucchini Ginger Brown Rice Bowls

Makes 2 meal bowls

3 medium size zucchini any color is up to your preference.
1/2 cup toasted and finely chopped cashews or walnuts
2 green scallions finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (any color)
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger.
1 small garlic clove grated

For the dressing:

1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sesame seed oil
2 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar

For the rice:

1 cup short grain brown rice
8 cups of water
2 pinches of salt.

Season the rice with:

1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar.

Preparation Method:

1. Bring to a boil a large pot filled with 8 cups of water and 2 good pinches of sea salt. Once is boiling add the brown rice, bring back to a boil, and then lower the temperature for a slow simmer. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
2. While your rice is cooking, shred your zucchini, ~omit the seed core on the zucchinis~ I used one of my favorite uni-taskers, I absolutely adore this julienne peeler! you can get it any cooking supply store or get it on-line. Toast your walnuts, chop the scallions, grate your ginger and garlic.

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3. In a large bowl combine the shredded zucchini and one good pinch of salt, toss well and let it stand for a few minutes. This will draw out some of the excess water out of the zucchini.Toss water from bowl and place zucchini on a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze with your hands as much water as possible. remove from towel and with your hands fluff up the shredded zoodles. This step is very important, because avoids watering down your vinaigrette.
4. In a large bowl Combine the drain shredded zucchini, finely chopped toasted walnuts, toasted sesame seeds, green scallions, grated ginger, grated garlic.
5. Combine the soy sauce, sesame seed oil, rice vinegar. Set a side you will dress your zucchini right before serving. Please check on your rice.

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6. Check for rice doneness. I usually look for a soft but firm grain, that tastes cooked and has a god bite. Usually is around 25-30 minutes, the doneness I prefer. See the picture below.If you want to go a little further on cooking is up to your preference, give the rice another 5 minutes, re-check and taste; always taste!
7. Once your rice is cooked, with the help of a colander or a sieve, strain the rice. Allow the hot steam to dry the extra water, give it around 5-7 minutes. Once all the excess water is drained and still warm, transfer the rice into a bowl and season with the sesame oil, sesame seeds and rice vinegar toss until well combined.

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8. Once your rice is seasoned, Add the Soy sauce sesame seed oil, and rice vinegar dressing to the zucchini mixture. Toss well.

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9. Using two deep bowls, divide the rice and top it with the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle some extra sesame seeds and for spice maybe some Thai pepper, red pepper flakes, or some Sriracha-hot sauce! Enjoy!

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Fresh, light, easy lunch or dinner…

Music Pairing: Nanobots – They Might be Giants

 

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Summer Eggplant Parmigiana

 

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The first days of summer are arriving in Texas, and with them an incredible vegetable abundance.
This weekend eggplants at the Farmer’s Market grabbed my attention in such a way that I bought too many!… That’s the the way my crave of cooking works, with my eyes. I’m a very visual person and I believe good, healthy, fresh vegetables have to look good and smell good. Being visually inspired at the farmers market helps me create and translate my cravings into recipes. When I saw these eggplants I immediately thought of eggplant parmigiana. I love eggplant parmigiana, although to be honest sometimes the delicate eggplant flavor gets lost in the breading, frying , melted cheese, and marinara sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I love all these components, but maybe in Autumn or winter…

With this memory of flavors in mind, I started to think of how could I transform a classic into a more simple and Summery version. I came up with this Summery eggplant parmigiana recipe. A lighter version in which instead of breading and frying the eggplant I cut them lengthwise and roast them in the oven. Eggplants when roasted this way, develop a buttery flavor almost like a vegetable custard contained in it’s own skin. That’s why Im skipping the melted cheese on these recipe. Believe me you have to try them, you will be enjoying the delicate eggplant flavor. To add texture and contrast to this custard I added a combination of panko bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. If you have a gluten allergy these can easily be replaced with ground pecans,or almonds instead of panko breadcrumbs which it will be equally or even more delicious.

Instead of the warm marinara sauce, I made a warm tomato salad with a garlic oil dressing combining the first sweetest cherry and sun gold tomatoes of the tomato season. These little tomato marbles are incredibly flavorful, I never feel like cook them I almost eat them like grapes, as a snack in the afternoon. That’s one of the reasons this simple warm salad enhance their great qualities.

This summer eggplant parmigiana version will warm your heart. It is easy to make, light, and comforting.

Welcome to the summer, and enjoy!

Eggplant-Parmiggiana_beauty-ingredients

Summer Eggplant Parmigiana

Serves 4

2 large eggplants
1-2 glugs of grape seed oil
sea salt and Black pepper

For the topping:

1 cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese grated.
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.
fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
A pinch of red flake peppers (optional)

For the warm tomato salad:

2 cups of a combination of cherry and sun gold tomatoes.
2-3 sprigs of fresh Basil
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 large garlic cloves thinly sliced
3 tablespoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar.
(Rice Vinegar goes so well with the sweetness of the tomatoes. Since this little tomatoes are so sweet, you need to balance the acidity , and the seasoned rice vinegar pairs fantastic , bringing all the notes together, sweet, salty and tangy.)
salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

Preparation method:

1. Preheat the oven 450F/ 230C
2. Cut the eggplants length wise and score them with a pairing knife.Rub the eggplants with some olive oil or grape seed oil, season them with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
3. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast them for about 15-18 minutes.

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4. Mean time, in a bowl combine the Panko bread crumbs, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, red pepper flakes, olive oil, salt and pepper until well combined and the mixture resembles moist sand. Set a side.
5. Start making the warm tomato salad, by cutting the cherry and sun gold tomatoes into halves or quarters depending on size. Chifonade the basil. Combine them in a bowl, toss them with the rice vinegar, salt and pepper.
6. In a small pot add the extra virgin olive oil along with the thinly sliced garlic and using the lowest possible heat on the stove, start warming up the oil. This will infuse the oil with the garlic and the thin slices of garlics will start turning golden brown.

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7. Check your Eggplant, take out of the oven top each half with a generous amount of the panko mixture. Place them into the oven for another 5 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

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8. Mean time check your garlic and olive oil. Once the eggplants come out of the oven, remove the warm oil from the stove and add this to the cherry and sun gold tomato salad toss well.
The warm oil will gently warm up the tomatoes,the garlic chips will add flavor and aroma to the tomato salad it is a fantastic!

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9. Once your eggplants are ready out of the oven transfer them onto a platter, and top with the warm tomato salad, grate a little extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh basil. Enjoy!

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Welcome the Summer!

Music Pairing: Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Summertime

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Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic + Cumin Rub

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Chef Dan Barber was the creator of the famous Cauliflower steak. His original recipe uses the whole cauliflower head. He slices two thick cauliflower wedges and sears them in a cast iron pan until the cauliflower is caramelized but al dente. He cooks the rest of the cauliflower florets in milk to make a smooth and light mash. He serves the cauliflower steak over the light cauliflower mash. The contrast in textures and different cooking methods is what makes this dish outstanding.
Cauliflower to the square; a brilliant idea.

Chef Dan’s cauliflower approach inspired me to create this recipe. Instead of contrast in textures, I wanted a contrast in flavors but chose a spice that enhanced the grilled cauliflower. With Dan’s premise of simplicity in mind, I made a four ingredient paste as a rub with garlic, cumin seeds, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. I wish you could off been here with me when I was pressing the garlic and cumin seeds in the mortar, the smell was insanely good.  I must confess that prior this recipe I was not fond of cumin seed flavor and using cumin was totally out of my comfort zone.This recipe gave me a different outlook about it.

  I rubbed two cauliflower steaks and the rest of the loose florets with this pasty rub and grilled them. When the cauliflower was grilling the aromas were insanely good: smokey, lemony cumin and garlic.   It’s a savory aroma that squeezes your tongue from behind. I just can say that  I am converted now. These  two flavors work together so well that I see lots of cauliflower in my near feature…
Enjoy!

Grilled-Cauliflower-with-Garlic-+-Cumin-Rub-Yes,-more-please!

Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic + Cumin Rub

Serves 2 as main dish, 4 if served as a side dish.

1 Medium fresh Cauliflower head.

For the rub:

2  teaspoons cumin seeds slightly toasted.
3 medium garlic cloves
2 teaspoons sea salt. (I used grey sea salt)
1/3 – ½ cup extra virgin Olive oil.

Serve with:

Tangy Bulgarian yogurt
Grilled pita bread
Sprigs of cilantro
Fresh cracked black pepper.

Grill and natural Charcoal.

Preparation method:

1. In a small skillet over low heat, toast the cumin seeds for 2-3 minutes.
2. Using a small mortar, place the toasted cumin seeds, garlic cloves and sea salt. Start smashing these ingredients with the pestle, until it looks like a paste.
3. At this point start adding the extra virgin olive oil little a the time, and keep mixing and smashing until each oil addition is incorporated.
4. With a silicone brush rub both sides of the cauliflower slices and the florets.
5. Fire up your grill.
6. Grill the Cauliflower steaks for about 4-5 minutes per side. They should look charred and with a fork check the center core for doneness.
7. Remove from grill and serve warm with some grilled pita bread, Bulgarian yogurt, fresh cilantro, a bit of fresh black pepper and a squeeze of lemon if desired. Enjoy!

Grilled-Cauliflower-with-Garlic-+-Cumin-Rub_applying-the-rub

Grilled-Cauliflower_Yes,-more-please!

Grilled-Cauliflower-with-Garlic-+-Cumin-Rub-serve-with-yogurt,-pita-bread

 Enjoy!

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Kale and Lentil Salad with Honey- Mustard Vinaigrette

Kale and Lentil Salad with Honey- Mustard Vinaigrette_kale purple leaf

Feeling blue?…Have some greens!. Kale is the number one power green, full of nutrients and rich in flavor.
If you wonder what the color green should taste like… it tastes just like kale.
It’s high percentage in Beta carotene, Vitamin K, vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, iron, potassium, calcium and fiber, make it the king of the greens. The season for this green is Autumn and Winter.
Kale salad will lift up your mood and give you plenty of energy through out the day.
There is Curly Kale, Dino Kale, Premier, Redboar, Siberian, Walking stick kale, Red russian, Kamome red, *sight and I assure you I’m missing more varieties, this are just a few of the ones I know and I’ve tried.
I remember the first time I tried Kale it was a bit intimidating, I felt like I was eating some prehistorical plant; it is a bit hard to chew when is raw and most of the varieties develop their nutrients and are easier to digest when they are steamed.
I’ve tried different cooking methods, some favorites of mine: Curly and Dino kale make great baked chips, Kamome is great for steaming it holds its shape beautifully, and the Redbor Kale I love it in salads like this because it adds great texture, I usually cut it or tier it in small pieces because is easier to chew, the vinaigrette helps to tenderize the leafy texture and what is great is that kale will not wilt when you add the vinaigrette.
Kale and Lentil Salad with Honey- Mustard Vinaigrette is a nutritious  and delicious combination. Kale, lentils, walnuts for some crunch is just what you need to boost your energy. This salad Makes a great Lunch or a light dinner side dish.

Kale and lentil salad with honey mustard vinaigrette_red kale

Kale and Lentil Salad with Honey- Mustard Vinaigrette_healthy and delicious

Kale and Lentil Salad with Honey- Mustard Vinaigrette.

Serves 4

4 cups of Redbor kale (washed and pad dry) ( you can use Dino Kale )
2-3 cups of cooked green lentils*
1 small red onion finely chopped
1 red bell pepper finely diced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
A couple of tablespoons of Bulgarian Feta cheese

Honey- Mustard vinaigrette

2 teaspoons of whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Extra virgin Olive oil
¼ cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons of honey or ambar agave nectar.
the juice and zest of ½ lime or lemon.
Fresh ground pepper to taste.

*How to cook Lentils?

These green Lentils are best cook in lots of salted water, just like pasta. Bring water to a boil add 1 generous teaspoon of kosher salt and a Bay leaf. Add the lentils, bring back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to low and gentle simmer you barely want to see little bubbles on the top. Cook for another 15-20 minutes with no lid. after 15 minutes check on doneness. I like mine al-dente, specially for a salad like this, I want them with a bite. So I usually remove from heat at 15 minutes and cover them for another 10 minutes. Strain them and let them air dry for a few minutes on a single layer in flat tray.  I usually serve this salad with barely warm lentils, I love the texture and comfort.

Directions:

Start by removing the stems of the kale leaves and breaking the pieces into small bite size. In a small bowl whisk the vinaigrette ingredients. In a platter, layer the kale, lentils, chopped onions, red bell pepper, parsley and walnuts. Drizzle over the mustard vinaigrette. Mix and top it all with crumbled feta cheese.
Serve the salad at room temperature. It is also great in a pita with some Greek yogurt or served in avocado halves!!!Kale-and-Lentil-Salad-with-Honey--Mustard-Vinaigrette_ingredients-layout

Kale and Lentil Salad with Honey- Mustard Vinaigrette_vegetarian_healthy dinner

Kale-and-lentil-salad-with-honey-mustard-vinaigrette_Yes,-more-please!

Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Don’t Worry be happy – Bob Marley

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Cauliflower Ceviche

Cauliflower Ceviche_Tostada ready to eat!

The full summer weather is here! Austin, Texas is burning hot! 101-106 Fahrenheit. With this kind of summer temperatures, I can’t even conceive the idea of “grilling”. Can you imagine being outside with 101 on the thermometer in front of a grill trying to light up the charcoal?…Not my cup of tea I prefer the tundra if you ask me. But well these weather conditions fire up the indoors freshly made meals; light, crisp and lots of veggie action.

Cauliflower-Ceviche_cauliflower-florets

I tried to make this ceviche once in my years of college, not so good; it was really mushy and flavorless… but I loved the concept of using the beloved Cauliflower. Cauliflower is the vegetable everybody loves now because of its versatile flavor. It is evident that Cauliflower has a love affair with butter and cream. Mashed cauliflower can replace a good pile of mashed potatoes, cauliflower gratin, cauliflower chowder, griller, roasted, among my favorites. But what I crave in a Summery hot day is something light easy to digest, fresh and no oven or a long cooking time required.

So with this said, I revamped the cauliflower ceviche recipe from my College years by adding diced crunchy vegetables, steaming the cauliflower and lots of good fresh and dry herbs plus a punch of citrus goodness to add extra flavor. That acid, salty umami note that just makes your mouth water, as soon you start reading the recipe…

Cauliflower Ceviche is a great summery meal, for Vegetarian, Vegans and Carnivorus that won’t even care about the difference once they have the first bite!

Margaritas on the side?…Yes, please!…Enjoy!

Cauliflower-Ceviche_ingredients_Yes,-more-please!

Cauliflower Ceviche

Serves 4

1 Cauliflower head, medium size. Remove the core and small diced florets.

Small diced:

2 carrots
1 tomato
½ medium size red onion
2 green onions including the green part.
1 cucumber seedless
1 long celery stalk
1 habanero, or 1 jalapeno, or 1 serrano. (Remove the seeds for a less spicy version.)
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
2-3 pinches of dried oregano

The juice of:

2 Limes
1 Lemon
The juice and zest of ½ Orange
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon of  sea salt
Black crushed pepper to taste.

Garnish with:

Radishes, Avocado Slices, Pumpkin seeds, Ketchup,( weird but delicious, it adds some sweet and tangy note)
Cholula hot Sauce, Limes. Serve with Tostadas or crackers.

Directions:

In a medium size pot steam the small diced Cauliflower florets until al-dente, for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from steamer place them on a tray in one single layer and let them cool off. Mean time chop all the vegetables. Place them on a big salad bowl, add the herbs, extra virgin olive oil, the citrus juices and S&P, toss well.  Once the cauliflower florets have cool down, add them to the mix, toss well and let it marinate for 20-45 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with tostadas or crackers, avocado Slices, radish slices, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and a dash of your favorite hot sauce…

Cauliflower-Ceviche-Summer-Vegetarian-Vegan-Bliss_-Yes,-more,-please!

Refreshing, Vegetarian Ceviche, Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Mini Skirt, ESQUIVEL- Metropole Orkest

Cauliflower Ceviche

Serves 4-6
Course Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine FUSION, Mexican, wholesome
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Author Mariana McEnroe

Ingredients

  • 1 Cauliflower head medium size. Remove the core and small diced florets.

Small diced:

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 to mato
  • ½ medium size red onion
  • 2 green onions including the green part.
  • 1 cucumber seedless
  • 1 long celery stalk
  • 1 habanero or 1 jalapeno, or 1 serrano. (Remove the seeds for a less spicy version.)
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 pinches of dried oregano

The juice of:

  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Lemon
  • The juice and zest of ½ Orange
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Black crushed pepper to taste.

Garnish with:

  • Radishes Avocado Slices, Pumpkin seeds, Ketchup,( weird but delicious, it adds some sweet and tangy note)
  • Cholula hot Sauce Limes. Serve with Tostadas or crackers.

Instructions

Directions:

  1. In a medium size pot steam the small diced Cauliflower florets until al-dente, for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from steamer place them on a tray in one single layer and let them cool off. Mean time chop all the vegetables. Place them on a big salad bowl, add the herbs, extra virgin olive oil, the citrus juices and S&P, toss well. Once the cauliflower florets have cool down, add them to the mix, toss well and let it marinate for 20-45 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with tostadas or crackers, avocado Slices, radish slices, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and a dash of your favorite hot sauce…
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