Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cauliflower Cake

I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen as soon as I came home from the farmer's market last week. I knew I wanted to prepare it for my mom and sister who were staying with me on the eve of the Rally to Restore Sanity this weekend.

It was delicious but very filling. We have plenty of leftovers so go along with our halloween candy and birthday cupcakes (today was also my roommate's birthday) to eat all week long!

Cauliflower Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)

What You Need
- 1 medium cauliflower
- 1 large red onion, peeled
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- 10 medium or 8 large eggs
- Handful basil, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and black pepper
- Butter, for greasing pan
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (recipe calls for black, but I used white and a bit more than 2 tablespoons)

What You Do
1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
2. Break cauliflower into medium florets.
3. Place floret in a pot with a teaspoon of salt, cover them with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite soft.
4. Strain and let drip in the colander for a few minutes so they dry and cool.
5. Halve your red onion and cut a few thin rings off the end of one side; set them aside.
6. Coarsely chop the remainder of your onion.
7. Heat all of your olive oil in a saucepan and saute the chopped red onion and rosemary together until soft, about 8 minutes. (This smells so good!)
8. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
9. Whisk eggs and olive oil and onion mixture together. Stir in basil.
10. Whisk flour, baking powder, turmeric, cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and many grinds of black pepper together in a separate bowl.
11. Add to egg mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Stir in cauliflower gently, so most pieces remain intact.
12. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round pan with parchment paper.
13. Butter the sides generously.
14. Put the sesame seeds in the pan and toss them around so that they stick to the sides.
15. Pour in the cauliflower batter, arrange the reserved onion rings on top and bake cake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Yum. More on cauliflower to come!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Learning to make bread, effortlessly!

Something I love about my roommate: she bakes! She makes wonderful and delicious goodies with what seems like very little effort. Whipping up cookies and muffins in time for breakfast or dessert. And, best of all, BREAD! Bread so that we have it all week long, and when the loaf is running low-- POOF there is more of it. I insisted as part of my procrastination routine from midterm studying, that she instruct me how to make this wonderful creation. Then, next time the bread is running low, I will be responsible for replenishing our stash.

The recipe is very simple, but makes a very tastey crunchy, crusty loaf of bread. She has it on an index card with her other family favorite recipes and has permitted me to post it to the blog. She also let me in on her family's secret to this bread: they found it in the New York Times when Bittman posted it. You can also see more raving about this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Yum Yum Yum!

Crunchy, Crusty Loaf (adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery by Bittman in the NY Times and Smitten Kitchen, see links above, but most importantly, from my roommate and her family)

What You Need
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1/4 teaspoon yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups flour (here is the combo we've been using: 1/2 cups mixed grains, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 2 cups white flour)

What You Do
1. Mix together the water, yeast, and salt.
2. Add in the flour.
3. Cover with a towel and store in a warm place (room temp) for over 12 hours. We put it on top of our fridge.
4. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
5. Add dough to a dutch oven (this recipe should be used with a small dutch oven but if you have a large one, double the recipe)
6. Bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy! And make sure to prep some more dough before you run out.

Another Soup: Squash Soup

So, I am supposed to be studying for midterms, but instead I'll post another recipe I made this weekend (actually, I made this when I needed a break from learning about heavy metals today!). I used hubbard squash, but any squash will do! Of course there are easier squash soup recipes out there, but this one had a wonderful flavor and wasn't too difficult (especially since I opted not to whip out the food processor).

Squash Soup (adapted from Emeril's Acorn Squash Soup on

What You Need
- 2-3 squash, halved, seed removed (recipe calls for acorn, I used hubbard)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 apple, peeled cored and chopped (recipe calls for Granny Smith, but I didn't use one)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger (I used a bit more than this, up to 1/2 teaspoon... be sure to taste test though)
- Pinch of cinnamon (recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon allspice, but I didn't have any)
- 4 cups vegetable broth

What You Do
1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
2. On a baking sheet, roast the acorn squash, cut side down, until soft, about 45 minutes.
3. Scoop out the squash flesh and set aside.
4. In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
5. Saute carrot, apple, and onion until soft.
6. Season with ginger and cinnamon (or allspice).
7. Add the squash and the stock.
8. Simmer for 20 minutes.
9. Remove the pot from the heat. Here the recipe says to "puree with a hand-held immersion blender" or put it in a blender or food processor and return to the pot. However, I just used a potato masher and got a great consistency-- still with small pieces of carrot and onion. Depends on your preference and desire to wash dishes (I don't have a dish washer so I avoid the food processor).
10. Season with salt and pepper.

Kale Soup

A spin of my vegetable soup I posted a couple weeks ago, I have also been making a kale soup which is very good and really easy to make (I even made it one morning before work). I promise I'll take a break from kale recipes after this one, but my roommate just returned from her family's farm with lots and lots of greens.

Kale Soup

What You Need
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 stalks celery
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into pieces
- 3-4 potatoes (depending on size), peeled and chopped
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste

What You Do
1. Heat olive oil in a pot and add onion, garlic, and celery.
2. Saute onion, garlic and celery on medium heat until soft (about 5 minutes).
3. Add kale and stir until kale begins to wilt (about 2 minutes).
4. Add potatoes and vegetable stock.
5. Simmer soup on medium heat for 30 minutes (or until the potatoes are soft).
6. Add salt and pepper to taste!

You can add extra seasoning and extra veggies to this easy soup. It tastes great on a cold day. You can also add in some extra firm tofu cut into bite sized pieces!

Kale Salad (The Start of Thanksgiving Menu Planning)

As many of you know, I love Thanksgiving Dinner and I especially love the month prior to Thanksgiving when I spend time menu planning and debating about turkeys. Well, the turkey question has been solved for this year. We are sticking with Goffle Road Poultry Farm located in Wyckoff, NJ (very close to my mother's house).

With the arrival of the November Food and Wine Magazine, I have started plotting and planning recipes to try out in anticipation of Thanksgiving. Here is a great one tried last week: Kale and Apple salad. While I loved my fall salad I've used the last couple years, this is a great twist, with tasty kale! I'm thinking this will have a place at this year's Thanksgiving table.

Kale and Apple Salad (adapted from Food and Wine)

What You Need
- 2 cups pecans
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons caper brine (from a jar of capers)
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 apples, cut into matchsticks (the recipe calls for Granny Smith)
- 1 large head radicchio, shredded (we didn't use this, but I will next time!)
- One 8-ounce bunch kale—stems discarded, leaves finely shredded
- 3 tablespoons snipped chives (we didn't use this, but I will next time)
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon (we didn't use this, but I will next time)
- 2 ounces shaved pecorino (we didn't use this, but I will next time)

What You Do
So, here is how the recipe asks you to prepare the pecans:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. In a bowl, cover the pecans with water.
3. Transfer to a sieve and shake out the water.
3. In another bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar, cayenne and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
4. Add the pecans and toss.
5. Transfer to a sieve and shake off the excess coating.
6. Arrange the pecans on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the sugar is lightly caramelized and the pecans are golden.

Here is how I did it. I'm going to try their way next time and see which one is best for Thanksgiving:
1. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a pan.
2. Add 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar and melt.
3. Add and toss pecans for 1 minutes.
4. Arrange coated pecans on parchment paper until cool.

Then, make the dressing:
1. Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, caper brine and maple syrup and season the dressing with salt and black pepper.

And finally, assemble the salad:
1. Add the apples, radicchio, kale, chives, tarragon and pecorino and toss. Mound the salad on plates, garnish with the pecans and serve.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vegetable Soup

I made this vegetable soup last week and loved it. The recipe made enough so that I had leftovers all week long and was able to eat it for lunch throughout the week. It was excellent.

Vegetable Soup (adapted from Alton Brown)

What You Need
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-2 cups chopped onions (recipe called for leeks, but I didn't have any-- only white parts)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
- 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
- 2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 2 quarts vegetable broth
- 4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

What You Do
1. Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat.
2.Once hot, add the onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.
3. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer.
5. Once simmering, add the tomatoes and pepper.
6. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice.
8. Season, to taste, with kosher salt.

Serve immediately. Yum! Perfect as the weather starts to get cooler.


Today was 10/10/10 and together with friends from the community we went to work with Groundwork Anacostia River DC to set up a community garden in N.E. DC. Although the original site for the community garden was not ready for us to do work, we were able to go over to the new location for the Center for Green Urbanism and help them put in raised beds, clear trash, and weed the garden.

It was a great day working towards common goals of sustainability, urban gardening, and community activism.

Here are some photos:

Take a look at to learn about the events that went on today around the world to raise awareness and fight against climate change!