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Cooking with Fel – Frittata FAIL, Revisited

December 5, 2010

First off, I can’t believe it’s already December. It feels like this year just started but – BAM! – it’s winter and December and it’ll soon be time to reflect upon the year that will pass.

When I look back on 2010 and The Food Ledger, I’ve been through a lot. A lot I still haven’t posted (because, well, I’m lazy, as you already knew) but a lot I have…like this particular post. My first post of 2010 also happened to be my first “Cooking with Fel” post on the site. And, like many cooking attempts at that time, it was a disaster. The frittata tasted fine but let’s be honest now – food is something that is both enjoyed by the eyes and by the mouth and that frittata only met one of two criteria.

In that post, I wrote:

Resolution #1: Make an awesome, beautiful frittata by the end of the year.

Well boys and girls, check what just left my oven less than half an hour ago…

(Oooooh – what what! Yeah, that’s right – FRITTATA NON-FAIL  baby!)

I think it came out pretty well, don’t you think? Filled with bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and potatoes… not only does it look pretty, but it tastes pretty damn good, if I may say so myself.

Therefore, my one resolution for the year (at least, the only one I’ve documented) is officially complete! 2010 has been deemed a success!

Cooking with Fel – Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Puree

November 13, 2010

“…what do you do when you have a monstrous vegetable sitting in your fridge? Well, I guess you cut it in half (half for one recipe, half for another!)…” Cooking with Fel, 11.4.10

So this is that recipe made with the other half of my ginormous cauliflower from the other post. What did I decide to make this time around? Cauliflower steaks with cauliflower puree.

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I’m going to qualify this entire post by saying, at the time I made this recipe, I had been eating something cauliflower related for a couple days straight. I don’t know if my taste buds were bored by this point but I felt this dish was total cauliflower overload. Not to say that’s a bad thing; I loved the seared and roasted cauliflower steak and the puree would have been great paired with a real steak. However, cauliflower served with cauliflower is just a lot of cauliflower, so be prepared for that if you’re planning on eating the two together.

Personally, the next time I make this, I’m going to make each component separately and pair it with something non-cauliflower related. However, I must admit, having the two together is very pretty!

Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Puree
From: Bon Appétit, February 2008

Ingredients:

* 1 1 1/2-pound head of cauliflower
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 1 cup whole milk
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus additional for brushing

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250°F. Using sharp heavy knife and starting at top center of cauliflower head, cut two 1-inch-thick slices of cauliflower, cutting through stem end. Set cauliflower steaks aside.

Cut enough florets from remaining cauliflower head to measure 3 cups. Combine florets, 1 1/2 cups water, and milk in medium saucepan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and cook until cauliflower florets are very tender, about 10 minutes. Strain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Spread florets on large rimmed baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes until slightly dry. Transfer florets to blender. Add reserved 1 cup cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Return puree to same saucepan and increase oven temperature to 350°F.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Brush cauliflower steaks with additional oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cauliflower steaks to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and bake cauliflower steaks until tender, about 10 minutes.

Rewarm cauliflower puree over medium heat. Divide puree between 2 plates; top each with cauliflower steak.

Yield: 2 servings.


Cooking with Fel – Cauliflower Couscous

November 4, 2010

I’ve been spoiled by California produce; I’m so used to getting almost anything year round.

Strawberries in September? (I was eating some right before I left.)
Tomatoes in the dead of winter? (Of course! I need to get my salsa fix somehow…)

The concept of “seasonality” isn’t truly an issue SoCal.

New York produce, on the other hand, isn’t quite as flexible – the weather actually dictates what what grows or doesn’t grow (which is why, quite often, our produce comes from California). However, if you’re talking locally grown fruits and veggies, the NYC farmers markets currently have an abundance of carrots and beets and all sorts of root vegetables and there are more varieties of apples than you can imagine.

Nowadays, my Saturday mornings are devoted to the Union Square Greenmarket. One of the largest farmers markets in NYC, I love walking through the market and looking at what’s in season. Each time I go, I’m always drawn to one specific thing and there’s no fighting the urge to buy it – I have to get it. (I call it “food magnetism”.)

This particular trip, it was the table of cauliflower calling my name. I couldn’t pass this stand without becoming completely entranced by the mini-mountains of snowy white florets. And that’s how I found myself with a head of cauliflower as large as my own head. (Btw, I’m not kidding about the size – this cauliflower took up half of a fridge shelf. I have pictures to prove it.)

———-

So what do you do when you have a monstrous vegetable sitting in your fridge? Well, I guess you cut it in half (half for one recipe, half for another!) and make cauliflower couscous.

Now I’ve heard of recipes for cauliflower couscous before but I’ve never tried making it myself. It’s easy enough though – you basically chop up the cauliflower as finely as possible to get a texture similar to couscous. I particularly like this recipe because of the combination of the aromatic basil and citrusy lemon – it smells fantastic. And, although the end result is not quite a couscous replacement, it’s definitely a different take on cauliflower and a great, healthy side for something more hearty.

Cauliflower “Couscous” with Basil-Lemon Sauce
From: The Breakaway Cook by Eric Gower

Ingredients:

Basil-Lemon Sauce:
* 10 large (about 1 cup loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
* Zest and juice of 2 lemons, preferably Meyer
* 1/2 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Couscous:
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 medium red onion, finely diced
* 1 medium head cauliflower, stalks and stems discarded, florets finely diced
* Kosher salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup Basil-Lemon Sauce
* 2 tablespoons fresh basil chiffonade

Directions:

Basil-Lemon Sauce:
Combine the basil, lemon zest and juice, oil, and maple syrup in a blender. Purée and transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about 7 to 10 days.

Couscous:
Melt the butter with the olive oil in a chef’s pan or wok large enough to hold all the cauliflower over high heat. Add the onion and saute until the onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower, stir thoroughly, salt and pepper liberally, and cook until the cauliflower softens, about 10 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons of the sauce and cook until tender and fragrant, another 10 minutes. Adjust the salt, add the remaining 2 tablespoons sauce, mix thoroughly, and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the basil chiffonade.

Yield: 8 servings

Cooking with Fel – Basil and Arugula Pesto

September 12, 2010

Some recipes are impossible to screw up. Even if you get the ratios slightly off, and you add a tad too much of one thing and not enough of the other, some recipes still end up tasting exactly as they should. And seriously speaking here – if I can’t screw it up, then it’s basically unscrewupable.

Pesto is unscrewupable.

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Pesto is just as easy to make as it sounds: You throw some basil and herbs into a food processor, add pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil, salt and pepper it to taste and voila! You’re done.

Even though it’s the easiest thing ever, I somehow have never made pesto prior to this recipe. (I think it’s because I never had pine nuts lying around the house.) However, thanks to the fine people at Oh! Nuts who recently shipped me a couple free samples of their product, I currently have pine nuts in my pantry.

So what is the first thing I did with their pine nuts? I made pesto.

I purposely made this basil and arugula pesto a little thicker than normal because I’ve primarily been using it as a spread. It’s especially good on sandwiches, as the peppery arugula helps brighten up normally boring turkey or ham. (Plus, I just love smearing the vibrant green paste over toast – it’s just so pretty!)

Basil and Arugula Pesto
Modified From: Basil-Arugula Pesto from Bon Appétit, June 2001

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
* 3 cup (loosely packed) fresh arugula
* 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese
* 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
* 2 garlic cloves, peeled
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

Place 6 ingredients (excluding olive oil) in processor. Process to thick paste. With motor running, add 1/2 cup oil to processor. Blend until smooth. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Cooking with Fel – Blueberry Pancakes w/ Caramelized Bananas

August 1, 2010

I was supposed to sleep in on Saturday.

I was supposed to go out Friday night, celebrate my fellow coworker’s escape from public accounting by rocking out to some 80’s cover band til 1AM in the morning, drive home and then sleep until I couldn’t sleep anymore.

…Of course, these plans were never meant to be. The parents had decided that Saturday morning, bright and early, was the best time to replace all the windows in the house – my bedroom included. Thus, only 5 hours after belting out Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”, I found myself pushing furniture in order to make way for the random window guys.

(Insert window here.)

As the house filled with the sounds of loud drilling and hammering, completely obliterating any chance of sleep, I realized I had to exact revenge on the random window guys who had awoken me from my slumber. My ingenious plan? If you’re going to wake me up at a ridiculous time then guess what – I’m going to make myself breakfast! An awesome breakfast! AND YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET ANY!

(Neiner neiner neiner…What NOW, random window guys?!)

You really can’t go wrong with fresh blueberry pancakes. Top them off with caramelized bananas, and you automatically win. Win what? Win whatever you want. (You hear that, random window guys? I WIN!)

(Okay, enough with my random delirium-driven story. Time for a recipe!)

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Blueberry Pancakes with Caramelized Bananas
Modified From: Todd’s Famous Blueberry Pancakes at Allrecipes.com & Caramelized Bananas from EatingWell, Winter 2004

Ingredients:

Blueberry Pancakes:
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1 1/4 teaspoons white sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 cup milk
* 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
* 3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Caramelized Bananas:
* 1 medium-small firm banana, sliced
* 1/4 tablespoon butter
* 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
* 3 tablespoons orange juice

Directions:

Blueberry Pancakes:
In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. In a small bowl, beat together egg and milk. Stir milk and egg into flour mixture. Mix in the butter and fold in the blueberries. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Caramelized Bananas:
Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and lay the banana slices on top. Cook undisturbed for 20 seconds, then add orange juice. Cook for 10 seconds, then turn bananas carefully and cook for 45 to 60 seconds more, basting with the pan sauce.