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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.

———-

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.


Wafels & Dinges (Manhattan, NY) – Spekuloos. Can’t Pronounce It, But I Love It.

November 10, 2010

“Spe-loo-kos…I mean, Spew-koo-loos…Wait, how is it pronounced? Spe-keu-los?”

I may not be able to pronounce it, but I can type it: Spekuloos. Like, Wafels and Dinges’ spekuloos spread. As in, Wafels and Dinges’ spekuloos spread is AMAZING.

If you can’t tell, I’m already sort of (well, more than sort of) obsessed with this spekuloos spread. Imagine a spread with a consistency similar to peanut butter and nutella but with the flavor of – wait for it, wait for it – GINGERBREAD COOKIES. And, unlike nutella or peanut butter, the flavor isn’t overwhelmingly sweet or overpoweringly heavy. It is relatively light and I can consume as much spekuloos spread as I can gingerbread cookies (and I can eat quite a number of gingerbread cookies!).

Although the spread itself is fantastic, its awesomeness is only enhanced by the vessel it is served on. In this case, this vessel happens to be a waffle. Actually, to be perfectly accurate, it is a freshly made liege waffle with crystals of pearl sugar in it. So when I’m talking about spekuloos spread, I’m really talking about a hot liege waffle smeared with spekuloos spread, given a generous dash of powdered sugar and maybe a burst or two of whipped cream.

…If hot waffles and spekuloos spread still hasn’t made you somewhat interested then, well, I got nothing else. However, if it has, then go find the Wafels and Dinges truck! And say hi to the guys in there too!

(Yes, it’s a Belgian themed truck and guess what? They’re actually Belgian!)

Wafels & Dinges Truck
New York, NY
Website: http://www.wafelsanddinges.com/
Twitter: @waffletruck

Wafels & Dinges (MOBILE CART) on Urbanspoon

Wafels and Dinges in New York on Fooddigger

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

Home Is Where The Kitchen Is…

November 2, 2010

This may seem obvious but living in Manhattan ain’t cheap. When people joke around about NYC housing prices…well, they aren’t really joking. Rooms are small, prices are high and the quality of an apartment is hit or miss.

That said, when I was looking for my future apartment, all I wanted was one thing: I wanted a kitchen. I needed a kitchen.

Cooking in Los Angeles was more of an annoyance than a joy. The parents’ kitchen lacked all (what I considered) the basic amenities a normal kitchen should have. (For example, sharpened knives…wooden spoons…a Microplane…okay, maybe that’s not a basic amenity but it’s really useful to have!) This future kitchen – my kitchen – was supposed to be the kitchen I never had. I was going to fill it with all the goodies and gadgets I’ve always wanted and I was going to cook my heart out.

Now finding the perfect kitchen was harder than I thought (especially in NYC, especially when you’re not making the big bucks and can’t afford some ridiculous luxury apartment). Most buildings are old; your typical studio kitchen is typically a half-sized fridge with some portable range placed on a narrow countertop. Of the dozen apartments I looked at, this was the nicer representation of a standard NYC kitchen:

(Definitely not the kitchen of my dreams.)

Luckily, there’s a happy ending to this post. The world must like me because…well…I’ll just let the picture speak for itself:

(THIS is my current kitchen – Isn’t it beautiful?)

So I now have my dream kitchen, complete with shiny tri-ply pots and pans, sharp Global knives and – yes – a Microplane. Not only does this kitchen define a small turning point in my life, where I shift away from eating out all the time to eating in more often, it also represents a turning point for The Food Ledger. Don’t worry, I’ll still do my restaurant reviews and such, but expect to see many, many more recipe and home cooking posts.

I learned to eat in Los Angeles; I will learn to cook in New York.

Auditor : Los Angeles :: Analyst : Manhattan

October 11, 2010

(Awww yeah, analogies. Brings back good memories of standardized testing, doesn’t it?)

Forgive the geeky title, but it’s probably the best way to explain what has happened in the past 2.5 weeks. Simply put:

I was once an auditor living in Los Angeles – I’m now a financial analyst living in Manhattan.

“Wait, wait wait…Waaaah? You’re living in New York now?!”

You got it.

I’m not going to go into any detail about the reasons why (I mean, this IS supposed to be a food blog, not the story of my life), but just know that I’m living a dream right now by uprooting myself from LA and flying across the country to good ole NYC.

Although I’d like to think my move is a great excuse for not posting, I know I still have a lot of reviews in process that I owe people. Therefore, I apologize if posts on The Food Ledger have been few and far between; I promise I’ll start posting more frequently again once I get settled in this new home of mine. And I’m telling you, once I find my bearings, NYC better watch out – I’m going to eat this city up!