Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Curry-Roasted Cauliflower

Perhaps you’ve noticed, perhaps you haven’t, but cauliflower seems to be having a heyday lately: one can easily find cauliflower masquerading as rice, mashed potatoes, steak, and even pizza crust. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I have even enjoyed sampling some of these cauliflower concoctions, but sometimes it’s nice to eat a food that’s not trying to be something it’s not.

If the examples I mentioned above are considered health food, then this is probably the comfort food version of cauliflower. Coated liberally in a spiced vinaigrette, this cauliflower gets roasted in the oven until tender, golden brown, and so flavorful that I want to eat the entire pan every time. The only bad thing about this recipe is that it's always gone too quickly.

Fun Fact: Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, a group that also includes broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables provide sulfurous compounds that may aid in cancer prevention. Whether or not these specific compounds are responsible, an inverse association has been found between cruciferous vegetable consumption and cancer rates in large populations. So enjoy some cruciferous comfort food.

Curry-Roasted Cauliflower

adapted from

Large head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets (8-10 cups)
1 onion, peeled, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges and separated into layers
½ green pepper, cut into ¾-inch square pieces, optional
½ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon paprika
3 ½ teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin*
1 scant teaspoon salt (closer to ¾ tsp.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the cauliflower, onion, and green pepper, if using, in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, spices, and salt, and pour over the vegetables. Toss well so that everything is coated. Spread the vegetables onto the baking sheet, scraping as much of the spice mix out of the bowl as possible. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and golden brown, almost charred in some places. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*If you have the means, I highly recommend keeping home-ground cumin around. Many grocery stores sell cumin seeds in bulk. If you toast the seeds in a pan until fragrant, then grind in a mortar and pestle or coffee/spice grinder, your cumin will pack way more punch than the bottles of pre-ground spice you get at the store.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Snack Series: Zucchini Butter

Though I would be the last person to talk smack about a good zucchini bread recipe, when it gets to be that time of year where garden-growing friends are trying to foist off watermelon-sized summer squash on all their acquaintances, it’s only a matter of time before all the sugary, oily overhead costs of endless loaves of zucchini bread start to, uh, weigh me down. Sometimes I need a little savory counterpoint. That was my mindset when I came across this zucchini butter recipe on one of my favorite food websites.

This is a great recipe not only because it’s delicious but also because it’s versatile, makes great use of large quantities of zucchini, and requires little more than the vegetable itself to make something spectacular. It’s nice and smooth and garlicky – if you want it to be – and goes well with a variety of flavors.

I particularly like this
  • On Toast (plain or Parmesan cheese toast, as pictured)
  • With Eggs (especially in an egg sandwich! With cheese. Always with cheese.)
  • As a Sandwich Spread with
    • Sausage + Spinach + Dijon Mustard
    • Tomato + Cheese
    • Grilled Cheese

Find the recipe here!  Zucchini Butter Recipe

I use about 3-4 cloves of garlic when I make it, and I like to let the zucchini butter get a bit brown and caramelized.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Marinara Sauce & A Spanakopita-Inspired Pizza

More often than not, when I go to make a recipe that I’m excited to share on this site, I end up leaving out a major ingredient or burning something or taking pictures that I think are good at the time but then look like a Pinterest fail to me later. For example, I was going to finally post the hummus recipe that I’ve been in love with for several months, but I must have been distracted when I made it last weekend because I left out one of the liquid ingredients, and the end result, while tasting delicious, looked a bit more like wood putty than something you’d want to spread on crackers.

Fortunately, my failed plans tend to be counterbalanced by unexpected successes that keep my enthusiasm alive. Case in point: spanakopita-inspired pizza.

It would probably suffice to post that picture and shut up about the rest, but I just want to say a few more things before I describe how to make it:

1) This is my own marinara sauce, and I am quite happy with it. In addition to making a good pizza sauce, it’s also really good with cheesy stuffed pasta shells, on chicken Parmesan, and on anything else you like marinara sauce with. It has a rich, tomato-y flavor balanced with a good blend of herbs and spices. I hope you like it as much as I do.

2) This is the very best pizza crust recipe I’ve ever tried. It’s also the easiest. You can find it on this site and on this site and over here and….I could keep going. Lots of people have talked about it because it really is some dynamite pizza crust: it has a complex flavor and strikes a great balance between crispy and chewy. It gets even better with age too. I’ve put leftover dough in the fridge for 2-3 days before using it, and the flavor only improves.

3) Fun Fact (of course): Tomatoes contain lycopene, a type of carotene that may have antioxidant effects in the body. It has been researched in relation to cancer prevention, but results have thus far failed to show a direct correlation between increased lycopene intake and decreased cancer risk. So in other words, lycopene will not solve all your problems. However, this marinara sauce is delicious, so you should eat it anyway! And interestingly, lycopene in canned tomatoes is actually more bioavailable than the lycopene in fresh raw tomatoes.

Pizza Dough
(adapted from Jim Lahey’s brilliant recipe via

3 cups flour (up to half of it can be whole wheat if you want!)
1/8 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon + scant ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water, plus extra as needed

The night before you want pizza*, stir together the flour, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add water, and stir until the dough comes together in a craggy, ugly, approximate ball. If the dough feels too dry, add more water slowly. (The original recipe calls for 1¼ cups water, but I always have to add way more flour the next day when I use this much. However, extra pizza dough is never bad….) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let proof overnight until it doubles in size. About 20-24 hours of rest time is good – it’s not really fussy.

When you’re ready to use the dough, deflate it, and knead on a lightly floured board a couple times just to work out the air bubbles. Separate into whatever size and quantity of dough balls you want. (This recipe makes about 3 10-inch pizzas.) Then, roll/stretch/toss each dough portion into a thin layer.

*I should say the night before you intend to eat pizza. Wanting pizza is kind of a constant for me.

Marinara Sauce
(My own recipe!!)

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons minced peeled carrot
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes*
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves, crumbled
½-¾ teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup water

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add onions and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5-10 minutes.  Stir in garlic, and cook for a minute or two more.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to low.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce has reached desired consistency (about 50 minutes). 

*Pizza Sauce Variation: Use tomato puree instead of crushed tomatoes and add ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes. (Tomato puree is NOT the same as tomato paste. If you can’t find canned tomato puree, then just blend the marinara sauce a bit or else deal with it’s textured goodness.)

Spanakopita-Inspired Pizza

(These measurements are approximate, as everyone likes different quantities of toppings on their pizza)

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tbsp. olive oil

1/3 of preceding pizza dough recipe
approx. ¼ cup marinara sauce (enough for a very thin layer over the whole crust; you don’t want any globs)
approx. 1½ cups shredded cheese – I really like 4 parts mozzarella to 1 part Parmesan
1 to 1½ cup chopped fresh spinach
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 oz. feta cheese

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, or if it doesn’t get that hot, just use the maximum heat setting. If you have a pizza stone, let the stone preheat in the oven as well.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and stir constantly until golden brown. Scrape garlic into a separate dish to cool.

Gently stretch the pizza dough into a thin, round layer over a square of parchment paper. Spread the marinara sauce over the pizza dough, almost to the edges. Top the sauce with about 2/3 of the shredded cheese, and then sprinkle the sautéed garlic evenly over that. Next, spread the spinach and green onion followed by the rest of the shredded cheese. Finish it off by crumbling the feta cheese over the top.

When the oven is preheated, gently slide your parchment paper onto the pizza stone or place a pan with the parchment and pizza atop in the oven. Let bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden, and the cheese is beginning to blister in spots. The exact length of time will vary depending on your oven, how thin the dough is, what pan you’re using, etc. So keep an eye on it. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

You Deserve a Treat

To my two loyal readers, I regret that I have kept you waiting so long, and I have made you a treat to reward your patience. To all my other readers, hello! I'm not sure if you exist, but if you do, you also deserve a treat for simply being here.

This fudge and this butterscotch are two of my favorite ice cream toppings, which would make them perfect to write about as summer blazes on, but ironically, every time I set out to share these recipes it rains where I live. Harumph! The joke is on Mother Nature, though, because I love rain, and I am a firm believer that ice cream is good in all weather, so bring on the downpour (of both rain and fudge)!

Fudge Ingredients
Butterscotch Ingredients (similar, no?)
This fudge recipe is one my mom (hi, Mom!) has been making for several years, and I LOVE it. The recipe comes from a family friend, but my mom altered the preparation of it in a way that makes the texture super thick and fluffy. It’s deeply chocolaty and reminiscent of brownie batter. In fact, if you replaced the cream with eggs and flour, I bet it would bake up nicely. This fudge sauce is quick and easy to prepare and really turns a good bowl of ice cream into an amazing one. It’s also not too shabby with fresh berries or drizzled over pastries. You know, if you like that sort of thing.

Stirring in sugar...
corn syrup...
and cream
The butterscotch recipe comes from, aka my first love in the food blog world (and probably still my favorite). It is exceedingly simple to prepare and has a rich, delicious butterscotch-y flavor without requiring any fussy ingredients or any booze, as some butterscotch recipes suggest. It keeps well in the fridge and is awesome over ice cream (of course) as well as crepes, waffles, French toast, bread pudding, etc. Super yummy. Good to have around.

I didn't take as many pictures of the butterscotch because my stove (and elevation maybe?) makes it hard to keep it at a low boil, so I was whisking instead of photographing...

Fun Fact: What everyone calls “caramelization” is often actually Maillard browning. Caramelization and Maillard browning are two different things. Caramelization occurs when sugar is exposed to high temperatures and begins to break down and release delicious chemical compounds. Maillard browning occurs when both sugars and amino acids are exposed to high temperatures and the two compounds react with each other (and also produce delicious chemical compounds). Maillard browning is responsible for the golden crust on bread and the delicious seared exterior of a steak. Basically, if the “caramelized” food contains protein, it’s probably Maillard browning at play. Granted, the two processes are not remarkably different. In fact, one article I read called me a “pedantic hairsplitter” for even distinguishing the two. I guess I just wanted you all to be as pedantic as I am. You can go enjoy your ice cream with Maillard browning sauce now.

Fudge Sauce
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup superfine sugar
Dash salt
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/3 cup cream (or evaporated milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Carefully melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in the sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Stir in the cream, a drizzle at a time, until smooth and incorporated. Finally, stir in the vanilla. The fudge will be smooth and fluffy at this point. You may return it to the heat, if desired, to try to decrease the slight graininess from the sugar, but I like it best without reheating.

Butterscotch Sauce
Adapted slightly from

4 tablespoons butter

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or more to taste
pinch of salt, or more to taste

Melt the butter, sugar, and cream together in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking often, or constantly if it's really boil-y. (You can go longer than 5 minutes if you want a thicker butterscotch, but the butterscotch also thickens after it cools. It’s really not a terrible thing to learn by making this repeatedly and taste-testing.) Stir in the vanilla and pinch of salt. Taste a tiny bit (carefully! After cooling!), and add more vanilla and salt to taste. Let cool to good drizzling temperature, and serve.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Snack Series: Chocolate Granola Parfait

Presenting for your visual enjoyment: the Snack Series! These posts will be less along the lines of full-fledged recipes and more along the lines of flavor combinations I’ve been enjoying, links to other people’s recipes, and potentially disjointed rambling about life. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, then maybe this will!

This picture is my endorsement of any and all breakfasts that include yogurt, fruit butter (or jam or preserves), fresh fruit, and homemade granola. I especially recommend using:
  •         Homemade Blueberry Butter, as found in this book
  •         Chocolate Coconut Granola, as found on this beauty of a site
  •         Liberal amounts of the aforementioned ingredients
April is now almost half over, and I have learned two important things this month. The first is that nature is just as keen on April Fool’s pranks as some people are.  On April 1, after a week of relatively balmy spring weather, I walked out to find ice on my windshield. This is the view from the inside: rather pretty, but still unwelcome.

 The second thing I learned is that if you’re going to pan-fry tofu, don’t do it in an iron skillet unless that skillet is really well seasoned (or in other words, non-stick). You know, unless you want your dinner to end up looking like crumbled dry wall. If you do, well, now you know how to achieve it.