On Quick Eats, Part II

…and the cauliflower obsession continues. I cannot seem to leave the market without a head of cauliflower in my basket these days – sincerely. My most favorite method of preparation is to roast until golden and nutty and serve alongside some dal and pita. This afternoon, however, I was thumbing through my Jerusalem cookbook when a lovely recipe for cauliflower salad caught my eye. A few minor variations and voilà!
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate Molasses

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate Molasses

It’s a relatively straight-forward recipe that comes together quickly, and can easily be made more substantial with a bit of grated, hard-boiled egg, or served alongside some dal or a filet of roast salmon.
Enjoy, and much love.
J
 —
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate Molasses
 
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower; trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
coarse sea salt and pepper
1/3 c parsley leaves (I prefer Italian flat-leaf)
1/2 c chopped toasted almonds
sm. handful chopped dried cherries or 1/4 c pomegranate arils (seeds)
1/4 tsp flaked red chili
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
Method:
Preheat oven to 400. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Roast for ~40 minutes or lightly charred, stirring about halfway through.
Allow to cool slightly and then combine with remaining ingredients.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Proofed.

There was a time when I made bread often. My daughter was a mere tot, and I found myself spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Initially, I’d started with simple doughs, such as pizza or focaccia, then graduated to more dense, hearty sandwich breads and rolls. My trusted Kitchen Aid mixer would start to fatigue from several minutes of hard labor, however I enjoyed its convenience and reduction of hands-on time. At some point, I transitioned to kneading by hand, and developed a love for the tactile communion with flour, yeast and water . I had a physical sense of when the dough was properly kneaded. I’d become lost in the activity as the minutes sped past with little awareness other than what I was feeling beneath and between my fingers.
photo 1
The elements of bread making are finding their way back into my life, and not without coincidence. Most mornings, I spend time reflecting and meditating to gain a bit of ground before getting captured by the day’s activities. There is a book I refer to frequently, Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine, by Saki Santorelli. A passage I read recently spoke to the Author’s love of baking, and how baking can be both humbling and liberating. It made me think of the contrasting simplicity and attention that bread making requires. He likens the bakery to a crucible, “hot, containing, pressurized outwardly; hot, containing, pressurized inwardly”. A timely piece, as I find myself moving with elements that are somewhat beyond my control. Shortly thereafter, I was sifting through the NYT and discovered Martha Rose Schulman’s recipe for a yeasted loaf with apples.
You can find the link, here.
Honeyed Pear and Walnut Bread

Evolution: Honeyed Pear and Walnut Bread

And so,I found myself with a yearning to make bread. The sweetness of whole grain loaf, heady, yeast-y and studded with apples was the catalyst, however I wanted to provide influence in my own creative way. I dreamt up crunchy bosc pears, contrasted with bitter walnut and sweet honey. I gave the dough plenty of time to develop flavor by starting with a pre-ferment, or sponge.
And I waited.
And I shaped.
And I coaxed.
And I waited a bit longer.
Until finally the dough emerged a golden crown of pure heaven.
Honeyed Pear and Walnut Bread
This bread is delicious simply toasted and spread with fresh cheese and honey. It can also pair nicely with prosciutto and fontina or gorgonzola.
Enjoy, and much love.
J
 
Honeyed Pear and Walnut Bread
Ingredients:
1 c rye four
1.5-2 c whole wheat flour
1.5 c white flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 c honey
1 1/4 c warm water
1 packet (2.5 tsp) yeast
2 tbsp butter; room temp
1 c walnuts
1 1/4-1/2 c bosc pear, chopped
Method:
  1. Make a sponge: combine water, yeast honey and white flour in a large bowl. stir to combine, then cover with a damp towel and let rest for ~1 hour or so.
  2. Add rye flour, walnuts, butter, salt and 1 cup of the whole wheat flour to sponge; stir and/or knead down, adding additional flour as necessary until the mixture is no longer sticky. Turn onto a flat surface and knead for several minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  3. Set in an oiled bowl, cover with damp towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for about ~1-1.5 hours. I like to pop it in the oven with the pilot light; it sets a nice ambient temperature for coaxing the fermentation into gear.
  4. Deflate dough by punching down; fold in chopped pears. Knead into a round and then return to a neutral spot to rest again until doubled in size; ~2 hours.
  5. Deflate dough again and shape into a neat round and set on parchment or floured kitchen towel for another 1.5-2 hours until dough redoubles in size.
  6. As dough is entering the final rise, adjust oven rack and set a pizza stone or cast iron skillet in the center. Turn heat to 450 degrees and allow stone or skillet heat for ~40 minutes.
  7. Turn dough onto skillet/stone; slash decoratively, brush with milk and place in oven. Spritz oven with a bit of water to create a steam environment.
  8. In 15 minutes, spritz again and turn heat to 400 degrees.
  9. Bake for a further 25 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove from oven and tap bottom of round; it’ll sound hollow if it is done.
  10. Wait (patiently!) for a good 30 minutes as dough cools on rack before slicing.
  11. Store, wrapped in cloth or a paper bag on counter for 1-2 days. To preserve some of the bread for later, simply bundle in layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

Snow Day.

Last night, snow fell in Seattle. It was rather beautiful. We watched it fall precipitously as we dined on tender rabbit ragu, gnocchi with wild mushrooms, seafood paella, lamb meatballs with squash risotto, brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts. And while there was maybe a walnut-sized amount of space left in my belly, I couldn’t leave without sampling the chocolate creme brulee (thanks for the encouragement, Lauren!). It was an intimate night out with family at Olivar’s restaurant, full of laughter and good conversation.
As we made our way back to the car, it was clear that the hills weren’t worth navigating, so we abandoned our vehicle and took a (very) brisk walk home.
Not to worry; by morning the roads had been well-sanded and when we returned, the only damage was a hefty pile of snow, into which someone had sweetly etched a heart. I smiled as I glanced back through the rear window.
2014-02-09 15.57.18
And now I find myself taking advantage of the elements and staying indoors to rest, relax and get creative.
2014-02-09 16.00.21
While I have a seemingly insatiable sweet tooth, I also crave foods of the more “nutritious” variety. Salty sardines on toast, chia pudding with almond milk and berries, kale smoothies, fresh nuts and seeds. Working in the field of Nutrition, I see diet fads come and go, and while I’ve had my own history of dietary rigidity, I discovered long ago that the best relationship with food is an intuitive one. There are days when I crave a healthy dose of omega 3’s, and then there are days when I just want to eat cookies and chocolate, period.
chia pudding with berries

chia pudding with berries

And so today, folks, let’s take a look at candy-making. The circuitous path my foodie journey took this morning was an evolution of crunchy, salty, sweet, nutty and caramel-y goodness. A trifecta of pistachio, pignolia and pumpkin seeds, bathed in brittle vanilla toffee and glistening with flaky Maldon sea salt. A snack that had just the right amount of everything to keep me nibbling as I waited for the slowly roasting marinated turkey to make it’s way to my dinner plate.
Enjoy, and much love,
J
2014-02-09 17.21.34
Pine Nut, Pistachio and Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Note: This brittle comes together in a snap (pun intended), however it requires mindful presence and having all ingredients prepped and ready to add at the proper interval. A candy thermometer is requisite.
Adapted from Alison Roman’s Salted Pistachio Brittle, http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/salted-pistachio-brittle
Ingredients:
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup cane sugar
3 Tbsp water
1/2 c salted pistachios
1/4 cup each pumpkin seeds and pignolias (aka: pine nuts); toasted
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp baking soda
Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon
Method:
1. Line a sheet pan with parchment and spray lightly with nonstick spray.
2. Combine water, sugar and syrup in a 2-3 quart pan over medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, then increase heat to high and affix candy thermometer.
3. Once temperature has reached 290° (~3-4 minutes), add nuts, vanilla seeds, salt and butter.
4. Monitor until heat reaches 300°, then remove from heat and sprinkle with baking soda. The mixture will bubble up and increase in volume. Pour immediately onto prepared sheet pan and sprinkle with salt.
5. Allow to cool completely, then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Brittle

Different parts of a whole.

This happened in Seattle. Businesses closed. City streets littered with detritus from last night’s fireworks. I’ve never seen this much enthusiasm in our city. It was nearly impossible not to get caught up in the groundswell.
 photo 5-2
Taking a different direction, literally.
photo
Once in a while, I force myself to take a different path. It’s easy to get comfortable in the familiar, however a simple change in direction, a re-route, if you will, yields new discoveries. While I’m referring to running, the benefit of applying this metaphor to the rest of life’s journey is not lost on me.
As I begrudgingly made my way along the trail, there were trees I’d never noticed before. Fat robins perched on thin branches. I heard the bubbling brook as it meandered downstream and I embraced the crisp in the air.
bubbling brook
And I dreamt of spring.
And citrus.
I can’t seem to veer away from it. A messager du printemps, Spring is calling me; fresh, clean and bright. The invitation to wake up after Winter slumber; the hint of sweetness. Naturally, my mind wandered to food, or specifically, lemon curd. When I got home, I pulled The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters, off the shelf. I love this book; its simple design, classic and mature, with straightforward recipes and a focus on the local and seasonal. The recipes are brilliantly clear and approachable.
photo 5-2
Meyer Lemon Tart

Meyer Lemon Tart

I used Meyer lemons for the juice, and made a luxurious shortbread pastry to showcase the silky custard. Wasting nothing, I made merengue with the leftover whites. I got a bit fancy by adding chopped chocolate and pistachios to some, folding in sliced almonds into others.
I candied the citrus peels with the juiced fruit – the resultant citrus syrup became an impromtu cocktail and soda mixer, a quick and easy hostess gift for last night’s party.
Almond Merengue

Almond Merengue

 

Candied Citrus Peel

Candied Citrus Peel

Enjoy, and much love,
J
Meyer Lemon Tart
*note: I imagine the lemon would well with the flavor of thyme, or ginger, a relatively simple addition to the custard. Folding a bit of orange or lemon zest into the pastry adds another layer of dimension.
One 9-inch prepared tart (see link, here)
Lemon Curd (*adapted from The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters)
6 Meyer lemons, juiced, approximately 1/2 cup
Zest from one lemon
3 egg yolks
2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp tapioca starch, or cornstarch
pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
Optional: 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
In a medium saucepan, add whisk together all ingredients except the butter. Bring to a medium heat, and add butter. Stir constantly until thickened. As soon as custasrd is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat, add herbs (if using) and let steep for ~10 minutes.
Pour curd into prepared crust. Bake at 375 degrees for ~15-20 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving*.
*For ease of serving, this tart will benefit from a brief chill in the refrigerator.