Something special: cauliflower edition

Looking through old posts for a recipe tonight, I realized that I can get pretty enthused about cauliflower. And yes, I’m enthused about cauliflower again tonight.

But let’s back up.

I wanted to make something special tonight because for the first time since May, we weren’t frantically trying to pack up and get everyone out the door in time to beat traffic and make it to the Cape in time for dinner.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I wrestled the kids into the car and went to Whole Foods, anticipating the mob scene that is Whole Foods on a Friday. But it wasn’t a mob scene, it was empty. Apparently Bostonians don’t go shopping in the rain.

I was going to make Cappelini with Shrimp. I started in produce and then realized that I didn’t need to start in produce because I would actually be able to navigate back to produce because the store was so empty.

I grabbed a cauliflower and an eggplant anyhow. Who cares! I thought, I can come back to the produce section later. I can come back twice if I want!

I went over to the fish department. Shrimp was hella expensive. I bought the Amazon Prime salmon for ten bucks a pound instead.

Usually I make myself some baked tofu when I make salmon for the family. I picked up a package of tofu and put it back. Then I spent 20 minutes freezing—that store is cold when it’s empty—while I haggled with Rose over what would constitute an acceptable under $10 snack.

I decided to make cauliflower gratin and picked up some cheese on the way back to the produce department.

Then we made our way to bakery. If you’ve been to our local Whole Foods you know how crazy that is. You don’t go from Tofu, to Produce and then over to Bakery. That’s nuts. It’s also impossible.

But the store was empty.

I got in the first check out lane available. As I put my stuff on the conveyer belt I realized that we were in the express lane. Fuck it. The store was empty. Some dude shoved by us with a bunch of bananas even though the other lanes were all open. He must have had principles.

But what about that cauliflower?

Ok. I got home and realized that cauliflower gratin would be totally gross with miso glazed salmon. Plus I was not in the mood to make a bechamel.

Enter Anthony Bourdain. I read his book and got tired of hearing about how much he can drink and smoke and wrote him off. But the thing is, that man knows exactly how much salt to use, and how much sauce is the right amount of sauce.

His recipe for roasted cauliflower with miso tahini sauce is perfect with no substitutions*. I didn’t have to double the oil, salt or sauce. Sorry I wrote you off Anthony. Also there’s no such thing as too much miso.

*More or less, I added cumin and red pepper flakes and didn’t have sesame seeds but would have used them if i did.

• Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Miso Sauce •

from Anthony Bourdain
Serves 4-6

1 (3-ish pound) head cauliflower, cut or broken into bite-sized florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
a generous pinch or three of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon white miso
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon warm water
3 tablespoons sesame seeds (if you have them)

Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, combine cauliflower, oil, salt, spices, and pepper; toss to evenly coat cauliflower. On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange in an even layer, without crowding too much. Roast cauliflower for 20 minutes, turning sheet and lightly tossing halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together tahini, miso, vinegar, and water until smooth. 

Remove cauliflower from oven. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with sauce and sesame seeds (if using). Serve warm.

Easy for a crowd

We had big numbers at the Cape this weekend. Though I can take no responsibility for it (I was there with both kids and no husband) I have to say, the meals were super-successful and seemed relatively easy to prepare, serve and clean up after.

Friday night was Green Posole, the most delicious quesadillas—I don’t know what André did, he said it was just olive oil—and a gorgeous salad. We did our new-ish paper plate, buffet-style, eat-outdoors-while-kids-run-around thang and it was seamless.

Saturday we had Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Tzatziki, sausages and salad. The pasta dish is always a winner and is super-easy to prep ahead of time. Also, it doesn’t need to be served super-hot which is good when you’ve got people coming and going, which we did.

Thanks to Jenya and André who really pulled the whole thing off.

Solo salad

I’m super bummed to be missing out on being on Cape Cod eating my all-time favorite dual-purpose vegetarian and/or turkey chili, and hanging out with friends whom I haven’t seen in eons—not to mention friends & family I see all the time.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my nearly 10 years of being a parent, it’s that when your child has a stomach bug, the best thing you can do for the child, for yourself, for your sanity and for all of humankind, is to get that child the hell away from everyone else as soon as possible!

So Rose and I are back from the Cape early, she is recovering on the couch, and I’m going to make the most of my time at home. Starting with one of my favorite salads: roasted eggplant, goat cheese and arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Be well, one and all.

 

TLTs and BLTs

Actually, tofu, lettuce and tomato sandwiches (aka “TLTs”) are really good.

I’m sure BLTs are good too, but I’ve never had one. Nor had I ever had a TLT, until last night.

When Shane called and said “We’re having BLTs tonight, Nina, and I got you some tofu.” I didn’t complain. Not only because Shane was doing the cooking, but because a TLT sounded kinda good.

Here’s how you do it: Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment and spray with cooking oil (I like canola). Slice a block of extra-firm tofu into 1/4″ – 3″8″ slabs and lay them out on the greased parchment. Drizzle them with soy sauce. Really, you can douse them, tofu can totally take the salt. Then spray them with more cooking oil, right on top of the soy sauce. It seems weird but it works. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the slices begin to get a bit leathery.

Meanwhile, clean some Boston lettuce leaves and slice up some tomatoes. Toast your favorite kind of buns in butter (we used challah). When the tofu is ready, assemble your TLT sandwich with mayo and Frank’s Red Hot. Yum!

Optionally, you can tuck into a traditional BLT, as demonstrated by Rose below. P.S. Don’t forget to follow us on instagram @thesteadytable it’s really where all the action is these days. xo

Father’s Day

“All I want for Father’s Day, Nina, is steak and eggs for breakfast.” said my husband (and father of my children). So that’s what we had, plus cheese biscuits.

The eggs were from Drew & Cathy’s own, happy, western Mass, free-range, table-scrap & weed-fed chickens. They were particularly beautiful and extremely delicious.

Cheese biscuits are really my sister’s gig, but she wasn’t here so I took a stab at them. They came out good. The recipe is below. Here’s to all the good dads out there. Or as my mom likes to call them: the motherf#*kers.

Cheese Biscuits •
Adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads
Makes 20-24

4 cups flour
8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1-1/2 cups grated cheddar
2 cups whole milk at room temperature

Heat oven to 450. Line two baking trays with foil and grease them. 

Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or two knives. Stir in grated cheese. Add milk and mix until just combined.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten into an approx. 8″ x 8″ square, fold square in half and flatten again. Do this two more times lightly dusting work surface as needed to keep dough from sticking. 

Flatten dough to 1/2″ thick and cut buiscuits with a glass. Gather remaining dough, flatten again and cut until there’s no more dough. 

Place biscuits about an inch apart on prepared baking trays and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm with butter.

Hot days

Mostly, we’ve been on Instagram @thesteadytable these days. With our big move back to our new/old house unpacking has taken priority over posting.

But tonight it’s hot. Crazy hot. Too hot for unpacking.

We’re having cilantro-lime chickpea, jalapeño & corn salad, Caesar salad & dawgs (which will ultimately be cooked).

Summer!

Bowties with breadcrumbs, gruere & squash

Bowties with Breadcrumbs, Gruyere and Squash is one of those dishes that sounds kinda weird but is actually really good and interesting. I posted about it once before, but to be honest my photos didn’t make it look all that appealing, and so I won’t blame you if you didn’t try it.

The recipe is from the cookbook Keepers which is a great source for quick weeknight meals. This one takes very little effort, just basically grating and boiling.

I like to serve all of the parts separately, that way if certain people don’t like certain things they can skip them. Also that means I can go real heavy on the squash for a nice, high veg-to-pasta ratio.

You can use whatever kind of pasta you like. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever used fusilli, which is what the recipe calls for. Also you don’t have to restrict yourself to zucchini, summer squash works real well in this dish too. And if you’re a vegetarian, go ahead and skip the anchovies, it’s just fine without them.

Here’s the recipe. Oh also, we’re on instagram now, please follow us @thesteadytable Enjoy!

Weeknight salad win

Greek Salad

Sometimes in my struggle to get Rose to eat food that isn’t complete junk, I forget that she loves Greek salad. Recently, we’ve been all about feta, romaine and olives.

This is a great salad to make in bulk, so long as you don’t dress it, a big salad can last for a few dinners.

All you need is some nice romaine lettuce (chopped up), decent tomatoes (campari tend to be reliable), cukes, Kalamata olives (pitted – do yourself a favor), some great feta (french and bulgarian are my personal faves) and fresh oregano leaves.

The fresh oregano leaves really make the dish, just wash them and throw them right in there with the romaine. We don’t add raw onions or anchovies, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

For dressing, make (or open a bottle of) your favorite vinaigrette. If you use some of the brine from the feta, it adds a nice salty flavor and takes down the tang of the vinegar in the dressing. Don’t forget to serve it on the side if you want to stretch your salad for a few days.

Now go, eat!

Easter Saturday 2017

This is the first Easter in forever that we have not had at my parents’ house. That’s because their lovely house is currently being torn apart and turned into a two-family house, with one unit for my folks and one for our crazy gang of four.

We had our annual Easter Saturday lunch and egg hunt at my parents’ temporary gigs, where due to size restrictions we simplified significantly. My mom asked people to bring salads and she and my dad served up lots of good bread, cold cuts and other sandwich fixings.

It was not our usual savory pie extravaganza (which you can read about here, here, here and here) we’ll get back to that next year, but it was easy and perfect. And a gorgeous day to boot.

As always, there were over 100 eggs and a gang of kids who were delighted to find them. This year, the eggs were numbered and it wasn’t the kid who found the most eggs, but the kids who found the three lucky eggs with a fiver in them who won. So basically everybody was happy and every kid won.

After lunch we died eggs using tinted shaving cream in plastic bags, which was pretty weird and also lovely to behold.

Christ is risen, y’all.

xoxo

Sous chef Sid and eggplant


I love me some roasted eggplant. It’s my go-to thing for when my family is eating meat, or just to have on hand for adding to salads to make them more delicious and special.

The easiest way I’ve found to cook eggplant is to slice it thin-ish, lay it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spray with spray oil, sprinkle with salt, flip over, do the same, and then roast at any old temperature (really—I just bung it in the oven with whatever else is cooking, it’s very forgiving) until soft and a little golden. Flip it halfway through if you like.

It may seem weird to hear me talk about using spray oil—it’s weird for me to hear me talk about it—but after experimenting with lots and lots of eggplant-roasting methods, I realized that this is really the best and easiest way to evenly coat your eggplant with oil.

It may make you feel a little better to use canola or olive oil spray rather than Pam which can seems ambiguous in terms of being something that’s ok to consume.

Are you dying to know what’s in the taped-up aluminum foil box? I know you are. That, my friend, is the work of sous chef Sid. We discovered these gorgeous tomatoes called flavor bombs which—contrary to what the color, flavor and name would lead you to believe—are not actually genetically modified.

Sid thought they would best be presented like so:
And then insisted we tape the box back up. Thanks for the help little guy.