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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.

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!

Dispatch from the basement

  you may have noticed that I haven’t posted from home since we moved into our tiny, dark (and thankfully temporary) basement apartment. Why? Because it’s just not that nice.

What IS nice is our patio. Somehow we never manage to eat out there, maybe from lack of chairs, or maybe because of the mosquitos. Or maybe because dinner is chaotic enough without a change of venue.

I realized this week that there’s no reason I can’t just take my plate out to the patio and take a picture of it. So that’s what I did. 

Pictured at top is an ad-hoc tomato, basil & white bean salad with lemon juice and coarsley grated Parmesan cheese.

Below is our favorite pinch-hit dinner (besides penne alla vodka) pasta with arugula, pepper and pecorino cheese

 Happy Friday!

Sauerkraut to the rescue!

Preparing sauerkraut

You may or may not know this, but I’m no spring chicken. I’m lucky that mostly I feel pretty good in my forties, and that I don’t have grey hair yet. But in the past 8 or so years, I’ve noticed that my stomach really isn’t what it used to be.

I once boasted an iron stomach. Stomach viruses were foreign to me, I could eat week-old food I found in the bottom of my purse and be perfectly fine. But now I get stomach viruses several times a year, and it’s awful. Aw-ful.

So what’s an old-ish person to do? Should I give up gluten, or dairy, or sugar? Break up with coffee, wine and bread? Maybe I should quit my job and join a special milkshake pyramid scheme?

Hah! You know that’s not my style.  Instead, I’m making sauerkraut.

Fermented raw sauerkraut is apparently one of the best sources of edible probiotics there is. It’s cheap and easy to make, it tastes like pickles. It will appeal to your inner science nerd, and it doesn’t require giving up any of the foods that make life worth living, or quitting your job.

I can’t tell you if it works yet because my first batch just ripened a couple of days ago. Let’s just say I’m very optimistic.

I used a recipe from the Kitchn for my first bach.Ripening sauerkraut

 

Summer

It’s Cape time again. Cape time! Usually we get here earlier in the season, but it’s kind of nice to start when it actually feels like summer.

We’re attempting once again to simplify dinners. Less food, fewer dishes, less waste, less cleanup, less work… more relaxing! I’m pretty sure I said the same thing at the beginning of last summer, so we’ll see how it goes, but so far so good.

Friday’s dinner (not pictured) was grilled chicken—which Rose claimed was as good as the chicken they serve at school—with potatoes and super-fat, ultra-tasty asparagus grown by the Drews.

On Saturday we ate from the sea. Drew cooked up some black sea bass and stripers that he’d caught, which we had with rice and an assortment of vegetables.

Sunday was the picture of “New Cape Simple.” Fresh-dug clams, which my mom—somehow on her walker—turned into spaghetti alla vongole. For the non-clam eaters, a double-batch of Marcella’s famous sauce, which disappeared even more quickly than the clams. And a very simple salad with avocado, tomato, lime and spinach.

There was nearly a crisis when we thought we might run out of salad, but we didn’t. Clean-up was minimal, we didn’t even fill the dishwasher. And there were practically no leftovers!

Something else we learned late last summer, and are trying to carry through to this year, is that sometimes a sit-down dinner is not the best thing when you’ve got a lot of kids around. On Saturday, we put the two toddlers at the coffee table with dinner and some toys while the rest of us ate at the big table. I think they ate more than if they’d been sitting at the table with us.

On Sunday we had upwards of 20 people, so we served dinner buffet-style and folks just got a plate and ate wherever. It was so much easier, no counting of place settings and somehow still ending up with not enough seats, no herding of young boys who really don’t want to sit down anyhow, no need for multiple serving dishes, no extra tables and chairs. More relaxing!

Wishing everyone a very happy, and very relaxing summer.

xoxo

Another last supper

Tonight is our last night in our new, old, new, temporary, one-day-forever home. We’re moving tomorrow. It’s also our anniversary.

There’s nothing like packing all day on your anniversary, while you have the horrible virus from hell, and a 2 year old who also has the horrible virus from hell, and who falls apart (with real tears) every time he sees you putting something in a box.

But, we made it through and my folks sent over a nice sushi dinner and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.

We ate dinner on the living room-slash-bedroom floor, with our hands and a couple of pieces of newsprint as a picnic blanket. We drank champagne out of jars. The kids gave us a 5 minute head start. “Go ahead and start without us, we’ll be in the bathroom for a while” said Rose. It was super romantic.

We’re moving into a teeny, dark, basement apartment for 6 or 9 or maybe-but-hopefully-not 12 months, while we turn my parents house into a totally awesome, for-reals, two-family home. I’m a lot worried about the lack of natural light, but ultimately it’s going to be amazing.

The movers arrive in 9 hours. Eyes on the prize. Good night!

Vietnamese noodle salad: “super-easy except for the prep”

So glad my sister reminded us about this recipe. We all absolutely love Vietnamese Noodle Salad with (or without) Shrimp. And it really is super-easy, except for the prep, specifically all of that julienning.

Fortunately, my mom did a lot of the prep in advance, which made it easier for my sister to single-handedly pull together a massive platter piled high with this delicious dish.

In case you’re wondering what we have planned for next week: Monday is going to be burgers, dogs, Carrot Salad with Harisa, Feta & Mint and a green salad. On Tuesday, Rose has requested sushi takeout instead of our usual Frank Pepe. Wednesday will be Linguini with Pecorino, Pepper & Arugula. And on Thursday Shane’s going to make some of his awesome pizza pie from scratch. We like to wing it on Friday.

Happy weekend!

The week: part 2

My last post was all about planning dinner for the week, so I thought today I’d post about prepping all the food for the week, breakfast and lunches too.

Since the kids love pancakes and I’m always making them on weekend mornings anyhow, I’ve taken to making extra pancakes which I heat up in the oven on school days. I use this pancake recipe. We go back and forth between liking them thin and thick, right now we’re in a thick phase, with chocolate chips.

If you’re going to do this, I recommend not refrigerating the cooked pancakes, they get too stiff. Just wrap them well and leave them on the counter, they’ll last 2-3 days easy. When you wake up, wrap however many pancakes you need in foil, pop them in a warm oven while you shower, and they’re ready when you the kids get up (assuming you do things in that order).

I’m an oatmeal junkie and that’s what I bring to work for my breakfast. Rather than the tedious process of microwaving at work, I do overnight oats in a jar. You combine some old fashioned oats with the liquid of your choice (I like almond milk), sweetener (maple syrup) and whatever else you like. Let it sit in the fridge overnight or for a day or two and it’s edible right out of the jar.

We do lunches the night before because we’re just not that good in the mornings. I can’t imaging finding time to make lunch in the morning short of waking up in the fives, which is something I really try my best not to do, ever.

At the top of this page is pictured Sid’s lunch for tomorrow. He’s got a sun butter sandwich, some of the shepherd’s pie that Shane made (which Sid would never eat for me but may eat for the nice ladies at daycare), an applesauce packet, yogurt and an orange.

My lunch is almost always a hearty salad. I like to make up a batch or two of grains on the weekend (farro, quinoa, wild rice, barley) and then roast up a root vegetable or two (beets, sweet potatoes, carrots) and use those as my base.

The night before I add fresh herbs, olive oil, a dash of vinegar, maybe some cheese or nuts and a big handful of greens at the very top. If you put the greens in last and then don’t toss the salad until you’re ready to eat it, the greens don’t wilt in the dressing.

Shane takes care of his own lunch (thank god), and we tag team making the kids lunches. Rose alternates between buying lunch at the cafeteria and bringing a sandwich, pasta or whatever is currently working for her.

So once all of that is done and while Sid has his afternoon nap I plan the dinners for the week (see below). Our dinner plan includes recipes, when relevant, and has spots for family members to volunteer for shopping, cooking etc. We also put notes about who will or will not be around for dinner and whether Rose is buying her lunch the next day, or needs it prepared.

And look at that, I only spent most of the day getting our food sorted out for the week. Happy work week friends!

 

The light!

Pasta_2_revI finally received and assembled (and tried) my new food photography light and it’s amazing. It’s like—yes it’s true—it’s like night and day.

Just look at the lovely image above of Penne with 5 Cheeses. Looks great, right? Like I took it in daylight, which is impossible because we’ve just suffered through daylight savings time and now it gets dark at 2pm (or whatever).

Take a look at the image below, it was taken at the same time of day (9:30pm), under our perfectly nice but horrible for food photography overhead lighting. Ick, right?

Well yay Lowel Ego light (and check out the yummy pasta recipe above too).Pasta-1

Farro with butternut squash, almonds & goat cheese

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetIt was Sunday night, and I was really in the mood for farro. My usual recipes didn’t appeal to me so I thought I’d try this one.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t have all the ingredients and I decided to mess with the recipe. The result was amazing (and smelled amazing while cooking too!) The recipe is below.

We also had salad with broccoli, leeks, basil, goat cheese and radicchio, and pork tenderloin. But what I’m taking home from this dinner is the farro.

P.S. If you have a baby, he or she may devour this dish.

• Farro with Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese & Almonds •
adapted from this recipe from 101 Cookbooks
serves 6 as a side dish

1 cup farro, rinsed and drained
salt
3 or more cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice 
1/2 large red onion cut into inch-ish sized chunks
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup almonds, toasted & chopped
1/4 cup (about half a small log – more to taste) goat cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan, boil the farro in plenty of salted water until al dente. When done, remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, toss chopped butternut squash, thyme, onion & balsamic vinegar in a bowl with a good amount of olive oil and salt. Roast in a baking tray for about 45 minutes until fragrant and cooked through, browned nicely and not too mushy. Toss with a spatula for even cooking and taste along the way.

When the squash is done, toss it in a large bowl with the farro and almonds, taste for seasoning, adding more salt and oil if needed. Add crumbled goat cheese and toss one more time. Serve warm.