Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Meatless Monday~Fennel Rocks!   1 comment

I’m a bit behind the curve on most things: I never own the newest gadget; I never know the latest gossip; I never get a joke until it’s too late to laugh. However, I usually manage to do a little better where food is concerned, which is why I was a bit taken aback by the miracle that is fennel.

It’s not as if it’s a brand new food. Humans have been eating fennel for centuries. The Romans may have been the first people to cultivate the vegetable, and they liked it so much that they planted it virtually all over their empire. Of course, I’ve heard of fennel before, seen it in stores, and encountered recipes for it, so you would think that I might have eaten it before my 42nd year of life on this earth.

Well, some things elude us. Acting on a whim, I made a salad with fennel to serve at a party that we had recently. It was the hit of the evening, I think, perfect alongside fried latkes and cheesy liptauer. It has become a family favorite.

Now that I have eaten it, I plan to eat a LOT more of it, especially since it’s in season and there are great heaps of it at my local produce market.

Fennel is crunchy and refreshing — just the kind of food to eat during the dark days of winter. Although it can be braised, sautéed, and caramelized, I think fennel might be best raw, in salads, where it retains its intensive crunch. Of course, I’ll be testing this hypothesis for as long as the fennel stock holds out.

In the meantime, here’s a salad recipe that I adapted from one archived at epicurious. com. We’ll be having this for dinner tonight as we observe our unoffical Meatless Monday.

Fennel, Radicchio, and Orange Salad

2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise, and sliced

1 head of radicchio, chopped

2 navel oranges, cut off peel and pith with a sharp knife and slice the oranges into circles (cut the largest circles in half)

2-3 tbs. sherry vinegar

1 tsp. dijon mustard

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

A good handful of mint leaves

Scatter the radicchio on a large serving platter. Place orange slices on top To make the dressing: whisk to combine the sherry vinegar, mustard, and salt & pepper. Continue to whisk while adding the olive oil in a slow drizzle. Toss the dressing with the fennel. Place the fennel on top of the radicchio and oranges. Scatter the mint leaves on top of everything. The salad can be made 30 minutes before eating; refrigerate if, like me, you prefer salads to be quite cold. Serves 4 as a main course.

Posted December 21, 2009 by snpulling in fennel, Meatless Monday, Vegetables, Vegetarian Meals

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A Quick Meal and the Ocean Blue   1 comment

cauliflower1

This has been a busy week filled with birthdays, guests, illness, and car trouble. We’ve managed to eat well though by relying upon a battery of easy meals made from pantry staples.

Here’s one of my favorites: Cauliflower with Almonds, Olives, and Caramelized Onions served over Cous Cous, which I’ve adapted from a recipe by Deb at Smitten Kitchen. I’ll give my version of the recipe later on, but for the moment, I’d like to ponder the nature of adaptation.

I use recipes in a variety of ways. There are some –not very many though — that I follow to the letter. These are mostly for baked goods, where precision matters. Other recipes — that is to say most of them — I use as guides more than anything else. Still others function as inspiration for radically different uses of technique or ingredients.

I suppose all cooks work this way. My question is: when does a recipe become my own? When can I claim a recipe as my own original intellectual property? I guess it’s the same question that my students have in mind when they ask me if they should cite something like the date that Columbus sailed the “ocean blue.” (It’s the same issue at work in the Charlie Kaufman film Adaptation, except without the unexpected crocodile.)

So, what is an original recipe? Are there any — well, are there any that aren’t products of molecular gastronomy? Is there anything new under the sun or deep in the ocean blue?

The cauliflower recipe — which Deb adapted from a recipe by Michael Anthony of the Gramercy Tavern, and is, therefore, an adaptation of an adaptation — is the easiest thing in the world to make and awfully tasty at the end of a long weekday, when you feel like you’ve been drowning in the ocean. And even though my own version is quite a bit different from Deb’s, I’m not prepared to call this one original property.

Cauliflower with Almonds, Olives, and Caramelized Onions (adapted from a recipe by Deb at Smitten Kitchen)

2 large onions, cut in half and thinly sliced

3 tbs. olive oil

1 large head of cauliflower, or two small heads, cut or broken into large segments

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tbs. Sultanas (golden raisins)

1 tbs. cider vinegar

1 tbs. water

2 tbs. pitted, sliced Kalamata olives

2 tbs. toasted almonds, chopped

1 large handful of cilantro, chopped

1 1/2 cups prepared cous cous

1 Tbs. Argan oil* (optional)

1/4 tsp. Baharat **(optional)

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F). To caramelize the onions: in a large frying pan, heat 1 tbs. of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown. Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower in the remaining olive oil and cumin. Scatter cauliflower onto a large rimmed cookie sheet, making sure that the cauliflower remains in one layer. Roast for 25 minutes or until the cauliflower turns golden brown.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, raisins, and water. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat and cook for 2 minutes.

Cook cous cous according to the package directions.

When the cauliflower is brown and caramelized, transfer to a large, deep serving dish. Add half of the caramelized onions, toasted almonds, raisins with liquid, and olives. Toss carefully until all is combined. Scatter the remaining carmelized onions on top, along with the cilantro.

Pour the argan oil and baharat over the cous cous and gently combine with a fork. Serve cauliflower on or beside a mound of cous cous. Serves 2 adults and one three year old with a passion for olives.

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* Argan oil is the oil of the argan tree, which grows only in Morocco. Said to have miraculous healing properties, the oil is delicious on cous cous and in Greek yogurt. It tastes a bit like almond or hazelnut oil, both of which make adequate substitutes. I get organic argan oil from Zamouri Spices.

**Baharat is a very hot spice blend that is the traditional spice for cous cous. Use with caution. It’s available at http://www.thespicehouse.com.