A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Vegetables, Please

I don't know whether it's the increasing heat or my increasing age, but I find meat less appetizing all the time.  As a result, I love vegetables more and want to try new preparations and make meals centered around them.  Last night the menu was chard and artichoke pie with goat cheese; wild rice salad; and carrots from the garden.

For the chard pie I layered a round shallow baking dish (greased) with artichoke hearts.  I steamed the chard until tender, then drained and chopped it when cool.  I mixed the chard with 3 eggs, salt, pepper, and a touch of nutmeg and poured it over the artichokes.  I beat 4 ounces of softened goat cheese with some cream to make it thin enough to spread and seasoned it with dill weed.  This I poured over the chard and spread it around.  I baked the pie for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Wild Rice Salad (loosely based on an idea from Joy of Cooking)

Cook 1/2 cup wild rice according to package directions.  (I used almost 3 cups of water in the rice cooker.  I started with 2 cups of water had to add more and cook again twice, because I like my wild rice mostly exploded.  It took almost an hour).

When cool, add:
2 tablespoons currants
A few chopped dried apricots
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Dress with a lime vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil (or less)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, pepper

I served the carrots in our favorite way, with olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pizza-Style Broccoli

I saw this in USA Weekend--a normally useless publication, but this is delicious and a nice change.  It's by Daphne Oz, from her new cookbook Relish.

Pizza-Style Broccoli

1 head broccoli, cut in florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper

Steam or boil broccoli until barely tender.  Drain well.

Preheat broiler.  Put broccoli in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with cheese, chile flakes, and oregano.  Broil for 2 or 3 minutes, or until cheese is golden.

Squeeze lemon juice over, salt and pepper to taste, and serve at once.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cauliflower Flatbread

This was one of the strangest, silliest things I've ever made, but it was surprisingly tasty, so I thought I'd memorialize it here.

I've been avoiding sugar, white flour, and the like (also, red meat) for the last month. That's pretty easy: Just make different foods. We make curries and salads instead of sandwiches and pasta dishes. I'm not the kind to seek out special products (low-carb bread?!) or recipes to mimic the things I'm not eating. But I stumbled upon a paleo diet blog while looking up the nutritional content of something or other, and it had a recipe for cauliflower pizza.

The internet, it turns out, is teeming with recipes for cauliflower pizza.

The idea stuck in my head, and finally I just decided to try it.

Basically, the cauliflower gives structure to the ... well, it's not a dough at all — more of a malleable paste. Cheese provides most of the flavor and browning. And egg holds it together. I didn't expect each slice would stay in one piece, but it does.

Reading these two posts helped me: The Lucky Penny and Closet Cooking. I didn't squeeze the water out of the cooked cauliflower, though I'll try that next time. I won't recreate the entire recipe here — read their blogs — but here are the proportions I used:

1/2 small head of cauliflower, grated on a box grater, about 2 1/2 cups before nuking
4 oz cheese (I used cheddar because we have a lot of it, with a little Parmesan)
1 pinch salt
1 egg
1 t Italian herbs

I put goat cheese, roasted red pepper strips and marinated artichokes on it, and baked it on my Silpat, which was perfect, for about 35 minutes (it was very thin) at 400 degrees.

I couldn't bring myself to call it pizza, because, well, no, but I think flatbread is a reasonable term. It's very cheesy and really fun to make.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Zucchini Casserole

I have made this simple casserole for years.  It's substantial enough for a meatless main dish--my favorite sides to serve with it are Anasazi or pinto beans, and a tomato salad.

Combine in a greased baking dish:

--1 pound zucchini, cut in 3/4-inch cubes and boiled until barely tender
--1 or 2 cups cubed Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
--Green chiles, roasted and peeled, cut in pieces (or canned diced green chiles)

The idea is to use roughly equal amounts of zucchini, cheese, and chiles.

Top the casserole with a layer of bread crumbs mixed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  You could use butter instead of olive oil, but it browns quickly, so be careful.  Bake about 1/2 hour at 350 degrees or until the cheese is melted and the top is brown.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Raw Kale Salad

I've made this several times over the past few months. It's inspired by the raw kale side dish I always order when I go to Good Life Cafe, a vegan raw food place in West Columbia.

I've used various kinds of kale, and all worked well. I really like the flavor of lacinato kale an awful lot, though.

Many raw kale salad recipes use the massage method, and it really seems to work -- it loosens up the intense fibrousness of the leaves and helps them absorb dressing without cooking.

With uncooked greens, I find a little serving goes a long way. One bunch of kale can serve many people over several meals.


1 bunch kale

Remove ribs and cut into thin (half- or quarter-inch) strips across the grain. Place in bowl or colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, and massage with both hands for a minute or two, squeezing and kneading to make the kale wilt and relax.

In another bowl, mix:

1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons tahini
juice of 1 lemon
pinch salt

Add as needed to make a thin dressing:

olive oil
warm water
honey, if the lemon juice is bitter

Toss with kale.