Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Coconut Curry Cauliflower Soup

Coconut curry cauliflower soup. Say that ten times fast. I've only had this soup one time at Mendocino Farms but it was enough to make an impression on me cause it was absolutely DELICIOUS. I've made some homemade version modifications to this soup to cut the calories and boost the fiber content and I'm very pleased with the results.

Definitely set aside a couple hours to make this soup. Don't let the thought of that be too daunting; soup making is therapeutic and the house will smell amazing. Read the entire recipe first, as some of the steps can be done simultaneously.

I took this soup to work and it was devoured by the girls for lunch. Since there is coconut milk in it, it probably won't freeze too well but will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Coconut Curry Cauliflower Soup
adapted from LA Times
makes about 3 quarts soup

First, make the lentils and lentil stock:

2 cups green lentils
1 small carrot, quartered
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp kosher salt
6 cups water

Rinse the lentils and place in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, thyme, olive oil, salt and water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, skim any scum floating on top and loosely cover. Cook until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and remove the carrot, onion, garlic and thyme with a pair of tongs. Strain the lentils, reserving 4 cups of the lentil stock and 2 cups of the cooked lentils (use the remaining stock and lentils for another recipe). If you are short the 4 cups stock, you can add enough water to make 4 cups - the soup will taste just as good!

Now you're ready to make the soup! ...

1 medium-large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large carrot, finely and evenly diced
1/3 to 1/2 cup oil, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 onion, minced
3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 cups lentil stock (above)
2 cups water
1 11 oz package coconut milk
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
2 cups cooked lentils (above)
2-3 cups Tuscan kale, finely chopped/shredded

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Take the cauliflower and cut off the tiny, cute florets at the top to leave whole in the soup (2 cups worth) and toss with the diced carrot in 2 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the cauliflower and carrots onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender and slightly golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and set aside for the end of the recipe.

Toss the remaining cauliflower with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes; use this for the soup.

** The cauliflower roasting can be done at the same time as the lentils are cooking.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the roasted cauliflower (not the small pretty pieces), potatoes, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne and black pepper, the four cups lentil stock and two cups water.

Bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer, loosely cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk.

Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then remove from heat. Cool the soup slightly, then purée with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also purée in batches in a blender, but be careful not to burn yourself.

Add the agave nectar and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in the cooked lentils, roasted cauliflower and carrots, and the shredded Tuscan kale.

Gently reheat, then taste and add more salt as needed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap Year 5

I'm joining again this year!! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to participate last year due to a hectic work and travelling schedule but this year ... everyone at my work will be eating cookies, all day every day. Can't wait to see what gets delivered to my door in a few weeks.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Romesco Sauce

Guys. Look at that picture. I know the vegetable looks kind of weird - that's broccoflower, which is a hybrid cross between broccoli and cauliflower (clever, huh?). But don't focus on the genetically mutated cross-bred vegetable, Focus on what's underneath the broccoflower - the romesco sauce. I wanted to eat that sauce with a spoon, in great big mouthfuls. But I refrained cause I'm a lady.

The sauce pairs well with chicken, beef and basically any sort of roasted vegetable. I roasted more cauliflower afterwards and it also tasted great!

Romesco Sauce
adapted from Melissa Clark

2 medium red bell peppers, halved and cored
1 plum tomato, halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup peeled almonds (or peeled hazelnuts)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar (or combination of Shaoxing wine and red wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or 1 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt

Set oven to broil and arrange the bell peppers (cut side down), the tomato (cut side up) and garlic on a baking sheet. Broil until the garlic turns a golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Turn garlic and broil a couple minutes more. Transfer garlic to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Continue to broil peppers and tomatoes until the peppers are charred and blackened, about another 5-10 minutes. Remove to the same bowl as the garlic, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to cool.

In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the almonds. Once they are a light golden brown, transfer to a food processor and pulse until they are broken up (not too fine).

Peel the skins off the peppers and tomatoes, being careful as they are hot. The skins should come off fairly easily, but just try to get most of it.

Combine the rest of the ingredients into the food processor with the almonds. Puree until almost smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more vinegar, honey or salt as needed. Eat with roasted veggies!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lobster Stock

What do you do when you have a ton of leftover lobster carcasses? If your answer is "throw them away, of course - the delicious lobster meat is gone and that's trash" then that answer is wrong! Take the shells and make a delicious, rich lobster stock. The stock is very versatile - use it as a base for a lobster bisque, seafood soups, chowders, seafood pot pies, etc.

After you eat the lobsters, scoop out the thick roe on the inside and save that for another use. My mom is going to make porridge with it tonight, which is also very exciting - but beware of the cholesterol levels, if that's an issue for you. Also, remove the gills and any innards.

Simmering the stock made my apartment smell amazing and seafood-y (is that a word?). I think the first thing I'm going to make is lobster miso soup, much like the kind made from the heads of sweet shrimp at Japanese restaurants (amaebi). Just add some miso and a few cubes of tofu and I'll be good to go!

Lobster Stock
Makes about 2-3 quarts

Carcasses and shells from two lobsters
3 Tbps canola or vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 carrot, cut into chunks
2 Tbps tomato paste or 2 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup mirin
1/3 cup dry white wine (or 2/3 cup if not using mirin)
8-10 cups water

Heat oil in large stockpot over medium heat. When the oil is hot (but not smoking), add lobster shells. Stir often with a wooden spoon until they are browned, about 15 minutes. The longer you deepen the color, the more flavorful the stock will be.

Add onion, carrot, tomato paste (or tomatoes), mirin and wine. Cook until the wine has evaporated by half. Add water and bring stock to a simmer. Continue to simmer for an hour, uncovered. Strain stock and keep at room temperature for up to a day, or refrigerate for a week. Freeze for up to three months.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Berkeley - Chez Panisse

After the most disappointing dinner of my life, I really wanted to redeem the rest of the trip. Luckily, I was able to snag a last minute reservation at another bucket list item restaurant - Chez Panisse. Obviously I didn't learn from the day before's experience because I was immediately excited and my expectations were high. This time though, everything worked out!

The menu changes daily, which is fantastic. Alice Waters was a big pioneer of the farm to table movement in California and it really showed in her dishes. Plus, the restaurant itself is adorable!

Acme bread for the table

Blue Heron Farm Little Gems lettuce with green goddess dressing and radishes

local halibut tartare with shaved spring vegetables, Belgian endive and citrus vinagrette

fazzoletti pasta with basil pesto and cherry tomatoes

grilled Liberty Farm duck breast with fried new potatoes, sweet peas and sauce hachée

bittersweet chocolate pavé with stracciatella ice cream and caramel sauce

apricot galette with vanilla ice cream

I can't rave enough about the meal I had here. THIS is exactly how duck should have been done at Ad Lib ... soft, tender and perfectly medium rare. I think it was the best duck I've ever had, which only served to enrage me more about the previous night's dinner. If you get the chance, definitely go to Chez Panisse ... SO GOOD.

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkley, CA 94709