Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

1 Mar 2015-02-26 10.08.06 cauliflower leek soup

(Reminder to vote for my piece on Watermelon Mojitos for an #EDDYS2015 Award by clicking here! Vote daily until March 15!)

Here on Long Island we are having one of the coldest winters on record. Since you can’t reasonably spend the entire winter drinking hot toddies all day — as much as the idea appeals –, the second best, more sensible and certainly more sustainable response is soup.

Light winter lunch

Light winter lunch

Here is an easy-peasy soup recipe that is warming and light, inspired by my dear friend Deborah Rivera Pittorino’s matchless soups at her restaurant La Cuvee Seafood & Grille in the heart of Long Island’s North Fork wine country. She shares some her recipes on her blog, The Seasoned Fork, by the way.

This recipe adds a little nuttiness (nutty flavor, not crazy person nuttiness) by dry roasting the cauliflower for 10 minutes. This amount makes four appetizer servings or two meal-size bowls and reheats really well in the office microwave for lunch!

Office lunch

Office lunch

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

3 Cups cauliflower (stems and florets, trimmed)

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs butter (salted or unsalted)

3 Cups leeks, white and pale green part, carefully cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch rounds

1 Qt veggie stock (if using store-bought, choose low sodium and season accordingly)

¼-1/2 Cup milk (optional)

1 tsp mild curry powder

salt & pepper to taste

On a baking sheet or in a baking pan roast cauliflower at 400˚F for about 10 minutes (I do it in my fancy, full-service Breville toaster oven) until getting browned at the edges.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium. When the foaming subsides, add the leeks. Stirring occasionally, allow the leeks to get very soft (5-10 minutes). Add the cauliflower, stir and cook a minute or two. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then add curry, lower heat, add milk and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until cauliflower is falling apart. Using an immersion blender or (in batches) a blender or food processor, blend until you reach the desired smoothness. Season to taste and serve, topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or croutons if you like.

 You might also like

17 More Warming Winter Soups!

 

KID in the KITCHEN: Wild (Center) Whole Wheat Pancakes

28 Feb Hungry!

(Reminder: I am a FINALIST for an EDDY Award! You can vote for my Edible Long Island piece on Watermelon Mojitos  every day until March 15, 2015. As always, I deeply appreciate your support!) 

If you Google National Pancake Day, you will find a variety of dates, from September to Shrove Tuesday (before Lent) to this coming Tuesday, March 3, as declared by IHOP (International House of Pancakes). So I hereby declare that Natalia National Pancake Day shall be any day that I don’t have to be up at 5:30 a.m. and out by 7 for work and that my son wants to make them and I have the ingredients.

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift...am I smiling or grimacing?

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift…am I smiling or grimacing?

Those stars aligned during the recent winter break from school. We spent the first part of the break with dear friends Adriana and Micaela at Adriana’s sister and brother-in-law’s in the Lake Placid area (because it wasn’t cold enough downstate at -7ºF so we went for -27°F? Eek!). It was a terrific weekend of learning to ski and snowboard and snow shoe (and becoming almost casual about jumping the frozen battery of my car) and actually enjoying winter.

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical "bard", but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical “bard”, but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

But one day we decided to go to The Wild Center at Tupper Lake, a beautifully designed nature museum full of Adirondack flora and fauna that you could admire in the sunny and well-heated indoors. Funnily enough, they had recipe cards, one of which was for whole wheat pancakes, which the little man decided he wanted to make when we got home.

Independent!

Independent!

The original recipe was for 14 pancakes, so we halved most (not all) of the ingredients, keeping the cinnamon and vanilla at full-strength, and adding homemade cranberry-blueberry jam.

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The little guy has really graduated to following a recipe, measuring and cooking on his own, except for the odd difficult pancake flip and one mild burn, so that was very cool.

Proud!

Proud!

We really liked the almost cake-like lift that the baking powder gave them. Not too sweet and very cinnamon-y, these were pancakes we will be making again and again.

Hungry!

Hungry!

Whole Wheat Pancakes (adapted from The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY)

Makes 9 pancakes

1 Cup whole wheat flour

2 ¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

1 large egg

1 Cup milk

1.5 tsp vanilla

(optional 1-2 Tbs of smushed berries or berry jam)

butter for cooking

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until there are no dry spots, then stop right away. You can swirl in a couple of tablespoons of berries or jam at this point, or do it after you’ve made some plain ones, then add the berries to change things up.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt a knob of butter. When the foaming subsides, spoon batter into skillet ¼ Cup at a time, leaving plenty of room for each pancake. The surface will start bubbling. When the bubbling settles and the edges look set, it’s safe to flip. Cook till the edges set again, remove and stack on a warm plate and start another batch, adding butter to the skillet as needed.

 

 

HELP ME WIN an EDDY AWARD! Vote now….

27 Feb Photo by Doug Young

Edible Feast has chosen my piece on Cameron Prather’s Watermelon Mojito Recipe

as a finalist for the EDDY Awards in the DRINK category!

Please vote for us (and photographer Doug Young)  by clicking here. Thank you and ¡SALUD!

Doug’s gorgeous photo….

!

LENT: Big Up Your Tuna Salad

26 Feb 2015-02-26 17.41.07 tuna

We’re approaching the second Friday of Lent (and my second week without cheese, Lord help me). It’ll be tuna salad for lunch tomorrow, but not your run-of-the-mill deli style tuna salad. I like my flavors a little bigger and bolder (except for the tuna, which I confess to liking on the milder side; I prefer albacore and try to purchase ocean friendly brands). Here’s my easy way of making tuna salad special.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I'll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I’ll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

To one 5 oz. can tuna, drained, I add 1 Tbs prepared mayonnaise and 1-2 tsp each of prepared mustard, drained capers, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onion, and chopped roasted red pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve on bread or salad.

Easy Steamed Clams for Me – Easy Linguine with Clam Sauce for the Kid

20 Feb Featured Image -- 6734

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Fish on Friday? Try this quick linguine with clam sauce recipe that lets you serve kid and adult variations without ay extra steps!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

The problem:  I want steamed clams. My dad wants steamed clams. My son won’t eat them. Nor will my mom. I don’t want to cook two meals, because as much as I like to cook, this is not a bloody restaurant.

Cherrystones Cherrystones

The solution: Both my son and my mom will eat pasta with seafood flavor. So I steam the clams in a nice cooking liquid, remove the offending shells and shellfish for me and my dad, then plump up the liquid into a delicious pasta sauce for the other two.

yum, clams yum, clams

And so, we had a lovely casual dinner on the deck, with the remainder of the bottle of white wine, everyone enjoying the arrival of spring (and celebrating the absence of the mosquitoes that have been effing up our summer nights for the last few years).

linguine and clams linguine and clams (these clams were removed immediately after the picture…

View original 285 more words

KID IN THE KITCHEN: Tembleque (Tropical Coconut Pudding)

7 Feb 2015-02-06 19.21.21 tembleque

We spent the better part of last summer in Puerto Rico, and among the tasty things that my little guy fell in love with was tembleque, a jiggly (temblar means to tremble) dessert that falls somewhere between pudding and flan. I promised him we’d make it back in New York, and this weekend, for a dinner with some dear Nassau Community College colleagues with whom I serve on the Latin American Studies Committee, I delivered.

2015-02-05 21.03.20 temblequeWho knew it was so, so easy to make that my seven-year-old could do it almost completely on his own? All I had to do was pour the hot mixture into the mold. I adapted a recipe from Cocine a Gusto (University of Puerto Rico Press), which is one of my go-tos for traditional Puerto Rican recipes.

2015-02-05 21.27.57 temblequeIn future we will make it with homemade coconut milk (all you have to do is pour hot water over coconut flakes and strain, but more on that next time), but in the interests of expediency (I also made pollo guisado, black beans and pink beans from scratch, and yuca salad, so I had my hands full) I just used canned.

Next time you want a fun dessert that takes your tastebuds to the tropics, tembleque is the ticket!

2015-02-06 19.21.31 temblequeTembleque

2 14 oz. cans coconut milk

½ Cup corn starch

½ Cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Powdered cinnamon

Place coconut milk, corn starch, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil at medium high, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Add vanilla, stir and pour the mix into a slightly moistened mold (a smooth pie tin for one, or six ramekins for individual servings). Chill for at least three hours or at most 48. Turn tembleque out of mold(s), sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

Two Hot Beverage Hacks: Cider and Cocoa

3 Feb Make a simple hot cocoa special and fun

Yes, I am still here! It has been a good long while, as I have dedicated the last month to home and work (the kind that actually pays the bills!). But here are two quickie upgrades for two nonalcoholic winter drinks and it will only take a moment. In fact, I will steal this one from my own Facebook post of Jan. 5

 Action-packed back-to-school morning! First, the boy rages about having to go back at all, then loses a tooth, then spits out his lovingly prepared warm apple cider accusing me of trying to poison him…I was astonished, until it occurred to me that the cinnamon I’d sprinkled on the top was actually ancho chili powder…..‪#‎oneofthosedays‬
Find the long cinnamon sticks at groceries that ofer authentic Mexican products

Find the long cinnamon sticks at groceries that ofer authentic Mexican products

So, aside from more experimenting with chili and hot apple cider ever since, the usual kid-stamp-of-approval recipe is: Warm the cider in a saucepan, pour into a mug, sprinkle with cinnamon and garnish with a cinnamon stick if you’ve got!

My son thinks the disappearing candy cane is so cool...

My son thinks the disappearing candy cane is so cool…

The second is a way to stay cozy and add interest to your hot chocolate. Simply add one of those broken candy canes leftover from the holidays or a hard red and white peppermint candy from the last moderately priced family restaurant you were at to the mug. As it dissolves, it adds minty loveliness to the cocoa! And that’s all for today….stay warm and if you can, stay home!

17 Easy Soups to Warm Your Winter (Vegan Soups included)

9 Jan Leandro's was more tortellini than soup, but we are making progress!

We all love soup in my house. And when it is bitterly cold outside, there is nothing better to warm your insides than a hearty winter soup.

Here is a collection of favorites that are easy to put together and delicious both on the day or warmed up the next day at the office. Many are vegan. I like to make a vegan base in one pot, then separate the appropriate portions, adding  something meaty for the unrepentant carnivores.

Bon appetit! Stay warm, my friends.

1. Andouille, Kale and Sausage Soup

Aye me hearties...

Aye me hearties…

2. Canellini and Chard Soup (Vegetarian or with bacon)

Hearty, Dense, Soul-Satisfying (and great re-heated!)

Hearty, Dense, Soul-Satisfying (and great re-heated!)

3. Escarole Soup (vegan with drop-in meatball option for carnivores)

The veggie version

The veggie version

4. Lentil Soup (The one I make most often, especially in bitter cold weather! So textured and complex and hearty and cozy!)

2012 January office, cranmuffins 023

The secrets to a great lentil soup!

 

5. Silky Leek and Potato Soup (butter yes, cream no)

I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

 6. Bok Choy, Carrot and Ginger Soup (vegan)

I find this bok choy soup kind of pretty!

I find this bok choy soup kind of pretty!

7. Caldo Verde (Portuguese Sausage and Greens Soup)

A delicious soup for a cool day when you want a soup that warms but doesn't overstuff you

A delicious soup for a cool day when you want a soup that warms but doesn’t overstuff you

8. Three Step Vegan Vegetable Soup (with non-vegan tortellini add-ons to please everyone’s food quirks!)

A grating of parmigiano reggiano or grana padano finishes this soup admirably. Vegans can try nutritional yeast!

A grating of parmigiano reggiano or grana padano finishes this soup admirably. Vegans can try nutritional yeast!

Read on for nine more recipes!

Continue reading

Juicy Herb-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

3 Jan This made us so happy

I love a simple roast bird for a sit-down family meal. It looks so special, but is so easy to do and the vegetables are cooked right alongside the bird (getting all that juicy seasoned chicken stock as the bird releases it) and can be plunked as is on the table if you don’t want to put it on a platter, which means less clean-up. This is the dinner that cooks itself while you are doing other things, encourages family to linger around the table, and keeps on giving way after the meal is over.

2014-12-25 14.08.49 roast chickenIf there is leftover meat, you can make wonderful chicken salad that tastes so much richer than your average cooked chicken from the deli (I like it with sliced black olives and bits of sundried tomato). The carcass makes great stock too, simmered with a dozen peppercorns, a carrot and a celery stalk, a peeled onion and unpeeled garlic cloves sliced in half.

Here then, is a pretty basic version that is aromatized with herbs, spiked with citrus, and cooked relatively slowly for juicy tenderness.  There are as many variations as you have herbs in your arsenal; this is what I was in the mood for, but you could certainly substitute whatever seasonings grab your fancy. We had this one for a small family Christmas Day meal! Scroll down for links to more roast chicken recipes. Continue reading

KID in the KITCHEN: French Toast Casserole (make ahead!)

30 Dec 2014-12-28 13.06.06 french toast casserole

We are a fútbol-loving family ( fútbol = soccer in the U.S. and football in most other English-speaking countries except the U.S. where football — rather inexplicably – means gridiron a.k.a. that sport with the helmets and shoulderpads. There’s also Australian rules football, which is actually a form of rugby, but never mind that right now). We particularly follow the English Premier League and support Chelsea, in case you were wondering. We watch it a lot at home, but watching soccer in the U.S. has ceased to mean spectator-in-exile. Increasingly in America you can find people with whom to watch.

This is part of the spread...Can you name the team jerseys in the background? Hint: Only one is EPL

This is part of the spread…Can you name the team jerseys in the background? Hint: Only one is EPL

So that creates opportunities to invite folks to brunch or lunch (EPL matches are played at GMT and so rarely go later than 5 p.m. here in NY) with fellow travelers at home. Buffet-style is best, because the footie runs continuously for two 45-minute halves and if — like me — you are the hostess but really want to watch the action too, you want to get everything done before kick-off and then sit right down with the guests for the first half.

Yes, we used white bread. And it was good.

Yes, we used white bread. And it was good.

So, we invited friends for the 9 a.m. Southampton v. Chelsea fixture this past weekend. In addition to bagels and cream cheese, tortilla española, gravlax, ham and cheese, and mango-prosecco mimosas, my little guy made French toast. Since it would have been insane to try to make French toast to order at game time, we chose a recipe he could do the night before and pop in the oven for 40 minutes before everyone arrived. Thus this French Toast Casserole recipe we adapted ever so slightly from Love, Pasta, and a Tool Belt. It was super-easy, sweet and delicious and has a bread pudding sort of texture and was loved by one and all.

Firm, bread pudding type texture meant the kids could pick it up like a sandwich!

Firm, bread pudding type texture meant the kids could pick it up like a sandwich!

To do it with kids, make sure you have the ingredients, measuring implements, and other equipment at the ready before you get the kids going. It is a breeze!

2014-12-28 13.06.06 french toast casseroleFrench Toast Casserole

Ingredients:
1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
12 slices white bread

Directions:
Melt butter and mix with brown sugar and cinnamon until well-blended. Spread half of the brown sugar mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 rimmed baking pan. Lay six pieces of bread over the sugar mixture. Spread the remainder of the brown sugar mixture over the bread trying to make it pretty even. We used a butter knife to spread, but a stiff spatula would also work.
Place remaining six pieces of bread on top. Beat eggs and milk together and pour over the whole thing evenly. If, like us, you forget to put on the second layer of bread, you can lift the already covered slices one by one and slide the unsoaked slices underneath and it will work out just fine. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat oven to 350°F and bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

Allow to rest and then serve up!

 

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