Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

Image of a plate of Roasted Cauliflower SteaksSteak Your Veggies
My relationship with cauliflower is difficult. I have only just recently started to eat it because my daughter can’t stand broccoli and cauliflower is a fairly easy substitute. My difficulties started when I was a kid when my mom would make cauliflower with a cheese sauce. And, for a long time, I was okay with it. I’m not sure exactly what went wrong. But, after having it one night I got sick. No one else got sick. Just me. From that day forward, in much the same way that college tequila shots have ruined margaritas for many people, I never wanted to eat cauliflower again.

It has taken 40 years but I have tried cauliflower—just a little bit now and then. Cauliflower has that great attribute of not having a strong flavor and therefore will soak up the flavor of anything it’s in. This is why I can handle cauliflower in Indian food, for example. But, large amounts of cauliflower on its own is a hurdle I haven’t cleared…yet.

I am intrigued by cauliflower steaks. There is something about this concept that appeals to me. The idea makes so much sense. A beautifully roasted or sautéed caramelized steak with a flavor-filled sauce of choice sounds so good in my head. So, I have been researching recipes so that I can take the leap…

While this version by Gordon Ramsay with salsa verde seems like it would be right up my alley, I have begun with something more basic as I dip my toe into these waters.

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks Recipe
Adapted from All Recipes
Yields 4 servings

Try these oven-roasted cauliflower steaks seasoned with a simple lemon-garlic sauce. Serve them with Chimichurri or topped with roasted tomatoes, olives, and feta. Read more…

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese TartNew Year’s Nosh
It happened. I actually uttered the words I am tired of food the other day and my family was right there with me. After indulging in nothing but the good stuff for 36 hours we were ready to not eat. We were all very excited about the salad I made for dinner last night. But now we’re staring New Year’s in the face. What to do?

I think the best course of action is to go small and snacky. A few finger foods that are easy and perfect for grazing without being a whole big meal. Maybe a charcuterie platter which seems to be all the rage right now. Or potentially a few hot bites like these Cashel Blue, Spinach, and Smoked Salmon Tartlets or the Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart below. The dough makes for a great bite but I have done it with pre-made puff pastry and had great results. It also works well with apples if you are so inclined.

No matter what your New Year’s celebration will look like, here’s hoping you have a safe, healthy and happy New Year!!!

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart
Adapted from the New York Times Cooking Section
Yields 12 servings

This sweet and savory pear tart is sophisticated enough for holiday celebrations. The topping is a comforting, mellow jumble of sweet roasted pears and shallots perfumed with thyme and pungent blue cheese.

If you want to simplify this recipe, purchase some good-quality puff pastry (like Dufour’s in our freezer) and substitute it for making your own dough. Read more…

Caramel Nut Tart

Caramel Nut TartStocking Up
The anticipation of Christmas morning is both the best and the worst part of the holiday…especially for kids. I know the wait was a killer for me starting from a very young age. And, that feeling stayed with me until the day I moved out.

The reason may be surprising. Yes, it was always fun exchanging gifts in the morning. Dad was always a good gift-giver and waiting to see what he got Mom every year was so much fun. Especially when he would think outside the box. You just never knew how it would go down. My sister and I would always look forward to what Santa brought. But, what we really looked forward to and snuck out in the middle of the night to see, was our stockings.

Mom was ridiculously good at stockings. I think she spent more time thinking about what to put in the stockings than what to put under the tree. I asked her one year why she focused so much on something that for most people is an afterthought. Her answer was that growing up, she was always disappointed because she would get things like oranges and walnuts in her stocking while her friends would get candy or little toys.

Yes, at the time my grandmother wasn’t too far removed from the depression. And yes, she should have been grateful to get anything at all. But, come on. What 8-year-old gets excited about an orange and some walnuts in the shell? I mean it’s definitely worse than socks. So, Mom swore that when she had kids, she would make sure that the Christmas stockings would be great. And, she threatened us with walnuts if we were naughty leading up to the big day. I hate walnuts, so her threat was taken seriously.

Over the years, nuts became a minor player in our Christmas traditions. Though we never had the traditional tray of mixed nuts out to crack and eat like my grandparents, they did show up in the form of Christmas decorations. Most notably the wreaths of nuts that had been spray-painted gold and glued to fake greenery. (She went a little overboard that year.)

I do find it funny that nuts are a very winter holiday thing. I can’t think of any other time of the year where you will see a festively wrapped burlap bag of pistachios and think Yes! That is the perfect gift for Uncle Ralph! and I don’t ever remember sending a fruit and nut tray for Easter.

Personally, I myself am a big fan of a dried fruit tray. Though I prefer to enjoy my yearly holiday nut allotment in a different way….

Caramel Nut Tart Recipe
Adapted from Lisa Volpe Hachey and Food 52
Yields 12 servings

The dough for this tart is a pate sucre which is pressed into the pan rather than rolled. This is great for cooks who don’t like rolling pie dough or for gluten-free flour substitutions. Read more…

Amy’s Classic Cheese Ball

Amy’s Classic Cheese BallPortion Control
The biggest struggle for me on Thanksgiving (and I am sure I have mentioned this before) is managing my appetite leading up to the big event. Because we eat our Thanksgiving around two or three o’clock, my usual meal schedule is knocked completely out of whack.

I’ve tried over the years to have a substantial breakfast and coast into the big meal. But, I find it makes me hangry around one o’clock. Not a good situation for spending time with family. Also, eating that much food before the early morning trek to my mother-in-law’s- house is rough. I have tried to just eat a bunch of little things throughout the morning but I end up not hungry enough to get the whole turkey/gravy/cranberry experience.

I think the sweet spot is to have a normal breakfast at a normal time and then have a reasonable snack somewhere around the noontime hour. This is all well and good considering I am not the one making all the food for the feast. It’s hard enough to make sure everyone’s favorite is on the table—let alone to make certain there are also snacks. So, having something that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require extra ingredients is key. The best thing I’ve found is a cheese ball.

Cheese balls are great! You can make them with ingredients you already have in your fridge. And, you can customize them five weeks from Sunday. So, here is our recipe for Amy’s Classic Cheese Ball. I emphasize that this is my basic recipe because I like to add cayenne to it. Not everyone is into spice. So, you can leave it out if you prefer.

Most of the ingredients should be in your fridge already or they would be easy to grab on the way to pick up your turkey—along with some precut veggies and a box of your favorite crackers. You can make this the night before and pull it out when the I’m starving whining begins.

Amy’s Classic Cheese Ball Recipe
Serves 12 (sometimes more depending on appetite) Read more…