Cauliflower Meets Immersion Blender

Another new magazine…  This time it’s a recent issue of Food & Wine and a recipe that caught my attention was Cauliflower Soup with Goat Cheese.  I read through it and it does call for dairy but it can so easily be eliminated.  It’s an accent (and really just unnecessary extra calories). The recipe is another great vegetarian (I used veggie stock because it’s what I had on hard), lactose free (you can nix the cheese, too, if needed, though goat cheese is good for most lactards) and gluten free one.

Ingredients

One 2 1/2-pound head of cauliflower, cored (went for a bag of frozen stuff, did 2-12oz bags)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth (used veggie stock — great option for the vegetarian version)
3 thyme sprigs tied in a bundle, plus 1 teaspoon chopped leaves (used dried)
8 brussels sprouts (6 ounces), trimmed and separated into leaves (back to the freezer…so much easier)
4 ounces cold fresh goat cheese, crumbled (I actually used feta because I needed it for the next night, tasted great)
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1/4 cup heavy cream (nixed this so I could eat it)

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Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°. On a work surface, cut one-fourth of the cauliflower into 1/2-inch florets. Coarsely chop the remaining cauliflower.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the leek, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the potato and the chopped cauliflower, then add the wine and cook over high heat until reduced by half, 4 minutes. Add the stock and the thyme bundle and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Discard the thyme bundle (since I used dried stuff, it stayed in there).
Meanwhile, at either end of a large rimmed baking sheet, separately toss the cauliflower florets and brussels sprout leaves each with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, stirring each halfway through, until lightly browned and tender. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese with the chives and chopped thyme.
In a blender (I used the much handier immersion blender), puree the soup in 2 batches until very smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the cream (did do this). Rewarm over moderate heat, adding water if the soup seems too thick; season with salt. Ladle into bowls and top with the roasted brussels sprout leaves and cauliflower florets. Sprinkle the herbed goat cheese on top and serve hot.

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Delicious soup!  The flavors all came together and worked so well.  Totally worth trying.

Make Ahead

The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Avocado, Hearts of Palm & Heaven

When you read a recipe where all ingredients are ones that you absolutely love, you must make it.  I found this Avocado–Hearts of Palm Salad in Health magazine and had to try it ASAP.  And, it could not be easier to put together.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large ripe avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup drained, coarsely chopped canned hearts of palm (about half a 15-oz. can) — I used more than half a huge jar from Costco
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)

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Preparation

1. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lime zest and juice, garlic and salt until combined.

2. In a medium bowl, combine avocado, hearts of palm, cilantro and scallions. Pour dressing over avocado mixture and gently fold together. Season with additional salt, if desired.

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This was just so good.  Definitely needs that salt.  So fresh, so delicious.  I ended up making it two days in a row for appetizers.  Served it with crackers.

 

Silver

So I actually went to see that movie about the guy who made all those computers that aren’t PCs.  No, I don’t own one.  It was interesting, though the end was a bit odd…could we not have brought us forward another decade+.

Ok, onto food…since the movie let out around 9:30, one must eat!  There has been such a change in downtown Bethesda in the last several years and even more so in the past 6 months.  So, new restaurants are popping up all over.  My friend and I checked out Silver.  I was unaware until that night that it is the posh version of Silver Diner.

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We almost had to wait for a table at 9:30pm — it has to be good.  The interior design of this place is quite nice. The chairs alone have some leather that we couldn’t quite identify.  I almost felt under dressed!  The drink menu is extensive and some of the shakes — I almost thought they could curdle with the contents coming against each other.  Dang, sometimes I wish I could have one!

After way too much surveying of the menu (because I couldn’t decide) I opted for two appetizers, Crispy Brussels Sprouts that were cinnamon chipotle spiced, with apricots, cranberries, pecans, ranch (nixed that) and Wild Caught Scallops with lemon garlic sauce, wilted spinach, feta, cilantro.

This food was amazing.  I had to finish every single Brussels sprout on the plate.

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And all the flavors of coming together on the perfectly cooked scallops…just take me to heaven now.

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This place will be worth checking out for other meals.

 

 

Not Your Average Joe’s

A Not Your Average Joe’s opened up in the past several months in (North) Bethesda.  I have checked it out a couple times for happy hour (which has some decent specials) but haven’t ever eaten there.  I am on their mailing list and got a birthday email worth $15 towards my next visit to the restaurant.  Great.  Maybe I’ll go and actually try their food.

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Decided to go last Friday.  It was very busy but was able to grab a spot at the bar.  Let the bartender know I had a $15 b-day email I was going to use, he was cool with that.  Made it towards the end of happy hour and snagged a margarita for a good price.  Sipped that for a bit while I enjoyed their amazing warm bread that they serve with olive oil, garlic (and normally cheese, but I get it without).  So addictive!   There were some decent menu items to pick from, some a bit restrictive for lactards.  I finally saw a seasonal item that the bartenders recommended — Cider Glazed Chicken Kabobs, which were grilled and glazed with zeigler’s apple cider, served over a warm farro golden raisin salad, roasted spaghetti squash and toasted pumpkin seeds.  Put an order in for that and shouted for a glass of red right before HH was over to have ready for when the food came out.

Eventually (maybe 30 minutes later) my food arrived.

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The chicken was warm and the squash was cold, not even room temp.  I mentioned this to the bartender, he was very apologetic and the manager came and told me they would get me a new dish.  About 15 minutes later a new plate came out with half the chicken and still at lukewarm temps.  I picked at it a bit but was not really hungry.  The manager came to apologize and was kind enough to take it off my bill.

I still had the margarita and wine on my bill.  I presented them with the coupon I had from the email, which I had read VERY carefully prior to going to dinner about what it might or might not cover (aka alcohol).  No where did it say anything.  The ‘fine print’ read “P.S. As much as Joe loves birthdays, we’re obliged to include the usual disclaimers: This offer is nontransferable, not valid with other offers, only one per person and doesn’t apply to take-out.”

The bartender came back to me and told me that even though my coupon was for $15, I would have to pay for my $10 worth of drinks.  The manager made him do that, couldn’t do it himself.  Long story short, it was not pleasant, they eventually let me leave without paying, so I could fortunately leave the bartender a nice tip.  Overall not pleased with the restaurant, except for their great bread.

 

The Daily Dish

Visited a restaurant that I park in front of a least once a week for a morning run.  I see it when it’s dark out and there is nobody around but my running partner and me.  So we had this novel idea to go check this place out during daylight hours when they are actually open.

It’s The Daily Dish in Silver Spring/Chevy Chase, MD.  We went at lunch on a Federal Holiday and it got pretty busy, which was good to see.

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We started with one of their seasonal special, some pumpkin hummus.  Too…good, needed…more.  It was served with roasted pumpkin seeds in the middle and roasted cauliflower on the side, as well as the normal pita bread.

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After debating the menu for awhile, my friend opted for a salad with pan-seared salmon, on spinach, arugula, fennel, with orange segments, red onion, citrus vinaigrette. I opted for the couscous paella (with shrimp for an extra charge).  It was Israeli pearl couscous, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, artichokes, marinara sauce served with quinoa.

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My friend’s salad was delicious.  My paella was ok.  The veggies were nice and crunchy, the shrimp were perfect, but there was far too much couscous to be had.  We also each enjoyed a glass of wine.  I just remember mine was a Shiraz/Pinotage blend…can never go wrong with Pinotage!

Overall good lunch experience.  I’ve heard the restaurant can be hit or miss.  They have a wide variety of options on the menu so definitely worth checking out.

Oh My Cod

Another new recipe, of course.  What would I do if cooking magazines went out of publication?  I love posole and normally it’s made with chicken.  But in a recent edition of Bon Appetit (can you see what I get often?) there was a recipe for Green Posole with Cod and Cilantro (Duh on the last ingredient!!! How can you live without that stuff?).

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, divided (skipped these, see below)
8 medium tomatillos (about 1¼ pounds), husks removed, rinsed (Lazy on these because I use green salsa.  I usually just get the ‘normal’ stuff from Trader Joe’s.  Well they just came out with some super spicy green stuff — Hatch Valley.  So I used one jar of the normal and one jar of the spicy, which replaced the chiles, and oh I am glad I only used one jar!)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
1 pound cod fillet (frozen chunked from Trader Joe’s)
1 15-ounce can white hominy, rinsed (used a bigger can, because that’s what I had — 25 oz)
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
3 small radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced (skipped them because it was garnish)
Lime wedges (for serving) (ditto as above)

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Preparation:

-Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Cook shallots, garlic, and half of chiles (this is the part I skipped, chile-wise because of the salsa), stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, 6–8 minutes.
-Meanwhile, purée tomatillos in a blender until smooth. 
(didn’t have to do this because of the ease of green salsa)

-Add half of tomatillo purée to pot and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cilantro to remaining purée in blender and blend until smooth; set aside. 
(I just chopped the cilantro very well and added it a step down).

-Add cod, hominy, clam juice, and 1 cup water to pot. Bring to a simmer and gently cook over medium-low until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved raw tomatillo-cilantro purée, breaking cod into large chunks; season with salt and pepper. 
 (If you used the cubed stuff from Trader Joe’s or elsewhere, you don’t have the break down the cod, already done — simplicity in the kitchen!).

-Divide stew among bowls and top with radishes, cilantro, and remaining chile. Serve with lime wedges.

IMG_4232[1]This stuff was good!  Pretty thick/heavy, too.  A bit spicy for me, but my friends inhaled it and loved the spice.  Love getting variations on posole.  Definitely recommend giving this a try.

Pickled Grapes? and a salad…

New magazine, new recipe.  A recent one I ripped out of Bon Appetit just had to be tested…Radicchio Salad with Pickled Grapes and Goat Cheese.  What the heck do pickled grapes taste like?  And it was interesting when reading through the recipe because you use black vs. red grapes.

Ingredients

½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 star anise pods (great to get in bulk, they didn’t even weigh anything, they wouldn’t even charge me at Whole Foods)
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, divided
1 cup seedless black grapes, halved if large
8 cups torn or sliced Treviso and/or Chioggia radicchio
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup unsalted, roasted almonds, chopped
2 ounces aged goat cheese, crumbled (about ⅓ cup) (yeah, lactose free)

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Prep

-Combine vinegar, sugar, star anise, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, 2 tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp. orange juice, and ¼ cup water in a medium bowl or glass jar; stir (or cover and shake) until sugar and salt dissolve. Add grapes and let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes.
-Toss radicchio in a large bowl with oil, 3 Tbsp. strained pickling liquid, and remaining 1 Tbsp. orange juice; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter and scatter drained pickled grapes, almonds, and goat cheese over top.
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This was pretty simple to make and had some great flavors, as well as being so fresh!  Would be nice over the holidays.  Enjoy.

Do Ahead: Grapes can be pickled 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.