Grilled Cauliflower “Steaks”

I visited Sonnax Industries last month to give a cooking demonstration during their lunch hour. I grilled cauliflower “steaks” and they were such  hit, I just had to share it with Everyday Chef.

This incredibly simple dish will catapult cauliflower from the ho-hum “boring” vegetable group into the star of any meal. And, the best part is that it cooks in less than 15 minutes AND doesn’t leave you with a mess in the kitchen.

Cauliflower heads

Cauliflower comes in lots of colors. I found your traditional white heads along with purple heads and a beautiful light orange-colored head that is called “cheddar”. This recipe works with any color – so go wild.

Cauliflower is in season now – and it’s never too cold to grill. So, find some local cauliflower and start cooking!

Grilling cauliflower steaks

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks

1 head local cauliflower
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp honey
3 Tbsp Emeril’s Essence seasoning (or any other spice concoction you like)
1 tsp salt

Trim stem and leaves from cauliflower head. Slice head in half and then cut 1/2″-1″ “steaks” from the inside of each half. There will be some crumbles of cauliflower, especially as you get closer to the outside of the head. Use a grill basket for the pieces that are too small for your grill grate.

Mix the olive oil, garlic and honey together and brush on both sides of the “steaks”. Then sprinkle both sides of each piece with the seasoning and salt. I often take the easy way out and use Emeril’s Essence, a pre-mixed spice bland, but you can season with chili or cayenne to make it spicy, or go Indian with a little curry powder.

Place on pre-heated grill and sear each side of the cauliflower then lower the heat, close lid and cook until tender. Serve as the main course or as a side dish.

Summer Squash Salad

I’m making the most of the summer vegetable supply before the first frost shows up – which could be any day now – which is why this light, delicious summer squash salad is a perfect addition to any meal.

This recipe comes to us from the Norwich Inn‘s chef Luis Luna. The Inn served this on the summer menu and Luis was nice enough to share the recipe with Everyday Chef. Luis juliennes the squash with a mandolin –  which makes perfect shoestrings from the summer squash.  I don’t have a mondoline, so, I used a spiralizer – which can make vegetable “noodles” from almost any vegetable. My version wasn’t quite as professional looking, but it still tasted great.

summer squash salad ingredients

summer squash spiralizing400x250

Simply blanch the julienned squash and red peppers for 1 minute, drain and cool.

Mix together the lime juice, honey, water, sweet Thai chili sauce, and chives. combine the blanched vegetables with the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.

dressing ingredients400x250

Summer Squash Salad

4 summer squash, julienne
1 red pepper, julienne
juice from 3 limes
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 cup chives, chopped to 2″
1 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Summer squash salad photo Julia A Reed250x400

It’s that simple! I love this great new way to enjoy one of my favorite summer vegetables, that is light, easy, a so quick to make!

 

Grilled Asparagus

Late spring and early summer is when you’ll find asparagus in its prime. And that means now. With an unique flavor and texture unlike much else – except perhaps fiddleheads – you don’t want to miss out on its relatively short growing season.

For many, the grill takes the reigns as the prime cooking tool for the summer. Good news. You’ll find that asparagus and the grill pair very well together. In a matter of a few short minutes and with minimal prep, asparagus is ready to go  as a healthy side to your other grilled foods.

But don’t let the possibility of what is commonly referred to as “asparagus pee” prevent you from eating this super nutritious food. Not everyone can even notice the side effects – it’s actually a trait determined by genetics. And those who do notice it should not fear. The odor is an indication that a sulfur-containing amino acid has been successfully broken down. Asparagus is low in fat and calories, high in fiber, a good source of Vitamin C and B, and contains the highest amount of glutathione – a powerful antioxidant and phytochemical – of any fruit of any vegetable. Glutathione helps prevent aging and a number of diseases like cancer, heart disease and dementia.

 

To start, (even if you don’t intend to grill), you want to purchase thin, tender stalks. They should be about the size of your pinky in diameter. If you have unusually large hands – think about the width of a pencil. Though as the season progresses, and it already has to some degree, you’ll notice thicker stalks (more like the width of your thumb) for sale, and these are still perfectly fine. It’s just that the thicker the stalk, the woodier the asparagus might taste. Some people like to peel the stalks of thicker asparagus to remove some of that toughness. I’ve never done so, though.

Asparagus

Regardless of the size of your asparagus, you store it all the same way – upright, in water, in the fridge, and at a temp below 40F. But first, trim the ends of the stalks slightly, as you would a bouquet of flowers. Asparagus is just one of those produce items you want to use as soon as absolutely possible – because it will lose its flavor and nutritional value pretty quickly.

When you’re ready to eat, the first thing you want to do is break off the woody bottoms. This is more necessary in thicker stalks than thinner. But all you have to do is hold the stalk with both hands and bend the bottom until you find its breaking point. Discard the ends and save them (with any peelings, if you choose to peel) in the freezer for your next batch of vegetable stock. Afterwards, give your bunch of asparagus a good rinse and pat dry with a towel.

 

For grilling, coat the asparagus in an equal mix of lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and some minced garlic, if you’d like. Place the stalks on your clean (this is important!), hot grill. I like to cook them over a medium high flame for about 5 minutes. This leaves them with a good amount of crunch – just how I like them. There is really no need, however you choose to cook asparagus, to overcook them. Doing so can confuse people into thinking asparagus is a bland and mushy vegetable. And no one likes those.

Grilled Asparagus

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Clean and preheat your grill with a medium-high flame.
  2. Give the asparagus a good rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Break off the woody ends of the asparagus.
  4. Lightly coat with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a couple pinches of salt.
  5. Arrange the asparagus horizontally on the heated grill.
  6. Rotate every couple of minutes with tongs, cooking for a total of about 6 minutes for a crunchy bite, or a bit longer for less.
  7. Sprinkle a little more lemon juice and salt over the cooked asparagus and serve.

Puréed Turnips

Imagine the silkiest, smoothest mashed potatoes you’ve ever had. Rich, creamy and lump free. Got it? Well that’s exactly what pureed veggies are like. They appear somewhat fancy and are found all the time in upscale restaurants. But they’re really just as simple as mashed potatoes, if not more so. I don’t think they require the embellishments mashed potatoes sometimes need to reach that perfect consistency.

turnip

You can use the same technique for all kinds of root vegetables. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are obvious choices, but also consider rutabaga, celeriac, beets, squash, carrots and turnips. Mix and match if you’d like.

1 1/2 pounds of turnips are good for about four people. But since I like leftovers, I went with slightly more and added in a few potatoes. I was serving this at a dinner for someone I know isn’t a big turnip lover. So I’m thinking he might not even notice the difference with the potato in there. I’ve replaced up to half of the potatoes in mashed potatoes with turnips at Thanksgiving dinner before, and no one k Just a hint, if you need it.

While I often just keep the skins on root veggies like turnips, for a smooth purée you do need to peel. A note about turnips: there are both small, spring varieties that come with their greens attached, and then the larger, heartier winter variety without greens, which is the kind you’ll find this time of year.

Chop the turnips into one inch pieces. We’re going to boil them and the smaller the pieces the quicker they’ll cook.

Here are the potatoes I added to fool that friend of mine.

boil turnips

 Here’s a trick for a richer purée – boil the turnips with milk. I use about 3/4 water and 1/4 milk. You just need enough to cover the veggies. Boil until turnips are easily pierced with a knife, about 15-20 minutes. If you do use milk, be sure to lower the heat to a simmer or the liquid could boil over. (Though I find the wooden spoon trick works well.

When done, drain and keep a bit of the cooking liquid just in case you need it. If you prefer, you could mash rather than purée, but if you have yourself an immersion blender these couldn’t be easier. Just give it a few whirls and you’ve got yourself puréed turnips. Unlike mashed, I didn’t see the need for an addition of cream or butter. Though a swirl of olive oil over top was just right. And if they aren’t working out well, slowly work in the cooking liquid.

Use puréed veggies like this as a bed for burgers, meatballs, cuts of meat, green veggies like broccoli or asparagus or even as a sauce, condiment or dip. Get creative.

pureed tunips

Puréed Turnips

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and cubed turnips, potato and turnip mix or any other hearty root veggie
  • 1 cup milk
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, cover the turnips with the milk and just enough water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat then lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Drain the turnips, saving some of the cooking liquid in the process.
  4. Use an immersion blender or food processor to purée the turnips. Taste, add salt to your liking, a little cooking liquid, if needed, and a swirl of oil over the top.

Kale and Coconut Salad

Happy December, folks. With cookie fests and holiday parties in full blast it’s all too easy to indulge a bit too much. I believe we should enjoy these times without feeling overly guilty and yet, without waiting until next month to eat smarter. And yes, that is actually possible. Sometimes you just need to leave well enough alone – your grandmother’s pecan pie, perhaps – but there are other times we can eat a little wiser while keeping in mind the foods still available to us locally during the colder months..

Hence, the kale and coconut salad. As you might have heard, kale and coconut are two powerful health foods of late we should all consider incorporating more of into our diets.

Kale, an excellent winter green, makes a great salad base while the more fragile greens are out of commission. With just 33 calories per cup and high amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Potassium, it’s no wonder it has it’s own marketing campaign.

Coconut, on the other hand, is equally as impressive. Coconut products – water, oil, milk, flour and even sugar – are beloved by food the health conscious in recent times, despite the high amount of saturated fat. Turns out, saturated fat, in moderation, may actually be good for us – helping do to things like lower bad cholesterol levels while improving the good. Coconut also contains a ton of fiber and a fair amount of minerals and b vitamins. The form in which you eat coconut regulates the degree of nutrition, however, so keep that in mind. For the salad, look for it unsweetened, dried and shredded or flaked.

It takes no time to put this together, making it great to work onto your dinner plate or bring to a holiday party in place of an out of season, less fresh, and nutritious garden salad. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks – Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson – I highly recommend checking it and her blog out.

Use any kind of kale, but I like the curly variety – which adds a good amount of crunchy texture after baking. Just rinse, then tear the leaves off the stems and into small to medium sized pieces. You’ll be left with the stalks, which you can save in the freezer for your next pot of stock.

Toss in a bowl with the coconut and some olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce or tamari.

Then spread it out over two baking sheets.

And put it in an oven preheated to 350F for 15-20 minutes, checking about halfway through. You want to bake it until the kale is crunchy and the coconut golden brown.

You can toss together with some more dressing at this point and serve. If you like kale chips, you’ll really enjoy this salad – great as a side or topped with your favorite protein.

Kale and Coconut Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4-6, as a side

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups kale, torn and removed from the stem
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a small jar, shake together the oils and tamari/soy sauce.
  3. Toss the dressing with kale and coconut in a large bowl.
  4. Spread the salad out onto two large baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking and stirring about halfway through. Kale should be crispy and coconut golden brown. Toss with additional dressing if you’d like and serve warm or at room temp. Best enjoyed the day it’s made.

Maple Roasted Beets and Oranges

I walked a bunch of food magazines in the store yesterday and had to laugh. In what must be their California based test kitchens, they’re busy cooking with asparagus, peas, bunches of herbs and other warm weather fantasies. In reality – Vermont and probably much of the northern United States –  especially after the winter we’ve had, those foods are at least a month away. By the time they are here, the magazines will probably already be on to tomatoes.

Let’s focus on what’s actually available. The maple sugaring season is just about over (if it’s not already) and that means we have plenty of freshly processed maple syrup. Meanwhile, root vegetables are still lingering about and longing for some creativity. If we borrow some in season citrus from the south, we have plenty of possibilities.

If you’ve roasted root vegetables before, you already know and love the sweet crispy caramelization that happens in the cooking process. Adding maple syrup to the mix might sound a little unnecessary. Yet when you combine it with the bright tartness of roasted oranges, it makes for the perfect balance and for a perfectly timed dish.

You could eat the beets and oranges as is, for a side dish. Or place over greens with a maple balsamic dressing, top with cheese and seeds and have yourself a light and realistic spring dinner.

Maple Roasted Beets and Oranges

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings, as a side or as part of a main dish

Ingredients

  • 3-4 medium beets
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Slice the ends off the beets, slice in half, then each half into pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and maple syrup, ginger and salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, peel, seed and chop the oranges. After 25 minutes, toss the beets on the sheet with the orange pieces and bake another 20 minutes or until beets are tender and crispy.

Orange Maple Glazed Carrots

I don’t cook carrots often enough and I have no idea why. They’re colorful, crunchy and delicious without requiring much embellishment to highlight their awesomeness. I often unfairly regulate them to the standard raw salad or happily enjoy them in carrot coconut soup, but I’m always pleased with the result of a simple, light cooking.

Glazing a root vegetable like carrots – or parsnips or rutabaga – is accomplished through braising. That is, cooking on top of the stove in a small amount of liquid that is reduced down to a light coating, aka glaze, but the time the vegetable is tender.

carrots

Peel and slice your carrots. Or skip the peeling if you want and just give them a good wash, especially if they’re local. Then slice. I go with about a 1/4 inch slice, not too thin or thick. That way they will be perfectly tender yet still crisp. Slice them too thick and they won’t cook up enough in this quick braise.

I find that a wider pan works better than a small pot for quickly reducing the liquid and creating a nice glaze.

Any liquid works for a braise and orange juice pairs perfectly with carrots. Maybe it’s the orange color? Try wine, broth, beer, cider or fruit juice, depending on the ingredient you’re braising. You don’t need much, though. We’re not boiling the carrots here, so only a few will be submerged.

I threw some raisins in the pan, another nice complement to carrots, but you don’t have to.

carrots and raisens

Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce the heat so that a steady, rapid simmer continues in the pan. It will take about 15 minutes, give or take, for the liquid to reduce and carrots to approach tenderness. At this point, you want to remove the cover and add in some maple syrup. Everything is better with maple. But there’s no need to get carried away with it, as carrots have a bit of sweetness on their own.

From there, it’s just another couple of minutes before the carrots are ready for dinner. Or snacking, because, like me, you just might want to eat them right out of the pan and that’s okay too.

carrots finished

 

Rutabaga Potato Mash

Like you, I’m sure, there are certain members of my family that are set in their ways – refusing to eat certain foods because they either don’t know what they are or had them once, usually years ago, and didn’t like them.

Then comes Thanksgiving – an opportunity for progress, a time to introduce a new food here and there and make some change. No, it’s not always successful. The banana sweet potato combo just didn’t fly a few years back. Another year I was told I ruined the entire meal altogether. In hindsight, there may have been too many foreign foods that time around and I interfered with too many “traditions.”

rutabaga peel

Regardless, I continue on this tireless crusade anyway, reminding myself that these family dinners are only an occasional happening these days. And introducing new foods can actually be quite simple.

rutabaga cut

I’ve served this extraordinarily easy rutabaga and potato mash at several holiday dinners now and, though I hate to play the “gotcha” game, almost no one notices the rutabaga unless I tell them. They just think they’re eating really good potatoes.
The rutabaga, peeled, roughly chopped, boiled and mashed at the same ratio to potato, adds a depth and earthiness that most mashed potatoes alone lack. People love them. It’s usually at that point that I tell them the reason why they love them is the rutabaga. Surprise! You like this fairly unpopular root vegetable and you didn’t even know.
rutabaga mash

If health factors are a motivator to start incorporating rutabaga into your mashed potatoes, or any of your cooking, you’ll be happy to know that they’re full of antioxidants, fiber, zinc and more.

Rutabaga Potato Mash

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6, as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rutabaga
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper
  • chopped parsley or chives for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Heat a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. While waiting, peel the rutabaga and potato.
  2. Chop both vegetables into one inch pieces, keeping separate.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the rutabaga to the pot. Cook for 15 minutes then add the potato and cook another 10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Drain. Let sit for a couple of minutes then mash with the butter, salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Bean, Green & Grain Salad

We’ve talked about cooking with grains in the past. If you don’t recall, here is a chart of how to cook 10 common grains for your reference.

September_Handout-2

And cooking dried beans was another past topic in the post on RAFL’s Everyday Cehf titled A Beginner’s Guide to Dried Beans.

beans
spinach-2

What I love about this recipe is that everything is interchangeable. Use the grains, beans and type of greens that you like most or have on hand – it doesn’t matter.

Serve it hot or cold, as a side or main dish, vegetarian or chock full of bacon. (If you go the bacon route try a maple smoked variety – adds some amazing flavor.) It’s all up to what you like and want to do. And in the end, you can even top it with your preferred dressing.

bacon1


Bean, Green & Grain Salad

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces of spinach or other spring greens
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or your favorite bean variety
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or your favorite grain variety

If using bacon: Heat a skillet on medium heat and add chopped bacon. Fry until golden brown, then remove bacon with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel, keeping the bacon drippings in the pan.

If not using bacon: Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Add onions and mushrooms to the pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and
spinach and stir for 2-3 minutes, until spinach is wilted down.

Add in beans and quinoa. Turn off heat and stir in bacon (if used). Serve as a main entree or side dish. Dress with your favorite dressing for extra flavor, if desired.

bean-grain-and-green-salad