Pan-Fried Cauliflower + Shishito Peppers + Marinated Olives

Eric and I just returned from a whirlwind, week-long trip through Texas. With stops in Austin, El Paso, and San Antonio, we managed to cover a lot of ground. One thing I learned in Texas: I can eat tacos every. single. day. So many tacos. We even tried San Antonio’s famous puffy taco. But now that we’re home, it’s time to detox and eat some vegetables.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (5)

I went a little overboard at the grocery store when we got back and bought nearly every single vegetable in the produce aisle. I had to take stock yesterday of what we had in the fridge and come up with a plan to use it all. First stop: pan-roasted cauliflower with many good things on top.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (6)

In other news, Eric and I were talking the other day about this whole gluten debate after watching this Jimmy Kimmel clip revealing the absurdity of the gluten-free trend. As always needs to be said, this absurdity does not extend to those who have celiac disease. Nonetheless, all this talk about gluten got me thinking about what a wonderful community of bacteria and enzymes I have in my gut. I am literally tolerant of everything. I eat street food in the most exotic of destinations, and I can eat anything under the sun that my little heart desires – without consequences. When I see the problems that others have with their guts, I realize how lucky I am with my little community in there.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (4)

So, this recipe. We’ve got cauliflower, of course, but also shishito peppers (shishito peppers!!), radishes, red chiles, and even garlic scapes (garlic scapes!!). Shishito peppers are one of those foods… you know the ones… if I see it on a menu, I have to order it. If I see it at Joong Boo, I have to buy it. Same goes for garlic scapes, garlic chives, ramps, or any other iteration of garlic or its family members. Thus, put these things together and you get a real winner.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (2)

Pan-Fried Cauliflower + Shishito Peppers + Marinated Olives

For the marinated olives:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced into thick chunks
1/4 cup garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
4-5 pieces of shaved lemon peel
7-8 sprigs of fresh thyme or 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/2 cup castelvetrano olives (or any other variety)

For the rest:

2 fresh red chiles, finely sliced
1 small head cauliflower, sliced
15ish shishito peppers, or more or less according to your liking
handful chopped, roasted peanuts
5-6 radishes, finely sliced
juice of 1 lemon
salt + pepper to taste

To make the marinated olives, combine the olive oil, garlic, scapes, lemon peel, and fresh herbs in a large pan over medium-low heat. Let the oil warm and infuse the flavors for ~5 minutes. Add the olives, stirring to coat them. Turn off the heat and transfer the olives and oil to a jar or other container. You can keep all the flavoring ingredients in the mix if that’s easier.

Without washing the pan, turn the heat to medium-high heat and combine the chiles, cauliflower, and shishito peppers in the pan. Add more of the flavored olive oil if needed. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and allow the cauliflower and peppers to cook until the cauliflower is browned and the shishito peppers are blistered. When this happens, turn off the heat, top with radishes, peanuts, a bunch of marinated olives and fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust for seasoning and serve.

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Kale, Tomato, and Cheese Curd Salad

[Please excuse the poorly-lit iPhone photos.]

I stopped by the farmer’s market this weekend to pick up some peppers for our Sunday afternoon of pickling and canning. In the process, I came across these cute little cherry tomatoes. And kale. And in my search for some type of cheese to throw into this evolving salad, I bought some cheese curds.

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It may seem like a strange combo, but it was really tasty. Be careful when adding the salt because cheese curds are pretty salty already. Eric and I ate this, walked around the neighborhood a bit, then came back and canned 13 jars worth of pickles and pickled peppers. If they turn out like I think they will, I’ll share the recipe on here.

Eric also got his first lesson in mandolin technique when slicing the cucumbers. About two minutes after I showed him how to use it and warned him to be very careful not to chop his finger off – you guessed it – he sliced the top of his finger off. The cukes were fine, though, and so was he. As for me, my eyes burned putting my contacts in this morning from the pepper oils that are still on my fingers, but I think it will be worth it.

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Kale, Tomato, and Cheese Curd Salad

1 bunch Lacinato kale, finely shredded
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup squeaky cheese curds, chopped into small chunks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh cayenne pepper or other spicy pepper, minced
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, kale, and cheese curds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pepper, and lemon. Dress the salad to your liking and season to taste with salt.

Buckwheat Groat “Taco Salad”

I’ve been cooking so much and posting so little. It’s a serious shame – look at some of the amazing things coming out of my kitchen!

Yogurt and spelt flour biscuits…

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Avocado with seeds and cumin…

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Mango with sweet sticky rice…

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Broiled rainbow trout…

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Tomato and wheat germ soup…

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Blackened salmon with black bean salad…

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Also, look at my cute husband! This mural is splashed across a building near our house, so we pass it often. We call it our favorite mural.

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And finally, the title of this post… buckwheat groat “taco salad”! Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been loving buckwheat as of late. The groats are just as good as the flour and cook up super easy.

Buckwheat is actually not related to wheat at all. It has a really unique flavor unlike other grains or rice. It’s almost sweet. The “groat” part of the equation refers to the fact that the grain is whole and that it has not been stripped of the bran, endosperm, or germ. So basically, the grain contains all the great nutrition it was “born” with.

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Buckwheat Groat “Taco Salad”

1 cup uncooked buckwheat groats
assortment of veggies – I had a red pepper, onion, broccoli, and zucchini
1 avocado
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
dash of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
feta cheese
greek yogurt

Cook the buckwheat groats like you would rice; use 2 cups of water for 1 cup of groats.

Heat the oven to 400 and coat the veggies in olive oil and salt and pepper. I chose not to roast the zucchini and left it raw, but the pepper, broccoli, and onion were all roasted. Dice the avocado and set aside.

When all the components are ready, mix together with the olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Top with feta cheese and a glob of greek yogurt.

Asian Wonton Soup

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Yes, another soup. I can’t get soup recipes out of my head right now. I do have some other good stuff to post, so I will promise you this: no more soup recipes! At least for a little while.

I think my obsession with soup right now  goes right along with my inability to get out of bed in the morning. All summer, I was getting up at 5 or 6 in the morning to go to spin class or go for a run, but ever since the mornings have gotten darker and the weather colder, I am hoarding every minute of sleep. I make excuses to push snooze one more time; it’s very easy to rationalize sleeping just a little bit longer when your eyes are closed and your brain is only half functioning. Even as I’m walking out the door to go to work, I’m still thinking about my warm, comfy bed. My down comforter. My cozy, cuddly kitties. This cold weather is messing with me – my sleep habits and my appetite – and yet again I’m asking myself why I still live in the Midwest.

Anyway, I recently bought wonton wrappers at the store to try out one of those ravioli recipes I see everywhere; they were so easy to use and I had leftovers, so I thought an Asian dumpling soup would be great. If I had any, I would’ve thrown some greens in the pot – spinach or Chinese broccoli – but sometimes you just have to make do with what is in the fridge.

This soup was really fantastic. Eric really liked it too, and this time he didn’t add the “then again, I’m starving” afterthought to the sentence. It was perfect after an extra hard spin class last night – after who-knows-how-many squats, I walked in to spin looking for a low-resistance cardio workout. Instead, our instructor informed us we were going to max out Watts – in spin speak, this means high resistance, fast legs, trying to push your power output (measured in Watts on the spin computer) as high as humanly possible. It’s a tough, tough workout, and my legs were not willing to push my Watts much higher than 300 at first (as a point of reference, my usual spin class average is 160-170, pushing 250 in the intense parts and coming down lower during recovery). This is not much higher than normal for me, and since the intensity bursts are so short, I should have been killing this workout. After a while, though, my legs got used to the spinning motion and I managed to push up to 525 Watts at one point, even if it only was for 5 to 10 seconds. Whew. You really feel whipped and accomplished at the end of those workouts.

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Asian Dumpling Soup

an original recipe – this makes a pretty large pot of soup; halve it if you prefer

12 cups beef stock
10 – 15 wonton wrappers
1 red pepper, sliced or chopped however you prefer
½ package baby bella or white button mushrooms, sliced
2.5 ounces soba noodles (in the package I bought, the noodles are separated into 3 bundles – I used one bundle)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
½ teaspoon fish sauce
½ pound ground pork
slivers of sliced green onion
salt and pepper to taste

First, get all your veggies chopped and ready. Sauté the ginger and garlic in some neutral tasting vegetable oil for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms and red pepper. Sauté a couple minutes longer, then pour in the stock and let it warm up – almost to a boil.

Meanwhile, make the wontons. Combine the pork, granulated garlic, granulated onion, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Spoon a small dollop in the center of the wonton wrapper. You don’t want to add too much – otherwise they won’t cook through or the wonton won’t close. Wet the edges and form a little pocket – the corn starch that coats the wrapper will make it stick together.

When the soup is almost to a boil, add the black beans and wontons. Cook for just a couple minutes, then add the soba noodles. When the soba noodles are soft – about a minute – take off the heat and serve garnished with green onions. If it needs salt, add at this point.

You might be left with some pork – we just formed them into balls and baked them like meatballs!

The dumplings are really versatile. I think in the future, I’d mix it up a bit by adding green onion or maybe shaved carrots and ginger to the pork filling. Even some shrimp would be really good in there. A dash of fish sauce in the body of the soup might be nice, also. Play around with the veggie combinations and try not adding the soba noodles.

Roasted Poblano Soup

I am posting this recipe with a warning: be careful how much spice you add! I, in my infinite wisdom, added one whole pepper – it was a pepper I’ve never used before, but I thought it looked ‘cool’ in the market, stupidly using the entire thing in one soup without knowing just how hot it was. Well, I’ll tell you, it was HOT. Two weeks later, my lips are still burning. Eric wouldn’t even touch the soup after a couple bites. Sounds like a winner of a recipe, eh?

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Well, the thing is, despite that quick-hitting and lingering heat, the flavor of the soup was really fantastic. Peppers and chiles, especially poblano peppers, are really among my favorite foods – especially after our trip to New Mexico last year. So it’s really easy to make this soup edible – just add less hot pepper!

Also – it seems as if I have one excuse after the other for not updating this blog enough. My current excuse – and probably the same excuse I’ve been using for a while – is I am obsessed with honeymoon planning right now. After hours and hours of online research, we have decided to cut out our trip to Cambodia. 😦 Eric and I are both very sad about this, but we decided to prioritize and focus so that we could maximize our other experiences in SE Asia; our priority = wildlife/outdoors/nature. Ancient temples? I can only imagine how amazing they are, but we’ll have to wait until our next trip to the region to explore them. We also cut out Thailand almost entirely except for a couple nights in Bangkok. This gives us 6 full days in Hanoi to explore the City and Halong Bay; TWO weeks in Borneo to explore Deer Cave and Mulu National Park (have you seen Planet Earth? the bat poop cave? yes – we decided bat poop was more important than ancient Angkor temples), Danum Valley rain forest, and Sipadan island (supposedly some of the best diving in the world, though we will only be snorkeling); and 6 full days in Bali to do whatever the heck we feel like. Of course – we don’t go anywhere without at least a loose itinerary – I can’t help it, it’s my nature as a planner. So, in Bali, I’m planning a day in Kuta – the famed surfing town loved by many Australians (just one night, and just for the experience), a couple days to explore Ubud (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) and the north/eastern coasts of Bali, then a few days hiking to the crater rim of Mount Rinjani on Lombok. Maybe, maybe if time permits, we’ll spend a day on the Gili Islands.

And well, I’m sure most of those names mean nothing to you. Just Google the names for pictures – you’ll see why I’m obsessed!

Wow, this post is long – here’s the recipe.

Creamy, Spicy Roasted Poblano Soup

adapted from Serious Eats
*I added a big dose of spinach to this soup to up the health ante and used greek yogurt instead of Mexican crema – same effect, less indulgent*

4-5 large poblano peppers
1 jalapeno, seeded and membranes removed
4-5 cloves garlic
1 medium white onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
big handful cilantro (scientific, I know) (original calls for epazote, which I did not have)
really big bunch of spinach
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup greek yogurt or Mexican crema
tortilla or corn chips or corn tortillas

Roast the poblanos over an open flame, or if you don’t have a gas stove top, roast them in the oven until blistered and black. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic to let the skins steam off.

Roughly chop the onions and garlic and start sauteing in a soup pan in the olive oil – until onion is transparent. It doesn’t matter if they’re finely chopped at this point – everything will be blended. Toss in the jalapeno and cumin and cook a couple minutes longer.

Meanwhile, remove the skins and seeds from the poblanos. Toss those in the pot as well. Stir everything around and let the cumin coat all the veggies, then dump in the stock. Bring this to a boil then let simmer for five minutes. Take the soup off the heat and add the spinach, yogurt, and cilantro. If you have an immersion blender, just blend everything together in the pot; otherwise, transfer to a blender. Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning accordingly.

If using tortillas, cut in to strips and fry them in a bit of canola or vegetable oil until crisp. Place the crispy strips or chips on top of the soup with another dollop of yogurt/crema.