Cauliflower Mascarpone Gratin

Cauliflower Mascarpone Tart

Are you the type of Thanksgiving cook (and/or eater) who expects to sit down to the same lineup of food from year to year or do you like to get a little bit crazy and try something completely new every time?

I’ve learned that there are definitely two distinct – and very personal – approaches to getting the holiday menu together. I recognize one, the tried-and-trues, as the keepers of family traditions; rational, organized, intelligent souls who keep things simple (doable) and predictable (foolproof).  Which makes a lot of sense. How else to organize 10, 20 or more people around a dining table and keep the peace?

I count myself in the other, open-to-experiment camp. While I’ve never ditched the turkey altogether and made fish instead (as Debra did to much disappointment in one episode of Everybody Loves Raymond) I like to play with vegetables and entertain ideas on how to handle the turkey (shall we bone it, brine it, spice it, tie it up and smoke it?).

I’ll be sharing a few of my ideas for vegetable side dishes over the next week, nothing too wild and crazy. But maybe something to mix up the usual suspects.

In the meantime, leave me a note and share your family favorites, old or new.

Cauliflower Mascarpone Gratin

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower, separated into florets

1 tablespoon softened butter

1 8-ounce container Wisconsin Mascarpone cheese

3/4 cup heavy cream

½ cup Wisconsin grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh sage

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly grated black pepper

Instructions

  1. Blanch the cauliflower in a pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes; drain.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 7 x 11 gratin dish with butter; arrange cauliflower in dish.
  3. Stir together Mascarpone, cream, ¼ cup Parmesan,sage, garlic, salt and black pepper to taste until smooth; pour over cauliflower. Sprinkle top with remaining Parmesan.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, or until top is browned and sauce is bubbling. Rest 15 minutes, loosely covered, before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/cauliflower-mascarpone-gratin/

Tuscan Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Somewhere along the line I got into a habit of eating my daily greens, and by daily I mean All Day, even starting at breakfast with a little pile of leafy greens near, under or around my poached egg. Sometimes it’s baby arugula or maybe washed salad greens leftover from dinner the night before.

I have a favorite method of quickly cooking my greens Italian-style, but this here kale salad might be my favorite way to eat them just plain raw. It’s easy to put together and the sturdy kale leaves hold up so well with the lemony-Parmesan dressing you could even make it hours ahead of time with no fear of a wilted soggy salad – in fact, it only improves matters.

You’ll probably love the roasted chickpeas as much as I do – they garnish the salad very nicely but become an addictive (and yes, healthy) little snack all by themselves.

If you can’t find Tuscan kale – which is also called Lacinato, cavolo nero, black or Dinosaur kale – regular curly kale will do.

Tuscan kale with roasted chickpeas

Tuscan Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Yield: 4 servings, or one salad for 1 hungry person

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, drained

1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton)

Kosher salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 big lemon, zested and juiced

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

1 small garlic clove, smashed and chopped

Pinch Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes

1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems trimmed and washed

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the chickpeas on a small rimmed baking sheet with the Pimenton, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast the chickpeas for 10 - 12 minutes - they should smell good and become a little bit crunchy.
  3. Whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons oil with the lemon zest and juice, cheese, garlic and red pepper. Taste and season with a pinch of salt if you think it needs some.
  4. Roughly tear the kale leaves into pieces and blot with a clean towel if they're dripping wet; put into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss the leaves with your hands so that they're evenly coated - your hands will taste yummy.
  5. Serve the salad with some of the chickpeas spooned over the top and sprinkled with curls of Parmesan, if you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/02/tuscan-kale-salad-with-roasted-chickpeas/

popovers with black pepper, chives & parmesan

FamilyStyle Food

Last week I attended a conference for food professionals {IACP} in Portland, one of my very favorite cities for eating and living well. What a great experience – with so many people representing a huge array of expertise in the field of food and cooking, the exchange of information is amazing and energizing; I love that we all have something to learn from each other.

I found myself sitting next to pastry chef Cindy Mushet during one session. Cindy is the author of  the award-winning The Art & Soul of Baking, a big door stopper of a book. I have to admit it’s not one I invite into bed with me since it must weigh in at more than five pounds, way too unwieldy to perch on my teetering pile on the bedside table.

But the other day I needed to get busy baking something, so I flipped through it; there’s lots to learn in there, the book is full of beautiful photos and basic techniques as well as some advanced recipe variations for more adventerous bakers.

I wasn’t feeling like spending the whole day baking, so when I saw a recipe for Parmesan Herb popovers I was all in. Popovers are the best at delivering bang for the buck; minimal ingredients, time and technique but big on the “wow” factor.

FamilyStyle Food

They are also delicious. Warm out of the oven and popped into your mouth they have a crisp exterior and a soft, almost creamy interior. Popovers are commonly sweet, but I like the idea of savory ones to serve instead of  the usual rolls or bread for a dinner party. Popovers are so easy to make at the last minute, and you can flavor them however you like.

I took Cindy’s basic recipe and tweaked it by adding freshly cracked black pepper, lemon zest and some of the chives that are blooming in big clumps in my yard right now.

While my popovers rose impressively, I noticed when I cut one open that they weren’t hollow inside as popovers typically are, but had a more substance. I might have to make another batch to practice my baking science, since I’m not sure why that happened. Did I use too much flour? Don’t know, but they were still light and delicious to eat.

Popovers with Black Pepper, Chives & Parmesan

Yield: 12 popovers

Ingredients

2 cups milk

4 eggs

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 scant cups flour (10 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat a 12-cup popover pan or muffin tin with melted butter or oil.
  3. Whisk together the milk, eggs and butter in a large bowl until blended. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Place the empty pan in the oven to heat for 7 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and fill the cups evenly with the batter (this is less messy if you transfer batter to a 4 cup liquid measuring cup).
  5. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking until the popovers are deep golden brown, 15 - 18 more minutes.
  6. Cool briefly in the pan before removing and serving. You can reheat cooled popovers in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/05/popovers-with-black-pepper-chives-parmesan/