Monday, October 27, 2014

I had a doozy of a day today. Starting with the coffee I forgot to drink until it was barely tepid. (In case you're wondering, cold coffee just doesn't cut it when you're running on five hours of sleep.) Moving right along to a morning knee deep in spreadsheets and other unpleasantries. 

Heading into the afternoon with the realization that I had forgotten my lunch and my apple at home. Lunch, for the record, is simply a protein bar. But still. One does need one's mid-day calories.

And topping it off with the unfortunate realization - as I walked in the door of the house exhausted and cranky - that I had forgotten to wash the dishes this morning.

But the day was miraculously cured of all doozi-ness when my darling 5-year-old princess ran off the school bus and into my arms and announced: "Mommy, you are the best Mommy ever." It's the small things. Oh, and it went uphill from there, ending with a small piece of apple pie that had miraculously survived the kids, and - yes, in that order - a plateful of roasted cauliflower. Simply prepared but wow. Really hit the spot. 

Simplest Roasted Cauliflower
There really is nothing much to this recipe. Please use the best ingredients you can get your hands on: super fresh cauliflower (I'm partial to purple and yellow), fine olive oil and vinegar, and lovely salt. This recipe calls for one head of cauliflower, but I actually made two batches, one with each color. 

1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and broken into even size florets, 1-2 inches each
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon sea salt
pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425*. 

In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, 3 tablespoons of the oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Mix well (I use my hands). 

Spread the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the oven to 350* and roast for about 15 minutes more, till the cauliflower is soft and getting a bit glazed. 

In a small cup, whisk together the remaining tablespoon of oil and the vinegar. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and immediately pour on the vinaigrette. Gently toss to combine. Serve hot, warm, room temperature, or even cold. 

Posted on Monday, October 27, 2014 by Rivki Locker


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Promise you won't hold this against me. I'm a person who tends to get just a tad carried away with her hobbies. Like, I like reading cookbooks so I own 134 of them.   

I like technology so I own two iPads, an iMac, a MacBook, and an iPhone. 

I am somewhat obsessed with redheads too (I am one) but I try not to collect them. Generally. Anyway, I like to think my obsessions make me charming. Lovable. Interesting. 

Others in my family like to say I'm eccentric. Obsessed. Weird. (That was my five-year-old's choice of words. Later she told me I'm the best Mommy in the world. Go figure.) 

One hobby that I'm not apologizing for is my knife and pot collection. I love cooking, and I love for it to be comfortable. Sure, I could make do with a rusty old knife and a battered pot. But it's so much more fun to use a pretty Japanese knife. Or even my simple but fantastic paring knife. And of course, my Le Creuset pot. (Or, pictured above, almost as fantastic, my Lodge cast iron Dutch oven.)

Creamy Celery Soup
This recipe makes about six servings. It's a light soup, so I find we enjoy large servings. This is one of those soups that I prefer with water, rather than stock. It allows the subtle flavors of the celery and dill to shine. 

2 tablespoons oil 
1 onion, chopped
8-10 medium cloves garlic, chopped
5-6 cups chopped celery (from about 3 heads)
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped 
¼ cup chopped dill, plus a bit more for garnish
about 4 cups of water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion for about five minutes, till soft. Add the garlic and celery and sauté for another five minutes or so till your kitchen is fragrant. 

Add the potato and dill, and mix well. 

Add about 4 cups of water, more or less, enough to JUST cover the vegetables. Add the salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. 

Lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. If possible, let the soup cool for ½ hour before transferring to a food processor or blender. (You can also use a stick blender if you prefer.) Puree till smooth. 

Reheat gently, adding water if the soup is too thick, and seasonings as needed. 

Serve hot, garnished with dill if desired. 

Posted on Saturday, October 11, 2014 by Rivki Locker


Sunday, October 5, 2014

If I was allowed to write about toenails on a food blog, I would have a good story to tell. But sadly, my kids have ruled this topic off limits.  

They are convinced that writing about finding toenails in weird random places in your home might get people nauseated, or turn them off from your recipes. 

Or that they might make people think you have a dysfunctional family. I mean, who finds toenails in random places? 

So I won't. Write about toenails, I mean. I'll just jump right to this very appealing not at all nauseating kale salad. Without further ado.  

Kale Salad with Apples, Hazelnuts and Acorn Squash
This recipe is adapted slightly from Food52

1 acorn squash
1 bunch kale, cut in ribbons
2 scallions, sliced thin
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
kosher salt to tast
1 green apple, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped and toasted

Preheat the oven to 350*. Wash and dry the squash and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.

Bake the squash for about ½ hour, more or less, till it 'gives' a little when you squeeze it. You want it slightly softened so the cutting is easier, but not baked through.

Remove the squash from the oven and turn the oven up to 400*.

Use a large knife to cut the squash from stem to pole, making two symmetrical halves. Let them sit on the counter, cut side up, for about ten minutes so they are cool enough to handle.

Use a metal spoon to scoop out the seeds and wet pulp. Discard them.Peel the squash with a paring knife. Cut the squash into wedges or chunks. 

Spread 1 tablespoon olive oil on a baking sheet and spread the squash in one layer. Brush some more oil on the squash and sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, mixing here and there, till browning. Remove from the oven and cool. 

Meanwhile, put the kale and scallions in a large bowl. Add the oil, vinegar, and salt. 

Use your hands (wear gloves if you like) to massage the dressing into the kale until it's well coated and you can feel the kale softening and wilting a bit. This will take 2-3 minutes. Set the salad aside. 

Immediately before serving, add the apples, hazelnuts and squash to the salad and toss to combine. 

Posted on Sunday, October 05, 2014 by Rivki Locker

1 comment

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guilt. It's a mother's curse. My day started with guilt over making my son wait out for the bus on a cold, cold fall morning. 

Guilt over not wanting to drive him when the bus never showed up. Guilt over giving in - and then changing my mind - to his pleas to take a lazy day off. 

I moved onto guilt over not giving into my 5-year-old's begging and pleading for an adorable and pricey set of dolls. And then a bit of guilt over making a dinner main dish that two of my four kids wouldn't touch. 

And now - to top it off - I'm experiencing blogger's guilt. Guilt that I didn't photograph this soup while it was in the making. Guilt over depriving you of photos of that big beautiful cutting board spilling over with ripe, juicy tomatoes. 

I was harried. And hassled. And still feeling bad about our bad start to the day. Sorry, folks. To make up for it, here's an amazing recipe from the amazing Bountiful cookbook. It made my kids happy (they ALL LOVED IT! It was a miracle!) and I hope it'll make you happy. 

This is a new favorite, direct from the authors of the White on Rice food blog

Cream of FRESH Tomato Soup adapted just a bit from Bountiful
Yes, this requires fresh tomatoes. Preferably summer ones that are fresh and inexpensive. I bought 8 pounds of local tomatoes for $3.50 in the 'reduced' bin. They were perfectly ripe and quite a steal. Please don't use canned tomatoes or dried herbs for this recipe; wait till next summer if you missed the season. Note that this makes a LARGE batch, enough for about 10 small bowls. It's a heavy soup, so small bowls will probably do just fine for you. They did for us. (Although we did lick the bowls clean.) 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, chopped fine
8 lb tomatoes (I used a combination of beefsteak and plum), cut in chunks
1 cup vegetable stock 
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
3-4 tablespoons brown sugar (depends how sweet your tomatoes are)
1 to 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt (to taste)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup milk

In a very large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion for a minute or two, then add the celery and sauté for another couple of minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, parsley and basil. Mix well and turn up to high till it comes to a boil. Turn down the heat and cook for 10-15 minutes (longer if your tomatoes were firm-ish). 

Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for about ½ hour if you can, so you are not working with dangerously hot soup. Transfer the soup in batches to a food processor or blender and puree till totally smooth. 

Return the soup to the pot and warm it gently over a medium-low flame. 

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Ladle a bit of the hot soup into the roux. Stir to combine and then pour the entire mixture back into the tomato soup. Add the sugar, salt, cream and milk. Stir well and taste. Correct seasonings as needed. 

Serve warm. 

NOTE: Leftovers last for a few days in the fridge and also freeze REALLY well. 

Posted on Wednesday, October 01, 2014 by Rivki Locker