Salad, Gluten Free, Winter, Side

SPICED CAULIFLOWER SALAD

I don't always love cooking. I have my moments; usually when it's quiet or late at night, but some days I just have to get people nourished and it doesn't need to be beautiful. I've started working as a personal chef for a family, am teaching a few private cooking classes and picked up a couple recipe development jobs this month so there has just been a lot of food. I'm on the brink of too much of a good thing. Prior to my babies there was more free time, more quiet, no picky eaters, a looser grocery budget, fewer interruptions. We had to eat, I was still always around food for work and I'd use all the white space of my thoughts thinking of something different I could create. Cooking as a passion was approached differently because it wasn't sharing the space with my beloved wee people. I am not the same person or cook I was 3, 4 or 5 years ago when I started our first book for a plethora of reasons, but I see glimpses of the catalyst that brought me to what I am doing now. I love to feed other people. 

Hugh and I hosted a fundraising dinner with Aran Goyoaga in Seattle last weekend and it couldn't have gone better. At least as far as I was concerned. We sold all 20 seats quickly and the guests were lovely people, all of whom I wanted to pack in my bag and take home to be my friends. Aran's studio is calm and magical and she drafted a menu that was absolutely delicious. Both her and her husband make sourdough at home, so we had loaves of that. She made Heidi Swansons' red lentil hummus and we cobbled together a cheese platter with the necessary accoutrements. There was a salad of beets and roasted fennel with fresh mixed citrus, radicchio and avocado whose colors were striking. Neither Aran or I are the measuring type, so we seasoned and sprinkled and chopped as we went. It was the most enjoyable time I have had cooking in a long time. Perhaps because my wee people weren't underfoot ;) I remembered that I actually really love it as opposed to it feeling like the chore it has been lately. We roasted cauliflower with sumac and dried thyme and coriander and put it on a platter with a swipe of whole greek yogurt with some greens, pine nuts and a drizzle of tahini on top. I am making a guess at the recipe below as a guideline for you but you'll have to use your intuition on seasonings and timing too. There was a cozy vegetarian tagine with apricot couscous. The first time I've ever made it but not the last - a great and affordable dinner option. We finished with Aran's perfect meringues with fresh passion fruit and a creamy lemon curd. In the end we fed and were fed, and donated a few thousand dollars to the IRC who is doing great work. My heart is full.

Thank you for provision donations: Chef Steps, California Olive Ranch, Citrus from Farming Villa Vista and Zozo Bakery

Spiced Cauliflower Salad // Serves 4 as a side

We served this room temperature. Warm would be nice while not necessary, though the greens will wilt under the heat, but I wouldn't suggest cold. This recipe is loose, you'll have to tailor it to taste. I listed za'atar, which is a blend of a few spices, but you could use sumac, dried thyme and some sesame seeds individually if that is what you have. 
You could double this easily if you like leftovers or are feeding more than four. You will not need to double the yogurt and will probably need a little more oil to coat the cauliflower. If you need this to be vegan, simply eliminate the yogurt.

1 large head cauliflower
2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. coriander
1 Tbsp. za'atar
dried or fresh thyme
dash or two of cayenne

1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
zest of one lemon
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

scant 1 cup whole milk greek yogurt
handful or tender greens
1/4 cup+ toasted pinenuts
pomegranate seeds, if in season

Preheat the oven to 400'. Break up the cauliflower florets, discarding the core. Pieces should be about half dollar size. Pile them on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, coriander, za'atar, thyme, cayenne and toss everything together well to combine. Use a little more olive oil if needed, everything should be well coated. Spread it in an even layer on the sheet pan and roast in the upper third of the oven for about 30 minutes. The cauliflower should be tender and browned in parts. Set aside. 

In a bowl, whisk together the tahini and water. Then whisk in the olive oil, honey, vinegar, lemon zest, pepper flakes and a few pinches of salt and pepper.

To assemble your dish, put a generous swipe of greek yogurt along the bottom and top with a few handfuls of the greens. Top with the roasted cauliflower and drizzle with the tahini sauce. Top with toasted pinenuts and pomegranate seeds if you can find them. Some golden raisins would be a nice alternative. 

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Gluten Free, Salad, Side, Winter

VEGAN CAESAR WITH SMOKY NUT CRUMBLE

So this started as a ripped page from Food&Wine. The piece was called All Well & Good, covering Sakara, the fancy plant-based meal delivery service popular in the Los Angeles area. The ladies who own it contributed a few recipes and their Kale-and-Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad intrigued me, so I kept the page in the side pocket of my car (where all keepsakes and important paperwork are best stored). Caesar is the historical origin of my love of salads. As a teenager, my Dad and I used to go on dates to the Chart House solely for a visit to their salad bar with freshly tossed Caesar and a slice of Key Lime Pie. So I got to it the other day. The only way to purge torn out recipes is to try them and eliminate I suppose. I started tinkering as soon as I made their crumble (the gluten free / dairy free sub for croutons in the classic). They called for sweet paprika, I stock smoked. The crumble seemed a little dry, so I added a drizzle of oil to help it clump a bit. The dressing called for half an avocado which I also didn't have so I subbed in cashew butter and water and then ended up merging with the Oh She Glows Caesar recipe which I love as well and here we are. I understand this is more a recipe for a dressing than a stand alone salad but I think it can take additions well. And I forget that sometimes salads don't need to have a bunch of stuff in them to still be good. If you have the ingredients, your food processor is already out for the dressing so you might as well make the crumble for intrigue. It takes minutes. I added some leftover grilled salmon to my bowl, or Hugh has been using the dressing as a sandwich spread. This makes way more crumble than you will need for the salad and I've been sprinkling it on top of roasted vegetables for an interesting finish. It has a cheesy flavor from the nutritional yeast and a bacon-y tone from the smoked paprika...I mean that in a good way. I'm going to make the salad for friends later this week and plan to add some crispy garbanzo beans on top like Angela does with the crumble for more crunch. Anyway, below is where I landed, and hopefully it can be a staple for you too. 

VEGAN CAESAR WITH SMOKY NUT CRUMBLE // Serves 4-6
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine and Oh She Glows

I keep my nutritional yeast in the fridge. It lasts longer this way. You can buy it online or at any health food store. If that sounds fussy to you and you don't care about the vegan element here, you can use finely grated parmesan in it's place for both the crumble and dressing. 
I use a food processor but a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix works great too. The dressing will keep a week covered in the fridge. 

crumble
3/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. smoked paprika (or sweet is fine if you don't want the smokiness)
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt, to taste
 

dressing
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/3 cup water
1-2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. capers
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I may have used a little more but I like it lemony)
pinch of fresh parsley leaves
1/4 tsp. sea salt and pepper to taste

1 head of romaine, chopped
1 large head of tuscan kale, stemmed and chopped

Make the crumble. In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. It should start to stick together a little bit. Transfer the crumble to a bowl and wipe out the processor.
For the dressing, into the processor, puree the ingredients until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. Add a splash of lemon juice or water if it looks too thick. 
Place the chopped greens in a large bowl and drizzle desired amount of dressing. Toss to coat. Serve with a sprinkle of the crumble on top. 



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Breakfast, Bread, Fall, Gluten Free, Snack, Winter

ROSEMARY ALMOND MEAL BREAD

A friend brought me this loaf after I had Cleo, over a year ago now, and I still think about it. She was very much a fast food girl in a season of taking care of herself - in part by learning to cook and eat cleaner, so it felt even more special. A loaf made of mostly ground almonds, flaxmeal, eggs, a few other pantry staples and studded with bits of fresh herbs. I would slice and toast it and spread a thin coat of coconut oil or butter on top and it was heaven to a tired and overwhelmed spirit at the time. Food has a beautiful way of evoking memories. I can remember how I felt, where I was, the state of our home with muslin swaddles drapped over every chair and pacifiers that my baby had no interest in but I kept trying for the chance at quiet. I remember that there was always a child in my arms when I think about eating that loaf. I did a quick search online and found what is pretty close if not exact to what I remember of the recipe she texted to me a year ago. I liked it that much, my photographic memory could recall the ingredients, just not the amounts. Anyway. I made it again yesterday and we did the same. Nibbled on it through the day and then I made it again the next day because I had some lost time to make up for. 
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In other important news, I am roping you guys in on my resolution to be a better lover of people. That's a general goal, I know, as the scale for that is short and long and deep and wide as you all know in your own lives. That can mean my own family or people I may never have any contact with. I am planning to host a couple dinners to raise money for charities that need more resources to fund the good work they are doing. I figure that instead of just donating money, I can put that money towards hosting a meal and then multiply those funds with the help of the guests. I want my feet on the ground too, but I have to start somewhere and this is a way I can do something by way of this platform. My hope is to gather with different, compassionate people to stir conversation and awareness and raise funding for organizations who have their hands in there getting shit done. The fact that dinner will be served is secondary; food merely being the glue that binds us. The price tag is high, but keep in mind this is to raise money. That is the focus. Given the present state of affairs, I am going to be donating all proceeds to the International Rescue Committee who respond to the world's worst humanitarian crises. I don't know how the fine details of all of this are going to go, but for now, I am planning to host two, twenty person dinners. The tickets are available on the Shop tab on the left side. If you don't live close, perhaps we could get a fire started to host dinners like this in other cities. Anyway, long overdue but here we go.

ROSEMARY ALMOND MEAL BREAD // Makes one 9x5 loaf
Recipe adapted from Mind Body Green

This loaf is to resemble a savory bread, not a sweet loaf, even though the texture makes you think of one. That said, it can take savory additions: chopped sun dried tomatoes, feta, olives, lemon zest, a micro-planed clove of garlic or bits of dried fruit if you'd rather go that direction. I am giving you the base recipe and trust you can manage the add ins, no more than 1/3 cup would be my suggestion. The subtlety here is part of the loafs' charm. 
The loaf is best day one. Still delicious day two but it does start to dry out at this point as flaxmeal sucks up any sign of moisture. Keep the loaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

4 eggs
2.5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or warmed coconut oil/
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1.5 Tbsp honey

2 1/4 cups ground or blanched almond meal
1/4 cup ground flax
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, plus a little more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 360' and grease a 9x5 loaf pan or line it with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, oil, cider vinegar and honey and whisk well to combine. Add the almond meal, flaxmeal, salt, baking soda, thyme leaves and rosemary leaves and stir them into the wet mixture until evenly combined. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle a few extra herbs and a sprinkle of salt on top.
Bake on the middle rack for about 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. 

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