Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pickled Purple Cauliflower

crank up some tunes, it's pickling time again.
Asian-Style Pickled Purple Cauliflower.
The prettiest purple pickles you ever did see.

Raw purple cauliflower, pre pickling.

Sometimes I have control issues. Sometimes, at the height of summer, when all manner of gorgeous fruits and vegetables are cheap and abundant, my eyes grow significantly bigger than my stomach. This is how I wind up with two overstuffed produce drawers and a refrigerator shelf devoted entirely to experimental pickling projects. The ability to peruse the local farmstand and pass up a whole basket full of gorgeous freshly harvested purple cauliflower is something I do not posses. For those of us suffering (?) with this produce buying compulsion, quick pickles are a lifesaver. And these particular quick pickles are a knock-you-on-your-ass stunner. Vibrant purple with a crunchy raw texture
and a slightly spicy bite.

They'll kick up the flavor profile of any Asian-style noodle or vegetable dish and,
as a bonus, add a a big bold punch of color.
Pretty purple (knock you on your ass) pickles!
Say that three times fast...

Coriander seeds and purple cauliflower.

Asian-Style Pickled Purple Cauliflower
(makes about 1 quart)

One medium head of purple cauliflower,
washed and cut into florets (about 2cups)
1/4c apple cider vinegar
1/4c unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2tsp sea salt
1/4tsp ground black pepper
1/2tsp organic sugar
1/2tsp ground coriander seeds
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2tsp sesame oil
1 small dried chili pepper, halved
(such as chile de arbol)
2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cauliflower and pickling liquid, ready for the fridge.

Place cauliflower florettes in a clean 1 quart glass jar.
Add garlic clove and dried chili pepper (or pepper flakes).
In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegars, salt, pepper, sugar,
coriander and sesame oil.
Pour mixture over cauliflower, seal the jar and give it a good shake.
Refrigerate overnight or for up to a week, allowing time for flavors to develop.
Give the jar a little shake every now and then to redistrubute pickling liquid.
Will keep in the fridge for up to a month.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Baked Curried Paella with Turnips

paella outside the box.
Baked Curried Paella with Turnips and Greens
This might just be the prettiest thing I've ever made. Except for pie.
Nothing's prettier than pie.

Yes, the curry is a little on the non traditional side. As is the cooking method. And a few of the ingredients. The whole thing is outside the box, really. But when something tastes and looks this good, who cares? Aside from a wee bit of chopping and stirring, the labor on this dish is minimal. And the wow factor? Absolutely through the roof. Crack open a bottle of wine, bring this beautiful sizzling plate to the table and your dinner guests will be begging for their next invite. There you go.
 I crown thee Dinner Party Master.
Wield your newfound power carefully, my friend. 

Recipe notes:
The cooking process moves from stove top, to oven and back to stove top.
Make sure you use a pan that is both stove top and oven safe.
This could be as simple as a large saute pan or, my preferred method,
a shallow enameled cast iron pot.
You can use bomba, traditional Spanish paella rice, but arborio is significantly cheaper and works just as well.
You can, of course, roast the red peppers yourself, but for convenience sake,
the jarred ones work beautifully.
I have used young red turnips, which do not need to be peeled, for this recipe.
If using the tougher, more traditional turnips be sure to peel them before cooking.
If your turnips do not come with greens attached another cooking green can be used; arugula and spinach both work well with the flavor profiles in this dish.
This paella keeps and reheats spectacularly well.
Simply store it covered in the pan it was cooked in and reheat on the stove top, adding a couple teaspoons of water.

Baked and crisped to perfection, ready to serve.

Baked Curried Paella
(serves 4)

1c arborio rice
3c unsalted vegetable stock
2tsp curry powder
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2tbsp olive oil
1c cooked chickpeas,
canned or dried
1c roasted red peppers, sliced into 1/4" strips
3 small red turnips, skin on, scrubbed and diced
1 bunch turnip greens, washed, stems removed and chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Over medium heat, add olive oil to a large saucepan or enameled cast iron pot.
Add onions and garlic, saute for 1-2 minutes.
Sprinkle in curry powder and salt, stir and cook for 30 seconds more.
Add rice, chickpeas, red peppers and turnips, cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour in broth slowly and bring to a gentle boil.

Now that's an impressive plate of food.

Reduce heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes.
The rice should be slightly swelled and the mixture still slightly liquid-y.
Taste liquid and salt as needed.
Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Rice should be al dente when done.
Remove from oven, scatter greens over the top and cover, with foil or a pot lid.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Remove cover and return to stove top.
Cook over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes to crisp the bottom.
Serve straight out of the pan, making sure to scrape up the crisp bits from the bottom-
it's one of the best parts.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Roasted Turnips and Sauteed Greens

let's eat the whole damn thing, leaf to root.
Roasted Turnips with Sauteed Turnip Greens
Perfect local red turnips from the Egleston Farmers Market.

Admittedly, my love affair with turnips is still in its infancy. For most of the nearly two decades I've spent as a vegetarian (ouch I'm getting old...) they were culinary persona non grata. As so often happens, in my mind turnips fell victim to the same stigma that follows the poor maligned Brussels sprout around. A vague childhood memory of something mushy and tasteless or a lifetime of people saying "Turnips? Yuck." turned me against them. A now familiar story in my culinary book, it was the pickle that first began to shift my view. Pickled turnips in Middle Eastern food were an absolute revelation. One that lead me to further explore the potential of these beautiful tubers.

They are an absolute nutritional powerhouse; the roots are chock full of vitamin C and the greens pack in the vitamins A, C and K as well as folate, calcium and lutein. Wowza. This recipe makes the most of the whole bunch; roasting the bulbs (which brings out their sweetness), sauteing the greens and serving them together. It's one of those leaf to root recipes we've discussed before. Perfect as a dish all on its own or paired with a grain or protein of your choosing. My absolute favorite way to serve up this dish is to simply plate the turnips and greens together and serve with pesto.
A perfect one bowl meal.

Scarlet turnips are readily available at my local farmers market this time of year, so that's what I use. They are smaller and more tender and do not need to be peeled before roasting. You can easily use a more traditional turnip variety in this recipe, just peel the larger ones, as the skin is much more fibrous.

Roasted Red Turnips and Sauteed Greens
(serves 2)

1 bunch of turnips
with greens attached
2Tbsp olive oil
2tsp lemon juice
3/4tsp regular or smoked paprika
1/2tsp salt
pepper to taste

To roast turnips:
Separate greens from turnips and set aside.
Scrub and rinse turnips well, leaving skins on.
Cut into equal sized wedges about 1/2" thick.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a glass baking dish or rimmed baking sheet combine turnips, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, 1tsp lemon juice, 1/2tsp paprika and  1/4tsp salt.
Toss to coat.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.

To prepare greens:
Thoroughly wash greens and trim lower , tougher stems.
If the higher parts of the stem appear more tender, leave them attached.
Now this is a matter of preference- the greens can either be left whole
or coarsely chopped before sauteing.
In a medium skillet, heat remaining olive oil and lemon juice over medium-low heat.
Add greens and stir to combine.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes until greens brighten and become tender.
Add 1/4tsp paprika, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook 1 minute more.

Serve roasted turnips and greens together, on their own or accompanied
by a protein or grain of your choice.

Roasted turnips and sauteed greens with a side of pesto.
Perfect, perfect, perfect.