Cauliflower grits, chanterelle and the perfect sunny side up egg

This cauliflower grits was a result of necessity…. I had a cauliflower in the fridge that really needed to be used. And while I was making our brunch, on a Sunday morning, coming back from Hollywood Farmers market with fresh eggs, chanterelle, and pea shots, the idea came. When we cook cauliflower and blend it, it comes up with an amazing silky, creamy texture. And what is it that we do with grits? We cream it. With butter, cream, mascarpone, or anything else. Just cream it, right?

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So while the grits were cooking in simple vegetable stock, I quickly added the cauliflower in a small pot of milk and water, added aromatics, a small onion and a bay leaf. Once that cooked, and the grits was ready, blended the cauliflower in just enough cooking liquid to be able to process and added to the grits. Also remember grits require 1:4 ratio of polenta to liquid. You can reduce it a little bit here, because the cauliflower cream will losen it up. You can play with the texture when mixing everything all together, to your liking.

I am not really keen on standing at the stove and keeping an eye on grits for a long time. So this is a trick I came up with, and it did help me to reduce cooking time. I buy the coarse grits in bulk and blend them superfine in my blender. Do this only when you are not bothered about losing the grits texture, but you want lets’s say a quick brunch option. This fine polenta will cook much quicker.

For dairy free and vegan version:

My original recipe requires milk and I also added eggs to make it a full meal. If you are dairy free or vegan, leave out the eggs and cook the cauliflowers in stock with all the aromatics mentioned below. Once cauliflower is cooked, transfer into blender and blend it with home made, thick cashew milk/cream. When I made a vegan version I served it with radish sprouts and quick pickled radishes.

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Ingredients for non vegan version (serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup grits, or the finely processed cornmeal
  • 3-4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 small cauliflower torn into florets (the orange one will give a beautiful color to your grits! go for it if you have them)
  • 1 cup whole milk and some water (enough to just cover the florets in the pot)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion
  • salt and 3-4 black peppercorns
  • 2 cups small chanterelle or any other wild, strong mushroom (see below other dishes)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley and chive
  • 4 eggs
  • olive oil for frying eggs
  • pea shoots or other greens to serve the dish with (it will require something fresh, crunchy with a touch of acid)
  • lemon juice and olive oil for the greens

Instructions

  1. Add milk, water, bay leaf, peppercorn, salt, onion and cauliflower florets in a small pot. Bring to a boil and cook it covered on low heat until florets are cooked. Don’t overcook, all the cauliflower flavor and bits will disintegrate into your liquid…. and we are not using all the cooking liquid.
  2. Discard onion, bay leaf and peppercorns  when cauliflower is cooked.
  3. Transfer into blender and blend into creamy texture with just as much cooking liquid as necessary to process the blending!
  4. In the meantime toast grits on olive oil for a minute, while whisking add vegetable stock. Cook it under constant supervision, stirring frequently. Add just as much liquid so you end up with a thick, firmer grit texture, so the cauliflower can loosen it up.
  5. You can also pay with ratios of grits to cauliflower, depending on how much flavor of the veggie you would like in there.
  6. To finish the dish pan roast mushrooms on butter and olive oil mixture with adding a couple of thyme sprigs. When cooked, discard thyme, and add mix of parsley, chive and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep it warm.
  7. Fry eggs on olive oil. Heat olive oil and before it is too high, add eggs, turn down heat and fry slow to keep a nice look.
  8. Put the greens in a bowl and drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice and some olive oil.

To serve:

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In a shallow deep bowl and cauliflower grits, making a dip in the middle for the egg. Put mushrooms and shoots or other greens around the egg, on top of the grits. ENJOY!

 

And if you like the flavor profiles, you can make other, bit fancier dishes based on the same concept. This is a pot de creme of cauliflower grits with pan roasted mixed wild mushroom with garlic and thyme, parmesan crisps and some spicy nasturtium oil and leaves.

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Creamed sorrel and kale Turkish egg

Breakfast and brunch is my favorite meal. This is the time of the day when we should eat the biggest portion of food and preferably full of nutrients. It is so easy to make something that is nourishing your body, let it be vegan, dairy free, gluten free or no dietary restrictions. This recipe uses dairy and the toast has trace amount of gluten only. I buy a local multigrain sourdough bread.

The simplest version of a Turkish egg is yogurt topped with a poached egg, drizzled with generous amount of chili oil and adding fresh herbs. Dill, chive goes really well with the yogurt. But you can add parsley, tarragon, mint, anything you prefer. This photo here shows this version.

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For another version of Turkish egg I replace a part of the yogurt with a sour cream creamed sauteed sorrel and kale. This way you can add lots of green in the dish, providing more nutrition.  You can use any kinds of green leaves that you like. However sorrel makes a huge difference. In case you haven’t tried it and you like tartness, you should give it a go. Sauteed sorrel tastes completely different from any other greens.

I seasoned the yogurt with only himalayan salt, minced garlic, EVO and chopped chive and dill. For the sorrel and kale sautee you will need EVO, green leaves (sorrel, kale, spinach, chard, etc) , sour cream, salt and black pepper. You can drizzle the plated dish with chili oil or use chili flakes. I garnished my plate with young sorrel leaves, chopped chive, dill, chili flakes, chive and garlic chive blossoms.

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Ingredients (yields 2)

  • 2 cups of your choice of yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp EVO
  • 1 tbsp chopped chive and dill
  • salt
  • 1 big bunch of sorrel leaves
  • 1/2 bunch of kale leaves
  • 3-4 tbsp sour cream
  • salt, black pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. For the creamed sorrel clean the green leaves, remove hard stalks. Pat them dry.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan, add greens, pinch of salt and wilt them just for a couple of minutes. Drizzle a bit of water on it if it is too dry and starts browning. If you use sorrel, do not panic!!!! it will turn brown when cooking. The kale or spinach will help to keep the green color.
  3. Add the greens in your blender with the sour cream. Blend it to a creamy texture. If it is too thick you can add very little ice cold water.
  4. Season it with salt and pepper.
  5. Start boiling water for the poached eggs!
  6. For the garlic yogurt mince the garlic, or grate directly into the yogurt. Mix very well, add salt, pepper and the chopped chive and dill.
  7. Add some vinegar to the water.
  8. Always use fresh, good quality, preferably AA eggs for poaching.
  9. Poach eggs. (if you don’t like poaching, the dish is really good with a very softly fried egg too.
  10. For plating spoon the creamed greens around the plate, leaving a round spot in the middle to fill with yogurt and poached egg.
  11. Spoon the yogurt in the middle, place poached egg on top and garnish.

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I served this dish with a very flavorful and colorful toast with vegan cayenne spiced garlic spread from https://www.majesticgarlic.com/. This has been my favorite spread for 3 years!!!  On top of the garlic spread I had avocado cream, cherry tomatoes and purslane. This is such a pretty combination of really healthy and delicious ingredients.

Enjoy a good breakfast EVERYDAY!

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Summer bruschetta

OK. So I keep saying this.

Good food starts with the best possible ingredients.

The reason I am an advocate of farm fresh, farm to table or farm to fork cooking apart from the fact that I want to support sustainable farming, is the taste, look and most of the time simplicity. When you have amazing, in season ingredients you just need to respect them, find the best possible herbs, other ingredients to enhance flavor and make sure you don’t overcook and don’t overdo.

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This summer bruschetta was the appetizer at my summer welcoming dinner over the weekend. It looks stunning, it is simple, you just have to follow a few easy steps.

You will need to have the following ingredients:

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  • Bread
  • Avocado
  • Garlic
  • Lime
  • Corn
  • Heirloom tomatoes in different colors
  • Micro cilantro
  • Micro arugula
  • Shallot
  • Lemon
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil

 The components of the bruschetta:

  • Garlic avocado spread. Intentionally I put garlic first. This will not be a guacamole, or an avocado puree. You want a strong garlic spread. Use very good, ripe avocado. I found that you will almost need half an avocado per toast. So I suggest follow this rule and if there is leftover, it is not a problem. For 4 slices of bread smash 2 avocados and mix with 4 smashed or grated garlic cloves, juice of 1 lime, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Charred corn. Cook 2 corns on the cob, drain, pat dry, and put on grill at high temp to char a little bit. You can also keep it over flame or use blow torch, or just leave it cooked only. Cut kernels off the cob.
  • Heirloom tomato ceviche. You could easily just add slices of heirloom tomatoes. But let’s think for a while. We will have a garlicky spread, sweet corn and almost sweet tomatoes. You will need a bit of acidity to break through the sweet and spice and let everything shine. This is the reason I marinate the tomatoes. Slice tomatoes chunky, at least 1/4 inch. Then cut them in half. I took a photo of how to cut heirloom tomatoes to keep their look and this way of cutting will ensure that liquid and seeds will not separate.

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Use at least 4 halves on each toast. To make the marinade chop 1 shallot, squeeze juice of 1 lemon juice add some salt and black pepper. 10 minutes before serving, marinate the tomatoes. Don’t let them sit in the liquid longer, it will start changing the texture.

  •  Bruschetta. Use a very good quality, whole grain, sourdough bread with big holes in there. Use it at 1-2days old. This type of bread will give the most amazing texture when toasted and also contains good grain. Or if you don’t mind white flour (you should!) traditional ciabatta is really good here. I made the toast on the griddle. The advantage of using a griddle is to get nice, crispy, yummy bread which is left soft inside. So good. Cut bread into chunky slices, at least 1 inch thick. Heat the griddle to a very high heat. Drizzle olive oil on the bread. Once the griddle is smoking hot, put your bread slices on it and press them down a little bit, to make sure it is even. Check in a minute, make sure it is not burnt!!! When you are ready to flip it over, drizzle olive oil on the up side, and sprinkle a little bit of himalayan pink salt over, from high above!. Trust me. It will make a difference. Flip the bread and toast second side.
  • Assemble. Spread generous amount of garlic avocado on toast. Add corn kernels, then tomato slices and finish off with generous amount of micro cilantro and arugula. The reason we were not using any green herbs in the spread or in the marinade is because we are adding it in a salad form at the end. In case you have no access to micro cilantro and arugula, slice the cilantro into chiffonade (thin slices) and top your toast with that and with a few wild arugula leaves.

ENJOY!

 

 

Morel and mascarpone omelette

Mushrooms were always taken for granted in my childhood. I lived in a small village and my father loved foraging. Although that time you didn’t really have to go to the forest for produce. We had everything at home in our vegetable garden which was really big. Taking center point a big walnut tree with my all-time favorite autumn welcoming green walnuts.

So my father went off for long searches for mushrooms. Seriously if you ask me about the most memorable thing from my childhood, I would say pickled mushrooms. I actually started not liking this whole mushroom thing because there was way too much of it. And it meant I had to help. Yes, your feeling is right. I was not the kitchen fairy when I was a kid. I was so not interested. I had more important things to do. Like taking dogs home from the street. Luckily our village was small. With not many stray dogs. But still, there were a few….

So back to the mushrooms. As I said in my childhood mushrooms were given. Plenty. Free. Not like today. They cost a lot. Especially morels. So when I buy them I make them special. Making sure to highlight them in a dish, and not to overcook and not to hide their taste and beauty.

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A really good way to use morels is in a rich, decadent omelette with herbs and serve it with some green leaves and a simple lemon vinaigrette.  I used micro herbs, arugula leaves and blossoms but you can have any kind of salad leaves. This omelette will be rich and creamy so you will definitely need a salad with vinaigrette.

When I went to culinary school omelette had a real importance to it. Being able to make a really good omelette will show your skill, understanding of technique and essentially will tell people that you are a good cook. I personally don’t think it is a difficult thing to make right but you definitely have to know what a good omelette looks like so you know what you are going to need to achieve. Omelette is not a scrambled egg or a frittata. You are not stirring it in the pan or baking it in the oven. It is a quick process, only a few minutes and you will have to end up with a bit of crust outside, wobbly center.

For a detailed technique and pictures visit this site, I think it will help in case you have problems.     http://www.incredibleegg.org/cooking-school/egg-cookery/make-an-omelet

I took this close up shot of my omelette so you have the feeling what is should look like.

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Ingredients

  • about 1/4 cup of whole tiny morels or chopped big one (you can substitute with other, strong, woody mushroom)
  • 2T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1T mascarpone
  • 1/2T mixed chopped parsley and chives
  • salt, ground pepper

Instruction

  1. In a bowl blend eggs, mascarpone and herbs thoroughly with a fork and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1T butter in a 6 inch pan. Once butter starts coloring add cleaned, dried morels.
  3. Sautee morels for a minute and when it is done season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour morels with the butter into a small bowl, ready to use.
  5. Put pan back on stove with the other tablespoon of butter.
  6. When butter stops sizzling slowly pour egg-mascarpone mix  into the center of the pan.
  7. Tilt the pan to spread the egg mixture evenly. Let eggs firm up a little and then gently direct the mixture away from the from the middle, making space with a spatula at the edges and to flow to the space on the edges.
  8. After this point let it cook and when you see the surface is 90% cooked, add filling and fold omelette very quickly.
  9. Slide omelette onto a plate.
  10. Serve it with a fresh green salad and lemon vinaigrette.

For advice on vinaigrette visit my previous post:  https://bornunderthesun.com/2016/05/11/215/

Why did I use micro greens and herbs?

For their look and nutrients. Microgreens are young seedling of vegetables and herbs and they come in all colors and shapes depending on the vegetable/herb and they are richer in nutrients than their “parents”.

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Breakfast with Hollywood farmers market finds

I have been so obsessed with the markets in Santa Monica and also I am lucky with the markets in Pasadena so I didn’t look for more. I mean markets 🙂

I should have. The one in Hollywood on Sunday mornings is a very good one. A very big market where you can literally buy everything. I saw the squash blossoms so I decided to make a frittata when I get home. I had some burrata at home so I needed only veggies, eggs and some bread.

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When I saw these tiny breakfast radishes I couldn’t say no to them. They have a pretty strong, peppery taste. You can also eat their leaves or take those off and make a nice pesto using them.

Got a bunch of arugula leaves with blossoms too. They are sitting in a vase and when I need some flowers of a few leaves in a salad, I will take some off.

I am sure everybody made frittata before. I made mine with eggs, full fat milk, burrata, squash blossoms, red onion and basil.

Here is some advice if you felt something was wrong with the one you made.

  • use a good cast iron skillet
  • season your eggs well and add some full fat milk/sour cream/creme fraiche
  • don’t beat the egg-dairy mix too much, just mix it properly
  • start on the stove and finish baking in the oven
  • make sure not to overbake it

My Market Frittata

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of full fat milk
  • salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 6 teaspoon dollop of burrata
  • 6 squash blossoms
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • small basil leaves and blossoms or chiffonades of basil (thin slices)
  • 1/2 T Butter

Instruction

  1. Have all the ingredients ready to go!
  2. Mix eggs properly but do not beat them too much. It can cause fluffing during baking and then shrinking when out of the oven.
  3. Season well.
  4. Heat butter in the cast iron skillet on the stove on hight heat.
  5. Just before you pour the eggs in the skillet, turn the heat down to middle.
  6. Pour eggs in the skillet.
  7. Quickly arrange the ingredients (add more or different produce).
  8. When the edges starting to set put in the oven.
  9. Bake for until it is set but middle is still wobbly. Otherwise it will dry out.

I served the frittata with market veggies and market bread.

The bread is a whole grain, stone milled California grown Roan Mills grain Glenn Country Batard. AMAZING!!!! The garlic chive butter is made with garlic chive not garlic and chive. Just chop the garlic chives well, mix with room temperature butter and put it back in the fridge. I always buy unsalted butter and use fleur de sel to taste.

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