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?

DSC_4763.jpg

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.

dsc_9214

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:

DSC_9081.jpg

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.

_dsc1295

 

_dsc1323

 

 

 

Beet brownies

Beetroots

They are warm in both color and taste. Sweet, earthy and really beautiful. There are three different varieties always available at the markets here in Southern California. The golden beet with its orange color, the red beet with its dark, purple red meat and the chioggia which is a white red striped beet.

_DSC2613.jpg

A few days ago I used all three different varieties in a beet salad with walnut and rye bread crumbles and a buttermilk, sheep ricotta foam. Roasted the red and orange beet and left the chioggia raw to show off its amazing beauty.

_DSC2632.jpg

I was left with lots of red beet. Once I saw a brownie recipe from Georgina Fuggle, who is a British chef, and she used beet in her brownies. So I thought to give it a try, because I really love brownies. There is nothing different than in any other brownies, except for adding grated beets. It turned out really good. In certain spots you can actually taste the beets, and it is a really rich, gooey yummy brownie.

I made a small portion, as you can see in this loaf tin. Because of the richness of the brownie I think this is easily good for 6-8 portions. Especially if you follow my lead and serve it with an eggnog (or vanilla) ice cream and a caramel sauce 🙂

_dsc2662

Ingredients for the above size:

  • 4.5 oz good quality 70% dark chocolate
  • 3.5 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp of instant good quality espresso coffee
  • 1/4 lb cleaned, grated raw red beetroot (about 2 smaller ones)
  • 2 eggs, beaten to very good foamy state
  • 7 oz caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch of salt

_dsc2682-2

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 360 F.
  • Butter a loaf tin, line it with parchment and butter the parchment too.
  • Melt dark chocolate, coffee granulates and butter on low heat, very gently.
  • When completely melted, mix in grated beets, sugar and well beaten eggs.
  • Sift in flour and cocoa powder and a pinch of salt
  • Combine very well.
  • Pour batter into the tin.
  • Place on middle rack in the oven.
  • Turn down heat to 350F after about 5 minutes.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes, but keep checking. Exterior should be crunchy, inside gooey.
  • Let it cool completely in the tin.
  • Serve it with eggnog ice cream and caramel sauce for the holidays 🙂 or just with fresh red fruits. The first version will be a pretty heavy dessert option.

_dsc2674

TIP:    You can make caramel sauce by caramelizing cane sugar in a heavy bottom pan, and adding heavy cream to it and melting them together. Or just simply adding brown sugar to heavy cream, bringing all to a boil and cook it for a little while.

 

 

 

 

Kabocha and shrimp risotto with toasted pumpkin seeds

Risotto facts

Some people are scared of risotto, some just think it is too much of a hassle. You should not feel any of these.  If you understand what happens when making risotto you will never again have problems with making the perfect one.

So risotto is an Italian dish where you need to cook the rice into a creamy consistency. The rice is cooked with wine, stock and at the end creamed some sort of dairy product. The rice has to be cooked, but still needs crunch in the middle, so it is al dente. At the same time the risotto is creamy. So how to achieve this?

_dsc2248

  1. Use rice specifically used for making risotto, that is a medium grain variety, fairly large and can tolerate the unique cooking method that removes starch from the rice surface so that it thickens the cooking liquid into a creamy consistency.  The most well known type is Arborio, anywhere outside Italy. There are some other varieties too, such as Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, but these are not very easy to get hold of.
  2. Make sure you have everything prepared in advance. Chopped, measured, cleaned or pre cooked on a tray. From start to finish a risotto will need 30 minutes of your undivided attention. There is also a method where you can precook the risotto to about 90%, lay out on a tray to cool quickly, (stop cooking) refrigerate and finish it off  in 10 minutes when your guests arrived. (I will explain this method later)
  3. Use right size of pot, meaning for the amount of rice. The pot should not be too big compared to the amount of rice, because you will add too much liquid.
  4. Preheat any liquid to boiling! you will be using for cooking the risotto, such as stock, broth. Also have boiling water ready, in case you run out of stock and the rice still needs liquid to be cooked. This is imperative. The liquid has to be hot constantly, so when you add it to the rice, it will not stop the cooking.
  5. Always add liquid in small amounts, just barely cover rice, and stir constantly. This might sound too much of work, but actually stirring constantly means that the rice grains are subject to constant friction, rubbing off the softened parts constantly, so they can become part of the liquid. If you only let it cook, this particles will not be part of the cooking process, you will just rub off everything in one go, at the end, when you stir it.

Kabocha and shrimp risotto

_dsc1974

I decided to use this winter squash variety because of its texture and not too sweet flavor. Kabocha turns into a creamy dream once it is blended. Shrimp goes really well with risotto in general and it is also a classic pairing with this squash.

The squash will be added to the risotto in two different ways. We will roast and puree half of the kabocha and dice and cook the other half.

_dsc2209

Instructions

First prepare everything

20161111_140732-1.jpg

  1. Peel, deseed kabocha, cut in half. Cut one of the halves into big chunks and roast them on a tray in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. Blend to a smooth puree with just the necessary amount of stock, you need for blending. Dice the other half into small cubes. Blanch them in salted boiling water until they are just cooked. Do not overcook, they will fall apart. Immediately drop them in ice water to stop cooking and drain.
  2. In a small amount of vegetable oil deep fry sage leaves. You will need 3-5 on each plate.
  3. Cut each shrimp into bite sizes. Pan sear them on butter, olive oil, seasoned with salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  4. Toast pumpkin seeds and set aside.
  5. Chop the shallots very finely.
  6. Cut very finely pancetta too.
  7. Measure rice and get it ready.
  8. Measure wine and stock and bring stock to a simmer and keep it warm.
  9. Prep rest of ingredients on a tray: olive oil, butter, fresh sage leaves, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, mascarpone.

Cooking instructions

  1. Heat olive oil and butter.
  2. Add pancetta, render fat so it becomes crispy.
  3. Add shallots, sweat for a few minutes.
  4. Add rice, stirring constantly and toast for a minute.
  5. Add wine, stirring constantly until it cooked down and almost absorbed fully.
  6. Start adding hot stock. Always add just as much to cover rice, stir constantly and add another ladle only when it is absorbed. Keep doing until rice is al dente,  about 20 minutes.
  7. additional step for later consumption: If you want to keep risotto and serve it at a later stage, stop cooking, lay risotto on a tray, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate until next day. When reheating, add some more stock, stir, let it absorb and finish it off as below.
  8. Mix in kabocha puree and mascarpone and add diced squash and shrimp.
  9. Season with salt, ground black pepper and cayenne.
  10. Adjust texture with a little bit of stock if needed.
  11. Plate risotto in a deep bowl, topped with fried sage leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds.

_dsc2378

Don’t forget about a glass of light chardonnay! 😉

Enjoy!

Ingredients (yields 4)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 big shallot or 2 smaller ones
  • 4 slices of pancetta, cut into fine pieces
  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tablespoon of mascarpone
  • 1 cup of roasted kabocha puree
  • 1 1/2 cup of diced, cooked kabocha
  • 1 lb of shrimp, cleaned, cut and pan seared on little olive oil and butter
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • vegetable oil for deep frying sage leaves
  • sage leaves
  • optional micro greens

Spaghetti squash with mushroom cashew alfredo, brussels and hazelnuts

I was not really thinking about putting this dish on my blog. When I came up with the recipe, it was really all about the textures and look in my mind. And eventually it turned out to be a very flavorful dish. When my husband came home in the evening, tasted it, and I heard “hmmmmm it is very interesting and yummy”, I knew I had to share it with you. Bear in mind, he is not vegan. Not even vegetarian… Also the dish is very easy to make, so I thought to share.

This dish is all about the fall produce available at the moment at the market.It also has a very classic combination of mushrooms, hazelnuts, cream, brussels sprouts. So good togeher.  The “spaghetti” of the dish is simply roasted spaghetti squash. The cashew Alfredo sauce made richer with the umami flavor of sautéed mushrooms. Quickly blanched brussels leaves and toasted hazelnut to finish off the dish. I used those fall colors of the marigold petals, not only to make the dish look prettier, but the petals’ peppery flavor goes so well with the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • fresh rosemary strings
  • salt, black pepper, olive oil for roasting the squash
  • 1/2 cup soaked cashew
  • almond milk (just as much to get a sauce consistency
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 minced garlic bulbs
  • salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon juice to taste
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of a mix of chopped parsley and chive
  • brussels sprouts taken into leaves
  • 1 tablespoon toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 marigold flower
  • some micro greens

 _DSC1684.jpg

Instructions:

  1. Cut one medium size spaghetti squash in half. Drizzle generously with olive oil, season with salt, ground black pepper and put one rosemary string and 3 garlic cloves in each halves. Put on a baking tray and bake at 420F for about 40 minutes.
  2. Check with a fork and if the spaghetti strands fall off easily, it is done. Carefully scrape out the spaghettis 🙂  with the fork, set aside to cool.
  3. In the meantime in a blender blend  1/2 cup of soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, minced garlic with enough almond milk to get the texture of sauce.
  4. Add the sautéed mushrooms and chopped herbs, blend together.
  5. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Blend together.
  6. Blanch the brussels sprouts leaves in rapidly boiling, very salty water for 1 minute. Quickly drain and drop in ice water, to stop cooking and retain color.
  7. Plate spaghetti squash and drizzle with the sauce, top with brussels leaves, chopped hazelnut, marigold leaves and some micro herbs.

_DSC2111.jpg

ENJOY!!!

Jerusalem artichoke soup with goat brie and truffled mushroom sunchocke chip bites

Jerusalem artichokeaka sunchoke is not the most common root vegetable. It is a bumpy, fleshy root vegetable, surprisingly of the sunflower family plants. Its look resembles to ginger roots. Its underground, nutty, starch rich root is mostly used as potato in cooking although it has more distinct flavor.

_dsc1777

However it is a versatile vegetable with an amazing good amount of dietary fiber content. Can be eaten raw, boiled, sautéed, roasted, pureed, made into chips. Without a complete list, its best friends are garlic, cheese, lemon, olive oil, parsley, truffles, wine, thyme, tomatoes. If you are vegan the best nuts to combine it with cashew, hazelnut and walnut. You can leave the skin on, especially if you make chips, or if the dish is more rustic and color is not a problem.

This time I made a creamy soup and served it with goat cheese and truffled, sautéed wild mushrooms nestled in between sunchoke chips. It is great to serve them together, the creamy soup with the crunch of the chips and all the supporting flavors are really good. If it is too much work, you can make the soup and serve it with some mushroom and a goat brie toast. Also you can just make the chips with mushrooms and brie and serve them as hors devours.

_dsc1812

Sunchoke soup

Ingredients (yields 4-6)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small, fresh thyme branch
  • 2 pounds jerusalem artichoke cleaned, peeled, cubed
  • 1 big garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cup of whole milk
  • 3-4 cup of vegetable stock or water
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt, black pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley and chive for garnishing
  • optional : sautéed wild mushroom for garnishing (see instruction at the chip bites
  • optional: toast to serve it with the soup

_dsc1792-2

Instructions

  1. Melt butter with olive oil. Do not brown it!!!
  2. Add a thyme branch in whole, so you can remove it easily. Sauté for a minute.
  3. Add cubed sunchokes. Sweat the artichoke for a few minutes, constantly stirring, making sure it will not caramelize.
  4. Add smashed garlic and some salt.
  5. Add the white wine. Let the alcohol cook off for a few minutes.
  6. Add stock/water (what you prefer) and whole milk.
  7. Bring to a boil.
  8. I removed thyme at this point so it doesn’t leave a very pronounced flavor. You can leave it if you like the taste but make sure to remove BEFORE blending!
  9. Cover, reduce heat and cook for about 15 minutes in slow simmer.
  10. Check with a fork that the sunchokes are really soft.
  11. There might be a bit of curdling of the milk because of the acidity in the wine. Don’t worry about it.
  12. Transfer to blender. Blend it to a very creamy consistency. Be careful when blending hot soup! Use a towel to cover the middle part of the lid instead of that small plastic bit. This way you can continuously let the steam out.
  13. If you want the soup to have a really creamy, silky texture, you can strain it through a fine mash strainer.
  14. Taste and season with salt, ground black pepper and some lemon juice.

Goat brie and truffled mushroom, sunchoke chip bites

_dsc1797

Ingredients

  • 1-2 big sun chokes, sliced 2nd thinnest setting on mandoline (you will need 6 slices for each person, to serve them 3 bites)
  • 1/2 goat brie round, sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp truffled butter (or if you have fresh truffles, go for it. In that case grate over the mushroom sauté when it is done!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pack of 8 oz any kinds of mushrooms, preferably mixed and wild, sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley and tarragon

Instructions for the sautéed mushrooms

  1. Heat oil with butter.
  2. When it is foaming add mushrooms. Stir well, making sure that all the pieces get some of the butter.
  3. Sautee  on high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring at some points.
  4. Add salt and ground black pepper and sautee for another few minutes.
  5. When it is done add chopped fresh herbs and either serve immediately or cover with a lid if you need to wait a little bit.

Assembly

  1. Thinly slice (without peeling) the artichokes across their widest part using a mandoline and fry in batches until golden brown. Leave to drain on kitchen paper, season with salt and some black pepper.
  2. Place a piece of goat brie and some mushroom in between 2 slices of the chips.
  3. Serve them on a plate next to the soup.

ENJOY!