Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cauliflower Cake from Ottolenghi's Plenty More


I have always loved cauliflower, so it is nice to see that this little brassica get its 15 minutes in the spotlight. Granted, its current moment seems to be confined to substitution status for white rice. (Seriously, have you seen all of the recipes for cauliflower "rice"?  Enough to make anyone's paleo heart pitter patter.) But not for me--cauliflower can always step the spotlight, in any form. Enter Ottolenghi, center stage.



Let me tell you a little about this cauliflower cake. With the addition of the flour, this dish is a little bit more substantial than your basic egg dish.  Infused with onions, this cake is savory and satisfying.  And while there is the slightest whisper of turmeric, it's more for color than taste. I really wouldn't change a thing, even the slightly precious sliced onions placed ever-so-decoratively atop this cake. But come on, let's treat ourselves with a little decoration, even if we're serving this for a simple dinner.



Like a fluffier frittata, this "cake" can serve as a side dish (which is what it did for us as the husband grilled meat for us and some of our carnivorous friends and their ravenously carnivorous children), but trust me on this: make this little cake for your next brunch. 



Ah, hell. Just make this for your next meal, whatever it may be: brunch, lunch, dinner, breakfast, second breakfast, tea, mid-morning snack, 4 a.m. insomnia splurge. It doesn't matter. Not only is this cake astonishingly beautiful (and those seeds on the sides add beauty, crunch, and a sudden salvo of flavor), but it makes the whole house smell amazing. 



Finally, in house-related news that none of you have been waiting for: Our shower has been leaking, the dishwasher was draining incorrectly tonight, and the backyard is a mess. We are living here only one more month (and then we're moving only about 15 minutes north--more news to come soon). 

Sweet business, house. Just make it through the next five weeks.  I can bake you a cauliflower cake if that would make you feel better. I promise: it will make you feel better. 






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Cauliflower Cake

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More

Yield
4 Servings

Ingredients
1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1¼-inch florets (about 4 cups) 
1 medium red onion, peeled (6 ounces) 
5 tablespoons olive oil 
½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary 
7 large eggs 
½ cup basil leaves, chopped 
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted 
1½ teaspoon baking powder 
⅓ teaspoon ground turmeric 
1½ cups coarsely grated Parmesan or another aged cheese 
Melted unsalted butter, for brushing 
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds 
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (also known as black caraway) 
Salt and black pepper

Instructions
1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  

2.  Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.  


3.  Cut 4 round slices, each ¼-inch thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. 


4.  Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.  


5.  Line the base and sides of a 9½-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. 


6.  Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Puff Pastry Tarts Three Ways from Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart Puff Pastry Tart Harissa and Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Gruyere, or Potato and Rosemary (Or All Three)

Do you need a super easy go-to appetizer? Are you stressing about your pre-dinner bites? Are you sick of cheese and crackers (okay, that's blasphemy)?  I gotta say, it's as simple as having some frozen puff pastry on hand, because Martha Stewart is to the rescue. Again. We would expect no less from the queen of entertaining.

Martha Stewart Puff Pastry Tart Harissa and Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Gruyere, or Potato and Rosemary (Or All Three)

While this would be the perfect appetizer for a Mexico-Italy soccer match up in the World Cup, I can also vouch for its viability in an American Superbowl game this past February. Since I don't particularly care about the Superbowl (and somehow do decidedly care more about the World Cup), I do try to ensure that the food is fantastic on that wintry Sunday evening. Enter Puff Pastry Tart Three Ways.

Martha Stewart Puff Pastry Tart Harissa and Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Gruyere, or Potato and Rosemary (Or All Three)

Sure, you could make just one, but this is perfect as a combination piece because everyone can have a little of everything. And it really does look quite striking all together. And if you cut it into even smaller bites, you can spread the love even further.  

Martha Stewart Puff Pastry Tart Harissa and Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Gruyere, or Potato and Rosemary (Or All Three)

It does take a tiny bit of finagling (cook everything for 15 minutes and then add the cheeses; cook for 5 minutes more), but I think we can all handle it. And don't ask me about amounts. I just messed around with all of my amounts when I cooked it.  Here was my rule of thumb: make enough ingredients to give the appearance of abundance on the tart.

Martha Stewart Puff Pastry Tart Harissa and Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Gruyere, or Potato and Rosemary (Or All Three)

Which takes me to my golden rule of appetizers as taught to me by an English teacher who once moonlit as a caterer--just make sure everything on a platter, tray, bowl, or plate looks abundant and overflowing, and your next dinner party will go off without a hitch. Be it a football (American or otherwise) match, holiday party, or just cocktails with friends. And this is the puff pastry to do the trick.

Martha Stewart Puff Pastry Tart Harissa and Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Gruyere, or Potato and Rosemary (Or All Three)


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Puff Pastry Tarts Three Ways: Harissa and Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Gruyere, or Potato and Rosemary (Or All Three)

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Appetizers

Harissa and Goat Cheese

Yield
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, preferably all-butter, thawed
All-purpose flour, for dusting
2 Tbsp harissa
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Sea salt
Mint and parsley leaves

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lay pastry sheet on a lightly-floured surface and roll out into a 10-x-16 inch rectangle. Trim the edges with a sharp knife. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a knife to score a 1-inch border around the pastry (do not cut all the way through), then pierce inside the markings at ½-inch intervals with a fork.

2.  In a small bowl, mix the harissa paste with oil. Spread inside border.

3.  Bake until crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Top with goat cheese, and bake 5 minutes more. Serve warm, sprinkled with sea salt and herbs.

Asparagus and Gruyere

Yield
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, preferably all-butter, thawed
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1½ pounds asparagus
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lay pastry sheet on a lightly-floured surface and roll out into a 10-x-16 inch rectangle. Trim the edges with a sharp knife. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a knife to score a 1-inch border around the pastry (do not cut all the way through), then pierce inside the markings at ½-inch intervals with a fork.

2.  Trim asparagus spears to fit inside the border, and then arrange the asparagus in a single layer atop the tart. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake about 15 minutes.

4. Remove from oven, and sprinkle the asparagus with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and browned, about 5 minutes.


Potato and Rosemary

Yield
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, preferably all-butter, thawed
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 Yukon Gold potato (unpeeled), very thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lay pastry sheet on a lightly-floured surface and roll out into a 10-x-16 inch rectangle. Trim the edges with a sharp knife. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a knife to score a 1-inch border around the pastry (do not cut all the way through), then pierce inside the markings at ½-inch intervals with a fork.

2.  In a small bowl, toss the potato slices with oil, rosemary, and generous amounts of salt and pepper. Arrange evenly over the pastry.

3.  Bake until crust is golden, about 20 minutes. Drizzle with more oil, and serve warm.