Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers

Cauliflower.  That odd looking white vegetable that my family rejects without giving it a chance.  When I read all of the nutritional benefits that come with eating cauliflower I set out to find a way to prepare it for the Picky Pickersens in my family.  And you know what, they ate this stuff up.  Both of my kids even asked for more.  I think I fainted from the shock.

And did you know that just 3 florets of cauliflower provide two thirds of your daily requirement for vitamin C?  In addition it has generous amounts of folate and 2 disease fighting chemicals: indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane.  Both are known to suppress tumors.  What is not to love?  I know, the taste.

I don't mind a little of it raw and that is the best way to eat it for the full nutritional impact.  But I like variety and want to have it cooked occasionally.

Enter Martha Stewart and her fabulous and easy recipes (can you tell I recently purchased a Martha cookbook?).  I only tweaked her recipe slightly.  I like to use melted coconut oil in place of olive or grapeseed oil when I am using high heat.  The temperatures required to roast are high enough that they can destroy the benefits of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.  Not to mention, olive oil can get bitter at higher temperatures.  So, without further preamble, here is my version of Martha's recipe:

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers
1 head of cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cut into small florets
1 Tbs melted coconut oil (go ahead, use your olive oil)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbs butter
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (not minced)
1 teaspoon capers
1 tsp caper juice

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Spread cauliflower florets in a roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet.  Drizzle with your oil of choice and season with salt and pepper.  Toss with your hands to combine.  Call the children in to turn on the faucet because your hands are too oily to do it yourself.  Roast cauliflower, tossing once or twice, until it is golden brown and tender, approximately 20-25 minutes.

During the last 5 minutes of roasting, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Cook sliced garlic, stirring often, until lightly browned.  You may find you need to turn the burner down to medium low to prevent burning the garlic.  Trust me, it doesn't taste good.  Remove the butter and garlic from the heat and add capers and juice.  This will cause a bit of acrid steam so stand back a little.  Pour this sauce over the cauliflower and toss to coat.  This time I recommend tossing with your serving spoon.  The cauliflower and sauce are too hot for hands. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

White Fish with Lemon Butter Sauce

Fish always intimidates me.  I don't know why.  Maybe it is because I am scared of overcooking an expensive piece of protein.  I don't like the smell, but I do like eating most fish.  Every once in awhile I can get over myself and prepare fish for my family cause they LOVE it, especially my husband. 

Here is a recipe that I, once again, adapted from the queen, Martha Stewart.  I use just about any white fish that is ranked as best choice or good alternatives in the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list.  Most recently I used Cod, wild-caught in the Pacific.   I have also made this with chicken and vegetable broths.   We like it best with the wine, and the alcohol cooks away, but if you are concerned, broth is an option. 

White Fish with Lemon Butter Sauce
1 lb white fish
1/2 C white wine or broth
2 lemons (1 very thinly sliced, seeds removed, and 1 juiced)
1/2 tsp dried (or 1/2 Tbs fresh, minced) dill weed
Salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 Tbs butter

Season fish with salt and pepper.   Pour wine into a large skillet.  Put fish into pan and cover with the thin slices of lemon.  Bring the wine to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer the fish for about 5-7 min (folded sole may take as little as 3 min) until it reaches desired doneness.  Transfer fish to a plate and sprinkle with dill.  Bring liquid back to a boil and reduce by half (about 2 minutes), add lemon juice and remove sauce from the heat.   Add butter to sauce and whisk until it is melted.  This will slightly thicken the sauce, give it a silky texture and amazing flavor.  Serve fish with a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce over the top.  Yum!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

(recipe at the bottom of you want to skip all this verbiage)
So, you may have read that I am trying to reduce the grains and starches in my diet.  I know my body does better both physically and mentally without these things.  I also believe that we just don't need them in our diet.  Human beings didn't evolve eating the amount of grains and starches that we now consume or think we should consume based on the food pyramid.  (I won't go off about the supposedly "balanced" food pyramid that was pushed through by the big agriculture lobbyists.)

I have done pretty well avoiding these things (grains and starches, not carbs per se) and have slowly started reducing or eliminating them from my family's meals at home.  I examined how much grains, starches and sugars my kids were eating away from home and decided they did not need any when they eat dinner at home.  It is disturbing how much of these grains and starches they eat in a day.

Here is what my son ate yesterday (not including dinner):
Breakfast at home: lean sausage, and oatmeal with blueberries
2nd breakfast at daycare: cereal, milk and banana
Lunch at daycare: Breakfast Burritos made with white flour tortillas and filled with kids' choice of any or all of scrambled eggs, cheese, pinto beans, potatoes.  This was served with a sides of sugary yogurt and canned pineapple chunks. (Yes there was some protein and some fruit here...but it is HEAVY on carbs!)
Snack at daycare: graham crackers and apple juice (ummmm, really?)

OMG!  Is it no wonder that he is starving when I pick him up?? The poor boy has been going through insulin spikes all day.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE his daycare, I am even on the parent board, but I hate the menu.  Thank goodness they are a "sugar-free" facility.  Can't imagine if cookies and brownies were a regular menu item.   I have tried to get a nutrition committee going, but was told that I didn't want to take on the cook, it doesn't work and she will leave.  To her credit, she does get the kids to try a lot of new things and makes amazing, veggie-filled soups.

Anyway, you can see that my son gets all the carbs he needs in a day at his daycare.  My daughter's situation is very similar, but she does bring snacks from home.  I have tried to eliminate the grains from the breakfast table, but have met with considerable resistance.  But, we haven't bought any packaged cereals for awhile despite occasional complaints from the peanut gallery.  One thing at a time right?  I am focusing on dinner and have slowly been weaning them off of grain side dishes.

In fact, for the last 2 nights we haven't had a grain on the table and zero complaints.  It was amazing.  I am doing my best to create 2 yummy veggie side dishes.  Last night I made this butternut squash soup.  I got the original from Martha Stewart and have since tweaked it a tad.  I think the soup is so much improved if you have the time to caramelize the onions.  If you are short on time, just saute them long enough for them to be translucent.

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4
2 Tbs butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2, 10 oz bags of frozen, chopped butternut squash
4 C water
fresh orange juice from 1 orange
1 1/2 tsp salt
ground pepper
Sour cream or yogurt, (optional)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally until soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until squash is tender, 20 minutes.

You can purée the soup with an immersion blender in the pot or do it in the blender, vitamix, food processor in two batches. The immersion blender will not produce a completely smooth result. When using a blender for hot foods, allow the heat to escape to prevent splattering. Remove the cap from the hole of the blender’s lid, and cover with a dish towel. Return soup to pan and add 1 1/2 tsp salt. Slowly stir in the orange juice a small amount at a time.  This way you can control for taste. Last night I needed all the juice to give it the taste I wanted. Previous batches have required less. I don't like an overwhelming orange taste (or even a medium orange flavor to the soup, I just want a hint).
Serve hot, with  a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, pepper, and spicy pumpkin seeds, if desired (yes, make these seeds, they add a warm heat and tangy depth to the soup that is amazing).

The kids and the hubby loved this.  I haven't told them what is in it cause they don't like any of the main individual components.  LOL. 

Here's to eating your veggies!