Taco Friday: Roasted cauliflower and black beans

I have fallen in love with cauliflower.

Cauliflower is the new kale

Lately I have been putting it on a baking sheet, drizzling it with olive oil and roasting it in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or so. Right before serving I shake on sea salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground pepper. Yum.

Last Sunday night after the Packers won the NFC Championship, Dan and I took our now traditional ‘Packer March’ to the Laurel Tavern for a quick victory celebration. Upon returning home famished, we ordered my favorite take-out in town, Burrito Drive. I always get the same order (they even have it in the computer): Build your own tacos- flour tortillas, black beans, asadero cheese, red pickled onions, romaine lettuce, green salsa, and seasonal vegetable. When the delivery man arrived with our food, I squealed with delight to discover that the ‘seasonal vegetable’ was cauliflower.

After a Thursday night out at Alchemy for dinner and a couple of acoustic sets by Dan and Pat (Clovis Mann duo), Dan and I decided to have a mellow Friday evening at home. Inspired by my tacos from Burrito Drive, we made roasted cauliflower and black bean tacos. I can’t quite call this a recipe, more of an assembling of ingredients- just in case you want some suggestions, these are my favorite tortillas, fillings and toppings:

Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas, Eden Black Beans and cheese
Red cabbage, avocado, onions, and yellow bell peppers
Roasted cauliflower
Sour cream, fresh Willy Street Co-op salsa and sriracha

I like to mash up the avocado with chopped onions and fill the tortilla with the veggies, shredded cheese, black beans (that have been heated up), and avocado mixture. On Friday we decided to assemble the tacos and then grill them in a non-stick pan:

Right before eating, pile on the sour cream and salsa (and hot sauce- if you are into the heat- which I am). Enjoy.

Happy Sunday.

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You light up my life, B.J. Raji

Yesterday this happened… and the heaviest man in the history of the NFL to score a touchdown in the playoffs was described as “prancing” around in the endzone. B.J. Raji, watching you run the football for a touchdown like a giant baby keeping candy away from a pesty kid on your block was one of the best moments of the season. And then you put your hands on your hips and shook your behind. And now the Packers are going to the Super Bowl. B.J. Raji, you light up my life.

In addition to lighting up my life, you and your ball club have been dominating my weekends lately, not that I’m complaining. But who’s got time to worry about a week’s worth of lunches when the Packers are playing in the NFC Championship? Not this fan. And so this is how I found myself in the predicament that I did today- no lunch for school and famished by the time I got home at 5:30. A stroke of desperation/ genius led me to a jar of peanut butter, a banana and a honey bear. I love this sandwich so much, but I often forget to make it for myself. In case you have forgotten how delicious it is, I wanted to remind you, too.

I bet B.J. Raji likes this sandwich

Take a couple of pieces of whole wheat bread, spread on some all-natural peanut butter, slice up half a banana and pour on the honey. Mmmmmm.

Luckily I had some leftover lentil soup in the fridge that Dan and I heated up for dinner that was made all the better by grating (Wisconsin) parmesan cheese on top. I served it with steamed kale that I doused in lemon juice and sriracha- this was a revelation. And a delicious loaf of country bread from the Madison Sourdough Company. Basking in the afterglow of the Packers’ victory, it was a fine winter dinner.

Go Pack Go.

Quickie

Do I sound like I am 177-years-old if I say that I still don’t totally understand how to work my ipod? Because I don’t. Seriously. Is there a way to turn it off?
I also could not get a VCR to work today. I think that I am losing my technological edge. And to think that my parents use to be so proud of me because I could program the clock in their minivan.

P.S. TGIPN
Thank. Goodness. It’s. Pizza. Night.
Pictures to follow….

*UPDATE*

I present to you the Trioliverate pizza.

Served with spinach from the Willy Street Co-op fresh out of my new salad spinner, Ale Asylum Ambergeddon and The Flying Burrito Brothers station on Pandora. And now it’s time for cribbage!

Under the weather

At some point over the long weekend I had that sense of impending doom where you know that you are about to get clobbered over the head with a cold.

View from my chair at Mickey's Tavern

Before the cold hit I enjoyed a lovely Friday evening at Mickey’s Tavern with Dan (due to a rare Clovis Mann bye weekend) where I mowed a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing (minus the bacon) and macaroni and cheese (sans the kielbasa) and discussed politics and pets with our friend, Dr. Hotbody (who showed up part way through our meal). It was snowy outside and cozy and warm inside the bar- especially with the amount of cheese that I consumed.

Java Stout at Alchemy

After dinner we walked to Alchemy where we enjoyed Pearl Street Lava Java Stout and I amazed a new friend with the contents of my large bag (“Look, I even carry a cribbage board in here!”) and bequeathed him my green tea breath mints which I believe had been in there untouched since 2008.

Saturday belonged to the Packers. Dan and I performed our pre-game rituals and gathered, as tradition states it (unless we are at Lambeau), in front of my 13-inch television. We ate green olives and Wisconsin cheddar cheese, drank Hinterland Pale Ale from Green Bay (via Star Liquor on Willy Street) and cheered our Packers on to the NFC championship game. It’s going to be one hell of a game on Sunday.

By Monday I was in the thick of it. Ransacked with a cold I sat on the couch and stared out the window at the fat snowflakes. I wondered about the origin of the term “under the weather” and drank tea. I felt sorry for myself and listened to sad songs by Merle Haggard, Gram Parsons and Hank Williams. Finally, I baked banana bread. And you should, too.

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This recipe comes from the book, A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger

6 tablespoons butter

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon slat

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 3 large ripe bananas)

1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard-sized (about 9 by 5 inches) loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.

Put the butter in a heatproof bowl and melt in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crysatallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. The same fork works fine for this.) Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy, but there should be no unincorporated flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top.

Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick insered into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If the loaf seems to be browning to quickly, tent with aluminum foil. Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip it out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing- unless you absolutely can’t help yourself, in which case, dig in.

Note: Fully cooled, this bread freezes beautifully. And it tastes delicious cold, straight from the freezer. To protect it from frost, wrap it in plastic wrap and then again in aluminum foil.

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I also added some chopped walnuts. It was delicious and is getting better with time. I think I will have a thick slice for breakfast with some medicinal tea. Here’s to getting back out into the weather.

Frazzled

My mind is a bit frazzled this morning. There is fresh snow on the ground and I feel like what I should be doing is getting some air and schlepping through the snow on my old cross-country skis, but instead I am furiously checking craigslist, facebook, email and text messages, drinking coffee, starting to do the dishes, stopping cleaning the dishes to go back to the computer…

It’s been awhile since I have needed to look for a new place to live and I have forgotten how much this stresses me out. Dan and I found an upper flat in one of my favorite neighborhoods with hardwood floors, a dishwasher, a deck but for some reason I just can’t fully commit. Now I am looking at houses outside of the city and wondering how much I would mind having to drive an hour a day… Much of this deliberation has to do with not knowing if either Dan or I have any chance of having a permanent job next school year. Let’s just say that our school district has a vague hiring policy with many different opinions on how one goes about getting a job… I’m also wondering whether or not it’s more important to have a yard in the boonies or a sweet deck in a central location. Is it better to have a house all to yourself or risk co-habitating in a two-story home with strangers with potential strange habits? Making decisions is not my strong point. And these are the places my mind is visiting this morning. Sorry to bring you along for the ride.

Cauliflower with onion-ginger sauce

Here is what I do know: I made an awesome new vegetarian Indian dish last night for dinner and I think you should try it too. My mom passed this recipe on to me from The Splendid Table. I made the recipe as printed (I used olive oil) except that I used cilantro stems instead of the coriander, I made it in my Le Cruset instead of a skillet and I decided to garnish it with fresh cilantro and lemon (there are an abundance of lemons in my fridge right now). I served it with brown rice, shredded carrot and lemon juice salad and Sierra Nevada Torpedo India Pale Ale beer. It was delicious- fresh-tasting, tangy, crunchy and hearty. Yum.

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Cook to Cook: The cauliflower can be steamed a day ahead and reheated before serving. The onion sauce could be made ahead as well (without the final touches of lime, coconut and cashews). It holds in the fridge for 4 days and for 6 months in the freezer. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, yams, green beans, tofu, chicken and seafood take to this sauce, and you could combine any of these at will.

Cauliflower with Ginger-Cashew-Onion Sauce

Copyright  2010 Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All Rights Reserved
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish with rice and Indian breads, or 6 to 8 as a side dish

Canola oil or good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 whole jalapeno chile, minced (with the seeds for greater heat)
8 stems fresh coriander, finely chopped
1/3 cup raisins
1 25-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup vinegar (rice, cider or wine)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 large cauliflower, cut into large flowerettes
Salt
Juice of 1/2 large lime or lemon
1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup salted cashews, broken into large pieces

Film the bottom of a 12-inch skillet with oil and set over medium-high to high heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper. Saute over high heat, stirring often, until onions begin to color.

Onion pile

Stir in the garlic, ginger, chile, coriander, raisins, and chickpeas. Stir over medium- high heat 2 minutes then add the vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the vinegar has evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Chickpeas entering the mix
Jalapeno, ginger, cilantro stems and garlic- into the pot!
Mmmmmmmmm

Push the saute to the sides of the pan so the center is empty and add the tomato paste. Saute about 30 seconds, then add the water and combine with the paste until smooth. Now blend everything together, cooking another 2 or 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and set the saute aside. (It could be refrigerated overnight at this point).

Set a collapsible steamer in a 6-quart pot, add several inches of water, cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Add the cauliflower, sprinkling it with a little salt. Steam until the cauliflower shows a little resistance when pierced with a knife. With long tongs remove the cauliflower to a large shallow bowl.

Heat the onion saute until hot then spoon it over the cauliflower, using any liquid in the pan. Squeeze the lime or lemon juice over the saute then scatter the coconut and cashews on top. Serve hot or warm.

Eat it before it disappears!

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That’s all for now… too frazzled to try to end this post wittily.