Saving grace

Two Tuesday nights ago I sat at my kitchen table in utter disbelief that people could see the world in a way that is so vehemently different than how I see it. I grew up in a place that valued public education, the outdoors, compromise. Now all of that has seemed to change. As I try to negotiate my way through this different world, I can’t help but think that this change has a lot to do with money. And I have never understood money. So this could be my problem, or it might just be my saving grace.

In the midst of what may seem like a referendum on the life you have chosen for yourself, you must return to the things that bring you happiness. Cooking, digging in the dirt, swooning over pets, bike rides, and cauliflower. With salsa verde.

I made this cauliflower a month and a half of Tuesdays ago on my birthday. My parents joined us for cocktail hour and the cauliflower, with its zingy sidekick, was a hit.

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Roasted Cauliflower with Salsa Verde

This recipe comes from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Ingredients:

For the salsa verde:

1 medium jalepeño, ribbed and seeded, then finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 medium cloves garlic, minced with a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

For the cauliflower:

1 medium cauliflower
2-3 tablespoon olive oil*
salt to taste

Directions:

Prepare the salsa verde first. In a medium bowl, combine the jalepeño, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and olive oil and whisk to combine. Add salt to taste and whisk well. Set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Wash and dry cauliflower well. Place it on a cutting board, stem side down and slice it vertically, top down, into 1/4 inch slices. (You’ll end up with a pile of florets of varying sizes — that’s fine; it means some will be darker/crispier than others for a nice mix of textures.)

Put the cauliflower in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, making sure to coat all the pieces. Spread cauliflower in a single layer on a large heavy sheet pan. Salt it lightly.

Bake until the cauliflower is tender, golden and evenly browned in spots, 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally with a spatula.

Serve cauliflower hot or warm, with salsa verde on the side for drizzling (or dipping!).

*I used safflower oil in place of the olive oil for roasting the cauliflower

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On this Tuesday night, invite some friends and make them this cauliflower. Sit outside and toast to your saving grace.

Saucepans and the single girl

With Dan on the road with Clovis Mann this weekend, I found myself cooking for one. When this happens I always think about my mom’s cookbook from the 1960s entitled, ‘Saucepans and the Single Girl.’ I have always thought that this is one of the all-time greatest cookbook titles. While the inspiration for the book was to bait bachelors with downhome cooking (think beef stroganoff), I just wanted to make myself a healthy and delicious meal that would go well with the bottle of red wine (“Wisconsites love Malbec,” I was told) that I had just picked up at Star Liquor. Not able to get enough of roasted cauliflower lately, I whipped a pasta dish that featured this delicious vegetable, along with my old favorite, kale. Addicted to olives, I added those, too. Here is my recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Pasta:

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Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Pasta

serves 1-2

The triumverate of ingredients

Ingredients:

A couple handfuls of cauliflower

olive oil

5 stalks kale

black olives

red pepper flakes

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

whole wheat pasta

freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and place on baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower until it starts to brown (about 15-20 minutes).

Roasted cauliflower

While the cauliflower is roasting, boil a pot of water. Wash the kale and rip it into bite-sized pieces and when the water is boiling, steam the kale until tender (about 2-3 minutes).

Steamed kale

Place kale aside, salt the boiling water and add the whole wheat pasta (I like to use penne but only had linguine the other night, so I used that in a pinch.) When using straight pasta I have heard that a general rule is to use about a quarter-sized handful per person. While the pasta is cooking, place the roasted cauliflower (along with the olive oil from the baking sheet) in a skillet, turn the heat on medium-low and season with red pepper flakes, freshly ground pepper and coarse salt.

Cauliflower eagerly awaiting some salt and pepper

Add the kale to the pan and give it a stir. After eating about 17 olives and taking a sip of wine, slice up a few olives (I like to use the ‘whiskey’ olives from the Willy Street co-op olive bar- I don’t know the official name) and throw those into the skillet. After the pasta has cooked a few minutes, drain it and add it to the skillet. Give the pasta another stir and adjust any seasonings. Serve the pasta with some freshly shredded parmesan cheese on top.

Yum

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I recommend serving this meal with a glass (or two) of wine, a crusty piece of bread and a few squares of this candy bar for dessert:

Super yum

A meal fit for a single girl.

P.S. If you need a movie suggestion, I think this winter meal goes great with ‘Beautiful Girls.’ If you haven’t seen this movie in awhile (or never) it is one of my all-time favorites. With Matt Dillon and Michael Rapaport as snowplow drivers, this movie features ice shanties, whiskey drinking, a great soundtrack (including ‘Will it Go Round in Circles,’ by Billy Preston) and a bar scene where Uma Thurman mentions one of my favorite holidays which happens to be coming up this week (hint: it’s not Valentine’s Day). Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I’m off to Monroe Street to buy a heart-shaped cookie cutter and a sifter. I’m making cookies and this time I’m going to do it right… Happy Sunday.

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.