diy

recipe: surprisingly vegan cauliflower soup

Among the many health-based food experiments I've embarked on, going vegan never really appealed to me. Quite simply, I've teetered on the edge of anemia my whole life, no matter how much meat I eat, so a strictly vegan diet always seemed like a recipe for disaster. That said, I have a great respect for vegetable-focused, clean eating, so I enjoy experimenting with vegan recipes from time to time.

In any case, this recipe didn't begin with any dietary ambitions. As with most things in my kitchen, it came from a desire to use the ingredients in my pantry in the most intelligent, no-waste way possible. So when I realized I had both a fresh head of cauliflower and 2 cups of frozen leeks (whenever I find leeks that are particularly long, white and lean I buy, chop and freeze them for future use), I suspected I might find a recipe to use both.

Cue Love & Lemons, whose roasted cauliflower and leek soup was already happily hanging out on my "soups + stews" Pinterest board. Chop, season, roast and blend—it was clearly my kind of no-fuss, one-pan/one-pot cooking. Based on the ingredients in my own pantry, I swapped in walnuts for the cashews and homemade preserved lemon for the fresh lemon. And, of course, I did my own thing as far as measurements because that's the joy of savory cooking. 

And when it was all over...I was less than impressed. The robust flavor I had been expecting just didn't seem to have shown up at the party. But, of course, I was going to eat the soup for lunch all week, because that's what responsible cooks do. Then...the next day when I heated the soup up for lunch, something magical happened. There was bold cheesy flavor in my soup. Overnight, in the fridge, the complexity of this concoction had mysteriously turned up the funk about ten notches. At that moment, I finally understood how some people could get addicted to nut-based, vegan cheese—though I suspect the paprika is also a key player in the funkification of the recipe below. (Please note: This changes nothing in my dairy life. I am a loyal, near-daily consumer of yogurt and unpasteurized cheeses.)

Anyway, here's my take on the recipe:

surprisingly Vegan Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 cups leeks, chopped
  • one head cauliflower, broken into florets (I also included the stalk + leaves)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp grapedseed (or other high heat) oil
  • pinch aleppo pepper
  • 2 pinches dried thyme
  • pinch salt
  • roughly 4 cups water
  • 1-1.5 cups walnuts, pre-soaked (I soaked them for about 1.5 hours)
  • 1 quarter of a preserved lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Toss chopped leeks, garlic and cauliflower in a small amount of grape seed or other high-heat appropriate oil. Sprinkle with thyme, aleppo pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes (until golden). **If you haven't soaked your walnuts yet, do it now in hot water.
  2. Remove roasted vegetables from oven and add to a large pot with about 3 cups of water, soaked walnuts, preserved lemon, smoked paprika and olive oil. Use an immersion blender to break down until creamy. Add more water, as necessary, to achieve a thinner, soup-like consistency. 
  3. Once soup is pureed, gently heat through and puree again to achieve an even smoother consistency. 
  4. Refrigerate overnight and reheat when ready to serve.

Note: You will need either a very powerful immersion blender or a Vitamix for this soup to be successful

supper club: september

After a summer hiatus, I'm thrilled to be bringing back the supper club. To make the most of the city's gorgeous nearly-fall weather, I asked my dear friends Moritz & Alexis to loan me their grill and adorable backyard in Fort Greene. 

My amazing, if ridiculous friend Moritz—donning astro turf from his backyard as a scarf.

The BBQ menu was largely inspired by classes I've taken at the Institute of Culinary Education with alum and current Executive Chef at Spice Market, Anthony Ricco. In particular, I have to thank him for teaching me to break down a whole chicken, as well as his recipes for Indonesian spice rub and Southeast Asian slaw.

 

Many thanks to my dear friend—and test kitchen chef—Melissa Knific for manning the grill.

To start, I grilled skewered shisito peppers, which, as an eating experience, are a game of "Russian roulette."  Most are very mild, but every once in a while...you really hit a hot one. I also steamed edamame and tossed it with Maldon salt and curry powder for a pre-meal snack. 

Thanks to the many hands of my hungry guests, we picked about 5 bunches of herbs for both the slaw and a big pot of nasi ulam, a rice dish I first discovered on the menu of Fatty Cue in Williamsburg. The combination of cilantro, mint, lemongrass, and ground shrimp powder create an herbaceous umami that brings an addictive amount of flavor to sticky jasmine rice.

Speaking of funky flavors, the slaw consisted of red and green cabbage, asian pear, julienned carrot, bean sprouts, mint, cilantro  and a dressing of sweetened condensed milk, fish sauce, lime juice, sriracha and rice vinegar.

The chicken was prepared two ways—on the bone, rubbed with Indonesian dry rub and skewered, with dry rub and a bit of chili marinade. A batch of grilled pineapple rounded out the meal.

But let's never forget dessert. The marvelous Molly Marzalek-Kelly, head pastry chef at BAKED in Red Hook joined us yet again, this time supplying home-made fortune cookies and whoopie pies with coconut or mango filling.  The fortune cookies contained hand-written notes—questions, in fact, that guests answered aloud. My favorite demanded, "Tell us your favorite summer moment." One friend generously responded, "This."

recipe: kettle eggs

When I lived in Paris, the first meal that I ordered in a restaurant was oeufs à la coque. The description of ingredients sounded like an omelet, but that it was not. Instead, I received a salad and two piping hot, seemingly uncooked eggs. Uncooked to the point that I wasn't even sure they were edible. But, out of embarrassment, I ate every last bite. (The added irony? The French word for omelet is omelette. Whoops.)

oeuf_a_la_coque-9d6f4-46758.jpg

I never quite got used to eating runny egg whites, but later in my time abroad discovered oeufs mollet—essentially a creamier version of American soft-boiled eggs. The whites are cooked, but still moist, and the yoke is just touched by heat, so that you still have to crack it open to release the golden liquid I like to think of as "egg butter."

Of course, I experimented with all different ways to achieve the same effect at home, and found that the best results came from water that was heated to a piping hot boil, then removed from the heat. Out of laziness or sheer genius, I decided my electric kettle (a staple in French kitchens) was the perfect place to achieve this effect, as it did an even better job than a stove-top pot of retaining heat after having stopped boiling.

Hence, my invention of "kettle eggs." To this day, it's still my favorite breakfast.

Kettle Eggs

Ingredients

  • two eggs
  • toasted bread
  • water (enough to fill a large kettle 3/4 of the way)

Instructions

  1. Fill a large electric or stove top kettle 3/4 of the way.
  2. Bring to a full, piping-hot boil.
  3. Turn off the heat.
  4. Gently place two eggs into the kettle and close the top.
  5. Time six minutes, swiftly remove eggs and promptly rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle.
  6. Crack eggs open (carefully) and scoop the insides out onto the toasted bread of your choice.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.