Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cauliflower in Tahini Sauce

The start of the cauliflower season prompted me to write today about a very simple yet delicious cauliflower dish. It comes from Lebanese cuisine. I have made it quite often ever since I tried it first at my friend's the past summer. Almost everyone who tasted it complemented an interesting and unusual combination of cauliflower and tahini. I have been often asked for the recipe, which I share today.

The whole secret of the dish lies in the right combination of the tahini sauce ingredients. The sauce should be not too thick and rather tart in taste to contrast the mild taste of the cauliflower. Cauliflower can be cooked or roasted, and it can be just white or, in one of the now fashionable yellow or purple color to make it more fancy.

I make this dish often just as a lunch dish and eat it with pita bread, but it can also be served as a side dish to accompany grilled meats.

Cauliflower in Tahini Sauce

1 large cauliflower,
4 tbsps tahini paste (available at Middle Eastern groceries),
3-4 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice,
1 garlic clove, minced,
salt and pepper to taste,
fresh chopped parsley.

1. Cook cauliflower until soft but still firm. Drain.
2. Pour tahini paste in a medium bowl. Add 4 tbsps of water, then start adding lemon juice, alternating with more water to obtain a creamy sauce with the consistency of a heavy whipping cream. Add minced garlic and season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and finish with chopped parsley.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Coconut Pudding with Exotic Fruits

This coconut pudding, coming from the Brazilian cuisine, is another dessert that is very easy to make and is also very attractive in presentation. It is an ordinary pudding, just flavored with coconut milk, which gives it an exotic taste. It can be garnished with all kinds of fresh fruits sauces, including ones made of strawberry or raspberry, but I think coconut goes very well if paired with passion fruit and mango, or either one, especially since both of them grow in Brazil.

The whole secret of the preparation is in the right proportion of liquid and starch. It should be set but not too hard or too runny. The original recipe that I found in one of the culinary magazine did not work too well and the pudding collapsed after being removed from the dish. I added then an extra tablespoon of cornstarch which helped to make it more firm. If you like, you can add shredded coconut flakes to the pudding, or if you like it smooth you can do without them. It is also handy that this dessert can be made even two days ahead.

Coconut Pudding

(For six servings)
2 cups whole milk,
1/2 cup coconut unsweetened milk,
1/2 cup half and half,
1/2 cup sugar,
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (optional),
3 tbsp corn starch,
2 fresh passion fruits,
2 champagne mangoes.

1. Pour all the liquid in a medium pot. Add sugar and cornstarch and mix until blended.
2. On a medium heat bring the liquid to boil mixing constantly until bubbles start forming. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and add coconut flakes, if used.
4. Dip 6 small dishes (you can use ramekins) in a cold water to prevent the pudding from sticking to them.
5. Divide the pudding between dishes and cool down to room temperature, then chill in a refrigerator until well set, preferably overnight.

6. Peel off the mangoes, cut two slices of flesh from each and slice into strips.
7. Cut passion fruits in halves and using a spoon remove the seeds and juice.
8. To serve, flip over the pudding on the plate. Divide the passion fruit content on top of each and finish with mango slices.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spinach and Jerusalem Artichokes Salad

Almost always around this time of the year I post a recipe with Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes). Although in certain stores they are now available all year long, a true season for them comes in the early spring.

Today, this is a recipe for a simple salad. I came up with idea to roast Jerusalem artichokes like I roast beets. If the are young and fresh they do not need to be peeled and only require a good wash. If they are bigger and softer it is better to peel them off. Then they should be coated with olive oil and lemon sauce and roasted until slightly brown. I mix them with baby spinach, toss some roasted walnuts on top and sprinkle with lemon dressing. And the salad is ready.

Served with good prosciutto or beef carpaccio it can be served as a nice starter. Served on its own, it can make a nice lunch dish.

Spinach and Jerusalem Artichokes Salad

1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, finely sliced,
one 6 oz bag of baby spinach,
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted,
2 tbsp olive oil,
juice from one lemon,
2 tbsp. walnut oil,
salt and pepper.

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Mix olive oil with juice from 1/2 of a lemon, and salt. Pour over the sliced Jerusalem artichokes, toss them well and spread on a baking tin.
3. Bake for about 20 minutes until the Jerusalem artichokes are light brown.

4. Cool them down. Transfer Jerusalem artichokes to a bowl and mix with spinach.
5. Mix the rest of the lemon juice with walnut oil, season with salt and pepper, and pour over the vegetables. Mix gently. Finish with walnut oils and serve.