Brian contends that this blog is as much about the weather as it is about food. I could talk about weather for days, but I try not to indulge too often for fear I’ll bore you. These days though, the chill of winter is inescapable. (Except on the west coast, where it’s apparently summer?) But out here in the east, this winter weather feels right. I want to earn the spring and summer, to make the most of the contrasts and changing seasons. And earning it we are, with highs in the teens and lows in the single digits, we are all getting an education in cold.
All in all, it’s a very good time to have the oven on; twisting the knob is the first essential step for just about everything we make lately. But these cauliflower steaks are more than an excuse to warm things up, they’re also part of a plan. read more »
As the days and weeks add up, as the fall seems to have gone from just beginning to full-on, I’m feeling a little stunned. I’ve loved every minute of the mild early fall weather. Now that things have edged colder, and I find myself a little bewildered even thinking of coats. But, the occasional blast from the heater, my withered garden, and all these pumpkins seem to point to the inevitable. Soup weather, we meet again. read more »
I think I have writer’s block? I’ve been staring at this screen for two days now trying to write about purple cauliflower, the most psychedelic of the cruciferous vegetables (Ok, except for Romanesco broccoli). To break through the block, I decided to listen to Foxygen, but then just cut to the chase and went straight to Donovan. “There is a Mountain” seems to have cleared things up for me nicely. I mean, the mountains, Juanita, the caterpillar, what else is there? Purple cauliflower. read more »
The main way a windy New York day differs from days in other places I’ve lived is in the amount of debris blowing down the street. In Virginia a windy day might have meant some blowing leaves and a few papers, but here, the walls of buildings channel the wind into something powerful enough to really pull up all sorts of things from who knows where and I’ve seen large plastic sheets, advertising circulars, trashcans and their contents all tumbling down the street. I once saw a pair of couch cushions blow by our building like tumbleweeds. It can be a little frightening if you’re out in it, especially if you’re walking by a construction site (which is every other lot in our neighborhood), but looking out the window, it’s easy to imagine everything old is being blown away and you’re getting a fresh start. read more »
Sometimes when you cook, you learn a little bit about yourself. For example, did you know that I don’t know how to spell “cauliflower?” I just learned that about myself. I always thought it was spelled “cauliflour.” For real. But as I typed this recipe, spell check kept picking it up, so I looked it up and saw that I was totally wrong. It’s really weird. I’m usually a good speller. It’s not like cauliflower is an unusual ingredient. It’s one of my favorite vegetables. I worked in the produce section of a grocery store in college, so I’ve seen the word plenty of times. I would try and claim it’s a British spelling but, for whatever reason, we get a lot of hits from Scotland, so I can’t sneak that one by.
Anyhow, lamb neck is a tender, tasty meat. Totally worth it if you can get past the name. Like oxtails, it has a lot of collagen that breaks down as you braise it and leaves you with a really rich sauce, so it’s great for stews and braises. On the downside, it has a lot of little bones in it, so watch out for those. I did this one in a dry white wine, because I think that makes it less rich than if you do it in red wine, but that could be all in my head. I think it’s for real though.
Braised Lamb Necks with Cauliflower
2 lambs’ necks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 tbsp. butter
4-5 sprigs thyme (or rosemary or whatever you like)
-Rub the lambs’ necks with salt and pepper.
-In a heavy pot with a lid, brown the necks in oil or butter over high heat.
-Add the garlic, wait one minute, and reduce the heat to medium.
-Add the wine, butter, and thyme, add salt and pepper to taste (you can add more later if you need).
-Cover and reduce heat to low. Braise for at least 2.5 hours, turning the necks every now and then.
- When you are a half an hour from being done, add the cauliflower to the pot.
We picked up some fresh oysters at the farmer’s market last week and made an incredible fall feast. On the menu: oysters, cauliflower salad, spinach with garlic, and lightly baked cod. It turned out to be a nice way to say goodbye to indian summer, as the weather turned bitterly cold early last week.
Cauliflower salad is delicious and easily made. I hope you will consider it as a Thanksgiving side dish. The golden color is sure to brighten any table. Cauliflower shares many of the nutritional benefits of its green brethren: cabbage, broccoli and kale, so enjoy! This recipe is adapted from the late fall issue of the Diner Journal.
By the way, if you know a foodie, from Brooklyn or otherwise, a Diner Journal subscription makes a great gift. Though the recipes can be a bit vague, they are absolutely inspiring. All with a focus on things you can make with the fresh produce and seasonal meats available at the farmer’s market.
Cauliflower Salad (adapted from the Diner Journal)
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/3 cup large raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon tarragon
2 large shallots, diced
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush a little olive oil on the cauliflower and lightly salt. Spread the florets on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cauliflower starts to brown on the edges.
I reliably burn pine nuts any time I toast them, and is heartbreaking to throw them away, but give it a shot if you’re brave.
Put the raisins in a small bowl and add the sherry vinegar; let them plump up until needed for the salad. With a whisk, combine shallots, mustard, herbs, and raisin-soaking vinegar, then slowly add the olive oil. Place roasted florets into a bowl, add the pine nuts and raisins, and then toss with half of the the dressing. Taste, adjust salt or vinaigrette levels, adding more of each as needed. Serve immediately.