Blue Cheese-Balsamic Roasted Cauliflower

I had no intentions of making anything blog-worthy for supper last night: I marinated a large salmon filet in orange juice, bourbon, soy sauce and honey, topped it with fresh dill and broiled. This is served quite often in my home. The particularly great part of supper was not this salmon, although it is always more than satisfying, but was this cauliflower dish I threw together in a rather haphazard manner.

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that everyone loves to hate. I’ll admit that it usually not presented in the best way. As a child, cauliflower was rarely served and when it was, it was typically mushy and slathered in some yellow-orange ‘cheese sauce’ or on vegetable trays with copious amounts of ranch dressing. When I decided on last night’s vegetable, I was almost hesitant to use the big white bunch staring up at me from the crisper but I washed it and went about dissecting it. From that point, I just threw together a few ingredients from my refrigerator and cupboard. The result was almost too good to let go to the oven – I ate a good 25% of it uncooked because it was just so darn tasty. The finished product had just enough creaminess, just enough crunch and the balsamic resulted in just the right amount of caramelization. Also, cauliflower is chock full of vitamin C, K, B6 and omega-3’s, among other vitamins and nutrients, so eat up!

Blue Cheese Balsamic Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, washed and separated in florets
3 T olive oil
1/4 red onion, chopped
2 T or a good drizzling balsamic vinegar
1 T herbes de Provence
1/4 c blue cheese crumbles (blue cheese dressing would work well and lend creaminess)
1/4 c shredded Romano or Parmesan, optional.

Heat oven to 450F.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets and chopped red onion with olive oil. Toss in herbes de Provence and blue cheese.

Drizzle in balsamic and stir to combine.

Place in 9×9 glass dish and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with Romano; return to oven for 5 additional minutes.

I regret to inform that this is the only picture I can provide
The Only Photograph

Smoked Pork with Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce and Cheddar Biscuits

Once again, it’s been awhile. When constantly out of town, recording recipes seems be one of the things I let fall to the wayside, kind of like dusting. Inspired by the end of summer and the onset of fall and after spending time in what I call yankeeland (aka anything above North Carolina), I needed a good dose of Southern food.

After spending a couple days with his family in Waxhaw, Caleb came back with a TON of smoked pork shoulder and beef brisket from his dad and lots of peaches from his mom.

Of course pork and peaches are a stellar match; I shredded up some of the pork shoulder and decided I’d try my hand at a peach bbq sauce. Rather than serving with buns as pulled pork sandwiches, I made good old biscuits with sharp cheddar and green onion and served with simple cut green beans with nothing but garlic, salt and pepper.

The biscuits are pretty non-traditional and super simple but the ingredients are not measured at all. I fix biscuits this way when I plan on serving them with something heavy on top, in this case, pulled pork.  

Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

1 large peach, peeled, pit removed and finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 T butter
1/4 c spicy peach preserves
1/3 c honey
1/3 c dijon mustard
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1 T worcestershire sauce
1/2 c chicken stock, optional

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and add chopped red onion. Saute until translucent.

Sauteeing Onion

Add remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring frequently.

BBQ Sauce Ingredients

If sauce becomes too thick for your liking, add chicken stock and increase cooking time by 10 minutes.

Cooked Sauce

Set sauce to the side. If smoked pork shoulder is hot, allow to cool completely. 

Smoked Pork

Using your hands and a fork, pull the pork apart. It does not need to be perfectly shredded.

Pulled Pork

Pour that yummy Carolina Peach BBQ Sauce on top and stir it up real good. Serve it on top of sliced biscuits and make sure the biscuits are covered completely.

Pork with BBQ SauceCheddar-Green Onion Biscuits

Instead of a list of ingredients, I’ll just provide basic instructions for these. 

Preheat oven to 400 F. 

Add desired amount of flour (any kind of your choosing, I use whole wheat) to a large mixing bowl. Stir in a good pinch of baking powder and salt.

Little by little add in yogurt, stirring as you go. Stop adding yogurt once mixture is crumbly and yogurt and flour and evenly distributed. Now, stir in cream until dough becomes a thick and discernible ball.

Stir in freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chopped green onion.

Place dough on a well floured surface and roll out to 1/2″ thickness. Using a biscuit cutter (or top of a mason jar, like I like to do), cut out biscuits and place on greased baking sheet.

Biscuits Before Oven

Cook for about 15 minutes or until golden. If using whole wheat flour, biscuits will be significantly darker than usual. 

Cooked Biscuits

Keep in mind that the texture of these biscuits won’t be quite the same as a traditional, fluffy Southern biscuit. They are however, very tasty and still definitely biscuits.

Potato Cakes with Garlic Aioli

This weekend was the last weekend Caleb and I will be home for four weeks and his parents and younger sister came down to visit and volunteer during Matriculation Day at The Citadel. (Side note: his family are simple and unadventurous with their food.) Having taken on the role of the cook in the family, I tasked myself with making something simple for supper; I chose to make chicken marsala, roasted brussels sprouts, sauteed carrots and my special fennel mashed potatoes. There’s so much I could say about that supper, for which my family also joined us. All I’ll say is that the meal was fabulous, cooked traditionally with only fresh ingredients.

No matter how good mashed potatoes may be, they always seem to leave a bounty of leftovers. Being the Irish girl that I am, I knew just what to do with those leftovers – POTATO CAKES. These are by no means healthful but half of one potato cake is all I ever want and there’s no denying how delicious they are, especially topped with spoonful of garlic aioli or more traditionally with butter.

Potato Cakes

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes – please be sure to use good mashed potatoes, not the kind that have the consistency of baby food (I make mine with fennel and serve slightly chunky)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted

Dough

The green you see is a bit of the fennel fronds that I add to my fennel mashed potatoes.

On a floured surface combine mashed potatoes, flour and salt with your hands. This will create a thick dough.

Form into a rough ball and quarter.

Shape the quartered dough into rounds that are about 1/2″ thick and 4-6″ inches wide.

Dough Formed

In a small pan, heat a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat. One by one, cook cakes until golden or about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Cake in Pan

Finished Cake

Plated Single Cake

Sometimes the simple way is the best way.

Serve hot with a pad of butter or as I do, with garlic aioli. Click for the YouTube video instructional for the aioli I served. The guy gives a great tutorial that is both concise and informative. I added fresh chopped Italian parsley and basil, as well as a tad bit of dijon (as suggested) to mine.

Plate Potato Cake with Tomato

I like to eat mine with a sliced garden fresh tomato.

Plated Potato Cake

I served Caleb his with leftover chicken marsala. Italian meets Irish?

These are great for a filing breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack or anytime really. Don’t eat too many, though!

Chocolate Mint Truffle Cookies

Ladies, if it is that time of the month, I recommend you stop what you’re doing right now and make two, maybe three batches of these. I don’t remember the original basis for this recipe but it’s one I have memorized and can make at the drop of a hat.

These are not, in fact, very truffle-like once baked but the texture of the dough is quite truffle-y and rich. They satisfy my monthly craving for French truffles and I can’t keep peoples hands from them, especially Caleb’s.

Although it may be a cardinal sin as an American, I actually don’t very much care for chocolate chip cookies; instead, I prefer a rich chocolate cookie like this one. Also mint and chocolate are a match made in heaven.

 

Chocolate Mint Truffle Cookies
Chocolate Mint Truffle Cookies

1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c butter, room tempurature
1 large egg
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 t mint extract
1/4 c cocoa powder (heaping)
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/8 salt

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy.
  • Add in egg, mint and vanilla extracts and mix until well combined.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and combine thoroughly.
  • Grease a baking sheet.
  • Make small rounds with the dough, about 1 tablespoon each. Arrange the balls 2″ apart on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8 minutes and to prevent sticking, allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from baking sheet.
  • EAT UP!!!

Country-Fried Steak with Gravy

I’m going to deviate from my usual ‘MediterrAsian’ cooking tendencies here. Mr. Wonderful and myself are both Southerners born and bred so every now and again I have to fix up something that harkens more to our upbringing. Homemade country-fried steak is always a treat and just so happens to be Caleb’s favorite food. This recipe is my take on the classic. I served with brown rice and oven-roasted green beans.

Country-Fried Steak with Gravy
3-4 large cube steaks
¼ c milk
1 egg
3 cups whole wheat flour
chili powder
garlic powder
salt pepper
dried oregano
butter and olive oil for frying (I use half and half of each)

Marinade: 1 c balsamic vinegar
¼ c soy sauce
7 oz. box diced tomatoes, undrained

Brown Gravy:
½ small onion, chopped
milk
remainder of marinade extra flour (yes this is a brown gravy that uses milk)

1. Marinade cube steaks for 30 minutes. photo 1 2. It’s important to get your assembly line set up for this one. In medium-large mixing bowl, beat egg with fork and stir in milk.
3. In a shallow dish, combine flour and seasonings.
4. Dip steaks in egg/milk mixture one a time. Thoroughly cover with flour mixture. Repeat once more – this gives you a good coating on the cube steaks.photo 2 5. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat. 6. One or two at time, or however many you can easily fit in your pan, fry coated steaks until             golden on each side. This takes about 2-3 minutes. photo 3     photo 4
7. Now for the gravy. After all steaks are cooked, covered in a dish/plate and set to the side, add chopped onion to the same pan in which the cube steak was prepared. Sauté the onions until soft. Reduce heat to just below medium and add leftover marinade to the pan. Whisk the marinade and drippings thoroughly. Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes. Begin to stir in a little bit of milk. The gravy should still be brownish, so don’t add too much. This is brown gravy, not country gravy. Whisk in just enough flour to thicken. photo 1a 8. Serve the country-fried steak over rice and a liberal amount of gravy.

Side Note: Most folks serve country-fried steak with country gravy. Caleb just happens to prefer brown gravy, so that’s what I do. And you’ve gotta serve this with rice. It’s just a must. Some people will serve it with mashed potatoes but this is the South and we love our rice. photo 2b