Roasted Cauliflower with Shiitake and Sage

Let’s hear it for the first natural sunlight photograph in months! Woohoo! Wow, it really does make a difference…and reminds me of just how much I’m missing living where I do. My apartment itself is really nice compared to most in our area, but it sits at the back of the house in between two significantly larger buildings. Direct sunlight just barely makes it in our windows for about one hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon. I even began taking vitamin D this winter on a recommendation from my doctor and was amazed at how much better I felt. If you live in New England or other areas that have more clouds than rays, you might want to look into it. More energy, better attitude, deeper sleep? Yes please!

Now, while the photograph above makes me very happy, I have to admit that I just plumb forgot to take any photos until that last one…oops. This recipe is ridiculously easy, though, so I have no doubt that you can make it yourself without the photo tutorial. It also originally came from Terry Walters‘ new book Clean Start that I am loving more every day. I am not a “clean foods” devotee, but I definitely agree with her return-to-the-source attitude and admire her skill at making whole food meals both easy and fun to cook. If you missed the Green Fries in the last post, go check them out – they’re from the same book.

Roasted Cauliflower with Shiitake and Sage

(adapted from Clean Start by Terry Walters)

Ingredients:

1   large head cauliflower

1   dozen Brussels sprouts

½   lb.   shiitake mushrooms

2   garlic cloves, peeled

¼   C   fresh sage leaves (no, my love affair with this herb isn’t over yet, haha)

¼   C   fresh oregano (or 1½ T dried)

2     t   coarse sea salt

¼   C   EVOO

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Prepare cauliflower by removing and discarding outer leaves and inner stems. Cut florets into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Prepare sprouts by cutting away and discarding dry ends. Half sprouts (or quarter them if they are large) and add to cauliflower. Remove stems from mushrooms, slice into ¼” strips, and add to veggies.
  3. With food processor running, drop in garlic and process until minced. Add sage, oregano, salt, and oil and pulse to chop herbs and blend ingredients. Remove from processor and pour over vegetables. Toss veggies gently to coat evenly. Transfer to baking dish and roast for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, toss to redistribute and prevent burning. Return to oven and roast for an additional 15 – 20 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Remove from oven and serve.

Beezer’s Notes:

You know, I wouldn’t have made this recipe if I didn’t think it would be tasty. That said, I really underestimated just how tasty roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts could be! The sprouts themselves caused me some anxiety because I have never ever prepared them before. What if I failed and they became all mushy? What if they cooked up fine but I hated the taste? I would be doomed to buy such a simple veggie from more talented cooks for the rest of my life!! …ok, maybe that’s a little overly-dramatic, but I was still too chicken to try cooking them until I read this recipe. And you know what? They turned out great!

Flavor combinations are really what make this dish a winner. The sweet sage/oregano blend really pulls all the earthy flavors together and balanced out the salt. While I thought this would be more of a veggie side for dinner, the depth of flavor in this dish allows it to stand front and center as the main course if you want – just serve it over rice or (as the source recipe suggests) with lentils and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal sans meat.

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Potato Sage Pizza with Green Fries

Happy Saint Patty’s Day! I sincerely apologize for not having an appropriately-themed dish to share with you this year. I’m experimenting with no fewer than three recipes at the moment and this wonderful holiday caught me by surprise. I’m an embarrassment to food bloggers everywhere, I’m sure. Still, I do have a tried and true recipe for Irish Cream Pound Cake on file for you that I highly recommend. For Irish cream lovers, this cake is sin on a plate. If you aren’t as fond of liquor as I am, you can also whip up a batch of bright green Mint Chocolate Candy Cookies. Yum yum. Finally, considering how strongly potatoes are tied to Irish history, you might even consider today’s post to be acceptable. Right? Of course. It’s what I intended all along…mmhm…

Growing up, I seemed to have weird tastes even for a kid. Maybe even especially for a kid. See, instead of slathering ketchup or ranch dressing on anything and everything I really liked bland things. Boring things. My favorite snacks included white bread with butter and peas eaten out of the can (eww!). Don’t get me wrong, I definitely had a sweet tooth (and was a chubber until I discovered roller blading at 15), but I would always choose the cheese and crackers over pizza bites. Over the years I have of course grown to love more complex and unusual tastes…until it comes to pizza. For some reason, I am still a pizza minimalist. Give me a little EVOO, parm, and herbs and I’m good. No sauce required, no deep-dish, no stuffed-crust. There are some killer veggie-lover’s pies out there and I had a kickass gluten-free ground turkey pizza and my best bud’s house, but if I make a pizza for myself I won’t need much.

This recipe is a continuation of my love affair with sage. I also learned that I really like the potato-pizza combo in Japan where they like to put potato salad (among other things) on their pies. While the pizza recipe itself was simple enough, being the klutz that I am I happened to smash my hand into a metal door frame at work the day I made this and had a constantly oozing cut the rest of the day. Not wanting to risk kneading the dough, I cheated and bought a pre-made organic blob at my local Coop but included the original dough recipe here for you. Since simply topping the pizza was a little boring even for me, I included a batch of “green fries”. Pizza and fries for dinner, only tastier and healthier!

Potato Sage Pizza with Green Fries

(adapted from Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian by Becker et. al., and Clean Start by Terry Walters)

Ingredients:

For the Pizza Dough*…

2   t   active dry yeast

1  1/3   C   warm water

3 ½ – 4   C   flour

2   T   EVOO

1   T   salt

* Note: According to source recipe, this makes two 12″ pizzas. Save half the dough for later.

For the Pizza Toppings…

¼   C   EVOO

6   oz.   red potatoes, boiled and sliced thinly

2   T   coarsely chopped fresh sage (or 2 t dried sage)

salt and pepper to taste

For Green Fries…

1   lb.   fresh green beans

1   C   canola or other neutral oil, or enough to fill a medium sauce pan ~2″ deep

1   t   salt

1   t   wasabi powder

Procedure:

  1. For the dough (which can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge overnight): sprinkle yeast over the top of warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes or until mostly dissolved. Then, add oil, salt, and flour and knead or mix with an electric mixer with dough attachment on low speed for about 1 minute until the ingredients are incorporated. Continue kneading or mix on medium for another 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. Cut dough in half and save one ball in the refrigerator for future use (will keep for 3 days). Place the other ball in a floured bowl covered in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in height – about 1 hour depending on temperature (in my 65°F living room it takes about 3 hrs for my dough to rise). Once risen, punch dough down and reroll into a ball, letting it rest covered in a cloth for another 15 minutes or so to proof. Move a rack to the bottom of the oven and preheat to 475°F.
  3. After dough has proofed roll it out onto a floured work surface and shape into a 12″ flat disk. Place dough on a pizza stone or greased baking sheet. Use your fingertips to push dents in the surface of the dough to prevent bubbles (I forgot this step and got some monster bubbles!) and brush liberally with EVOO, ~ ¼ Cup.
  4. Top pizza with potato slices and sage. Dribble an additional 2 Tablespoons EVOO on top of the potatoes/sage and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake pizza on bottom rack until the crust is golden brown – about 12 minutes.
  5. While pizza is baking fill a heavy-bottomed saucepan 2″ deep with canola or neutral oil for frying. Heat oil to 350°F – be careful to keep it from smoking – and drop beans very carefully into the oil in handfuls, cooking for 30 seconds at a time or until beans are bright green and just soft. Remove from oil and place on paper towel-lined plate and repeat until all beans are cooked. Pat beans with paper towel to remove excess oil.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine salt and wasabi powder. Sprinkle seasoning over beans, toss evenly to coat, and serve alongside pizza or as an appetizer if pizza is still cooking. If left to sit, the “green fries” become mushy.


Beezer’s Notes:

I devoured this pizza. It is almost embarrassing to admit just how much of it I ate in a single sitting, especially since – even without sauce or meat – it is pretty filling with all the potatoes. I just loved the light taste and crispy sage spirals. I do wish the sage flavor had been a bit stronger so I’m thinking I may brush the dough with sage butter instead of EVOO the next time I make this. Not as healthy, granted, but even more delicious!

As for the “green fries”, they were better than I expected. I’ll admit, not dipping the fries in some breading before frying had me a little skeptical, but they turned out really flavorful and with a great kick thanks to the wasabi – the perfect compliment to a mild pizza. Unlike true fries though they were quite soft and, as tasty as they were, I really missed the crunch. I’m thinking I will pan fry them in the future to try to give them a bit more texture. Has anyone pan fried green beans before? Am I crazy? Haha, probably. 😛

Overall Preference: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Sweet Potato & Turnip Mash with Sage Butter

I don’t often use this blog to vent. I prefer it to simply be a fun collection of my adventures in the kitchen, sort of a culinary scrapbook, that allows me to share one of my hobbies with others in return for the numerous times I’ve been inspired by them.

These last few weeks have been rough, though.

I’ve had a stack of recipes ready and waiting on my desk; a collection of veggies and odd ingredients taking up space in my fridge. There just hasn’t been much time to cook and the time I do have I’ve spent with good friends and family to try to help lighten my mood. You see, as much as I enjoy my job – and I really do enjoy it most of the time – it can be very emotionally draining. I don’t have to face tragedies so directly as my good friend over at Corn Flakes And Coffee does, I don’t know how she is able to put so much dedication and care into children only to see them slip away at the end, but I do witness the aftermath of tragedies. As a recovery technician for a non-profit tissue bank I sometimes see teenagers, children even, who have no business being in a morgue. And this month there have been more than ever.

After my most recent teenage suicide case I felt my emotions shift from sadness to anger. How can these kids even think of ending their lives when they have yet to experience even a fifth of it? What makes them think that this world is so limiting that there can’t possibly be anything better, anything different, any escape? Why aren’t people listening to them and giving them the support they so desperately need??

So, I started looking into suicide watch groups in my state in an effort to find some way to help prevent these tragedies. While there are some amazing organizations in place to help train teachers, administrators, and the like, there are currently very few local resources for the average citizen. Then, I remembered reading about a national group that can work with volunteers from across the globe to help prevent suicide and promote awareness. After doing a bit more research, I signed up and had my interview today! It was quite long – over an hour – but I passed and am now about to begin my training.

One the big attractions to this program is that, once completed, I will be fully certified in crisis intervention and so will be qualified to help at other organizations outside of this project if I care to do so in the future. I’m so excited to be a part of such an amazing, large-scale effort and can’t wait to become a full-fledged volunteer! 🙂

Now, back to the food…

Sweet Potato & Turnip Mash with Sage Butter

(Eating Well, December 2010)

Ingredients:

1  lb.   sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and diced

8  oz.   turnips (about 2 medium)*, peeled and diced

3   large cloves of garlic, peeled but whole

30  fresh sage leaves, divided

2   T   butter

1    t   salt

pepper to taste

*Note: I don’t know much about turnips and this is the first time I’ve ever cooked one, but just one of the turnips at my market weighed about 13 oz! Like other vegetables, I’m sure turnips come in varieties so as long as you can get at least 8 oz. worth for this recipe you’re fine.

Procedure:

  1. Place potatoes, turnips, garlic, and 12 sage leaves in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to Medium-low, cover, and simmer for 12 – 15 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
  2. Drain and return vegetables to the pan; cover to keep warm.
  3. Heat butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. As the butter melts and turns lightly brown add the remaining sage and allow them to crackle and flavor the butter for about 1 minute.
  4. Pour the sage butter – saving the fried leaves for garnish – over the vegetables and smash the mix with a potato masher. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Beezer’s Notes:

This is one delicious mash, peeps. If you like sweet potato pie, but wish it were a bit more savory or want a healthy twist on traditional, creamy mashed potatoes this is the recipe for you. According to the source recipe, a single serving of this orange beauty provides 180% of your daily value of Vitamin A! In addition “preliminary research suggests [sage] may improve some symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease by preventing a key enzyme from destroying acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in memory and learning. In another study, college students who took sage extracts in capsule form performed significantly better on memory tests, and their moods improved.” So there you go. Super simple recipe with a very impressive name and plenty of health benefits to boot!

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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