Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Soup (v, gf)

All I’ve been making and eating lately is soup. Vegetable soups, fish soups, more vegetable soups. I’ve spared you from yet another soup of late, a mushroom and wild rice concoction which was delicious, but… soup. This one, however, I had to post. Healthy, vegan and gluten free for those who swing that way, easy, and cheap (I am a sucker for saving money). Warming and hearty for a nice winter lunch and it’s even better the next day.

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ROASTED GARLIC & CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets 
  • 1 head garlic, intact
  • 1-2 yellow onions, sliced or diced
  • olive oil
  • 5 c stock or broth of your choice
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 c white wine, optional
  • 3 tbsp flour of your choice, optional
  • 1 c milk, half and half, or cream, optional

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 and grab a cookie sheet with a lip and a small oven-safe bowl or ramekin. Wash off the cauliflower and chop the white portions into chunks and florets, placing on the cookie sheet and drizzling with olive oil, tossing to coat. Cut the top of the head of  garlic- straight across so a bit of each clove is exposed- and place it, papery skin and all, into the ramekin. Drizzle it with olive oil, too, and top with foil. Bake both in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring the cauliflower once halfway through.

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Don’t worry if it’s brown or charred in some places- it should be.

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Meanwhile, caramelize the onions. Heat another healthy glug of olive oil (or a combo of olive oil and butter, about 2 tbsp each) over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and a healthy pinch of kosher salt, and cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to low and cook until the cauliflower is ready, stirring now and then. The onions will be nice and brown and your pan will, too, which brings me to the optional flour and/or wine. If you’d like, increase the heat to medium and add the wine, scraping up the tasty brown bits and deglazing the pan. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir until no more flour is visible.

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Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer.

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Cook for about a minute to remove the flour taste, then add the cooked cauliflower florets, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the soup, and add milk or cream, if you’d like. Don’t worry, the garlic will be sweet and mellow and won’t overpower the other flavors you have going on. Taste a clove first if you’d like- they good. They real good.

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Okay! So now, purée the soup as much as you’d like. I like my soups pretty puréed, and cauliflower will still have texture if it’s blended, so I went to town.

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Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Add another cup of broth or water if you’d like a thinner soup. And that’s it! So delicious and really good for you. Enjoy!FullSizeRender (29)

Roasted Lemon-Dill Salmon (pes, gf) and Really Easy Butternut Squash Soup (v, gf)

You know those meals that look impressive but are super easy to throw together? The hands-off, like, Williams Sonoma photo shoot, break out your all-white everything serveware at your winter home in the Swiss Alps fancy? Yeah. Those are my favorite. Here’s one to add to your arsenal.

ROASTED SALMON WITH LEMON AND DILL

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lb salmon plank
  • 1 lemon
  • 10-15 fresh dill sprigs
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper
  • parchment paper

Directions:

On a baking dish, place the salmon on a sheet of parchment paper. The paper isn’t a must but will simplify cleanup. Generously salt and pepper the salmon. Cut the lemon in half and juice one half. Slice the other lemon half into thin, crosswise slices.

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Seafood Chowda (pes, gf)

Making this soup really stepped up my annoying culinary joke game last week. Anytime I make/eat/order/think of chowder, I think of the Simpsons chowda/chower Freddy Quimby scandal episode, which makes me laugh out loud regardless of time or location:
And having been given a beautiful filet of Alaskan halibut that I used in the chowder, I also got to walk around saying things like this,

halibut

which, as you can imagine, made me very happy. Just for the halibut…. hahahahaha…. Oh, top hat crab! You so crazy.

On to the soup. I’d stumbled across the idea for salmon chowder, which sounded delicious but quickly changed when the halibut entered my life. I decided to make a halibut, cod, and shrimp chowder just for the- wait for it- because I wanted to. Gotcha.

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This soup can be made with whatever sturdy fish fillets you have on hand. You want the fish to be thick enough to stand up to being cooked in hot broth- the goal is to have large, spoon-sized chunks of cooked fish in the soup, not flakes. Leave the fish out altogether if you prefer- shrimp, chunks of lobster, and scallops would be equally amazing. This was a really tasty dinner and improved, as most soups do, overnight. It keeps for a few days and travels well. All in all, a tasty, hearty, warming dish.

SEAFOOD CHOWDA

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fish, skinned and boned, cut into 1″ chunks, or 2 lbs seafood and shellfish mix of your choice
  • large handful peeled and deveined shrimp, optional
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour, optional (leave out for gf option)
  • 1/2-1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • kosher salt, to tastesoup1
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 leeks, white and light green bits chopped into rings 
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into rounds
  • 1 clove minced garlic, optional
  • 1 bulb fennel, stalks and fronds cut off, chopped into small pieces
  • large handful kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 6 cups stock or broth of your choice
  • 1 cup half-and half
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, optional
  • Crystal hot sauce, for serving – or (sacrilegious) Tabasco

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Thanksgiving No-Knead Peasant Bread (v)

Last weekend, I embarked on what seemed like a simple quest for two Thanksgiving recipes. My little list centered around finding a vegetarian dish that would freeze, travel, and reheat well, and a simple and rustic bread that could rise, bake, and be ready to hit the road within 24 hours.

With all of the options available online, my search quickly morphed into a deep, dark, butternut squash and sage-scented Thanksgiving recipe rabbit hole. As I floated down, past enough Pinterest pins and Food52 entries to make a girl want to skip the holiday entirely, I kept bumping into the same bread recipe, slightly altered each time depending on the chef.

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the black hole of uncredited bread recipes

Not kidding you, I came across the recipe in some version or another no less than ten times. Its popularity piqued my interest and after some digging, I uncovered the original source.

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Sullivan Street Bakery’s gorgeous version

Aha!” I triumphantly thought to no one at all when I found it. The bread is the creation of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street bakery in Hell’s Kitchen. It was originally published in the NY Times in ’06…. in my beloved Mark Bittman’s column. Circle of life. Had to make it. Bread of destiny. This bread chose me.

NO-KNEAD PEASANT BREAD

Adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery

Ingredients:

  • 3 c all purpose flour OR 2.5 cups all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheatbread11
  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c warm water (not hot)
  • optional additions: orange or lemon zest, fresh herbs, 1/2 c shredded cheese, 1/2 c nuts, 1/2 c dried fruits or berries
  • a cast iron or ovenproof dutch oven with a lid; Lodge makes great ones at great price points

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Shrimp “Ceviche” Salad (pes, gf)

So, it’s totally true that cooking is like working a muscle. The more you work that muscle, the easier it is to use. The less you work it, well, that muscle gets weaker. If I don’t cook on a regular basis, my culinary creative juices dry up like a sad roadside drainage ditch. Exhibit A:

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so sad. so not cooking.

Who wants to eat there? Bleh. Luckily, the more often I cook, inspiration flows back like a tumbling tropical waterfall. Exhibit B:

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take me there? now? I’ll cook!

Much more appealing!! Do you find the same thing happens in your kitchen? It’s 100% the case in mine. Speaking of which, let’s flex those cooking muscles and talk ceviche. Typically, ceviche is a raw fish and/or shellfish dish in which the seafood had been “cooked” by citrus juices. To explain those salmonella-hazy quotation marks and to quote Chowhound, “citric acid changes the proteins in the fish, unraveling the molecules and altering their chemical and physical properties. When fish is bathed in citrus juices, this process… turns the flesh firm and opaque, as if it had been cooked with heat.”

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Since there are just two of us at home and we’re leftover-heavy on the food rotation, I opt to pre-cook my seafood when making dishes like these. It’s a safe option when keeping this stuff on hand for a few days and the classic, citrusy flavor isn’t compromised. This is a “cut it all up and stir it together” recipe- great for busy nights or when you’re trying to use up veggies in the fridge. So! Let’s get to it.

SHRIMP “CEVICHE” SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked, diced large 
  • 1 bell pepper, your choice of color, diced large
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and chopped into large dice
  • 1 small container grape tomatoes, halved (the tomatoes, not the container)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup cilantro, packed and finely chopped
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 3-4 tbsp olive or canola oil (taste preference here: olive oil has a distinct, earthy taste; canola is neutral)
  • 1/2-1 small red onion, small dice
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • honey, optional
  • optional spices, such as chili powder, cumin, oregano
  • spinach or salad green of your choice

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Brown & Wild Rice with Caremelized Onions, Creminis, and Greens (gf, v)

What a whirlwind this winter has been! Geez! Work, school, weddings, visits with family and friends, freezing cold weather, sweaty hot weather vacation, back to work and school. And somehow it is March! And 60 degrees in Missouri, which is very, very welcome and much appreciated… but I still can’t figure out where February and January went. Do you know? They must have blown by me in a wintry blur.

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50 shades of plane

Throughout the Jan-Feb blur I sustained myself on sad  things like Foods Sold By Panera Bread, cereal, canned beans and frozen brown rice, kimchi and pickles delivered fork-to-mouth from the jar, and frozen Ghirardelli chocolate. YUM. My poor husband was left to fend for himself (shout out to the Whole Foods hot bar). I managed to cook a couple of times in February; here’s a recipe I chose for a day when my body was screaming at me for much-needed veggies and grains already, woman! Put down the chocolate!

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BROWN  WILD RICE WITH CAREMELIZED ONIONS, CREMINIS, AND GREENS 

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  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 2/3 cup water or stock
  • 1 tsp veggie base or bullion if using water
  • 1 tbsp butter (omit for vegan recipe)rice 1
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly into rings or half moons
  • 1 carton cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  •  a few sprigs thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 3+ garlic cloves, chopped
  • half bag spinach leaves
  • a few handsful broccoli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Simple Roasted Eggplant Spread (gf, v)

Hello! Happy New Year! And brr. Is it cold where you are? It’s cold cold in St. Louis. To combat the low temps and up oureggplant 3 veggie intake après holiday indulgence, I whipped up this roasted spread to nosh on last night. This spread-slash-dip can be slathered onto hunks of crusty bread, dipped with crackers (we used wholesome and hearty  Mary’s Gone Cracker), spread on a sandwich, dolloped onto soups, tossed with olive oil on pasta or rice, and so on. Great stuff to have around on cold, winter nights and snowbound days.

eggplant 1The roasted peppers and onion give a big flavor kick; you’ll find the spread hard to put down, which is a great thing when it comes to vegetables, amiright? It was all I could do to not eat the whole batch in one sitting. I enjoyed it hot out of the oven, chilled the next day with lunch, on a baked potato the next day, and at room temp as a dip- all delicious and the room temp option makes this wonderful picnic and party fare.  Oscar party fare, perhaps? ‘Tis [almost] the season!

SIMPLE ROASTED EGGPLANT SPREAD

Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, top discarded
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • minced garlic cloves, to taste (at least 3), or a tablespoon already-roasted garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher alt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/3 tbsp tomato paste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400. Cut the eggplant, red peppers, and red onion into large, 1-inch dice. In a large bowl, toss the veggies with the raw minced garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Turn out onto a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Your kitchen will smell freaking amazing.

imageWhen 45 minutes are up, add the veggie mix, tomato paste, and pre-roasted garlic, if using, to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until pretty well combined. You want to leave this with some texture, so don’t completely purée it.

The dip was my pre-workout snack before a girl’s night preview of Core3, a new fitness option in St. Louis. Terribly, terribly fun stuff. Core3 blends TRX, RealRyder indoor cycling (the bikes that move laterally), and Surfset indoor surfing. Yes, indoor surfing! My arms, legs, and abs all felt it today and I’m pretty sure I smiled throughout the entire workout. I highly recommend trying Core3- another exhilarating way to beat the bitter winter temps. #cowabunga

January, schmanuary

January, schmanuary

Winter Wonderland Salad (pes, gf, veg option)

Pinterest is by far the leading referrer to allez! gourmet. My peanut butter & cinnamon Greek yogurt dip has been a huge Pinterest hit- thank you to all readers who have shared it! Interestingly, my pollo guisado recipe has also taken off. This cracks me up- the Dominican woman and American woman in me have experienced Pinterest validation equality. Ha! Pinterest is truly a great resource for recipe sharing and I browse it for inspiration all the time. In fact, a solid Pinterest-browsing sesh inspired me to create this tasty winter salad.

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Another inspiration for the salad: My wonderful husband very kindly gifted allez! gourmet eight bottles of Vom Fass vinegars and olive oils for Christmas and I was eager to use them. Dave has always supported my little hobby blog and encourages me to keep it up- thank you to Dave for keeping me flush with love, encouragement, and olive oil.

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WINTER WONDERLAND SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 package organic baby arugula (I suggest organic girl)
  • 2 salmon filets, seasoned (leave out for veg/v option)
  • one large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 can sliced beets
  • goat cheese, torn into chunks
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • balsamic or red wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400. In a 9×13 Pyrex pan or on a baking sheet, toss the sweet potato cubes with 2 tsp olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes until browned outside and soft inside, tossing once or twice so they don’t stick.

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As the sweet potatoes cook, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium and season the salmon. You could use good old s&p, fresh herbs, or your favorite seasoning mix. I used a seasoning called “Fisherman’s Wharf,” which conjures up the image of a filthy dock but was actually quite tasty.

Cook the salmon 3-5 minutes per side until medium well or well-done, your choice.

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Meanwhile, drain the can of beets and layer the slices between paper towels. If you’d like to toast your walnuts, do so over medium heat in a nonstick skillet, tossing until they’re fragrant. Toasting the walnuts will lend big flavor for little work.

When the salmon is done and the sweet potatoes are cooked through, dress a large handful of arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of vinegar, and a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with the beet slices, torn goat cheese, walnuts, sweet potatoes, and salmon.

Pescatarian and vegetarian options, equally delish

Simple as that! The olive oil I used was lemon-flavored and the vinegar was aged and Spanish. The Antonio Banderas of vinegars, if you will. So! How will you dress your winter salad?