Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cauliflower Steaks with Capers, Anchovy and Raisins

Just wanted to share a quick post of a side dish I made for Passover midweek dinner. I found the recipe at Bon Appetit. Crispy Cauliflower with Capers, Raisins and Breadcrumbs was the original title. I cut the cauliflower as steaks as you see above and roasted at 400F for a few minutes longer. I also used Matza breadcrumbs instead of regular. It was a pretty elegant presentation though not on the plate shown above. I couldn't resist re-purposing the plate for this shoot, my recent prop purchase.
Check out the nutritional value and some fascinating health benefits of cauliflower on Whole Foods site.

Related posts:
Romanesco Floret Fritters in Beer and HoneyBatter (Not for Passover. Can be made with cauliflower)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Red Hazeret - A Horseradish & Red Beets Relish

Biblical stories and heroes and heroines' tales from mythology trigger young kids' healthy imaginations and nightmares alike. Maybe worrisome little kids with an overactive imagination, such as I was. I still am. When I read Russian literature, I felt the heroine's agony and yearnings. When we went over the Egyptians' afflictions every year in class, around Passover, I worried about rain of frogs and locust. My shoulders cringed, sitting still in the small, wooden chair in class, my jaw tense. I kept my mouth tightly shut though I had much to voice. I wriggled as a contortionist to shimmy away the itchiness at the thought of lice. Ten plagues, oh the possibilities of plights to be distraught about, even though I am an Israelite. I was the protagonist in my very own tragic post biblical drama.
Majority of my years growing up I went to a secular school. The teachers were true educators. They gave us, so to speak, the creationism vs. evolution point of views. We always had healthy debates and discussions and the teachers usually didn't, speaking of afflictions, inflict their own beliefs and opinions on us. Sometimes they did, especially in Literature class, but never in Bible Studies hour. Still, the ten plagues, whether by hand of g-d or simply a course of nature, were all too real. The what-ifs were vivid daydreaming and nightmare episodes.
No wonder then, to add insult to injury, I love Hazeret so much. A horseradish relish, typically made on Passover, to remind us of the bitterness and hardship of the Israelites' lives in Egypt. The pleasure I take in relishing this condiment even when all my senses, if only for a few seconds, numb, and I feel like a dragon, or Mount Vesuvius, moments before it erupts and explodes in all his or hers fiery wrath. Simultaneously, the heightened fumigation sensation is so cleansing and rejuvenating. It's spring.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the story of Passover, you can read about it here. When I was seeking out fresh horseradish recipes on Twitter, Facebook and Food Wanderings FB page it was educational. Not only did my Facebook friend Patti gave me her Horseradish with Beets Relish recipe but I also learned through her that Christians of Polish or Eastern European decent make it for Easter. Who would have thought?! I thought it was a super curious tid bit.
I can't believe it was the first year I made a horseradish relish from scratch. Trust me I won't ever go back to buying the ready made jars. It is so poignant and fresh. Beware though, the fumes can be overwhelmingly tear jerking while you prep it. I labored a bit, grating it, but you can process it all in the food processor. I cooked the beets about 20-30 minutes to an al dente consistency. I dislike raw beets. I find that the cooking, or roasting, if that's your method of choice, draws out the sugars in the beets. I saw recipes calling for balsamic or other fancy vinegars. They alter the flavor and take away from the purity of the horseradish, but if you are prepared to take the risk, by all means take a leap. I used plain ole' vinegar.
In all honesty I would probably be happiest just mixing the grated horseradish and beets, nothing more. That explains the 'touch of' in the ingredients list below. If you wish, you can follow Patti's recipe above or the one I saw on Leite's Culinaria's site.

I wish you all who celebrate a Happy and plight-less Passover and Easter, too. Let your imaginations run with happy thoughts! Happy spring to you all!

Horseradish and Red Beets Relish

1 lb horseradish root, peeled and cut up to small pieces
1/2 lb red beets (4 small), peeled
A touch of salt
A touch of sugar
A touch of vinegar
Water

Cover the beets 1-2 inches above the tops with water, bring to a boil and reduce to a low medium bubble, for about 20-30 minutes, until fork tender. Drain and let cool. While beets are cooking process the horseradish in a food processor. Scoop into a large bowl. Half or quarter the beets and add to the food processor. Whiz until a desired consistency is reached. Add to the horseradish. Add sugar, salt and vinegar according to taste.

Process in a food processor to a desired consistency. Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or can to prolong shelf life.

Cook's note:
1. I suggest to process the beets and horseradish in the food process separately because of the different consistency. You don't want the beets to be mush while the horseradish is still in chunks if you process together.
2. You can change the proportion of beets:horseradish according to your taste.

Great served with Haroset on a matza.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DC Eats & Food: My Lunches with Jeanne: DGS Delicatessen

As you probably read in the first installment, Mark's Duck House, of my newly launched series, "DC Eats and Food: My Lunches with Jeanne," she might or might not be a figment of my imagination. In this series, I cover some of my DC area favorite eats.

I know most restaurants do not like to be a one-trick pony, but more often than not, we are enchanted with only one or two dishes on a restaurant's menu. We blindly order the same dish every single time like a familiar, comfy blanket to snuggle up with.  Rarely do we love (almost) everything on the menu, and that is why DGS Delicatessen is such a refreshing addition to the DC food landscape.

The chicken matzo ball soup, deep golden, clear broth, rivals, if not surpasses, mine, on my best days. On my worst, it's leaps and bounds ahead of mine. Did I just admit to that?! Duck fat matzo balls, oh gosh, divine. No hint of duck flavor, which is a check in my book. I don't want a hint of duck in my classic Jewish soup, but if that is the secret to these matza balls?! It did a magical number on them. They are perfectly airy and shape all intact. Visually, I love the diced al dente carrots sunken to the very bottom, seen through the translucent consomm√© filled soup bowl. Waiting transfixed, suspended, to be fished by the diving spoon.

Jeanne, who didn't accompany me to DGS, but went there, not once, but twice, with her family, for Sunday brunch, was cooing over it. "We LOVED this place, Shulie. Thank you so much for the recommendation. The matzo ball soup and latkes were absolutely the best I've ever had, and I am as Jewish as a Chinese girl gets!!"

As die hard NYC's Katz's Deli fans, it was risky to take a chance on DGS' pastrami on rye. Boy did they reinvent the pastrami and put their own spin on it. As long as it is equally as good, even if different, I can live with that. I thought the atypical thicker slices would turn me off, but nothing about the way I was inhaling the peppery crusted cuts, gave any indication of that. It's a gigantic sandwich so I shared the other half with Jonathan. He ordered pastrami hash. It was brunch time. The fresh rye bread is toasted at the edges. Really brilliant flavor and texture.

The next time we went, I asked for the leaner pastrami cut. Jonathan ordered the corned beef which was equally as good. The pickles aren't overpowering. Great, mild accompaniment to any of the main dishes. On that second venture out to DGS, it was dinner time. Jonathan ordered a charred Ras El Hanout cauliflower side. We both loved the smokiness from the North African, Ras El Hanout, spices, according to the waitress, mixed in house.

The one item on the dessert menu that everyone is ogling, and Jonathan couldn't put the dessert fork down, is the chocolate babka bread pudding. I could do without. Go figure! I can see you shaking your head in complete disapproval.:)

Meanwhile, I haven't even touched the sleek exterior and casual chic interior. In all honesty, I can't wait to go back.

DGS Delicatessen
1317 Connecticut Avenue, NW
(one block south of Dupont Circle)
Washington, DC
202-293-4400

DC Eats and Food: My Lunches with Jeanne series:
Mark's Duck House

Disclaimer: I do not get comped by restaurants or their PR agencies to write these posts. I foot the bill myself. I share only places I love.

This series is snapped with my iPhone.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Basic Gluten Free Potato Starch Crepes - Passover Made Easy Cookbook

While I am way behind with the Passover program, I wished to introduce you to a fun, user friendly Passover Made Easy cookbook, courtesy of Leah Schapira, one of the co-authors of the cookbook. We are yet to decide where we will having the Seder dinner. S is away on a volunteer spring break program, arriving back in the US, a week prior to Passover which falls later this March, at which time we will probably decide how we are spending it. I am also still indulging in leavened bread postings, but for those of you that are well ahead with your Passover preparation to eradicate any 'chametz', here is a great kosher for Passover morning, basic gluten free crepes recipe.
Breads, morning pastries, pancakes and desserts are the most challenging for me when I am planning my Passover holiday meal. That explains my past postings of Ricotta Meyer Lemon Coin Pancakes, Flourless Fudgy Chocolate Coconut CookiesCoconut Panna Cotta and Minneola Tangelo Gelee and Peanut Apple Passover Cake, among other Passover breakfast and dessert recipes. Luckily, unlike Ashkenazi Jews, we do eat rice, legumes and beans during the holiday, which makes planning a menu that much more flexible.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Banana Bread & Red Star Yeast Platinum Giveaway

I had never baked a yeast bread with mashed bananas before, so the prospect of this being a first was exciting to me. The texture and aromas of ripe bananas, yeast and vanilla, while kneading, were curious and exhilarating. The aromas from the oven were laced with intoxicating sweetness. This bread is a welcome addition to the collection of sweet breads, perfect for breakfast, brunch or my occasional breakfast for dinner routine. As you can tell, I was so intoxicated that I couldn't let the loaf completely cool prior to slicing it.
In the last few months I have interchangeably been using Red Star Yeast's active dry yeast and its newly launched magical Platinum yeast. I think I couldn't explain the traits of this new Platinum yeast better than explained in this video clip, here, by Gesine Bullock-Prado, a professional baker. The How to Use Platinum Superior Yeast is also a great guide to baking with Platinum. I know when I use Platinum that my bread will rise in the oven. It seems like Platinum has that extra oomph.