Friday, May 11, 2012

Help! I sound like a magazine!

As I mentioned in my last entry, we just moved. While we're mostly unpacked, it took a while to get everything into the kitchen, so I have not done as much cooking as I would have liked. I did marinate a flank steak in ancho chile powder and garlic with a little vinegar recently, but I wasn't thrilled with the result. My sweetie really enjoyed it, so it may have simply been to subtle. My dear Nexx never smoked and has much more sensitive taste buds than I. As for myself, I thought it needed more acid and salt. On the bright side, I was able to get a very nice texture on a less expensive cut of meat. When I've improved the recipe, I'll post it here.

I was a little worried a few years ago when I moved to Connecticut. I spent my teenage years in an affluent suburb of Massachusetts and I used to joke that the town was as pretty as a postcard and had about as much depth. Okay, I wasn't really joking.  Anyway, I was concerned that Connecticut would be similar, that I was going to be living the life I had spent the last twenty years running away from.

I needn't have worried. Despite the stories of yuppies and preppies and whatever the current abbreviations are (they used to call my kind of household DINKS, double-income, no kinds), Connecticut has pockets of character. And in Stamford, we have some ass-kicking pizza.

Where the magazine comment came in is when we had some leftover Remo's pizza the other night. When we went out for the original dinner we had some fresh (!) bread with olive oil as well as some fresh sliced mozzarella for an appetizer. We went home with half a personal pie each. I knew half the pie wouldn't be sufficient, and I'm still having a hard time chewing salad, so I found myself "jazzing up" our dinner of leftovers with some roasted cauliflower. I thought of making the balsamic version I did some time back, but then I found this recipe and said, "Hmmmm."

Our ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (I used grana padano, which is a little more complex than parmesan and quite delicious)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Besides the cauliflower, which you want fresh anyway, I'm happy to say I had all the other ingredients in the house as a matter of habit. The grana padano was a money-saving effort because imported parmesan is getting ridiculous in price.

The instructions were very easy to follow:

  1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.  
  2. With a sharp knife, remove skin and white pith from lemon and discard. Working over a small bowl, cut the lemon segments from their surrounding membranes, letting the segments drop into the bowl. Drain the juice from the segments.
  3. Toss the lemon segments, cauliflower, oil, salt and pepper on the baking sheet and spread evenly. Roast until starting to soften and brown, stirring once halfway through, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle Parmesan and capers over the cauliflower; stir to combine. Serve garnished with more Parmesan, if desired.

I always appreciate a recipe that tells me where to put the oven rack. It can make such a huge difference and this is not a lesson you want to learn the hard way

When a recipe says "sharp knife," take it seriously. I was able to get out the lemon segments without mangling them too much, which is a big change from my first attempt and supreming an orange. I opted  not to drain the juice. Since the capers were to be rinsed, I thought the extra bite from the citrus would be nice. I probably also went a little overboard on the black pepper. I blame Nana, and damn do I miss  her.

I loved the results. The recipe says this makes 4 servings. It made two from a small head of cauliflower. Lemon and capers work pretty well together. Capers you can almost consider the poor person's truffle. Added correctly, in a small amount, they can really class up a dish. And unlike truffles or truffle oil, capers are within Joe or Jeanne Average's budget.

With spring being upon us (though the temperature in Stamford has yet to hit 70), you'd think I'd be going more for fresh vegetation. Unfortunately, I still have that bite plate in my mouth to go wtih the braces. Chewing raw veggies, especially cruciferous (I may not have spelled that correctly) is still difficult.  I have until next April and then one of my first meals is going to be corn on the cob.

Coming soon--a different kind of fish coating. Stay tuned!