Monday, January 31, 2011

Cauliflower Gratin

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When I left Chicago, I thought that I would miss the Winter or, at the very least, miss snow. Thankfully I can get my fill of gorgeous white snow while skiing in Tahoe without ever having to deal with it turning gray and slushy in the streets. And while it doesn't get cold per se in San Francisco, I will admit that it does get chilly at night. Nevertheless I still refuse to wear anything heavier than a trench coat and scarf in this city, which I realize is a shame because all of my gorgeous winter wool coats are now tucked away in a spare closet! Regardless of which temperature you consider cold, sometimes you just want a hearty winter dish to warm you up when it is chilly out.



Since moving to San Francisco, I find myself constantly eating greens and fresh produce- which is absolutely wonderful- but sometimes I crave heavier dishes to balance out my meals. This gratin dish encompasses the gooey and bubbly goodness of ultimate winter comfort. Before you shun it away as unhealthy, consider that this gratin uses low-carb, high-nutrient packed cauliflower instead of the usual potato. Seriously, this cozy dish is like curling up on the couch with your favorite blanket in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot tea.

Roasted Brussels sprouts

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If you think that you hate Brussels sprouts, this recipe will change your life. These fantastic roasted Brussels sprouts have converted 4 non-Brussels sprouts eaters in my life into Brussels sprouts lovers. And I am guilty of being one of the four. These are deliciously addicting-  salty and crunchy on the outside and tender- but not mushy- on the inside. We probably ate these as a side dish once a week for most of November and December!

To get the most flavor out of the Brussels sprouts, choose ones that are small, bright green, and look fresh.

Roasted Brussels sprouts (Ina Garten)
1 lb Brussels sprouts, washed and dried
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp maldon or other flaky sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Carefully cut away the bottom ends of the Brussels sprouts but leave the head intact. Remove any discolored outer leaves. In a large bowl, combine the Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, shaking the pan to toss occasionally. They should be really crisp on the outside and tender inside. Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with additional flaky sea salt before serving if desired.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes

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I don't really like most preparations of sweet potatoes. I find most dishes too sweet or too heavy. Over the holidays we made these spicy, almost curried, oven roasted sweet potatoes. Growing up I would get mad at my mom for always adding Indian spices to non-Indian food and refuse to eat anything that remotely sounded like a "fusion". I would have despised these sweet potatoes as a kid because they are doused in ground coriander, red cayenne pepper, and cinnamon! Now of course I understand the need for balancing and complementing sweet, spice, savory, and acidity flavors in a dish, whether it is ethnic or not. Clearly my mom was ahead of the times with her cooking.

These are now my favorite sweet potatoes! I loved the contrast of the sweet and spicy flavors, a mix of spicy heat and warm heat. They develop a crunch on the outside which is a much appreciated textural contrast from the usual mush.We removed the skin on the sweet potatoes before roasting them. Next time I think I will leave the skin on and slice them lengthwise.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 lb), washed
1/4-1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 tbsp olive oil
salt

Preheat oven to 425. Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges. In a large bowl, toss wedges with olive oil, spices, and salt. Transfer to roasting pan and distribute in a single layer and do not overcrowd. Bake for 40 minutes, until tender, turning over once halfway. Serve warm.
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