Tandoori Cauliflower

by Anne Maxfield on April 9, 2015

Accidental Locavore Tandoori Cauliflower As we all know, cauliflower is this year’s kale. In that spirit, the Accidental Locavore has a collection of interesting-looking recipes to put this trendy veg through some new paces. Only problem? Someone (you know who you are) doesn’t consider it to be a green vegetable but more of a potato/rice/pasta side dish, so if I serve it, it needs to stand on its own enough to negate the need for (yet another) vegetable dish. This served 2, generously:

 

  • ½ cup plain, yogurt (fat content not critical)
  • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (1-inch / 3-cm) piece ginger, grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime, divided
  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and cut in bite-sized pieces
  • Vegetable oil for greasing the pan
  • 1 small yellow or red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed and very finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Accidental Locavore Tandoori Cauliflower MarinadeIn a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, Garam Masala, salt, ginger and ½ the lemon or lime juice and whisk until combined. Carefully fold the cauliflower into the mixture, ensuring all the pieces are coated. Refrigerate the mixture for 2 hours or (ideally) overnight.

Set the oven rack at the highest position and preheat the oven to 400°.

Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, turning over the pieces once halfway through the cooking time to ensure all pieces are lightly browned on both sides. Remove from the oven.

Transfer the cauliflower to a serving bowl. Sprinkle the remaining lemon or lime juice over the dish. Top with the onions, serrano, and cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Really good and could be great with a couple of tweaks. I rinsed the onions to take away some of the bite, but there could have been less of them, or a sweeter variety. Scallions might have worked well, too. If you’re not a fan of heat, leave the serrano out or use less of it. I added about a teaspoon of a lemon curry powder that I had, not that it was noticeable in the finished dish. Next time, I might toss the cauliflower in the microwave for a couple of minutes to give it a head start before roasting. That, plus marinating it overnight, might be just what it needs to achieve greatness!

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In Search of Sausage (and Salami)

by Anne Maxfield on April 6, 2015

Accidental Locavore Muncan's Sausages Accidental Locavore Muncan's CounterAfter the Accidental Locavore’s Croatian dinner, I needed to see if I could find some of the amazing charcuterie a little closer to home. With dreams of the kulin wafting through my brain, I was directed to Muncan’s in Astoria. If browsing their website doesn’t make you hungry, you’re probably vegan. And if the website is appealing, imagine the store itself (just picture a shrine to cured meats)!

The easiest part of it is the subway ride, because once you’re there you’re bound to be overwhelmed. If 15 different types of bacon don’t do it for you, there are literally hundreds of smoked and cured sausages and salami hanging from the ceiling. Even my kulin mission had me deciding between a kulin sausage and a kulin salami (I took the sausage).

Accidental Locavore Muncans Display CaseAfter that, I availed myself of the expertise of the counter man. We decided on a hot salami, a couple of small square sausages (that reminded me of ones I liked from Morse’s in Maine) and a lumpy looking salami that when sliced has a scalloped edge.

They have prosciutto made from almost any animal or bird, so I decided to give the lamb one a shot. It was delicious, a little smoky and a little salty (both good qualities in my mind), but I’m not sure I would recognize it as tasting particularly like lamb.

Although not as amazing as the one we were served at the dinner, the kulin was good. This one was smoky with a little heat and an almost crumbly texture. Probably a good thing or I would have scarfed it all down in a heartbeat.Accidental Locavore Sausages from Muncan's

The “lumpy” salami was great–mild, with a little garlic and a good amount of fat. Between sandwiches and sneaking pieces on the sly, it was the first to go.

The spicy sausage was almost a cross between the kulin and a chorizo. Very spicy, with a lot of hot paprika, it also had that nice crumbly texture and not a ton of fat.

And finally, the square ones were really nice and fatty and smoky. I think they were the best snacking ones (and put them to that use).

Now, I’m looking forward to my next trip over there to see what other goodies lay in store. Remember, I still haven’t tried any of the 15 types of bacon yet!

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Mastering Madeleines

by Anne Maxfield on April 2, 2015

Accidental Locavore MadeleinesYou might have thought that the Accidental Locavore would have made her first batch of madeleines ages ago, but you would have been wrong. While I love eating them (especially at Café les Baux) it just never occurred to me to make them myself. I have this prejudice against single-use cookware and if there was ever a single-use item, it’s a madeline pan. However, I capitulated and bought one and finally tried it out the other day (on a very tough crowd). This is from Food and Wine via Daniel Boulud and made about 15 large ones:

  • 1 teaspoon  baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2  large eggs
  • ⅓  cup sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  light brown sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  honey
  • 2  teaspoons  finely grated lemon or orange zest
  • 6  tablespoons  (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted, warm
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • Powdered sugar and or melted semi-sweet chocolate for dipping

Accidental Locavore Making MadeleinesWhisk baking powder, salt, and flour in a small bowl.

Whisk eggs, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, honey and lemon zest in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients until just incorporated, then whisk in melted butter until smooth. Transfer batter to a pastry bag or Ziplock bag and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly coat madeleine pans with nonstick vegetable oil spray and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Snip end off pastry bag (or 1 corner of resealable bag) and pipe batter into each mold, filling two-thirds full (you may have a little batter left over).

Bake madeleines until edges are golden brown and centers are puffed and lightly spring back when gently pressed, about 5 minutes for mini and 8−10 minutes for regular cakes. Dust with powdered sugar, if you’d like, and serve warm with the chocolate sauce for dipping and enjoy!

My verdict: Definitely going on the dessert roster and I may even buy another pan! These were soft, golden and delicious, but somehow lacked the nice crunchy edges that the ones at les Baux have. I’m not sure if it’s a size thing, or just a matter of the recipe (more butter??). They were gone in a matter of minutes (and as I said in the intro, it was a tough crowd!). For the chocolate dipping sauce, I just took a small handful of chocolate chips and melted them in 30 second increments in the microwave. I thought about adding a little butter or heavy cream or even liqueur to it, but was feeling lazy (and no one complained). Ice cream, fresh berries would all be nice with them, but they’re good enough to stand on their own. The pan I bought was a silicone one and it was great. Nothing stuck and it went into the dishwasher and came out spotless. I may even let another one that makes smaller madeleine’s take up room in my kitchen.

 

 

 

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Sweet Comfort Food

by Anne Maxfield on March 30, 2015

Accidental Locavore CaramelsDon’t you, like the Accidental Locavore, generally think of comfort food as being savory? Mac and cheese, pot pies and meatloaf are some of the usual suspects, but a case can also be made for sweet comfort foods—caramels for example.

The biggest treat for us as kids was at Christmas when a box of my grandmother’s caramels would make its annual appearance. It was strictly forbidden to open it before Christmas and even then they were carefully doled out one at a time. Soft and buttery, they were simple and delicious.

I was reminded of them recently when I met Michèle from la Petite Occasion at a networking event put on by the Specialty Food Association. She slipped me a bag of her caramels, an assortment of vanilla, bacon bourbon, salted dark chocolate and chocolate Grand Marnier. They were all fabulous! The vanilla immediately took me back to my grandmother’s, with the same soft, buttery goodness. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the bacon ones, but the bacon adds more of a textural interest to the caramels, with a hint of smokiness from it and the bourbon. Thankfully, it’s not intent on making a big “look at me I’m bacon” statement and ditto for the bourbon.

Accidental Locavore Box of CaramelsThanks to Michèle, I now have a much bigger appreciation for chocolate caramels. Her salted dark chocolate ones were my second favorite after the vanilla. Again, a hint of salt played well with the deep chocolate taste and since you have three of what I consider the basic food groups—chocolate, butter and salt, what’s not to like? The chocolate Grand Marnier caramels had the orange flavor of Grand Marnier, but again, without a big boozy flavor.

Besides the caramels, there is also a dark chocolate toffee which looks amazing. She’s selling to some retailers in the Westchester area, or you can do what I did and order directly from the website.

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