ROASTED VEGGIES WITH QUESO COTIJA DRESSING

roasted-veggies-with-cotija

I hope it’s not a faux-pas to blog about too many takes on roasted veggies. Is anyone keeping track, though?  But I cannot help it, not only the weather is perfect for turning the oven on, but roasted veggies go well with pretty much any main dish, from beef to seafood, and if you like to go vegetarian, they can be the star of the show.  I saw this recipe featured in a PBS cooking show that is new to me, Pati’s Mexican Table. Like Marcela Valladolid, Pati cooks Mexican food, but with a more down to earth demeanor. She has an adorable accent, and that friendly aura that captivates the viewer right away. Anyway, this is such a simple recipe, you can memorize it in a second (quiz to follow) : equal parts of orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil. Salt and pepper. You are done. Then, there’s the Cotija dressing, but no quiz on that one, because I am a kind teacher, and want you to get an A+.

roastedveggies

 

ROASTED BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER WITH QUESO COTIJA DRESSING
(adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table)

for the veggies:
1/4
 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium head of broccoli cut into 1/4″ vertical slices
1 medium head of cauliflower cut into 1/4″ vertical slices

for the dressing:
1/2 cup crumbled queso Cotija
1/2 cup Mexican crema
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 475 degrees F. 

Mix the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk very well to combine.

Brush 2 large baking sheets with olive oil. Place the broccoli and cauliflower on each baking sheet, making sure that it is well spread out and not crowded. Evenly pour the orange juice mixture all over the vegetables.  Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once in between, until well roasted and considerably charred. Remove from the oven. 

While the veggies are roasting, combine in the jar of a blender the queso cotija, Mexican crema, vegetable oil, sherry vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adjust with water if desired. 

Serve the broccoli and cauliflower and ladle the queso cotija right on top, or pass the sauce at the table so that everyone can add as much as they want. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: What made me want to try this recipe was the unusual way to slice the veggies. Vertically, including the stems. Essentially no waste, and they look so cute laying flat on the baking sheet. That also gives a nice amount of char all over, which means a ton of flavor. The citric component gets intensified by reduction, the veggies tender but still retaining some bite.  The Cotija dressing is super flavorful. The recipe makes more than needed for a light drizzle all over the veggies. Leftover keeps quite well in the fridge and next day you can drizzle over avocados, tomatoes, or even some grilled meat.

Speaking of grilled meat, we paired these saucy grilled veggies with grilled pork tenderloin, for a delicious, quick and easy dinner.

served

Life is good…

and now for the quiz. What do we add to the veggies before roasting them at 475 F?
No cheating!
😉

Note to self: adapt this recipe for the steam-roasting technique from Fine Cooking. Maybe using just the florets will work better in that case. Worth playing with, that’s for sure.

roasted-veggies-with-cotija-dressing-from-bewitching-kitchen

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ONE YEAR AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

TWO YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

THREE YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

SIX YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: MINI-QUICHES WITH DUXELLES AND BABY BROCCOLI

It seems like FOREVER since we’ve had a Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club, but finally here we are, having the greatest time together…  My assigned blog for the first month of 2015 has such a cute name, makes me smile:  A Calculated Whisk… Becky, the cook behind the blog is a teacher of English to young Spanish-speaking kids, and next year will be starting to work on her master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology. Impressive!  Her site focuses on Paleo-friendly recipes, but is  not restricted to them. For those interested in the Paleo life-style,  I recommend reading her series of posts starting in January 1st, 2014, in which she shares her experience doing the Whole30 thing and blogging daily about it. That is endurance on several levels!  😉   Becky has two incredibly cute cats, Cupcake (a butter-addict) and Furpaws (prefers to hang inside the kitchen sink hoping for a sip of water straight from the faucet).  I say we pet lovers have our share of idiosyncratic creatures to deal with…    I am quite fond of Paleo recipes because they are usually moderate in carbs and high in protein, which is my preferred way to eat, so I had no problem finding stuff in her blog that pleased me. In fact, I intend to enjoy in the near future her Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Kale Marinara, her Chickpea Mushroom Spread (this one not Paleo), her Pumpkin and Pecorino Souffle (pretty intriguing gluten-free version), and her Spicy Cocoa Chili.  But this recipe won my heart to share with you today: Mini-Quiches with Duxelles and Broccoli.  As I expected, they were cute and absolutely delicious!

Mini-Quiches2

MINI-QUICHES WITH DUXELLES AND BROCCOLI
(slightly adapted from A Calculated Whisk)

makes 12 mini-quiches

for the duxelles:
2 tablespoons ghee
1 large shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup minced mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

for the mini quiches:
2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets
4 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup coconut milk, full fat
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil, for greasing the pan

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 12-cup muffin pan with olive oil.

To make the duxelles, melt the ghee in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and most of it is gone, about 10 minutes. Season the duxelles liberally with salt and pepper, then set aside on a plate to cool.

Return the skillet to medium and add the chopped broccoli. Cook, stirring frequently, until bright green and crisp tender, about five minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Stir in the duxelles and broccoli. Divide the mixture among the 12 greased muffin cups, filling each one about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until just set in the middle.

Gently run a knife around the edge of each quiche, and carefully scoop them out with a spoon. Enjoy hot or warm. Leftover quiches can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days and reheated.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I turned this recipe into a Neolithic version by adding feta cheese, my apologies to all modern cave men out there.  But some pieces of leftover feta were staring at me from the fridge JUST as I was grabbing the eggs, and they actually screamed when left behind: “Please, take us, take us!”. I could not ignore them, I’m sure Becky will forgive me for the tweak.  Those of you on a strict Paleo kick, simply omit the feta, but adjust the salt accordingly.

These were so tasty and convenient both as a side-dish at dinner or as a snack. Of course, you can think of all types of goodies to add to the mixture, keeping it Paleo with diced roasted butternut squash, shredded zucchini, or stretching a bit its limits with a little Roquefort or other yummy cheese.  However, this version joining broccoli with mushrooms is going to be hard to beat.

Mini-Quiches1

Becky, as soon as this post is public, I am going to subscribe to your blog, as I don’t want to miss any of your future recipes. I truly enjoyed secretively exploring your site, and look forward to more…

As usual, my readers are all invited to go poke a blue frog. There is one waiting for you at the end of the post, and once poked, you will be able to see what all my fellow Secreters have been up to in the first month of 2015! And if you are curious about who had my blog, take a look at this beautiful post by Tara.  She made brigadeiros!  Clever girl!

ONE YEAR AGO: Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

THREE YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

BROCCOLI-WALNUT SOUFFLE FROM A SPECIAL COOKBOOK

served1Last month I got a wonderful gift from Fer, my virtual friend who hosts the blog “Chucrute com Salsicha“.   She sent me a cookbook:  The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two, written by Anna Thomas.  Anna’s family was originally from Poland, but she was born in Germany, and moved to the US as a young child. While in college at film school in UCLA, she wrote a masterpiece of a cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure, at a time when avoiding meat was not very common.  I enjoyed my gift so much that I could not resist getting her most recent book, Love Soup. It will have a special spot in our home, as the first cookbook I bought this year. By exercising considerable restraint, I lasted through the first week of February. I certainly make  my readers proud!  ;-)Fer’s thoughtful gift arrived at our doorstep on a Thursday.  Forty eight hours later, we enjoyed this very delicious souffle.

BROCCOLI-WALNUT SOUFFLE
(reprinted with permission from Anna Thomas)
Original recipe in  The Vegetarian Epicure Book 2, published by Alfred Knopf, New York, 1988

4 Tbs butter
4 Tbs flour
1 + 1/2 cup hot milk
5 egg yolks
1 + 1/2 cups chopped cooked broccoli
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I lightly toasted them first)
2 Tbs minced onions
2 Tbs grated Parmigiano cheese
1/2 tsp salt, ground black pepper to taste
7 egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar

Butter a 2-quart souffle dish and tie a buttered “collar” made of parchment paper if you want (I omitted this step).

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook the roux over medium heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Then add the hot milk and stir with a whisk as the sauce thickens.

When the sauce is smooth, remove it from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, one by one. Then add the cooked broccoli, the walnuts, the onions, and the cheese. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, add a pinch of cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat them with a clean whisk or beater until they are stiff enough to form peaks.  Stir about 1 cup of the beaten egg whites into the warm sauce. Now add the remaining egg whites and gently fold them in, making sure not to lose the air incorporated into it.

Pile the souffle into the prepared dish, place it in the middle of a 375 F oven, and bake it for 40 to 45 minutes.

Serve immediately. Remember, a souffle waits for no one…  😉

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

before

Comments: We always alternate cooking days. One day I’m in charge, the other day it’s Phil.  That Saturday, mid-afternoon, Phil looks at me and asks “Am I cooking tonight?”  Before I could answer, he remembered that no, it would be me.  He quickly changed the question to “What are we having tonight?”  I tried to be as nonchalant as possible, “We are having a souffle“.    Oh, the big smile that I love so much!  But, how could a souffle not bring a smile?  It makes any meal special…

This version is heartier than your regular cheese souffle, with the broccoli and the nuts.  It is satisfying, creamy, and delicious to the last bite!  It won’t rise as lightly as a cheese-only, as the eggs need  to carry heavier stuff with them. But, what it might lack in airy nature, it compensates with flavor.   I think it is wonderful as a full meal, served with a salad and a piece of bread.  But, if you absolutely must have some  meat with it,  a simple roast chicken will do.  French home-cooking at its best!

Double thank you is in order:  Fer, thanks for sending me this book, and Anna, thank you for your kind emails, and giving me permission to publish your recipe in my blog!  Your Love Soup is such a great book, I already have 5 or 6 recipes fighting to be prepared first… 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Voila’ les baguettes!

TWO YEARS AGO: Cornmeal English Muffins

THREE YEARS AGO: Butterflied Cornish hens with apricot-pistachio dressing

BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR-FRY

This  classic Chinese dish is often abused beyond belief.  It is easy to overcook the broccoli, turning the florets into a mushy version of their beautiful self, and at the same time producing beef that has the wrong texture.  The real thing is like velvet in your mouth, with a crisp, bright green broccoli giving the perfect counterpoint to the beef.  No excessive, cloyingly sweet sauce.  When properly prepared, this is a fantastic recipe that will please everyone – except the broccoli haters out there – but they might make an exception in this case. 😉

BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR-FRY
(adapted from Jaden Hair’s guest post at Simply Recipes)

1 pound flank steak or sirloin, sliced thinly across the grain
1 pound broccoli florets
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cut in slices
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

For the beef marinade
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
freshly ground black pepper

for the sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth (or water)

Start by marinating the beef: mix all ingredients in a bowl, add the pieces of beef and stir to coat the slices. Let it stand for 10 minutes, while you prepare the sauce and blanch the broccoli.

Make the sauce by mixing the oyster sauce, rice wine (or sherry), soy sauce, and chicken stock (or water) in a small bowl. Reserve.  Place the broccoli in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain very well and reserve.

Now, the fun begins:  heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and instantly evaporates upon contact. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the yellow bell pepper and cook it for a couple of minutes until it begins to soften. Remove  and reserve.  Make sure the pan is again very hot, and add the slices of beef, spreading them out all over the surface of the wok or pan in a single layer (preferably not touching). Let the beef fry undisturbed for 1 minute. Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic and reserved bell pepper to the pan and fry for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until the beef is cooked through.

Pour in the sauce, add the blanched broccoli and bring to a boil. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, 30 seconds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This dish highlights well how a couple of extra-steps that might seem like a waste of time and energy make a world of difference in the final product. If you skip the beef marinade and blanching the broccoli, it simply won’t be the same.  The original recipe does not call for yellow bell pepper, but I wanted to add a bit more color. You can certainly omit it. This is a great dish for weeknights, all you’ll need is some steamed white rice.  Meat, veggies, carbs, all there in perfect harmony: the omnivore’s dream!

If you are fond of Asian recipes, make sure to stop by Jaden’s blog, The Steamy Kitchen, and consider getting her cookbook, I have it and love it!

ONE YEAR AGO: Wheat Germ and Sage Sourdough Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Popeye-Pleasing Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Summer’s Finale (Watermelon Granita)

BLASTED BROCCOLI, STOVE-TOP VERSION

I love roasted vegetables, whether it’s cauliflower or butternut squash,  carrots or mushrooms, and especially  broccoli.  For reasons that I can’t explain, when broccoli is being roasted it’s become fashionable to call it  “blasted broccoli“.

I recently encountered a method for ‘blasted broccoli‘ that literally only took minutes to prepare.  We enjoyed it so much that I made it twice in the same week!  The strangest thing happened, though: now that I want to write about it, the link is gone.    I tried and tried to retrieve it, but without success.   All I can find are the usual recipes that call for roasting in a high oven. So, my apologies for failing to give proper credit, but here’s the method that we liked.

BLASTED BROCCOLI
(adapted from unknown source)

broccoli florets (enough for you and a lucky guest)
1 T olive oil
salt to taste
red pepper flakes
freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat the olive oil until very hot, almost smoking, in a large skillet that will hold the broccoli in a single layer, with little or no overlapping.   Add the broccoli florets, sprinkle with salt, add red pepper flakes, shake the pan, and immediately cover it.

Leave it covered for exactly two minutes.

Open the pan and spritz lemon juice all over.  Check  the broccoli to see if it’s cooked to your taste (I like mine with a lot of bite).  If you want it softer,  then cover the pan  and cook again for another 30 seconds.

Serve immediately…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  This recipe won me over because it’s lightening-quick, and leaves the broccoli exactly as I like it:  firm with a fresh and smoky flavor, from its intensely seared florets.  My stainless steel skillet was not in great shape afterward, but I suspect I over-heated the oil a bit.  The secret lies in closing the pan and allowing the broccoli to cook undisturbed, to create a little char at the bottom, and enough steam to begin cooking the florets.  I’m 99% sure that the original recipe asked to finish it with butter, but I opted for fresh lemon juice instead.  Feel free to improvise, as broccoli matches with balsamic vinegar, or grated parmiggiano cheese, or a little nutmeg…. just use your imagination.

When prepared this way the broccoli  has the quality of a classic roasted veggie, but with a “brighter”  flavor;  I couldn’t stop nibbling on it.    This one goes into my regular repertoire!

On a side note, this method reminded me of a recipe for Brussels sprouts that I made  long  ago from 101 Cookbooks.  It’s delicious,  producing the same kind of flavor in a veggie that’s a little challenging for lots of folks.  Give it a try even if you’re  Brussels-sprouts-challenged.