June 30, 2006

Ice Cream Sandwiches

So the thing about ice cream sandwiches is...
They're messy and therefore a bit irksome.

I feel as though I should put my hair in pigtails before I eat one.

They taste so very good! It is difficult to get enough ice cream in there to have a good ice cream to cookie ratio. Everytime I make them at home, there's way too much cookie. Plus, if I pack more ice cream on there, I can't physically fit it in my mouth. Do you see the conundrum?

Because of the ratio being off, I always think how preferable an open-face ice cream sandwich would be. An upside-down, open-face ice cream sandwich. But that's basically a sundae.

You can't just use any cookie. It has to be one that is edible despite being partially frozen.

My conclusions...
Bake thin cookies. When cooled, load on the ice cream and eat immediately. Yum! My chocolate brownie cookies were superb for ice cream sandwiches!

This is also my little addition to Sam's Ice Cream Event over at Sweet Pleasure. Go check out all the fabulous ice cream recipes and sandwich them between two cookies!

"This is just a bit of silliness, really." ~Finding Neverland

June 28, 2006

More Appetizers!

I was struggling to think of another quick appetizer to serve at our party last weekend and when Paul suggested those tortilla roll-ups thingys, I might have had trouble hiding a smirk and swallowing a snarky comment, even though I’ve never eaten them. “You mean those janky things that have diced peppers and I can just picture being on the label of a package of Philidelphia cream cheese?” But, after a few internet searches and the fact that I freakin’ got over myself, the idea sounded more and more appealing. After all, it was exactly what I was looking for: I had all the ingredients, they were easy, could be served cold and took very little time to put together. And, as I found out, they’re delicious!

So, I made two versions and happily, I don’t think either of them would appear on the side of a box of cream cheese. The first was a simple ham and herb cream cheese spiral and the second was a spin-off of the green chili version and was probably my favorite. It was a bit spicy and especially interesting for our international crowd, I think. It was dubbed American Sushi, which elevated these tortilla roll-ups to a whole new level of glamour yet unseen by flour tortillas and cream cheese. I think it made my husband’s night that his little piece of Americana became des petites morceaux d'art moderne.

Spicy Green Chili Tortilla Roll-Ups

about 6 flour tortillas (the larger the better so you have a fairly wide spiral once sliced)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
2 Tbsp chopped green onion or red onion
¼ cup grated cheddar
¼ cup grated Emmenthal, monterey jack, or other mild cheese
Many dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce
2 Tbsp minced red pepper, optional

Mix together all ingredients except tortillas in a small bowl until smooth and everything is incorporated. Taste and add hot sauce to desired spiciness. Spread about ¼ cup of the cheese mixture evenly over the entire tortilla, leaving a small edge at the top. Roll up the tortilla, fairly tightly, but not so much that the filling is squeezed out. Seal the tortilla with a little of the cream cheese mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, at least a few hours. Slice the rolled tortilla crosswise into 1 inch slices. Serve cut side up. These can be made the day before, but wait to slice until just a few hours ahead. Makes about 48 pieces.

Tortilla Roll-Ups with Ham and Garlic Herb Cheese
(recipe adapted from The Passionate Cook)

6 flour tortillas
6 oz Garlic and Herb Boursin Cheese
3 Tbsp chopped parsley
3 Tbsp chopped dill, optional
6 thin slices good quality ham

Spread a few tablespoons of Boursin over each tortilla (covering every surface) and sprinkle with parsley or dill. Place one slice of ham over the torilla (or more depending on the size of your tortillas…cover the suface.) Roll up the tortilla, wrap with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. Slice in 1-2 inch pieces.

If you can’t find Boursin, the recipe from The Passionate Cook sounds great, too. Mix a small amount of mustard into the cream cheese and spread that on the tortilla instead of the Boursin. Yum!

June 26, 2006

Une Bonne Soirée Chez Nous...

We just threw a party celebrating the end of the school year here in Paris (yes, it's the end of June!) and I have a few delicious appetizer recipes to share with you. We called it our faux-champagne party, since we served an easy-drinking Cremant d'Alsace, which was wonderful and also decidedly cheaper than fine champagne.
I ended up making way too much food, which I guess is always preferable to not having enough! I was really happy with how everything turned out and I'm so glad I have some recipes to share with you! I tried to keep it to hors d'oeuvres so there would be no need for plates or forks. Plus, since it was very hot last weekend, I didn't want to have the oven running constantly, or myself, for that matter.
So, the recipes I made included this previously posted Tzatziki. It's always a hit and was perfectly refreshing on a hot night. We also purchased that big gloriously sticky piece of brie pictured above. I think that's what won over the frenchies. I also made these Chocolate Brownie Cookies again. They were loved. Let's just say I now have a backup husband waiting in the wings should anything, er, happen to Paul. ("Megane, can I be zyour wife in zee heaven?" "You mean my husband? in the next life? Sure.") There were many yummy things and I will eventually get to all of them, but I was very pleased with these Tomato Pesto Mini-Tartes and my Mushroom and Chevre Spirals. Both use store-bought puff pastry, both are delicious at room temperature and couldn't be easier make. Most of the ingredients can be swapped out for others, so if you don't like chevre (you poor soul!) feel free to use parmesan or whatever you like.
Tomato and Pesto Mini-Tartes
(inspiration and recipe from The Passionate Cook!)

1 sheet puff pastry (sizes differ in US and France)

about 30 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh basil
1/3 cup pine nuts

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Mince garlic in a food processor. Next add the pine nuts and basil and pulse to chop. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the oil until incorporated. You may need to scrape down the bowl and make sure everything is pureed. Stir in the cheese and taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate up to 2-3 days.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Using a cookier cutter or mold of some sort, cut out 2 inch circles of puff pastry. I had neither a mold or cookie cutter, so I just cut my pastry into rough squares about 2 inches wide. Place the pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (a baker's best friend.) Prick each piece several times with a fork so that they don't puff up too much. Top with some pesto and about 3 slices of cherry tomato and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with a bit more pesto if you like. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Makes about 30, but it depends on the size of your pastry. As you can see, this is an easy recipe to alter the amounts and/or ingredients.

Mushroom and Chevre Spirals
(no picture because they were devoured before I had the chance)

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed if frozen

1 pound white mushrooms (or any kind you like), finely chopped

1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp minced chives

1 Tbsp fresh thyme (or any herb would work)

3 Tbsp crumbled goat cheese

salt and pepper

1 Tbsp
crème fraîche or sour cream, optional

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the shallots over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add the chives, thyme or other herbs. Add the goat cheese, salt and pepper to taste and stir in the crème fraîche to bind the mixture. Remove from heat and let cool.

Roll out the pastry. Cover the surface with the mushroom mixture, adding more goat cheese or herbs if you like. Roll up the pastry somewhat tightly so it holds together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. This can be made a few days in advance. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the pastry roll into 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until nicely browned. These won't expand much so don't worry about crowding the pan. Best when warm, but they are also fine at room temperature.


June 23, 2006


You Are a Jam Cookie

On the outside, you project a straight-laced, innocent vibe.
But on the inside, you're complex, exotic, and full of flavor.
What Kind of Cookie Are You?

I just had to add this one, too! I love pork - so versatile, so flavorful, so innocent and just waiting to be transformed into bacon. Yum!

You Are Pork

You like to think you're the other white meat, but many people don't want anything to do with you.
You probably smoke. And it's likely that no body part of yours is off limits.

June 21, 2006

Crab Cakes

Unfortunately, you won't be able to see these beauties since my camera went with my husband to Germany. He's gone for 3 days - just a short trip, and when faced with the prospect of cooking for one, there are many times when a bowl of cereal suffices. But, there are equally times when cooking a simple little elegant meal just hits the spot.

Tonight was one such night. I have to say I feel a little pride when I pull something out that is delicious and seemingly gourmet, (and it's all for me...buwha-ha-ha!) My meal tonight consisted of crab cakes on a bed of arugula, roasted asparagus and a glass of red wine. So cute and so delightful that I made it just for me. Indulgent yet simple. Woo-hoo!
There's me descending a massive slide in the Parc de la Villette!
My mouth had been watering for crab cakes since reading this post and recipe over at The Weekly Dish. Her pairing of crab cakes with guacamole is very close to my very favorite way to enjoy crab cakes: with sliced avocado and some chipotle mayo. Knowing I'd never find a ripe avocado in Paris to be consumed that night, I decided to try a simpler preparation. I missed the avocado, but they were tasty anyway.

Crab cakes are indeed tough to mess up. (You can make meatloaf, right?) But, we all know there are edible crab cakes, good crab cakes and exquisite crab cakes. I'd love to say mine were the latter, but they were good. I mean, I used canned crabmeat. I admit it. So the texture wasn't quite as chunky and nice as fresh crab would've been, and the flavor wasn't crabby enough for me. Let's call it a more delicately flavored crab cake. Substitute fresh crabmeat in this recipe and it will be a winner.

Crab Cakes

1/2 pound (240 g) crabmeat (fresh, lump crabmeat is best)

1 egg, beaten

2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp dijon mustard

2 Tbsp red onion, minced
2-3 Tbsp red or yellow bell pepper, minced

1/4 cup coarse bread crumbs (like panko)

(In France: Chapelure Dorée works)
pinch cayenne pepper

pinch paprika

Tabasco sauce

ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

olive oil, for frying

A simple sauce:

3 Tbsp mayonnaise,
the juice of one lemon wedge, paprika, and a good pinch of cayenne pepper

Like meatloaf, most of the amounts are approximate, especially the bread crumbs. Add small amounts until the desired texture is achieved. Also, I enjoy a spicy crab cake and have been told that Old Bay Seasoning is what to use. If you have some of that, leave out the other spices except maybe the hot sauce. Better to add too much spice than too little.

Beat the egg in a medium bowl. Whisk in the mayo, mustard and spices. Add the onion and pepper. Gently mix in the crabmeat, not breaking it apart too much. Once combined, gradually add breadcrumbs until the mixture just holds together. (Try shaping a cake and if it's too wet, add more crumbs.) Shape into whatever size cakes you prefer. This is a small recipe, so it made only five 3-inch diameter cakes, each about 1/2 inch thick. Place cakes on a plate and refrigerate 30 min - 1 hour. This is necessary so your cakes won't fall apart when frying.

Heat a very thin layer of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Spread some extra bread crumbs on a small plate. Coat each crab cake in some breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs so they stick. Test the oil by tossing a tiny (TINY) amount of breadcrumbs in the oil. If they sizzle immediately, it's ready. Cook the crabcakes 4 minutes per side (or less depending on the size) until nicely brown. If after 2 minutes the cakes aren't browning, turn up the heat. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve on some greens with a bit of sauce on each crab cake.
Serves 2.

June 18, 2006

Asparagus and Green Bean Salad

Asparagus has been in season for awhile now but I've had it just a few times. It's a vegetable that I came to like as an adult, which is sad when I think back to my childhood where each spring my parent's garden would overflow with green spears. It would appear on my plate every evening, only to be reluctantly choked down, and only the tips at that.

asparagus nutrition information

It's still a vegetable that I find somewhat tricky to cook. It has a tough outer layer that sometimes needs peeling, but that depends on the size. Sometimes you need to peel, sometimes you don't. I must say I'm partial to very thin spears where peeling isn't necessary. They are so tasty when roasted in olive oil and sea salt. After an unseemly episode with thick, white asparagus earlier this year, I can report my dislike of thick asparagus. Better to puree it up into soup than try and cook it perfectly so that it's just-cooked but not mushy. Ick. I just don't understand the appeal of inch-thick asparagus.

So, on to a good asparagus recipe. This salad comes from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. It's quite a simple salad, as most French salads are, sauf La Salade Niçoise, which takes some time. Asparagus is paired with fresh green beans and segmented citrus for a perky first course. He calls for orange, but I think grapefruit is nice, too.

Asparagus and Haricots Verts Salad

fresh, thin asparagus spears, trimmed, stems peeled
fresh haricots verts (thin French green beans), trimmed
1 orange or grapefruit, segmented
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
white pepper (didn't have, I used black)

Fill a large pot with water, add a few tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 5 minutes or until bright green and tender. Remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath. Once cold, remove the asparagus from the water and set aside.

Bring the same pot of water back to a boil and cook the beans for 5 minutes, then remove with the slotted spoon and drop into the ice bath. Set aside when cold.

Combine the oil, lemon juice in a small bowl. Mix in salt and pepper to taste. Pat the vegetables dry with paper towels. Combine them in a salad bowl and gently toss with vinaigrette. Add the orange segments and serve immediately.

June 13, 2006

Le Sel de Guérande

Le Sel Guérande is considered by many to be the finest sea salt. Its coarse chunky texture and greyish-brown color make for an appealing image, and most importantly, fine flavor. I just bought 1 kg of sel gris for 1 Euro! Although, the best of the best is Fleur de Sel, this coarse salt is prized as well, and much cheaper.
Salt is produced in the salt marshes around Guérande (in Brittany along the Atlantic coast) in the same way today as it was a thousand years ago. Since the middle ages, salt has been important politically and economically for Bretons and was once smuggled on the black market because of being highly taxed outside Bretagne.

Le Sel de Guérande is a natural product and admired for its rich taste and abundance of magnesium. There are a range of salts, including fleur de sel, the best and most delicate salt removed from the top of the salt flats which has dried quickly and is naturally white. It's known to give off the scent of violets and can be sometimes pink in color from the red seaweed in the water. There are a variety of salts from Guérande, some flavored with seaweed and a variety of grinds to choose from. One gets the sense that this is a topic requiring a good amount of investigation.

I've found that my lowly sel gris, large and grey, is the best tasting salt I've had. It's a moist salt and should be kept that way.
"Honey, is there a hole in this bag? It looks all wet!"
"I know, it's supposed to be like that."
"Are you sure?"
"YES! It's sea salt. It's like that."
"Huh. I thought it was a bag of rice" (walks away, still in disbelief.)
I find myself licking this salt off my fingers after sprinkling it on food! After tasting the sel gris and then my crap pulverized and iodized salt, there is just no comparison. The powdery white salt tastes of bitter chemicals. Coarse sea salt lingers on the tongue in the nicest way.
Fleur de sel should really be reserved as a finishing salt. (You know, when you've sauteed that nice slice of fois gras, throw a few crystals on there.) My Sel Gris is more suitable for cooking but could also be a finisher, though it has a bolder flavor than fleur de sel, so it might be better on meat. I find the cost and flavor of this salt to fit my cooking needs very well. I'll mention that if you've ever had the hankering a roast a whole fish in a salt crust, this is what to use. My kilo of coarse, humid salt can envelope a whole fish and roast it to perfection. Crack open the hardened crust and you have amazingly tender fish. I love recipes like this where you know it became a Breton specialty just because they were swimming in salt.

So, go buy some good sea salt. It'll change your cooking.

June 10, 2006

The Gastronomical Me

I have finally gotten around to reading some MFK Fisher, and if you're a foodie of any sorts, you are probably way ahead of me. I just started The Gastronomical Me and I love it, of course. It paints the picture of a woman awakening in life through experiences in food. It was published in the 1943, but chronicles her life from 1912-1941. In 1929, she moves with her husband to Dijon, the gastro capital of the day. I haven't quite gotten there yet, but I already carry affection for this woman.

She's endearing when she relates anecdotes from her strict upbringing and you can easily sense the fiery woman buried beneath. I especially enjoy her descriptions of her parents, almost as if they are creatures to be studied. From her "grandmother's despotic bowels," which held their palates hostage, to her uncle Evans, who loved to drink beer and good whiskey. "I think he would have been a fine man to drink with, and by the time I knew how, and the country could, it was too late. He had been killed by a drunken driver." She paints the characters so easily, one can quickly identify someone you know in there place.

Above all, my favorite section so far, and the one that actually rocked me a bit, was written about her return from boarding school. She returned home to her persnickety parents in the country, with no friends, no direction; she was shy and as "sexless as a 90-year-old nun."

"And there I was suddenly, big, moody, full of undirected energies of a thousand kinds. Father and Mother, panicky, decided to put me in one of the large universities in Los Angeles, where I would 'be near home' until...until some miracle happened, I suppose.

But to be near home was the one thing I could not tolerate just then. I fought against it as instinctively as a person on the operating table fights against ether. The time had come for me to leave, and leave I must, strong always in the surety that I could return to my dear family."

There is something so delicious in reading that woman living generations ago were doing and feeling the same things that we are now. I'm sure everyone can relate to her writing. So living in Paris isn't such a novelty anymore as more and more people do it, but a lot of things remain. When Fisher talks of waving to her husband from her balcony and then getting back in bed, I did that! When she talks about potatoes deserving a place as a whole meal, not just in the word meat-and... And she found it existed in France. (And upon that discovery, she concludes "it was a fine moment," which cracks me up.) I read that when she returned from France, she worked in a frame shop that sold pornographic postcards, so I guess that's one way I don't need to follow in her footsteps, but it sure made me think outside the box...

I highly recommend this book and the many other volumes of her writing, including Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster, and The Alphabet for Gourmets.

June 8, 2006

Roti de Porc (ou Poulet) Basquaise

I've been cooking more French dishes lately which has made me happy. When one is trying to eat healthier, one doesn't automatically think of French cuisine. I admit I've been struggling with it. There are indeed many dishes that are simply over the top. Gratin dauphinois, steaks with bearnaise sauce, or a custardy millefeuille for dessert. (How much butter and cream can one squeeze into one meal?) But, to say French food, in general, is unhealthy isn't true.

The French do simply prepared food perfectly. I doubt too many French people actually give up certain foods like we have the tendency to do. No more chocolate! No more carbs! They just eat less of it. It makes sense. I mean, I'm in France...what? Am I gonna give up bread?! I was completely satisfied with a ham and mushroom omelette for our supper the other day. It's simple, easy and indeed French. Another of my favorite easy meals to make is a not-so-gigantic version of une salade géante. Just look around your fridge and use up whatever you have. The last time I hard-boiled 2 eggs, chopped some leftover chicken and prosciutto, roasted some asparagus and cut up a few tomatoes and placed it all over a bed of greens. Add a hunk of bread and maybe a little cheese of your choice and it makes a tasty quick dinner.

So, I've gotten over my fear of cooking French food while trying to be a bit healthier. Last night I made a delicious, albeit, altered version of the classic Poulet Basquaise. For this a whole chicken is cut into 8 parts and braised in a slightly spicy sauce made of onions, peppers and tomatoes. I had no chicken but I did have a sizeable boneless pork roast. It took longer to cook, but it was just as delicious. No cream or cheese!

Rôti de Porc (ou Poulet) Basquaise
adapted from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. He's the man.

1 2-pound boneless pork loin roast (or 3-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 parts)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
cayenne pepper (piment d'esplete)
1 (15 oz) can whole Italian tomatoes
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced or julienned
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup of chicken broth (or 1/2 bouillon cube + 1/2 cup water)
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Tabasco sauce, to your taste

Season the pork or chicken all over with salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne (about 3/4 tsp or to your taste.) Heat a large pot over medium hight heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the butter. When the butter has foamed and subsided, add the chicken (skin-side down) or the pork. Sear and brown the pork on all sides, but the chicken only on that one side. Remove the pork or chicken to a plate.

Add the onion, peppers and garlic and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. (This will take 7-10 more minutes) Stir in the wine, scraping as always to get the good stuff up. Cook until the wine is reduced by half (yes, another 5-10 minutes - I turned up the heat!) Next, add the stock (or the 1/2 cup water + bouillon). Return the chicken or pork to the pot, along with any accumulated juices on the plate. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 25 minutes for the chicken OR 1 hour for the pork roast. Remove the chicken or pork from the pot when done and crank up the heat to high and reduce the sauce for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and parsley. Taste and add Tabasco as needed. Stir in the parsley and serve the sauce over the chicken with rice pilaf.

Despite taking some time to cook, this was really delicious and easy to prepare. There isn't too much chopping so the prep is easy, especially if you buy the chicken cut up or have the butcher do it for you. As you see in the photo, I didn't serve this with rice. Day old bread made a nice base on which to rest the sliced pork and peppers. I'm making this again and again! You could puree (or not) any leftover sauce and put it over pasta.

June 7, 2006

For the Love of Fruit...

I should apologize here for not having a recipe to go along with this post. The problem is that while I've been wanting to make a fruity dessert, I find that we're devouring the fruit before I get the chance. When fruit is at its perfect ripeness, there really is nothing to do besides cut it open, grab a spoon (if necessary) and dig in!

It's one of the sure signs of Spring. There's the warmer weather, the sunshine or getting your first sunburn, but nothing feels more like Spring than coming home with some perfectly ripe berries or summer melons from a Parisian market, especially if you've gotten them for a steal.

Paul and I have been going on long walks lately (another sure sign of Spring) and we arrived at the Richard-Lenoir Market near Bastille yesterday (via Canal St. Martin) just as they were closing down. We managed to find a few fruit stands still going and walked away with a demi-kilo of cherries and 2 perfectly ripe small honeydew melons, which were 1.50 Euros for the 2. When we returned home a bit tired and sweaty, I was overjoyed to simply cut the melon in half, give one half to him, keep one half myself and down the thing in about a minute flat. I can honestly say that I was never a fan of honeydew and now I realize it was just because I'd never had a ripe one. Unripened cantelope is one thing, but unripened honeydew is just so tasteless and pale; pretty much inedible. This was something altogether different and wonderful. Soft, very sweet, so juicy and absolutely perfect. Fruit at its peak just blows me away, and there's no recipe needed.

Maybe I'm the only one in awe of fresh fruit, but when you end up with the perfect piece of ripe juicy fruit, it feels like a blessing. You can't really plan it. Most of the time when you need that ripe pear, you won't have it or can't find it. I mean, when it's hot outside and (oh, you don't have airconditioning) juicy chilled fruit satisfies like nothing else, just the same way a hot bowl of soup does in the winter. I suppose if we'd been going directly home, I'd have bought 4-5 melons and made a honeydew soup or something like that, but we really couldn't wait that long! Eat it with a smile and enjoy it while it lasts!
I did not add color to that berry! Have you ever seen something so perfect!?

June 5, 2006

New and Improved!

The view from our Montmartre apartment

Looking for a recipe? Search in vain no longer! I've finally gotten around to archiving my recipes so they should now be much easier to find. Simply click on the link below or RECIPE INDEX link on the sidebar, just above the links to Previous Posts. I hope this greatly improves the ease of using this site, although I realize that Blogger is still rather clunky in this regard.

Bon Chance et Bon Courage!

June 3, 2006

Roasted Cauliflower II

I made more roasted cauliflower tonight and I must admit I didn't have as much success this time around. I think the heat was too high or the pieces of cauliflower too small. Instead of being crispy yet juicy, it was dry, kind of boring, and as you can see, slightly burnt. Very disappointing since I was so excited to try this method. When browsing the multitude of food blogs, I came across this post on Gluten-Free Girl for roasted cauliflower with smoked paprika and cocoa powder. Yes! Cocoa powder! I was intrigued and convinced I'd stumbled across the holy grail of flavorful veggies. Evidently this secret weapon ingredient has roots at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), so with a bit of glee at grasping hold of this obvious leak in confidentiality, I set out on my own fact finding mission.

As I said, I think my problem was cutting the cauliflower too thinly. I usually prefer the slicing method to just separating the florets as it provides more surface area to lay flatly on the pan and therefore get brown and caramelized. Perhaps the individual florets stay juicier, though, so the jury's still out on that one. Problem number two was that I underestimated the importance of using a fine mesh sieve to sprinkle the cocoa powder over the cauliflower. In my haste, I ended up holding my colander over the pan of cauliflower and dumped some cocoa into it without much thinking, in effect burying half the cauliflower in chocolate! So, instead of a light sprinkling, I got chocolate covered cauliflower. After reinserting my brain, I could predict that this time it wasn't going to work out perfectly.

Please, try this recipe. I still have faith that it's awesome. Some good quality smoky paprika and rich cocoa powder makes for a tasty mole flavor. Let me know what you think.

Roasted Cauliflower, all sophisticated-like

1/2 head cauliflower
olive oil
coarse salt
smoked paprika
unsweetened cocoa powder

Slice the cauliflower in 1/4-inch thick sections, or just separate the florets into similar sizes. Toss gently with olive oil, and generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with paprika and cocoa powder. Next time I might try and do almost twice as much paprika as cocoa powder, but similar amounts of each works, too. Just don't do what I did and use twice as much cocoa! Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for about 25-30 minutes or until tender yet browned.
Bon Courage!