Cheesy Cauliflower and Broccoli

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Oh Jamie Oliver, you rarely let me down. Today is no exception. This recipe takes your standard cauliflower with cheese sauce to the next (actually, the highest) level with very little effort. Plus it involves SO MUCH VEGETABLE. A great source of good food in these final days of winter. I like to buy the flash-frozen vegetables at the supermarket, especially in the winter, because I know that they were at their freshest when they were frozen and haven’t spent days or weeks rattling around in a truck to get to me before they rot.

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Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Grab 1kg cauliflower florets (A WHOLE KILOGRAM) and dump that in a large baking dish. I used half frozen florets on the bottom …

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… and half fresh ones on top.

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Scoop up a decently medium-sized pot and dump in about 4 tablespoons butter and the equivalent of 2 cloves of garlic (you can peel and slice it, but I used it from a jar here and I’m not sorry). Heat that on medium until the butter is melted and the garlic is sizzling.

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Sprinkle in about 4-5 tablespoons flour and stir that until it forms a gummy paste, like in the picture.

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Now, drizzle in, a little bit at a time, 2 cups milk. Whisk it all the while as you add so you don’t get lumps.

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Tip in 500g broccoli florets (fresh or frozen). Let those simmer away until they’re pretty much mushy.

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When they’re nice and mushy, you should mash ’em. I found the potato masher didn’t quite cut it so I used my immersion blender.

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Glorious.

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Now add in like 1/2 cup grated cheddar (or any cheese of your preference). Turn down the heat a bit and let that melt.

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Now pour your green creamy mixture on top of the cauliflower.

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Dig the cauliflower up a little bit to make sure the sauce gets into the middle.

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In a food processor, whaz together about 2 slices stale bread, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, and about 2-3 tablespoons flaked almonds and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Bread crumb topping!

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Sprinkle another 1/2 cup grated cheese over top of the cauliflower, then top with the bread crumb mixture.

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Bake the whole thing for an hour, until the crumbs are golden and everything is bubbly. I found that it was best to cover the crumb topping with foil so it didn’t burn.

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Sooooo good!

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Purple Rice and Beef-ish Stew

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I know what you’re thinking: holy moly this woman makes a lot of beef stew. You don’t know the half of it. But each one is different, because I make them up as I go along. So I hope in posting as many of them as occur to me to photograph, you can draw some inspiration for flavour combinations!

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It started with this package of frozen stewing meat I inherited from Atlas’ freezer. It likely came from her parents’ organic hobby farm in BC, or from one of the people with whom her dad has a trade deal. And, given the nature of some of the other things I’ve inherited from Atlas, it could very well be goat, and not beef. In fact it’s probably goat. So I tried to adjust the spices such that it would work for goat, or beef. But what do I know.

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I grabbed my big stock pot and chopped up an onion, which I chucked in the pot with some butter and olive oil and sautéed until it was soft and smelled amazing.

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Then I pitched in the beef/goat/mystery meat, together with some salt and pepper, and cooked that until it was browned on all the edges.

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While that was going on I prepped everything else. Seeing as I had some on hand from my recent Krupnikas-fest, I decided to grate some fresh turmeric into the mix, to give the broth a nice earth-flavour. If you like the earth flavour, then you could probably add some fresh beets to the stew. They’ll definitely give the stew some colour.

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In fact, the turmeric would, under normal circumstances, have dyed my stew a lovely yellow colour, save that I’m putting purple rice in it, and purple rice dyes everything, too. The turmeric did, however, dye my fingers yellow.

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And some of the counter. I miss our all-black counter from Elizabeth.

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Fact, though: if you spray bleach on a turmeric stain, like this one:

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It will turn from yellow to orange, and then just wipe away.

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I added some freshly grated ginger to the pile as well, because I had a whole bunch of it in the fridge.

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Then I chopped up a medium-sized rutabaga. While not as absorbent as potatoes in stew, rutabagas and turnips hold their shape well while also providing some of the mushiness you expect from other root vegetables and tubers.

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And a giant (GIANT) carrot.

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And some cauliflower.

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And my purple rice. It’s kind of obscene how purple it makes everything else, but I love it.

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And a head of roasted garlic. Because everything is better with garlic. I popped the cloves out and roughly chopped them.

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I chucked all that in the pot, together with some concentrated vegetable and beef broth and a whole lot of water. Remember when you’re putting uncooked rice or pasta into a soup or stew to add extra water as it will be absorbed.

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I also sprinkled in some ground cumin and yellow curry powder.

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Bring that whole thing to simmer for about an hour, until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are squishable with a spoon.

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Serve hot (because it’s a stew, silly). Sooooo satisfying and purple!

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Mashed Potato and Cauliflower Gratin

It’s November.  I’m cold.  I want something warming for dinner.  This’ll do, though I made a slightly lazier version below.

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Start with 2lbs yellow potatoes, washed and cut into small cubes.  I used the thin-skinned ones as opposed to the baking ones because I didn’t want to peel them.  A little potato skin is good for you.  Plop those in a large pot, cover them with water, and boil them until tender, about 12 minutes.

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When they’re pokable with a fork, drain them and add in 3/4 cup whole milk and 3 tablespoons butter and mash that until they’re all mooshy.

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Add in about 2 cups grated Gruyère cheese and stir that around until it’s melted and glorious.

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Now you’re going to need a large cauliflower.

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And 4 cloves garlic.

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Chop the cauliflower up and smash the garlic cloves and chuck them all in a pot together.  Cover that with water and boil until the cauliflower is tender, probably another 12 minutes.

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Drain that and then huck the cauliflower into a food processor.  Add another 1/2 cup milk and another 3 tablespoons butter to that sucker and give it a whaz until it’s chunky yet totally puréed.

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Mix together your potatoes and your cauliflower in a large bowl.

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Season with salt and pepper.

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Butter a large casserole baking dish and dump your vegetable mooshiness on in there.

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Take 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle that over top.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 425°F for about 20-30 minutes, until the top is bubbling and brown.  Enjoy!

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Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

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I have another recipe for an artichoke dip here, but for Krystopf and Atlas’ baby shower this past weekend, I decided on a lighter version that I got from The Best of Clean Eating 2and it was such a hit that despite it making more dip than I ever thought possible, it was completely gone after just three hours.  Cait liked it so much that she insisted I push forward all other blog posts so that she could get this recipe as soon as possible.  So here you go.  I made this dip the day before the shower and chucked it in the fridge, saving the last step of baking and sprinkling of cheese for right before the party.

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Start by defrosting a 10oz package of frozen chopped spinach.

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Drain it well (you can see my handprint from pressing on it) and set it aside.

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Chop up 4 or 5 green onions and set those aside for now as well.

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Chop up about 1 1/2 cups cauliflower (this is the low-calorie filler in this dip) and pop that in a pot.  You could use frozen cauliflower as well, if you’d prefer.  Cook it until it’s tender and drain it.

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Huck the cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor and add 1 250g/8oz package cream cheese, as well as 3 tablespoons milk.  Purée that sucker to a fine liquid, then transfer it to a bowl for now.

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Chop up a large white onion and several cloves of garlic.  Don’t worry about getting them too fine.  Whip those into a large frying pan with a few drops of olive oil.  Sauté those for about 8-10 minutes, until the onion is all soft and see-through.  Chuck those in the food processor you were using before.

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Crack open and drain a 14oz can artichoke hearts.  Chop those suckers up smallish and throw them in the processor.

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Take your spinach and chuck that in as well, together with about 1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs, a few pinches salt, and a half teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.

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Give that a go in the processor until it’s a texture you like.

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Dump it out into the bowl with the cauliflower/cream cheese mixture and add in the chopped green onions.  Give it a good stirring and add more salt or cayenne as required.

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To bake the dip, preheat your oven to 350°F and smooth the dip into a largish-sized casserole dish.

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Bake this, covered, for 20 minutes.

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Uncover it and sprinkle it with grated cheese (this is a mix of mozzarella and cheddar).

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Bake again for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and dip is hot all the way through.  Serve it hot with pita and chips!

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The King of Cream Soups

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This is a variation on my other cream of broccoli soup recipe, but I like this one better because it uses less cream and the thickener is cauliflower instead of starchy potatoes.

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And I have called it the king of cream soups because it’s my favourite of them all.

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And also because I found this old cushion cover embroidered by one of my great aunts and decided it would make a nice backdrop.

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Start with your vegetables: onions, broccoli, and cauliflower. I ended up making a relatively small soup, so I only used 1 onion, 2 heads broccoli, and half a head cauliflower.

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Chop the onion up relatively fine and heave it in a pot with some olive oil and some minced garlic. Sautée that on medium heat until the onions are translucent.

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While that’s on the go, chop up your broccoli.

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Shave the tough skin off the stems and use that as well.

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Broccoli is good for you, so use it all.

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Do the same with the cauliflower.

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Heave those in the pot as well, and give them a stir.

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At this point I added about 4 cups chicken stock, but you can use as much as you’d like, or water, or any other stock.  Enough to make a soup of it, I guess.

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Then I simmered it until I could squish the cauliflower with the back of my spoon (broccoli will become squishier faster, so the cauliflower should be your test).

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Then out comes my brszzht — I mean, immersion blender.

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And now you add the sauciness: here we have dijon mustard, Worcestershire (“wooster”) sauce, a dash of cream and two big spoonfuls of plain yogurt. Give those a good stir to mix.

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Serve it hot (I guess you could serve it cold if you liked, but that’s weird) with some grated cheddar cheese.

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Fit for royalty?  Absolutely.

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Wingin’ it Wednesday: Roast and Roasted

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It’s been raining for a while here.  I guess that means it’s fall.  The night I made this meal Fussellette drove us to Costco around 7, just after sunset.  There was a huge black cloud coming out of the west, like those ominous ones in movies where spells are cast or aliens arrive, and it blacked out the whole sky.  Yup.  Autumn on the North Atlantic.

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Anyway, before we left for Costco we had to eat early, and neither of us was particularly interested in putting much effort into food preparation.  Still, that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with peanut butter sandwiches or eggs on toast.  You can still produce quality comfort food with very little effort.  Case in point: our roast.

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The roasts we buy here are tough and flavourless, and frankly I’m not sure why I keep picking them up.  But once I buy them they need to be eaten and so here we go.  Make sure to take your roast out of the refrigerator at least half an hour before you intend to cook it.  Just trust me on that one.  Preheat your oven to 500°F, or as high as you can get it before the broiler kicks on.

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In a roasting pan (I used our well-seasoned cast iron skillet here), you are going to make a bed of chopped vegetables.  What vegetables those are is up to you.  Onions are a perennial favourite, as are potatoes and carrots and parsnips.  I used carrots, a red pepper, cauliflower, and some potatoes.

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Chuck those in the pan and drizzle them with olive oil.  Sprinkle with some sea salt and toss to coat. Use your fingers, don’t be afraid.

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Then take your roast and rub olive oil and sea salt all over it. Plop that in the centre of your bed of vegetables.

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On the side I also decided to cut up this lovely squash.

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Doesn’t it look like a flower?

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I put the squash in a separate pan, and gave it the olive oil and salt treatment as well.

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Now pop that all in your oven, and turn the heat down to 400°F.  Give that about an hour to cook, depending on the size and cut of your roast.  Medium-rare beef serves at a temperature of about 145°F, if you have a thermometer handy.  Check your veg a couple times, and toss them about to keep them from sticking.  If they look really dry (at least, the ones under the meat), then add a bit of water to keep them from burning. You should be okay, though.

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Once your roast is cooked (ours took about 45 minutes, and then I took it out and left the vegetables still cooking for another 15 minutes), take it out and set it on a carving board to rest for at least 15 minutes.  After that, slice it up super thin and serve with your roasted vegetables.

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A bit of honey and butter on your squash won’t go amiss, either.

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YUM!

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Wingin’ It Wednesday: Moose and Mushroom Stew

Wingin' It Wednesday: Moose and Mushroom Stew

I’m not sure if I’ll ever really get used to the concept of eating moose.  But when in Newfoundland …

This is a roast from Fussellette’s dad, and I followed her instructions as to what to do for the basics of the whole thing.  The rest was sheer fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants moose stew madness.

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So you plop the roast into your slow cooker.  Then you add your vegetables, like an onion, and/or some potatoes. I had some rather sad-looking broccoli and cauliflower in the fridge, so that went in with an onion. Then you add in a package of dried onion soup.  I’m not usually one to add pre-made mixes to things, but these were my instructions.

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Then we need some fluid.  You could add in chicken broth.  Or beef broth.

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But I had some mushroom broth in the fridge so I used that.

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Which meant that I felt obligated to use some dried mushrooms as well.

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I turned it to high and left it for a while.  Later on, I added some frozen green and yellow beans and some wild rice.

And near the end a sprinkle of Bell’s Seasoning. I know it’s for chicken and fish but it’s got my name on it and I couldn’t help myself.

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Eventually the meat is done and you gotta pull it out and tear it off the bone before chucking it back in the stew. It won’t be difficult.

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Your dog can help.

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And there you have it — moose and mushroom stew. Served with toast.

Wingin' It Wednesday: Moose and Mushroom Stew