Leaf peepers everywhere are bummed out that the fall foliage was delayed this year. I’m still walking around without socks, which makes me very happy, because I hate socks. (But I do love a great pair of black tights. They smooth everything out and make me feel so sleek.)
I’m going to pass on pumpkin spice and ease my way into fall with an autumn grain bowl. While everyone is roasting their broccoli and brussels sprouts, I’m bucking the trend and going raw. I love raw broccoli when the florets are chopped into tiny pieces and the stems are stripped of their woody bark, and the tender core is thinly sliced. Shredded brussels sprouts, pickled red onions, cucumbers, radishes and mint round out the crunch party.The dressing for this grain bowl packs an umami punch, thanks to anchovy paste!I like to dress the vegetables at least 30 minutes before eating to give the salad a chance to marinate and soften up a bit. My grain of choice is farro, but it would be delicious with brown rice, barley, wheat berries or quinoa, if you must! I served the farro on the side and let everyone fill their own bowl. A shaving of Parmesan to top the bowl is an excellent idea.
Socca is essentially a large chickpea flour flatbread. Similar in texture to a crepe, it has crisp edges and the sweet and nutty flavor of chickpeas, with a trace of smokiness from a trip under the broiler. They originated in Nice where they are cooked in wood ovens on copper disks. I thought they would be an excellent base for pizza.
I am not very skilled at drawing or painting, so I like to think of these socca crusts as my canvas and the toppings as my paint. It’s easy to create masterpieces when late summer markets are overflowing with gorgeous produce.
Mix up the socca batter; chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Redmill Garbanzo and Fava Bean Flour), water, olive oil and salt. Let the batter sit on the counter for at least 2 hours, or you can even refrigerate it overnight.Pour about 3/4 cup batter into a lightly oiled hot nonstick pan, and cook until golden brown on both sides.Channel your inner Picasso and top with whatever fills you with joy. For this version I shaved the zucchini and dressed the ribbons with fresh thyme, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I sautéed some fresh corn kernels. Feta and olives for salt and some shredded mozzarella to create oozy cheesy goodness. Pop it under the broiler to melt the cheese and crisp up the edges.
Cauliflower is the darling of the vegetable world this year. It is her chameleon-like qualities that make her such a popular girl. Sliced into slabs and roasted as “steak“, shaved thinly and served raw as slaw, boiled and mashed and served in “stuffed potatoes“, roasted whole so it resembles a “brain”, cauliflower crust pizza, and now, masquerading as fried rice.
Is this taking carb avoidance too far? I love fried rice, and had my doubts that cauliflower could step up to the plate and replace the rice in this classic dish. But Google “Cauliflower Fried Rice” and no fewer than 566,000 results pop up. I needed to see what all the fuss was about. Making the cauliflower “rice” couldn’t be simpler. Pulse cauliflower florets in the food processor, about 10 times and you’re done. You could also grate the cauliflower on the large holes of a box grater. I used this recipe from chatelaine.com and adapted it slightly. Get all your ingredients chopped and measured before you start cooking, because this comes together quickly once you start the actual cooking.It genuinely looks like fried rice and it tastes delicious. I was worried that the flavour of the cauliflower would be overpowering, but with all the other ingredients, it wasn’t. Soy sauce and hoisin work together to add authenticity. While you know you’re not eating rice, it is still hits the spot. You can have a big bowl and feel satisfyingly full and healthy. I will be making this again very soon!
When a chef takes a humble ingredient, like the carrot, and makes it sublime, I pay attention. My first carrot experience created by Chef Michelle Bernstein, was 5 years ago, at The Omphoy Hotel in Palm Beach. I was visiting my friend Marla and we went to a killer barre class at the hotel’s Exhale Spa. After class we hobbled over to the restaurant for breakfast.
Once we ordered our poached eggs, the waiter delivered a basket of hot biscuits and house made carrot marmalade to the table. He said we must try the marmalade, and because our mammas raised us right, just to be polite, we ate all the biscuits and asked for a second ramekin of the carrot marmalade. I still have no idea what was in it or how they got it to taste so good. but I think about it often.
My second Michelle Bernstein carrot experience was last month in Miami. I was in town for my nephew’s wedding. We had a spare night so we went to dinner at her Biscayne Blvd. restaurant Cena. I started with the roasted carrots topped with whipped sardinian ricotta and dukkah. Once again, her wizardry with carrots dazzled me. Sadly, I just heard the restaurant closed on May 31.
Dukkah is a Middle Eastern nut and spice mix. I have written about it before, a few years ago. One of my favourite ways to eat it is to dip pita in olive oil and then do a second dunk into the dukkah. A very satisfying and addictive little bite. It had never occurred to me to sprinkle dukkah on vegetables, but it totally works.
Fat spears of asparagus got my attention at the market so I abandoned all plans of roasted carrots. You gotta go with what looks good that day. I decided on a pistachio based dukkah, but feel free to use any nut you like. Sesame seeds, fennel, cumin and coriander seeds add fragrant deliciousness. Seeds and nuts are toasted and then coarsely ground in the food processor.
I have been making squash fries at least once a week for over two years now. It recently occured to me that that I have not shared the recipe with you yet. My bad! Sorry about that. Once you try them, you too will be serving them often. I started making them around the same time that I discovered smoked paprika. Squash and smoked paprika are just made for each other. I usually roast vegetables at a high heat (450°F), which gives then that gorgeous char. However, I have been reading that roasting veggies at a low temp (250°F) deeply concentrates the flavours and gives you a velvety-custardy texture. They turn out more evenly cooked and less shriveled than their high-heat friends. I will admit that the roasting time balloons from 45 minutes to over 2 hours, but it’s unattended roasting time. If you can plan ahead, your patience will be rewarded.
First we need to tackle peeling and cutting the squash. This can be scary if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here’s my method.
Make sure you spread them out in a single layer on the baking sheet.I love dipping them in chipotle mayo. I just mix low fat mayo (please do not use that fat-free stuff) with canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. It is commonly found in the Mexican section of the supermarket. One can will give you way more than you need for this recipe. Here’s what I do to deal with leftovers. Remove all the seeds from the chiles, and process into a smooth paste in the food processor. Transfer paste to a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze. Once the paste is frozen solid, transfer to a zip-loc bag and store in freezer. Then you can simply break off pieces as you need them. Here are some great ideas on what to do with leftover chipotles.