Admittedly, I’d grown a little weary of cauliflower.
Not that I don’t love this brassica’s crunch and subtle nutty sweetness. But after so many recipes for ricing, pizza crust-making, and roasting whole and every which way, I kinda had my fill.
Then, along comes the spectacular and unbelievably easy “Char Siu Roasted Cauliflower” to make me appreciate it all over again.
This clever vegetarian riff on the classic Chinese barbecue pork comes from my friend and colleague, Santa Cruz’s Andrea Nguyen, of course. It’s one of 125 recipes in her wonderful new “Ever-Green Vietnamese” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.
As she writes in the book’s forward, she — or rather her body — “hit a wall” as she was turning 50 in 2019. No surprise, the older we get, the more we begin to experience real changes in our bodies. In our 20s, we are lucky to get away with devouring most anything without a second thought. But in our 40s, 50s, and beyond, the digestive system starts to rebel more and the calories make themselves way too much at home.
Admit it, we all have our unusual food predilections.
My husband doesn’t enjoy sour foods, but loves ceviche. He is not fond of raw carrots, but will happily chomp on them if they’re cut into sticks.
Me? I am typically not the biggest fan of coconut. Yet I dream of Tom Douglas’ famed coconut cream pie, and the coconut layer cakes I devoured in South Carolina. Neither am I usually a fan of raisins in baked goods. Yet I somehow adore them in savory dishes.
That’s why the recipe for “Cauliflower with Raisins” stopped me in my tracks in the best of ways.
It’s from the new “6 Spices, 60 Dishes” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. Ruta Kahate, a veteran cookbook author who own Ruta’s, an Indian cafe in Milwaukee.
Kahate recognizes that the intoxicating array of spices that makes Indian cuisine so exciting can also prove intimidating to a home-cook. With this book, she demonstrates that with only six spices in the pantry — cayenne, coriander, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, and asafetida — you can make 60 vibrant and distinct dishes that aren’t taxing.
If you’re familiar with Cook’s Illustrated magazine, then you know all too well how meticulous these recipes have been tested until perfected. Although the book is called “Vegetables” illustrated, it doesn’t mean this is a vegetarian cookbook. While vegetables are dominant, many recipes feature meat or seafood, or make use of chicken broth.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting New York Chef Suvir Saran, no doubt you reveled in his bold, colorful and magnetic personality.
Not surprisingly, this dish is very much like him — it makes a big impression from the get-go.
“Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower” is from his cookbook, “Masala Farm” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. Suran, owner of Devi restaurant in New York, wrote the book with Charlie Burd, his long-time partner. It includes recipes and stories about their time shared in their upstate New York farmhouse situated on 67 acres with three ponds, goats, chickens and an abundance of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
The recipes are farm-to-table, but done often with Indian flair.
This cauliflower dish has been a signature one since his restaurant opened. It’s sort of like Chinese sweet-and-sour, but with cauliflower, not pork, and boasts a spicy kick.