Thursday, January 11, 2007

cauliflower and brussels salad

cauliflower and brussels salad

Oh boy, so we already know what a pest I can be, right? Well, yesterday I had the honor of running what should have been simple errands and yet each was more aggravating than the last, from the Verizon guy that seriously did not understand what to do with my $100 phone credit, the dress which simply did not exist and a line of ten people keeping me from just asking where it could be found and an Aveda employee, oh just don’t get me started because I have nothing nice to say about their eerie breed of worker ants on 5th Avenue. When I got home, frozen like a cranky popsicle, I eagerly dug into the bag of groceries Alex had picked up for our dinner only to find that the store had only white cauliflower left, and I’d wanted the purple, orange and green! I decided that the recipe was boring and I didn’t want to make it at all if it couldn’t be pretty, and oh my god, could I be more annoying?

I was talked back into cooking with the lure of an attitude-adjusting peanut butter cookie from Billy’s Bakery. Have I told you how awesome they are? I know, everyone has had peanut butter cookies before and they’re fairly basic to make, all bearing the signature fork criss-cross mark on top but these, these are something above-and-beyond. After much analysis, as they are kind enough to frequently leave samples out when I come in to get coffee, I’ve determined that the root of their awesomeness is a mixture of chunky peanut butter, peanut butter chips and a light sprinkling with sugar that superfine, indeed. When I find an excuse besides filling our gullets, I promise to try to make my own Billys-style transcendently good peanut butter cookies to share with those of you scattered far from NYC’s west side.

Such a tease, right, all this talking about cookies? I actually boiled cruciferous vegetables for dinner last night. (Oh boy!) However, they were saved from being pushed over the edge of Boringland by a delicious and unusual caper, lemon, mustard, garlic and marjoram-packed butter sauce. I have to say that though I am a roasting fanatic — I will toss nearly any vegetable with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake it on a sheet at a high temperature for 30 to 60 minutes and call it divine, brussels and cauliflower included — they took remarkably well to a brief, salty boil. I’d file broccoli in this category too, and it’s good to keep in mind when you are hungry, cranky and want dinner quickly ready quickly so you can get to what you really wanted, baked goods.

Seriously, this gave me a flashback to being a kid, when I h-a-t-e-d brussel sprouts more than anything and after threats and tears I’d probably choke down three just so I could get some dessert. (Breyers two-tone ice cream brick, of course.) Now I love those tiny cabbage-heads, but I’m not too grown up to be a sucker for a little sweet bribery. I suspect this is a good thing.

a bed of couscous

Thank you so much for voting for me for the Best Food Blog, Humor Award, and congratulations to all the other winners! What a fantastic group. I’ll do my best to earn my place among them this year. [Try the veal!]

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Mustard-Caper Butter
Adapted from Deborah Madison, via The Los Angeles Times, 1/10/07

Servings: 8 (Deb: Wha?)

2 garlic cloves
Sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup drained small capers, rinsed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped marjoram
Black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 small head (1/2 pound) white cauliflower
1 small head (1/2 pound) Romanesco (green) cauliflower

1. To make the mustard-caper butter, pound the garlic with a half-teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth. Stir the garlic into the butter with the mustard, capers, lemon zest and marjoram. Season to taste with pepper. (The butter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

2. Trim the base off the Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half or, if large, into quarters. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the other vegetables and continue to cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, shake off any excess water, then toss with the mustard-caper butter. Taste for salt, season with pepper and toss again.


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