Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Cumin and Curry

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Cumin Cauliflower

Healthy, quick to prepare, and satisfying on cold winter days, this soup is a winner. And you heard it here first: cauliflower is the new kale—get ready. For this Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Cumin you need:

One cauliflower, trimmed into florets
One onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry
Grapeseed oil (or, shhh!, butter)
1 quart of water
3/4 cup of fat-free milk

Mix the cauliflower florets with cumin and curry and a splash of oil. Roast at 370 degrees until nicely browned (see photo: I like the roasting job I did on these). Set aside some of the most beautiful roasted florets for your final garnish. While roasting, sauté the chopped onions slowly in some oil (I cheated here and used and tablespoon of butter, but the health-focused among you can instead use a small amount of grapeseed oil). After the onions have softened, add the quart of water and the roasted cauliflower. You will now become surrounded by a fabulous perfume cloud of cumin and curry. Yellow drops may stain your counter permanently—I’m not even sure I mind. Cook for 15 mins. Now blend into a creamy steamy delight and return to the cleaned pot. Add the milk, season with salt and pepper, and reheat to a simmer. Do a final taste; adjust seasoning accordingly. The soup might need a few drops of lemon to make it really burst with flavor.

This one pleases the crowds: I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten a no-comment on this soup.

Guten Appetit!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup Roasted Cauliflower Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Cumin

 

 

Pan-roasted cod with radish juice and potato puree

Pan-roasted cod with Radish Juice and Potato Puree Pan roasted cod and Radish Juice

It’s not every day that the humble radish, which just happens to be sprouting in my vegetable garden this week, gets the royal treatment. Loved by some but disliked by many, the radish often exists most comfortably in the neglected corners of a crudités plate. But today we’re making it the hero of our dish: it serves not only as the vegetable of this meal but its juice will further function as a light yet super delicious sauce that will absolutely transform today’s catch, a sautéed cod fillet.

When cooked, the radish reveals its identity as part of the cabbage family. But observe the power of the chef: all bitterness and sharpness is gone as soon as it meets the heat of the pan. A warm, delicate and unique flavor develops, not unlike that of a very young turnip (the tiniest of a German gene in you will provide at least some appreciation for turnips; for everyone else, just trust me on this). On top of this special flavor, in conjunction with the cod, the dish could not be healthier. That is, on the condition that you eat only a tiny nibble of the prescribed serving of its side dish, a sinfully voluptuous potato puree.

I buy thick cod fillets whenever I see a fresh delivery in the cooler of my fish monger. The next time you do the same, please try your hand at this pan-roasted cod with radish juice and potato puree.

A few notes before the detailed recipe: First, the mild flavor of cod makes it a delicate fish, and if you overcook it it will disintegrate into white flaky mess. So carefully place the filets with their good side (the side you will present to your guest) into the hot pan and leave them there for a few minutes. Be patient: don’t move them, don’t shake the pan, don’t poke. After 3 to 4 minutes they should have developed a nice crust and you can turn them. But you only get to turn the fish once, so don’t make you move too early.

Now regarding our friend the radish. Once sliced, you are going to blanch them for 30 seconds in boiling, salted water, which to us cooking pros is known as “to anglaise” them. Then, by immediately “shocking” them in ice water, you’ll stop the cooking, which both removes the raw, sharp flavor, and preserves the color. You now have something like a very elegant, young turnip but dressed in a sexy red cocktail skirt.

But it’s the Barbie pink radish juice that is the unexpected highlight of this dish. The limitation here is that its dazzling color—which we loooove—can be ephemeral (that is, fleeting) during the cooking-and-plating process, and will change to a less appetizing grey color if you are not quick on your feet. So be prepared to make the entire process move at a brisk pace. Juicing the radishes, as called by the recipe, must be a last-minute affair. Then, bringing this juice to a boil (see recipe) should be accomplished within a couple of minutes. Once you add butter and season with salt and pepper—Boom!—your sauce is ready and you are nearly ready to serve. Plating and serving promptly will preserve the dazzling color and guarantee the fawning of your dinner guests.

And finally, about our potato puree. Cod and potatoes just like each other. Your favorite potato puree recipe will work great here. I simply rice some cooked Idaho potatoes and add fat-free milk plus a few tablespoons of butter to create a fluffy, smooth, heavenly puree. Steamed potatoes would also work fine here.

I owe this recipe to one of my favorite chefs, Jean-George Vongerichten. He published it in his first, now out of print, cookbook, Simple Cuisine.

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Pan-roasted cod with radish juice and potato puree
 
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Simple, elegant, easy, and fast to prepare. This cod will be the dazzling star of your dinner party. It exemplifies the grace and style I seek for all the entries of MyNewYorkKitchen
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 oz thick cod fillet per person (1.5 lb for 4)
  • 5 bunches of radishes
  • chives, beautifully chopped for presentation
  • 2 tbsp butter (for sauce) + a little extra to reheat the radish coins
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • grapeseed oil or peanut oil
Instructions
  1. Prepare the cod filets for sautéing: lightly flour, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cut 15-20 of the most beautiful radishes into slices. Blanch for 30 seconds in salted boiling water, then "shock" them in ice water, drain and set aside.
  3. When you are ready to serve, things happen in parallel and very quickly:
  4. Heat the pan for the fish with a film of oil. Begin sautéing the cod over medium to medium-high heat.
  5. While the fish are sautéing, juice the remaining radishes with your trusty electric juicer. You are aiming to have to 2 cups of fragrant, super-pink juice.
  6. In a pot, quickly bring the radish juice to a boil, then incorporate the butter and season with salt and pepper.
  7. As soon as the cod has gained a beautiful lightly brown crust, flip and turn heat to low in order to cook the fish gently through; stop when it reaches 110 degrees.
  8. Reheat the radish coins with a little bit of butter, just to warm them up (radish and butter is one of those flavor combos that the food gods approve of).
  9. Place the finished fish on plates, arrange the radish slices (see below), pour on the radish juice, and sprinkle with chives.

Once the fish is done, the assembly should be quick. To plate, I like to arrange the radish coins on the fillets to mimic the scales of a fish. You can be less creative (or is it anal?) and instead whimsically sprinkle across your plate. But then you’d be missing out on something fun. So go… creative (just be quick about it!).

Also, I like to warm my plates, so my friends get to enjoy the trifecta of flavors piping hot.

For me this dish is a perfect threesome of flavors. Cod, potato and radish (today’s hero!), all work so well together.

Guten Appetit!

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Baked sweet potato fries

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Pressping sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes are not very well known in Germany. I remember my first American Thanksgiving, eating a sweet and heavily marsh-mellowed sweet potato puree. My skilled tongue could still identify, underneath all that sugary stuff, the true flavor of the sweet potato. That something-something between potato and carrot, I thought, is one worthy of a more prominent role. A one-man show, even. This recipe brings us back to the true flavor of the sweet potato, a simple and healthy celebration that I love: Roasted Sweet Potato Fries. It’s become the perfect partner for a popular oops-I-forgot-to-plan-dinner dish in my house, pan-roasted chicken thighs. Add a fresh green salad and we are in weeknight dinner heaven.

Baked sweet potato fries
 
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Enjoy this healthy and easy preparation as part of a standard weeknight dinner. Baked at a high temperature, these fries come out of the oven just the way I like them: crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 sweet potato per person, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. The high temperature is the key here. If not, the potatoes will cook on the inside before they brown on the outside, and the fries will turn out soggy.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into fries (a precision slicer like me doesn't use a french fry cutter, but you can)
  3. In a bowl coat the fries with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Even coating is important, as it will help the fries brown more evenly
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Aim for 30 min in the oven. The fries will be done when you like the browning you see on them.

Pan-roasted chicken thighs with sweet potato fries

Favorite Cookbooks: If I had to choose just one…

Salute to Healthy Cooking We’ve all played the stranded-on-an-island game (“What would you take…?”). I can play this game.

I like collecting cookbooks, and a great many are lining my bookshelves. Nevertheless, there are a few that I find myself returning to over and over again. Somehow the recipes feel just right. Over the years the pages show the signs of heavy use: sauces splatter the pages, dried parsley enhances the photography, additional clippings and notes augment and document my cooking journeys. So, island-bound, if I were—reluctantly—to be pressed into picking just my favorite cookbook, I think I know the one:

The French Culinary Institute’s
Salute to Healthy Cooking
by Alain Sailhac, Jacques Pepin, André Soltner, and Jaques Torres
1998, Rodale Press

The book is out of press, but you can find it easily enough on Amazon or through any number of used book dealers. Even without the greatly reduced cover price you’ll likely find, this gem is worth the effort of making part of your cookbook collection. Here’s why:

  • The collection of recipes is grounded in the French cuisine. You can say what you want about the you-know-who, but I feel that French cooking is an excellent foundation for so many classic recipes. And these authors made a certain effort to lighten the approach. Instead of drowning in heavy, fat- and calorie-rich sauces, we learn to create flavorful meals that maximize taste while going easy on our hips.
  • This cookbook has the right amount of recipes. You get grounded in the basics and learn about important kitchen equipment. The core section of the book is organized by the seasons and consists of little menus. These seasonal three- or four-course meals work well, but more often than not I pick-and-choose my favorite recipes to create my own dinner.
  • In addition, I have a romantic reason to love this book. Today the French Culinary School is called the International Culinary Center. Many moons ago, when I had just moved to New York and was needing to fill my weekends with productive activity (a need that has since greatly dissipated…), I signed up for a 6-month weekend class at the French Culinary School called “La Technique.” A version of this class is still offered and you can find it here. Not only do I have fond memories of that time, but I still benefit tremendously from the skills I acquired back then, walking—at 8:00 AM and with a hangover—into their kitchens.

Do yourself a favor and add this book to your collection. You will become a better cook.

Guten Appetit!

Salute to Healthy Cooking Salute to Healthy Cooking