February 3rd, 2016

Carrot-Cauliflower Soup with lemony cilantro oil

2016-01-31 13.59.00

I’ve never talked about it here, but one of the food hats I wear is that of restaurant critic for our newspaper, The Tennessean. For over six years, I’ve been covertly dining around town and writing columns about my experiences. “Dream job!” so many people say to me. I smile and respond, “Yes and no.” Like most jobs, it has both its up and down sides.

I enjoy being out in the community, and this work allows me to go to many many places, sampling many many dishes (some wonderful, some less so) that I would otherwise not be in a position to do. While I don’t believe that any of my negative reviews have put someone out of business, I do think that my focus on an eatery, be it brand new or one of the old and perhaps forgotten ones, can make a difference in terms of its success.

Beginning saute

However!
Dining out at least two times a week, eating a wide variety of foods can wreak havoc on a body. No matter if it’s high-end, chef-driven, farm-to-table, mom-and-pop, ethnic, or low brow, restaurant food simply is richer, more calorie laden than what I cook at home. (Plus I wind up eating more than I normally would.)

I’ve adopted a plan: VB6. Vegan Before 6pm It’s not new. Mark Bittman, cookbook author and former New York Times food columnist, introduced this concept a few years ago. He would eat strictly vegan–no meat, no eggs, no dairy—throughout the day. Instead, lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. After 6pm, he would eat, in moderation, whatever he wanted.

He found it to be effective-simple-flavorful way to shed unwanted pounds and overall improve health.

stage 2 saute

I’m only on day 3 of this new approach. I have confidence that this will help–I’ll let you know in weeks to come. In the meantime, I wanted to share this especially delicious soup I recently made that satisfies any number of dietary criteria:

It is vegan. (No meat, eggs or dairy)
It is gluten free. (No wheat)
It is paleo. (No dairy, wheat and cereal grains, potatoes, legumes)
It is whole 30. (No meat, dairy, wheat, grain, legumes.)

Did I mention that it is truly delicious? (Smile)
and,
It is easy to make! (might be the best part.)

I found the recipe on the New York Times cooking website, and its sunny appearance appealed to me. The recipe is by the esteemed Melissa Clark, who notes that the soup’s beauty is that once you make it, you don’t need a recipe. Any number of vegetables and variations are possible.
Of course, I made a few alterations.

puree 3

Cauliflower is the versatile wonder-vegetable. Simmered and pureed, it gives the soup its velvet body. Carrots add bright sweetness; onions and garlic are ever the work horses in anchoring the soup’s foundation.

But, it’s in the layering of spices and lemony herb oil that brings true dimension to the dish, and soulful satisfaction in the eating.

Be sure to toast the coriander seeds in the skillet to release the aromatic oils before crushing them with your mortar and pestle. Lemon zest and juice stirred into the olive oil-cilantro mixture really make it sing.

beautiful spoonful

CARROT-CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH LEMONY CILANTRO OIL
adapted from Melissa Clark, Cooking New York Times
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch cayenne
1 quart vegetable stock
zest and juice from one lemon
½ bunch cilantro, leaves finely chopped
2 teaspoons coriander seeds

Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until warm. Stir in onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Add carrots and cauliflower. Season with salt, turmeric, and curry powder. Pour in vegetable stock. Cover and bring mixture to a simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, make the garnishes—toasted crushed coriander and cilantro pesto oil.
Recipes are below:

Remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Taste for salt and adjust.

Ladle into warm soup bowls. Sprinkle toasted crushed coriander over each, then spoon and dot a little cilantro pesto oil and serve.

Makes 4 servings

cilantro oil

Crushed Coriander
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast coriander seeds until fragrant and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and coarsely crush.

Cilantro Pesto Oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
zest and juice of one lemon
salt, to taste

In a small bowl, add the olive oil, cilantro, lemon zest and juice. Stir well.
Add a pinch of salt to taste. Stir well again.

2016-01-31 14.03.53

Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups/Stews, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes | 21 Comments »




December 22nd, 2009

Olive Oil Carrot Cake, belated blog birthday post

carrotcake 1

One Year Old. (not the cake….the blog!)

I hadn’t intended for this post to be a dessert one, but suddenly, in the whirl of The Season, I realized that this little Good Food Matters blog had passed a milestone. A whole year old on the 16th. (!)

So, in honor of It–the persistence of its existence—and You, the persistent dear reader, I present this most delicious cake, recently made for our friends visiting from Italy, and their guests.

Now, there are carrot cakes, and there are Carrot Cakes. I took my long-time, well-proven recipe and tweaked it by substituting fruity olive oil for the common, neutral vegetable oil. What a difference!

The result was extraordinary—the richness of the olive oil enhanced and deepened the spicing of the cake, while retaining moist texture.

That, coupled with raisins, organic carrots, which are sweeter, and you can effectively cut back on the sugar. (Had there been pineapple in the house, I would have included 1/2 cup of diced bits, too.) My original recipe called for 2 cups, but I found that 1 1/2 cups total, combining both brown and white sugar, was just right. However, if you like a sweeter cake, boost the sugar back up to 2. It’s okay.

This recipe will make two 9″ layers, or one 9″x13″ rectangle. For my friends’ party, I doubled the recipe to make this grand confection.

The cream cheese icing is rather silky, luxurious, and also not-too-sweet. Fresh lemon juice and zest, along with vanilla, enliven the butter-cream cheese blend. Be sure that both are soft before you cream them together—that way they will marry smoothly.

After the two are well blended, I add the lemon and vanilla. The flavors infuse better. Confectioners sugar is added last, which you are welcome to increase to your taste. I like that dulcet tang to come through, and so am judicious with adding the powdery stuff.

So, here’s to a blog birthday, and all the season’s best.

From here at Good Food Matters,
I wish you all love, health, and happiness,
and, of course,

good food and company.

Cheers!

yummy carrotcake slice

Olive Oil Carrot Cake

1 cup Olive Oil
3 cups shredded Carrots
1 1/2 to 2 cups Sugar—divide equally between Brown and White
4 eggs
1/2 cup Pecans
1/2 cup Raisins
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Salt
2 t. Cinnamon
1 t. Nutmeg
1 t. Ginger
1/2 t. Cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly coat 2 9 inch cake pans.
Using a mixer, blend all the “wet” ingredients together. Add raisins and pecans, pineapple too, if you like. (These ingredients are optional. You can make it simply carrot.)

Add dry ingredients and mix until all are well-incorporated.
Pour into baking pans, and place into the middle of the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until center tests done.

Allow to cool. Remove from pans. Let cool further before icing.
Note: This cake freezes well. It also stays moist for a long time, wrapped, so you can safely make the cake in advance.

Cream Cheese Icing
12 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
4 oz. (1 stick) Butter, softened
3 T. (or more) fresh Lemon Juice
1 T. Lemon Zest
1 T. Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar

Using an electric mixer (I am fortunate to have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer–and I use the paddle attachment for this.) cream the softened butter and cream cheese together. Add lemon juice, zest, and vanilla and mix well. Add the confectioners sugar–about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until smooth.

Taste for lemon and vanilla, as well as sweetness; add more as you see fit.

carrotcake 2

Posted in Desserts, Recipes | 16 Comments »