Sunday, September 29, 2013

Roasting Cauliflower and Brussel Sprout with pancetta in a wok.

In the last 25 years of my life, September is the time to bake and make soup. It's a bit different here in Southern California. I learned that September is one of the warmer month. It was close to 80's at the Beach and over 85 inland. What a big difference to the Upper Midwest!!

With warm weather, I am trying not to turn on the oven. I picked up a nice head of cauliflower yesterday, I love roasted cauliflower. I also had the wok sitting on the stove. It time to do some wok roasting.

Technically this is 2 recipes here: 
Roasted Cauliflower in a Wok

Roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta.

Here is the reason why, I wanted to give the cauliflower more flavor, I am using the grease from the pancetta to roast it. You can also use olive oil or ghee, just not butter. You can mix the pancetta bits back with the cauliflower if you like. I leave the cauliflower in large floret, I am using it in salads through the weekend. I like it still more with a raw crunch. If you are going to mix the pancetta piece in the cauliflower as a side dish, you may want to cut the florets smaller. 

As with the brussel sprouts, I am using a big of shredded brussel sprout from  Trader Joe's. it's a quick and simple way of not wasting the pancetta bits. The diced pancetta is also from Trader Joe's. You can make this quick and simply in a frying pan too, a nice quick side dish.

Roasted Cauliflower in a Wok
1 head of Cauliflower. Cleaned, remove any dark spots. Wash and drain well. Leave to dry for about an hour. It is easy to roast when there is not water.
1 4 oz package of diced pancetta. For vegetarian or vegan, use 2-3 tbsp of olive oil or ghee
Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a dry wok over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and let it render. If you are vegetarian or vegan, just heat up 2-3 tbsp of olive oil or ghee
When the pancetta bits are well rendered, drain and remove the bits and set aside. Leave the grease in the work.
Add Cauliflower, coat the vegetable with the hot oil. 
Leave it roast on med high heat till the vegetable started to brown about 3-5 mins.
Cover the wok, lower the heat to med, and let it roast for about another 3-5 min, depending on the size of the vegetable.
Season with salt and pepper. Ready to serve!

Roasted brussel sprouts with Pancetta
1 bag of shredded brussel sprout
1 4 oz package of diced pancetta - I am using the bits leftover from the cauliflower
2 tbsp ghee.
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the reserved pancetta bits back in the same wok,you just roasted the cauliflower.
Add the package of brussel sprout, mix well
Drizzle 2 tbsp of ghee
Let it cook over med high heat till the vegetable browns on the edges. 
Plate and serve!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Simple Stove Top Ratatouille

My move to CA is complete. My beloved house in Minneapolis is sold. It's bittersweet. I am grateful for the opportunity, however I also miss the home that I had for over 10 years. I know I will miss the familiarity of Minneapolis, my grocers, CSA, my summer farmer friends at the market, Then there were the guys at Coastal Seafoods. Through the years, they made me feel at "home" by bringing in all the "exotic" (to Minnesotan standard) seafoods from the Pacific. Can't forget everyone at United Noodles. They made my cooking class simple, whenever someone asked me about where he/she could pick up the ingredients, I handed them a United Noodles card!!

My day-job is crazy busy, I am learning a new business. To make it even crazier, the physical move took about 30 days longer than I planned. This is the first week I finally feel this is my home. I discovers a farmers market in Palos Verdes, CA. It is a smaller market. It's not crowded and great selection of vegetable and everything I need. I now have a new fish guy - Dry Dock Fish. Great quality seafoods and variety. I love the weekly email letting me know what's available. Thanks Stephan!

My very dear friend  Gigi in Hong Kong asked me for a ratatouille recipe. Gigi is not much of a cook, but she is the best mom I know. It was requested by her son Adrian (my beloved "nephew") who just graduated from college.

Classically Ratatouille is baked, highlighting eggplant, tomatoes and summer squash, such as yellow squash or zucchini. In Asia, most of the eggplants are the Chinese/Japanese "slimmer" variety and most of the home in Hong Kong do not have an oven. Further it's simply too hot to turn on the oven with this hot summer weather. This is modified stovetop version. It's quite simple. Ratatouille is a tomato base dish, the sauce is usually red, however I am using yellow heirloom tomato, the sauce here is a bit more orange. I also added a carrot to the recipe. The sweetness of the carrot helps balance the acidity of the tomato. If you are vegan, skip the cheese at the end...

Great to be back cooking with you... Mai ka'i no...

Stove top Ratatouille

1 medium zucchini - cleaned and cut into 1" pieces
1 red pepper - cleaned, cored, cut into 1" pieces
1 medium size carrot- cleaned, peeled an cut into 1" piece
1 large tomato (I am using an heirloom yellow variety here) - cleaned and cut into 1" piece.
1 small onion - peeled, cleaned and sliced.
1 large clove garlic - peeled, cleaned and sliced
1 cup sliced mushroom
1/2 basil leaves - packed - cleaned. Divide into 1 portion. Roughly chopped 1 portion and finally chopped the reminding half.
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley - cleaned and finally chopped.
1/2 tsp herb de provence
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Option: - grated parmesan cheese
Over medium high heat, heat 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. I am not using a non-stick pan, I am putting in a little more olive oil that I would usually do. Add onion and garlic, sauté till translucent and soften
 Sprinkle in herb de provence, cooked till the onion start to caramelize
 Add red pepper and carrot, let it cooke for 3-4 mins
 Stir in Zucchini, and let it brown lightly, about 4-5 mins.
 Add tomato and mushroom, mix well.
 Then vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper. Let it cook for 3-4 mins and the mushroom is softened.
 Add rough chopped basils. Mix well. Reduce heat to med. Cover and let it cook for about 5 min till the vegetable are tender, but not overcooked.

 Add the rest of the basil and parsley, turn the heat up slightly to reduce and thicken the sauce. You will  have quite a bit of liquid from the tomato, mushroom and zucchini.

You can transfer the stew to a casserole, garnish with a few basil leaves with optional sprinkle of grated or shredded parmesan cheese.  Or you can serve it individually. I love to serve with rice or risotto.

Serve 2-3 as a main course.