roasted carrots from le chou fou

Roasted Carrots

Unlike so many vegetables, carrots sell themselves. They’re sweet, crunchy, and always the first thing to disappear on the crudité platter. I like them pickled and on hand to add to pretty much any handheld food. In fact, they satisfy so nicely raw, you might not consider cooking them. Roasted carrots may change that.
Jump to recipe.

I particularly like roasting (and pickling for that matter) when it comes to those bags of multicolored carrots. Truthfully, I’m not sure if it’s just me or if the lighter colored carrots, the yellow and white ones, really don’t have as much flavor as the orange and purples, but when I see them next to the dip, I avoid them. Not so when they’re roasted and tasty.

If you’ve been following the roasted vegetable posts over the last few days (including roasted kale chips and roasted cauliflower ), nothing here will shock you. Simply slice the carrots nice and thin; alternatively, you can leave them whole, in which case you’d roast them longer.

multicolored carrots, cut up and ready for roasting

Then toss with oil and seasonings, roast for 15 minutes, stir, test to see how much longer they need to cook, which might be 5 or 15 minutes.  Eat them hot or save to toss into things later in the week.

roasted carrots from Le Chou Fou

I like this recipe idea from the allrecipes print magazine; they toss roasted carrots with salad dressing, blue cheese, dried cranberries, and arugula. I just gave you the recipe, pretty much, but if you need exact amounts, their official roasted carrot salad recipe is at the link above.

Roasted Carrots: The Recipe

roasted cauliflower, delicious and easy to make

Roasted Cauliflower

I love cauliflower. Apparently, so do a lot of other people at this particular culinary moment. Like kale before it, it’s hot. Unlike Brussels sprouts after it, it’s versatile. A batch of roasted cauliflower keeps for several days, and in that time you can throw it into pretty much anything—a bowl, pasta, on a pizza, etc. And, as with all roasted vegetables, it’s easy, easy, easy.

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This cauliflower is hanging out with its roasting buddies. (And in case you want a different vegetable from this pic, here’s the recipe for Roasted Kale Chips.)

cauliflower waits to become roasted cauliflower

You can sub cauliflower for a huge mass of things. Paleo and ketogenic diets use it as a potato swap, though I will warn you that it won’t ever be as creamy as mashed potatoes. It makes an ok pizza crust as long as you don’t try to pretend it’s the real thing. I see it standing in for meat; cauliflower steaks pop up all over the place. That particular iteration strikes me as a little too trendy. I’m not a huge fan of the “let’s pretend this is something it isn’t” phenomenon when it comes to food. Just use the florets as nature intended, naturally bite-sized, without all this silly knife and fork biz.

As will all Roasted Vegetables, the process is ridiculously easy. Start by heating the oven to 400º. While it heats, cut the florets of the main cauliflower stem; many will be the right size, but some will be unweildy to stab and put in your mouth. Keep that in mind as you halve any giant florets. Put them in a bowl with some oil—you can use melted coconut, olive, or grapeseed—salt to taste, and the spice mix of your choice. I really like the Harissa blend from Whole Foods, but use whatever you want. cauliflower prior to roasting

Toss the florets well, lay them out on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Roast, then check after 20 minutes. Stir, then roast another 10-15 minutes. I like the florets beginning to brown, soft but still possessing some texture. The roasting brings out a wonderful sweetness.

I’m fond of having these on hand to add to whatever I’m eating that day. I’m equally fond of just noshing on them. Enjoy with a complete lack of guilt, because on the health front, cauliflower—with properties that fight cancer and inflammation and a load of vitamins and minerals—rocks.

roasted cauliflower after cooking

Roasted Cauliflower: The Recipe

roasted kale chips, the super keto snack

Roasted Kale Chips: The Perfect Keto Snack

Steve eats keto. I confess the concept leaves me cold. I don’t like nuts that much, and also I don’t think carbs are necessarily evil. Nonetheless, I get that carbs are very easy to overdo. Roasted Kale Chips cook up so damn easy, I wonder why I don’t always have them on hand. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you just found your popcorn substitute.  (If you don’t know what I mean and would like to know more, here’s a good intro to ketogenic diets.)
Jump to recipe.

roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Start by heating the oven to 400º. While it heats, tear the kale of the stem, then into small pieces. Put it in a bowl with some oil—you can use melted coconut, olive, or grapeseed—salt to taste, and the spice mix of your choice. I really like the Harissa blend from Whole Foods, but use whatever you want.

roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Toss them well, lay them out on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Roast, then check after 20 minutes. The kale turns a nice bronzy color and shatters in your mouth.

roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snackSo much healthier than nachos, and to my palate, tastier. Cuddle up on the couch with these and the streaming video service of your choice. Know this caveat if you do sneak some roasted kale chips into the theater: When opening chips stored in an airtight bag (the best way to store them), a distinctly brassica odor  smacks you in the nostrils. In other words, they can be a tad bit stinky, but only when you first open the bag. Just know before you go.  roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Roasted Cauliflower Chips: The Recipe

Borgen, an LCF Update 11-30-17 pick

LCF Update 11-30-17

So I took a week off, because I’m assuming y’all have plenty of stuff to pay attention to besides my newsletter during Thanksgiving week. In fact, I have a policy of NOT posting photos of my feast. The point, for me anyway, is to share it with my family. And I hope all my readers had as excellent a week and feast as I did, which brings us to this week’s edition of LCF Update 11-30-17.

I decided to do something unorthodox this year. Typically, I spend from about Halloween onwards in a state of ever-declining food debauchery. There’s the candy on Halloween, then the gearing up to Thanksgiving, and then, what the hell, ChrismaKwanzaKah lickety split. So why even TRY to be good?

I think this is a sign that I’m growing up: I now cleanse because it makes me feel better, and I really don’t like the way I feel when I overindulge. My discipline, so effortless in the wake of one of my quarterly cleanses, all too soon begins to slide away. A pleasant glass of wine on the weekends turns into a glass every night, then a glass and a half, then half a bottle. The cleanse’s importance isn’t so much in giving my liver a break—although of course that happens—as in resetting my understanding of what it means to simply and sincerely enjoy my food and drink with calm and clarity.

I’ve been using the Conscious Cleanse program for a few years now. Jules and Jo have put together an excellent user-friendly schedule that lets you gradually get rid of foods that aren’t so great for you. You ease in, dropping one or two non-optimal substances a day: sugar, coffee, gluten, etc.  Conscious Cleanse with Jules and Jo, reco'd in LCF Update 11-30-17

There’s a version on gaia, the Netflix of yoga and meditation, that pairs each of 14 days with a yoga practice; the version from the official CC site is more extensive and offers more support. I really like their 80/20 plan, something a person can actually live with. You only have to eat like a saint 80% of the time, and you can eat like the pig that we all occasionally are the other 20. If you want to give yourself a present just for getting through 2017—truly, something that deserves a Major Award—do this. I have no affiliation with either gaia or Conscious Cleanse, btw. Just spreading the word.

Eating with a palette limited to super healthy ingredients is a pleasure—except when you’re in a restaurant. Steve reminded me that we’re supposed to go out this week, so we changed it to a dinner party. Stumped as to what to fix, I suddenly remembered my good ol’ Holy Mole Bowl; nobody missed the gluten, dairy, or sugar.

Holy Mole Bowl, reco'd in LCF Update 11-30-17

Then I found this mocktail—no booze while cleansing—and hopefully no one will miss the tequila, either. It’s the Restorative Turmeric Elixir from Cooking Light, and really, the sugar was unnecessary.

Restorative Turmeric Elixir, a pick from LCF Update 11-30-17

Photo by Jennifer Causey

This week, Quick Pickled Veggies; I served them aside the Mole Bowl because they truly go with everything. We’ll also be looking into the art of roasting vegetables over the weekend. The variations for roasting veggies are truly mind-boggling, limited, as they say, only by your imagination. I know of no better way to get non-veggie eaters happily chowing down on cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. And cooking them is so damn easy, you really don’t have an excuse.

LCF Update 11-30-17: Reading

I read The Changeling by Victor LaValle in 2 days, despite its 400-page length. An epic about a young, borderline broke Manhattanite who sells used books, it riffs on lots of stuff, but mostly the creepy Maurice Sendak book Outside Over There. I thought I knew where it would go, but it right-turned all over the place and honestly went kind of off the rails at about the 2/3 mark. I finished it because I had momentum, but can still give it a “Good Time, No Alcohol Required.”

Prior to my date with Mr. LaValle, I thoroughly dug The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters, which I read in a few days over the lovely quiet weekend following a hectic last week. Remember that video that went around in the aughts, where it showed an asteroid hitting the earth? Scared the bejeebies out of my son and probably about a billion other people. Well, Winters has made an asteroid hellbent on hitting Terra Firma a character in this detective story. It’s noirer than noir.

The Last Policeman, a pick featured in LCF Update 11-30-17

I like my mysteries mournful. The characters in Last Policeman have reason to be crippled by sadness, and Winters provides us with a tapestry of how people handle the burden. Protagonist Henry Palace decides to just keep doing his job in the face of increasing suicides, one of which he believes was actually a murder. Meanwhile, scientists know exactly when the asteroid will hit, six months from when the book takes place. There’s nothing to be done. Nothing. But in some people, hurtling destruction brings out their best; Palace is one, as is one young woman who simply smiles and says, “I like my life.” On the surface, a light read, but a deeply thought-provoking one that continues to stick with me.

LCF Update 11-30-17: Watching

Steve and I finished the last season, #3, of Borgen, the fine Danish drama set in the world of coalition politics. The show’s greatness completely outweighs the insane dullness of that description. Superb acting, tight writing, and we both smiled ruefully when episode 10 wrapped perfectly and we waved a fond goodbye to Birgitte, Katrine, and Torben. Also, I want to live in Denmark.

Here’s a fun article about the show, though it does have spoilers for seasons 1 and 2. Really, you should just try to track it down, although it’s not that easy to find; we got our copy from the library. Anyway, the producer says that given how few shows Danish TV produces, they felt lucky to get a third season. We feel pretty lucky, too.

Enough for this week. See you soon.

quick pickled vegetables sparkle up a plate at Le Chou Fou

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Quick pickled vegetables are exactly what they sound like. You make a pickling brine, quick. While it heats and then cools, you slice some veggies paper thin. When the brine cools, you add the veggies.

Done.

quick pickled vegetables sparkle up a plate at Le Chou Fou

Jump to recipe.

Here’s why these things are genius: Quick pickled vegetables sparkle up ANY meal, and they do it fast. Planning a sandwich for lunch? Throw a few pickled veggies on for crunch, bite, and color. Add ’em to a bowl of rice and beans, or on top of some Asian pasta with nut butter sauce. You just changed the game from biz as usual to an impromptu party. Mix some pickled radishes into your salad bowl for a burst of sweet tart happiness. I had some on hand recently to top off the Baja Mole Bowl. Lovely.

My favorite quick pickle candidates are:

  • Carrots, especially the multicolored ones. Carrot sticks bore me, and I don’t like the way the carrot core so often tastes like wood. Slicing the veggies super thin and then giving them a brine soak makes them fun again.
  • Radishes. I’m crazy about those white/pink/purple radishes known as Easter Eggs. Radishes fulfill their destiny when pickled.
  • Onions. Raw onions cause stinky nightmares without a soak in some water. The brine perfectly mitigates their sulfurous nature.
  • Bell peppers, seeded and sliced.
  • Celery, slivered. You may also want to de-string the stalks, a tedious but worthwhile process if you don’t like having to gnaw through a tough old celery string.

You may be surprised that cucumbers aren’t on the list, but I’ve never really liked the texture of pickled cucumbers. So I choose denser veggies with a more intense crunch factor. Of course, cukes are the classic pickle base, and they make swell quick pickles if you don’t mind them a little less crisp. But cucumbers have so much water that I never eat them unless I’ve seeded and salted them, then let them stand until some of the water drains out.

For me, cauliflower is TOO dense, so I nix that, even though it’s a popular choice. I never eat raw cauliflower when it’s on a crudite platter, either, and it does seem to be left in a forlorn little mountain long after the carrots, celery, and peppers have been dipped and consumed. I’ve also seen pickled green beans, a great candidate in the crunch department. The problem is, they turn a REALLY ugly color. If this doesn’t bug you, go for it. Broccoli, for me, combines the density issue of cauliflower with the hideous color transformation of green beans. I’m highly visual. But as always, do what floats your boat, not mine.

While there’s nothing wrong with mixing the veggies together in the brine, I like to keep them separate and distinct. I would slice all the veggies, put them in separate containers, then pour the cooled brine over the top of each. You just need it to cover. If you run out of brine, it’s super fast and easy to make another batch.

Pickling brine scarcely needs a recipe, it’s so simple: 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, with a generous pinch of sweetener and a discreet amount of salt. You can also add some mustard seeds or cloves or some other spice you like as you please. I gently heat the mix on the stove, stirring to make sure the sugar and salt dissolve, then cool completely before adding to the veggies.

As usual, I’ve included a recipe, but you really don’t need one. In fact, this is SO easy, teach your kids to do it and get them in the raw veggie habit for life.

Quick Pickled Vegetables: The Recipe

 

LCF Update 11-17-17

As promised, this was kale week. You can check out a post on kale, a recipe for a raw salad, and one for the cooked green. Both recipes are super easy, and kale on your table, raw or cooked, will deliver vitamin A, fiber, calcium, and all sorts of other goodness. In addition, it provides a welcome respite from the piggery sure to be present one week from yesterday.

LCF Update 11-17-17

Elsewhere, this LCF Update 11-17-17 looks at how others are handling next Thursday. Every year, various publications offer helpful checklists for keeping your sanity. This year, I have 2 favorites:

  1. The NY Times has approximately one million recipes, which is really no help at all. Also, I made that number up, but I bet it’s close. What IS a huge help is their wonderful Thanksgiving guide. The advice covers cooks at every level, each course, and suggests menus and timetables. And then, should you need to get away from football, you can head over to the Watching site to get all sorts of recommendations to play as a background to your carb coma. Yep, everyone, don’t blame the turkey. It’s carbstravaganza out there, and you’re gonna be sleepy if you’re doing this party right.
  2. I love Bon Appetit’s Thanksgiving Lessons feature, which frankly is more entertaining and useful in magazine form, at least from my p.o.v. But by all means, access it from the link above if that’s your jam (and you probably can’t find the mag in stores at this point for love or money). It’s another fine practical approach, one suited to either the novice or the pro and the rest of us somewhere in the middle. I especially like Lesson 2, “Mix Up a Signature Punch.” Punch: fun to say, even more fun to drink. Skol!

Just because menu sharing is fun, here’s what on the docket chez Bauer et al:

  • Some sort of filo pastry bc I have some filo to use up; probably spanikopita plus a dairy-free mushroom version for the house vegan.
  • A big salad; I’m thinking fennel, arugula, citrus, sunflower seeds in a mustardy vinaigrette, but I could change my mind.
  • The turkey, of course. We brine it. Steve and my son eat it. But its TRUE importance is for:
  • THE GRAVY. That is all.
  • To sop up gravy, potatoes mashed with parsnips and garlic, a couple of kinds of stuffing, biscuits.
  • I’ll also whip up some vegan gravy. It’s not difficult. Gotta make my vegan happy.
  • Various veggies dishes: sauteed kale for sure, green beans without glop, maybe some squash of some kind.
  • A pecan-date pie in an oatmeal crust (I’ve been using this recipe for years), and a pumpkin chai cheesecake, sort of riffing off this. When it come to desserts, I do not screw around. I do recipes. Except when I riff, and then yes, I kind of do screw around. This picture is an uncredited photo from Cooking Light, btw.
  • LCF update 11-17-17: Pecan oatmeal pie from Cooking Light

This year, I particularly like Cooking Light’s Pre-tox diet (whatever that means). I don’t know if I’m eating it before a detox, or if, as I suspect, I am eating it to give my body a teeny bit of a break pre some serious tox. Of course, I’ll have to adapt, as I am not down with all the chicken. I don’t eat much in a normal week, and why on God’s Green would I eat it before…turkey? Bizarre. But it’s a nice balance in a magazine that generally has a very sensible approach to eating.

LCF Update 11-17-17: What’s Cooking Elsewhere

Steve and I went to see Loving Vincent, and I am now a proven ogre because I really didn’t like it. This is easily my favorite take on the movie. In a nutshell, my beefs are:

  1. Van Gogh is all there in his paintings and letters. The detective story/conspiracy theory angle is cheap.
  2. VG’s paintings journey to a place that has little to do with realism. Yet the characters are simply some sort of digital rotoscope painted-over versions of the actors. So we see every millimeter of a squint or a corner of a mouth upturning in a smile, all of it flickering continually, producing a colossal headache.
  3. As Jonathan Jones notes in the linked article, Van Gogh remains tremendously accessible; the lines at his museum in Amsterdam are lengthy and undeterred by rain.
  4. This picture, which is a close up of a blow-up at said Van Gogh museum. I reiterate, dude does not need to be all mystery-ized to be interesting.

lcf update 11-17-17 and Van Gogh's eye

But as I say, I do not have a popular opinion, not for the first or hopefully last time. Friends raved about this thing; “Best thing I’ve ever seen anywhere!” Ah, well. To each his own.

Meanwhile, over on the nightstand, and entirely by coincidence, Will Gompertz’ What Are You Looking At? The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art, has been mostly a treat. There has been one unfortunate recreation of the Impressionists, of whom VG was NOT a member (he’s Post), nervously swirling their coffee while Monet says things like “Sacre Bleu!” I mean, not really, but it’s definitely that corny in other ways. But by and large, Gompertz does an excellent job of giving context to everyone from Manet on up through Duchamp, Kandinsky, and I imagine I’ll eventually get to Jeff Koons, who I do need help making sense of, because I saw that Whitney show a few years ago, and I just don’t really get him.

Also enjoying (so far) the dystopic The Last Policeman by Ben Winters. Plague, hard-boiled detective, no future in America’s dreaming, etc. Fun! Seriously, if you can’t see the charm in reading dystopia in these surreal times, I cannot help you.

I listened to The Queen Is Dead as I promised my daughter. My future as a Morissey fan remains shaky; he sings in the cracks. But I do like the title cut quite a bit. Meanwhile, I just discovered Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, a delight, even though it’s kind of a Spanish version of An American in Paris, which is kind of a Franco-cute version of Rhapsody in Blue. But it’s all Gershwin, so I’m pretty happy about that.