Category Archives: Side Dish

Riverford Farm: Spiced Cauliflower

from Riverford Farm: Recipes for Everyday and Sunday, p.

A box of vegetables from Riverford Farm in Devon arrives every week at my home-away-from home in London. In the US, we would call RF a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) company, in other words, a service that delivers organic produce to the homes of subscribers. The smaller scale of the United Kingdom allows Riverford to scale its operations closer to a nationwide enterprise than CSAs can do in the States. At least, people in southwestern, northern and midlands England are within a Riverford Farm’s range (as far as I can tell, only Kent in England is out of luck). The box that arrives with seasonal produce also includes attractively-printed, hole-punched recipes that subscribers can compile over time. After I tried a number of them when I had a chance to cook for myself in London, I knew I wanted their collection of recipes when it came out. The recipes are not particularly fussy, on the homey side, and substantial.

Imagine my pleasure when a copy of the newly published book arrived as a birthday gift not long ago. I dove right into the contents. Numerous dishes jumped right into my line of sight: Cabbage, Bacon, and Potatoes; Sausage Stew with Celeriac and Kale; Roast Saffron Potatoes with Almonds and Bay; Lamb Cooked in Milk and Fennel; Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Almond Pesto.

One drawback to the book, which is common among cookbook writers who stress seasonal ingredients in their cooking is that Riverford Farm has organized their recipes according to month. Nigel Slater’s wonderful Kitchen Diaries is similarly organized. There is no question that I tend to look through cookbooks in line with the season, but more often the gardener in me wants to thumb a book according to what I have on hand to eat from my garden. After all, seasonal produce here in northern California doesn’t match seasonal produce elsewhere in the U.S. much less in the UK. It seems short-sighted to assume one climate among a cookbook’s readership. But that’s a small cavil.

This recipe for spiced cauliflower was the first recipe I made from the book. Lately, all I desire for dinner is one simple dish and a glass or two of wine. The spices in this recipe gave me an opportunity to use another birthday gift, a brilliantly designed spice grinder that has quickly become an essential tool in my kitchen. The flavor of freshly ground spices surpasses spices already ground when you buy them. I’d never seen a spice mill like this one before a friend gave it to me. It’s made by Kuhn Rikon and available at Sur La Table for about $20. I’ve used it for all sorts of spices. My cooking friends don’t know yet that this Rachet Mill, as it’s called, is in their future. I like supporting companies that offer competition to Williams-Sonoma. Sur La Table may have stores all over the west coast, but I understand it still struggle for survival.

If I had had the energy to make basmati rice to eat with the cauliflower, I would have done so.

Serves 4-6

Shadowcook: HA! Sorry, I can down an entire medium-sized cauliflower. You can, too, no doubt.

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

15g (1/2 oz) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Shadowcook: If you buy one of the rachet mills I provided a link to above, then use whole seeds and grind right into the butter in the pan.

Pinch of turmeric

1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2cm (1/2 sq inch) piece fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 cauliflower, cut into florets

1 teaspoon caster (superfine, baker’s) sugar

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

Heat the oil and butter in a pan large enough to hold the cauliflower in one layer. Add the spices, onion, garlic, and ginger to the pan. When the mustard seeds start to pop quickly add the cauliflower, stirring vigorously. Add the sugar, season well, cover and reduce the heat. Leave for 10 minutes on a gentle simmer. Cover, and check the cauliflower is tender. Stir again, cover, and remove from the heat and leave to finish cooking for 10 minutes in its own steam.

Shadowcook: Don’t overdo the sugar. And you’ll be surprised at the liquid generated by the ingredients. Just watch to make sure the spices don’t burn.

Saveur: Roasted Cranberry Sauce

from Saveur, no. 115, November 2008

Every time I try a Saveur recipe, I think, “Maybe I can survive the disappearance of Gourmet.” For this year’s Thanksgiving, I made two recipes from the magazine: this one and the one for Cornbread-Sausage Stuffing. Both deserves repeated revisits. The cranberry sauce took me to entirely new places that no cranberry sauce had done before. It has something to do with the cardamon and olive oil, I’m sure.

With minor tweaks, here it is:

Heat oven to 450. Using a peeler remove peel from 1 orange, taking off as little of the white pith as possible.

[Shadowcook: A seemingly trivial direction. However, the more white pith there is, the more bitter the contribution to the dish made by the orange.]

Cut peel into very thin strips, about 1 1/2″ long. Squeeze juice over orange, strain and reserve 1 tablespoon juice. In a bowl, combine peel, 1 pound fresh or thawed cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 4 smashed green cardamon pods, 4 whole cloves, 2 sticks cinnamon, and 1 small stemmed and thinly sliced jalapeño. Toss and transfer to a parchment [or aluminum foil] lined baking sheet. Roast until cranberries begin to burst and release their juices, about 15 minutes [or less, if using a convection oven]. Transfer cranberry mixture to a bowl; stir in reserved orange juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons port. Let sit for at least 1 hour so that the flavors meld. Remove and discard caradmon, cloves, and cinnamon before serving. Makes 2 cups.

[Shadowcook: Lacking port, you might try madeira or a heavy red wine.]

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Smoky Lime Dressing

It will comes as news to most people that the grain called quinoa is 100% protein. At least, that’s what Weight Watchers claims. Now that I’ve finally got the hang of making dry, fluffy quinoa, thanks to a friend who makes it all the time, I’m making it more often than before. The trick, I learned, is NOT to rinse it (contra WW) and to use an amount of water just under double the amount of quinoa. This recipe — the source of which I have lost but it’s from either the New York Times or the Guardian — falls into the category of Grub for its heft and into that of Salad for its forgiving caloric nature. The dressing is what really makes it.

I’ve adapted the recipe for two people on a Weight Watchers diet. It’s still really good.

Serves 4

Calories per serving: 150

Weight Watchers points per serving: 3

1 cup uncooked quinoa

4 green onions, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained [OR, preferably, Rancho Gordo’s black beans, cooked]

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

1 small garlic, finely chopped

Place the quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.

Shadowcook: I started with 1 3/4 cups water and kept an eye on it.

Lower heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in the green onions, black beans, and cilantro. Puree the remaining ingredients together in a food processor; pour over quinoa and stir to coat with dressing.

Shadowcook: Chop the green onions in chunks. The crunch makes the salad even more satisfying.

Shadowcook: I wouldn’t pour the entire amount of dressing. Try half of it and then taste. Add more if the flavor doesn’t stand out. You don’t want it to get soggy.

Adjust seasoning with salt and additional lime juice if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Shadowcook: I’ve thrown in a chopped hard-boiled egg and some blanched, chopped spinach. What else? Nuts?

Yotam Ottolenghi: Baked aubergine (eggplant) with a spicy north African rub, barley, and yoghurt

Wondering what to do with all those preserved lemons you either made or were given at the holidays? Are they taking up room on your counter or refrigerator door? Worry no more. For once, Ottolenghi has devised a recipe that works on the first go without tweaking. His talent for combining flavors that sing in unusual harmony is better known in London where he lives and works than in the U.S.  He deserves a lot more attention. This recipe is a freebie. You can find it here on the Guardian website. You’ll see a lovely photo of the completed dish. I’m supplying it here because I made it with the very first eggplants I ever grew and realized afterward that it was a fitting use of them. Over a couple of days, I made the recipe without the bulgar salad. The eggplant taste great just on their own. In the photo, you’ll see that I baked the eggplant and ate it with the remaining spices, olives, and yoghurt. I highly recommend this recipe.

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons coriander

1 teaspoon chilli flakes [his spelling, not mine!]

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon skin

140 ml [about 4 oz or 1/4 cup] olive oil, plus extra to finish


2 medium aubergines [eggplants]

150g [5 1/2 oz] fine bulgar

50g [a scant 2 oz] sultanas [golden raisins]

10g [about a tablespoon but I’d add a bit more] fresh coriander [cilantro], chopped, plus extra to finish

10g [about a tablespoon but I’d add a bit more] fresh mint, chopped

50g [5 1/2 oz] green olives, halved

30g [2 tablespoons] flaked almond, toasted

3 spring onions, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

120g [4 oz or 1/4 cup] Greek yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/ gas mark 4. To make the chermoula, mix together the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, preserved lemon, two-thirds of the olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt.

Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and score the flesh of each half with diagonal, crisscross lines, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the aubergines are very soft.

[Shadowcook: My eggplants are long and thin, so they took only 30 mins to bake thoroughly. Keep an eye on them.]

Meanwhile, place the bulgar in a large bowl and cover with 140 ml [1/4 cup] boiling water. Soak the sultanas in 50 ml [2 tablespoons] of warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and add to the bulgar, along with the remaining oil. Stir in the herbs, olives, almonds, spring onions, lemon juice and salt, taste and add more salt, if necessary.

Serve the aubergines warm or at room temperature. Place one half-aubergine per portion on a serving plate, spoon bulgar on top, allowing some to fall over the sides, spoon over a little yoghurt, sprinkle with chopped coriander and finish with a dribble of olive oil.

David Kinch: Strawberry Gazpacho

Manresa, 320 Village Lane (just off North Santa Cruz Avenue), Los Gatos, CA 95030

No, I have no lost my mind and added diced bell pepper and cucumber to strawberry gelato. But I am mad enough about gazpacho to eat it in any form. And if there were ever a season for strawberries, now would be it. Until the real gazpacho season comes along, the strawberry version will do very well.

Two particularly generous friends treated my sister to a birthday dinner at Manresa in Los Gatos. Manresa is one of the relatively few restaurants in the United States to receive two Michelin stars — for what that’s worth. These diners reported that they had an excellent four-course dinner, among which were two amuse-bouches. The first was a soft-boiled egg yolk at the bottom of an empty egg shell, topped with sherry-vinegar whipped cream, chives, maple syrup, and salt. You can find a version of that recipe here. The strawberry gazpacho was the second amuse-bouche. Clearly, David Kinch, the chef, is a chemist. This recipe defies logic, I suppose, only if you don’t understand the chemical reactions of incompatible ingredients, which I certainly don’t. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

This recipe is dead simple:

1 pound, 4 ounces strawberries, hulled and lightly crushed

4 ounces white onions, thinly sliced

4 ounces red bell peppers, thinly sliced

5 ounces cucumber, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced

1 half clove garlic, crushed

1/4 cup tarragon leaves

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Strawberries, hulled and finely diced

Chives, finely minced

Red bell pepper, finely diced

English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced

1-2 tablespoons almond oil

Chervil sprigs (if you can find them)

Put first 8 ingredients in a bowl; mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, puree the ingredients in a blender and season with salt and pepper. Thin with water if too thick. Allow to chill thoroughly before serving.

To garnish, mix together all the minced vegetables and fruit with almond oil. Mound in the center of a soup plate; top with chervil sprigs.

Shadowcook: The only observation I would contribute to this recipe is that it is easy to overdo the garnish. The garnish only exists for crunch, although the almond oil is a nice touch. You’ll appreciate the silky smooth texture of the gazpacho if you remember that less is more.

Update: watch the salt.

Up-update: David Kinch’s recipe is posted online. He provided it to a TV show in which he appeared. Google it, if you feel the need to check me.

Jim Denevan’s Burrata Cheese with Nectarines, Mâche, and Hazelnuts


from Outstanding in the Field: A Farm to Table Cookbook, p.42.

I gasped when I saw them. In the Co-op’s cheese section, I saw a basketful of individually-wrapped burrata cheeses. Not domestic. From Italy (and the price reflected its distant provenance). Despite all the time I’ve been in Italy — in Venice, mainly, which might explain it  — I’d never noticed or come across this luscious glob of cheese that Denevan describes as “a thin sheath of mozzarella stretches to enclose a velvety center of ricotta-like cream and mozzarella threads.” Of course I bought one.

Denevan’s recipe is a purist’s delight. Six ingredients combined in their simplest form. Delicious. Devine. My only comments are on the ingredients.

Serves 6

Shadowcook: HA! Six servings my fanny. Even someone hyperconscious of portions would be skeptical. More like four servings or even three.

1/4 cup shelled hazelnuts

2 ripe nectarines

Shadowcook: I used a small ripe peach for myself.

3 to 4 ounces mâche

8 oz burrata cheese (1 small or 2 large balls), at room temperature

Shadowcook: Denevan notes in his introductory paragraph to this recipe that it’s best at cool room temperature, which is to say keep it in the fridge until you’re ready. I liked it cool.

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Shadowcook: Get out your fruitiest kind.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they are fragrant and their skins loosen, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a plate and let cool slightly. Rub the hazelnuts in a folded kitchen towel to release their skins. Coarsely chop the nuts and set aside.

Cut the nectarines in half and remove the pits. Slice the fruits into thin wedges. Wash the mâche in a sink filled with cold water. Carefully remove any dirt or sand stuck between the leaves and discard any root ends. Dry the mâche in a salad spinner.

Cut the burrata into 1/4-inch slices; because it is very soft, it might be easier to slice with a serrated knife. Arrange the cheese on 6 chilled salad plates. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

In a medium bowl, toss together the mâche and the nectarines with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt. Arrange on top of the burrata. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and serve.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Sweet Potato with Pecan and Maple

dsc04105from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, p. 67.

This recipe will be the last I blog from this cookbook — not,  I hasten to qualify, because I’m never going to use it again but rather because I don’t want to discourage people from purchasing it. For all its faults, Ottolenghi’s cookbook  will have you combining flavors you would never have considered putting together but will make you awfully glad you did.

To whet your appetite, here is a sampling of other recipes found in the book:

  • Peaches and speck with orange blossom
  • Fennel and feta with pomegranate and sumac
  • Marinated eggplant with tahini and oregano
  • Caramelized endive with Serrano ham
  • Red lentil and chard soup
  • Grilled eggplant and lemon soup
  • Marinated rack of lamb iwth coriander and honey
  • Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey
  • Seared duck breast with blood orange and star anise
  • 10 fish and shellfish recipes

I made this sweet potato dish to serve with a roast goose and citrus-infused shredded cabbage and chopped apple. Like the two other recipes I’ve posted, the proportions need adjusting.

But let’s see how Yotam sets the recipe up:

2 sweet potatoes (about 850g [2 lbs] in total)

3 Tbsp olive oil

35g [1.5 oz] pecan nuts

4 spring onions, roughly chopped

4 Tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbsp roughly chopped coriander [cilantro]

1/4 tsp dried chili flakes

35g [1.5 oz] sultanas [blond raisins]

salt and pepper

For the dressing

4 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp orange juice

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C/Gas mark 5 [375 F]. Start with the sweet potatoes. Don’t peel them! Cut them into 2 cm [3/4 inch], spread them out on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, mix well with your hands and then roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, until just tender. Turn them over gently half way through cooking.

2. In a separate baking tray, toast the pecans for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and chop roughly.

3. To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl with some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

4. When the potatoes are ready, transfer them to a large bowl while still hot. Add the spring onions, parsley, coriander, chilli, pecans and sultanas. Pour the dressing over and toss gently to blend, then season to taste. Serve at once or at room temperature.

My turn…

The flavors and textures in this dish are surprising and delightful. I made it exactly as Yotam calls for, but I found the amount of dressing left a pool of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. I would also cut back on the chopped green onions and herbs. In other words, if you reduce the amounts by a third, I think the ensemble would work better. The only reservation I have is that the chili flakes were overwhelmed. The slight tang of heat I was expecting was imperceptible.

I liked the dish a lot. Not sure my guests liked it as much as I did. It’s a very inventive, creative use of flavors.