Monthly Archives: October 2014

It’s What We All Crave!

It’s out! The Columbus Crave Magazine’s 10 best restaurants!

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This week was the big reveal of the Crave 10. It’s the top 10 picks for the best Columbus restaurants in 2014. The event was held at the Refectory (one of the top 10) where they were serving some of their signature dishes. It’s obvious why they are a top 10 selection! Not only was the presentation beautiful, the food was absolutely delicious! Among my favorites were the mushroom profiteroles and warm spiced apple tartlets. Everything was cocktail size and I don’t usually refer to food as adorable, but the dessert was definitely that!

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If you haven’t picked up a copy, start with this issue! The magazine is quarterly and celebrates Central Ohio restaurants. If you live in Columbus, and are a culinary art enthusiast, foodie, food lover, Gourmand, or just like to eat out and try new and different restaurants, this magazine is for you! They share restaurant reviews, openings and closing, best spots for a first date, where to get the best ice cream, and all the great food trends happening in Columbus. Check their website for where you can pick up an issue – Enjoy!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with no Cream!

There is a television show on PBS entitled America’s Test Kitchen. It’s filmed in a working test kitchen and is the home of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. They have test cooks, food scientists, tasters and cookware specialists on the show. Every now and then I’ll catch an episode and find them doing something interesting whether it’s testing recipes, rating products, or trying out the newest kitchen gadget. When they create a recipe, they explain the science behind why it works or doesn’t work. Which is great especially when you try something out that is a total flop! I have gotten a few very good ideas on new tools and tricks when cooking, as well as recipes from the show like this creamy cauliflower soup.

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Their original recipe called for 1 and ½ sticks of butter – that’s 12 tablespoons of butter! So while they were very excited to have come up with a creamy soup that added no cream, it had plenty of butter to give it that creamy texture. That’s a lot of butter for a 2 pound head of cauliflower; it’s the equivalent of almost 2 to 3 tablespoons per serving! That’s way too much if you ask me.

It looked so simple and delicious, I decided to try it but with a Splash of Sherri! I used olive oil instead of butter and cut that way down. The result was a delicious tasting soup. One of the secrets to the soup’s flavor is cooking the cauliflower at different times. According to the show’s test kitchen, adding it in two stages gives a grassy flavor of just-cooked cauliflower and the sweeter, nuttier flavor of long-cooked cauliflower.

It was a real winner in my house, very simple, very quick, and a great new way to cook with cauliflower. So here is my version adapted from Cooks Illustrated. Enjoy!

1 head of cauliflower (approximately 2 pounds)
2 to 3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 leek, white and light green part only – washed very well and sliced thin
1 medium onion diced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white pepper (more or less to taste)
4 ½ to 5 cups water
3 or more tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon of light olive oil (to sauté the reserved cup of florets)
1/2 teaspoon Sherry vinegar (cider vinegar works great as well)

This recipe serves 4 to 6

Pull off the outer leaves of the cauliflower and trim the stem. Use a paring knife and cut around the core to remove. Thinly slice the core and set aside. Separate it into core/stems, and florets. Reserve one cup of small ½” florets and set aside then cut the remaining cauliflower into ½ inch thick slices.

In a medium size pot sauté the sliced leek and diced onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté for 7 minutes until translucent then add stems, core and ½ the florets plus the 4 ½ cups of water. Bring it to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the rest of the cauliflower and cook another 15 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, brown the remaining 1 cup of florets in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat – stirring frequently. Sauté the cauliflower until golden brown; this takes about 5 to 10 minutes. When done, take the florets out with a slotted spoon, transfer to a small bowl and toss with the vinegar and season with a pinch of salt. Reserve the oil for a garnish or discard.

Puree the soup in a blender, food processor or use a stick blender until smooth (about a minute or two). Simmer the soup another couple of minutes on medium heat and adjust the consistency with more water as needed. The soup should have a thick, velvety texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the browned florets, chives, and olive oil as a garnish.

Total cooking time should be no longer then 40 minutes. After that, the cauliflower will start to loose it’s flavor.

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One Kitchen Tool I can’t Live Without…

An Apple Peeler!

In a previous post, I mentioned how my son got us hooked on apple picking when he was in kindergarten. I wasn’t kidding when I told you he must have eaten 3 or 4 apples a day. I remember the proud expression on his face as he ate one of the apples he picked. I remember the enthusiasm in which he asked for apple after apple very clearly all these years later. I also remember how my hands hurt every night after peeling all of those apples.

Enter my new best friend in the kitchen… The APPLE PEELER

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I was shopping with a friend and telling her the apple story and how much my hands were starting to hurt. I said it laughingly, but it was true. While we were waiting in line, I happened to see the very apple peeler in the photo above. It was quite a coincidence. I didn’t think it would work very well and I figured it would be one of those things I’d end up returning. However, if what the package said was true, I’d be eating a spiraled apple in no time. In addition, it looked like a cool gadget and just like Meghan Trainor’s hit song… All About the Bass, I’m all about the cool kitchen gadget!

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to open the box and slice an apple. I placed the apple on the prongs, turned the handle a few times and voila, I had an apple sliced into rings like an accordion! It not only sliced the apple in even slices, it took the peel off* and cored it. It worked like a charm and was really very cool. I couldn’t wait for my son to get home from school, and see the magic!

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The bus pulled up, my son ran into the house, washed his hands, and asked for a snack. I sliced up an apple, put it on a plate and when he saw it, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The expression on his face was priceless. As he picked up the rings, he used two of them as eyeglasses to look through and called me the apples of his eyes!

That year I bought about 6 of them and gave them out as gifts as holiday presents, anniversary presents, as hostess gifts, if there was an occasion, you were getting an apple peeler. I think I even gave my son’s teacher one. An apple peeler for everyone! I purchased them at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but have also seen them in groceries, and sometimes TJ Maxx and HomeGoods.  It’s really a handy kitchen gadget. It makes life easier when making applesauce, or you can bake the rings and make apple chips.  I have even been known to use the slices to decorate an apple cake. If you decide to buy one, let me know how you like it. Enjoy!

*On a side note, you can leave the peel on the apple if you’d like, there is an option to do that.

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Scenes from a Holiday Table

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Autumn brings the beginning of a new school year, cooler weather, apple picking, and foliage rich in beautiful hues of red, orange and yellow as the leaves begin to change color. It’s my favorite season and the one I missed most when growing up in Florida. The season also brings a new year for the Jewish people filled with traditional food, and hopes for a sweet new year. The past couple of weeks have been filled with holidays, family, friends and a lot of food! There was what seemed to be endless cooking going on in my kitchen, and a lot of eating around the table. I had a checklist of all that needed to be accomplished. Plan menu – check! Purchase groceries – check! Bake apple cake – check! Braid the challah – check! Make holiday boxes for college students – check!

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I put together holiday boxes which were mailed to college kids in the middle of September. They included mini apple cakes, challah rolls, small honey bears, candy and apples. It’s a little taste of home for the holidays. I started making them last year for my son and niece and this year was a little late in advertising, but still managed to sell a few making an even dozen to be sent off as far away as Arizona, New York, Texas, Virginia, Indiana, and here in Ohio. For upcoming holidays I’m working on adding a link to the side of my website for ordering.

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The holidays also bring my in-laws to town. It’s great having them join us every year. We really look forward to their visit and spending time with them. After the holiday is celebrated, we then carry out our traditional apple picking excursion, yes – I went apple picking again! This time we picked golden delicious and Jonathan apples. Both fantastic and extremely  different from one another, yet both perfect for dipping into honey! Of course I can’t leave the farm without apple salsa, which gets opened immediately when we get home! As for my mother-in-law, her visit isn’t complete until she goes home with a wagon filled with butternut squash, which she will turn into a delicious and creamy golden soup!

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During the holiday, it is customary to have raisin challah that is round, which symbolizes the circle of life and changing seasons. I thought I would try adding chopped apples instead of raisins this time, and it was the best challah I have ever made! It tasted like cake but, hey, it’s the holiday so what’s a little cake with your meal? Plus, it’s customary to have a sweet challah on the holiday. Okay, now that I justified it, we can move on!

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Bread and apples are dipped into delicious golden honey, to insure a sweet year ahead. This year I found beautifully packaged honey at a local farmer’s market. The honey is from a local beekeeper named Brad from Brad’s Bees which graced our table in a beautiful vintage jar and the taste was amazing! I purchased their summer wildflower honey which is a premium light honey derived from various wildflowers here in Columbus. Wildflower honey will vary in taste from year to year. This must be an exceptionally good year as it was sweet and mild with a beautiful amber color. What a great way to start off the holiday!

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Finally apple cake finished off our meal, which is a good thing since I must have 50 pounds of apples in my house! All-in-all, it was a wonderfully delicious holiday! The next few weeks will be filled with more holiday food adventures I look forward to sharing with you! L’Shana Tova… wishing you a good year!