Oats, They’re Not Just for Breakfast

I told you a week or so ago (okay, it could have been last year, I have no idea) that I had become intrigued by the fact that people the world over eat some form of porridge and that they have it for lunch and dinner. Let me tell you what time of year is a good time for porridge for lunch and dinner – the time where it’s starting to give you lots of reason to believe that this winter may just well be as cold as the last, when leaves are crunching under foot (and blasting by in 40 mph gusts), and you’re digging in your sock drawer for that special pair you actually slip over other socks when things are really bad (just me?). I am a fan, a convert, and a chilly advocate of savory porridge.

 photo IMG_0915.jpgOur last porridge attempt was polenta, because I knew the mediterranean leaning would make it more approachable for my crew. This time I decided to go a little more full-on porridge by using oats.  In this preparation an ‘oats risotto.’ Let me confess right here that pretty much anything with ‘risotto’ in the title will get my interest, add oats to it and I’m downright intrigued. This particular oats risotto had mushrooms, walnuts and leeks. The original recipe can be found on this little treasure trove for those trying to increase their plant-based intake (or decrease their other), Meatless Monday. Continue reading

Tapas for Two, or Four

Miss Picky Pants (known for the remainder of the post as MPP) is a grazer.  She is easily overwhelmed by large portions (with the exception of cake, of course), and loves to have just a bit of as many things as possible.  In a desperate attempt to have dinner out a few years ago, Mr. Little Sis and I took the twins to a Tapas joint here in our little burg.

Don’t know if you’ve ever walked 4 year old twins into a restaurant before, but I can tell you it’s the rare restaurant staff that greets this moment with true enthusiasm.  Weren’t they surprised to find out that as long as they kept the bread and little plates coming, MPP and her all cuisine loving brother would be just fine, thank you very much.  To be fair my little MPP, she comes by the small plate thing honestly.  I love having bits on the plate to choose from , tie together, nibble on, mop up with bread.  Yum. Tonight we had just such a plate.  If there had been sections dividing MPP’s food, everything would have been perfecto.  All of it was simple, hearty, and super yummy.  Perfect for these increasingly cool evenings.  A little preview of autumn’s heartier fare. The highlight of the meal, for me, was garlic mushrooms, a classic tapas favorite. The beauty of this dish is its simplicity and its versatility. Want it with rice – rock it out. Over quinoa? Keen. With pasta? Perfection. Garlic mushrooms, a foodie’s best friend. Continue reading

Cauliflower Steaks?! Why I’ll Be….

As you can imagine, I get a lot of food coming across my laptop screen.  So many wonderful food bloggers out there and so little time.  The other day, a particular photo caught my eye.  Admittedly part of the reason it caught my eye is that cauliflower is an entry on Ms. Picky Pants list of acceptable foods.  There are, to date, approximately 30 items on said list, give or take a few for “I usually like it, but not today….”  So when a photo of a giant slice of cauliflower browned on both sides danced across my screen, I filed the title away for a night when Ms. Picky Pants needed to be mollified.  I do insist that she try new foods, but I do like to throw her a bone now and then. So “cauliflower steaks” got filed away for my daughter’s sake.

A few days ago at the market, cauliflower was on sale, and boy were they big and good looking.  I scooped one up and now, after several days of solid rejections of my culinary offerings, I decided to throw the kid a bone.  Cauliflower steaks it is.  Of course I wasn’t wise enough to pin, bookmark, or otherwise save the actual post that I was looking at, but a quick search took me to an authority on most things food, and so I took a look through Martha Stewart’s recipe, mimicked the technique, borrowed the flavor profile and, as usual, made it with the ingredients I had on hand instead of going out and buying the ingredients called for (if you’re new you may find this surprising).  I decided to make some barley on the side as I thought the kids would like it and it’s crazy filling, so if things went really awry there would be a little cauliflower, some barley, and some salad.  And leftover barley is not just a good thing… it’s a GREAT thing.  We’ll get to that later.

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS with CAPERED TOMATO SAUCE served 4 with leftovers

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  • 3 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • large head cauliflower
  • 4 Tbs capers
  • 1 c diced tomatoes (or leftover tomato sauce)
  • 1 large red pepper
  • splash red wine vinegar
  • fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400.  Wash the cauliflower and remove and remaining leaves.  Cut the end of the stem, but be sure to leave the core intact.  Cut cauliflower into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices – slice all the way across the cauliflower.  Don’t panic if some florets come off – simply set them aside with the small end pieces.  Warm 1 Tbsp olive oil in each of 2 pans.  Add 1 clove minced garlic into each pan.  When oil is warm, add cauliflower.  Sprinkle with a little salt.

IMG_8669Allow “steaks” to brown (don’t fuss with them too much).  When brown (at least, but not likely longer then 4-5 minutes), flip and brown the other side.  When both sides are brown, move to baking dish and transfer to oven and roast until tender (12-16 minutes). While the cauliflower roasts, add remaining Tbs olive oil to one pan.  While it warms, chop up the reserved florets/end pieces into small pieces.  Roughly chop red pepper.  Add the third minced clove of garlic into oil and add cauliflower.  Allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Add red pepper.  Add cauliflower. Add capers and tomatoes and simmer gently until vegetables are tender.  Add red wine vinegar when done.  Serve cauliflower steak with tomato sauce and fresh parsley.  Grin when neither child will eat the sauce.  Grin more when they both love it anyway – more sauce for you.  Delish.

Wondering about the barley?  I’ll let you know sometime after tomorrow morning…

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