cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup

cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking

I've talked here before about how our family has a tradition of eating out for Thanksgiving. It's one that I VERY much enjoy .... and one that I really look forward to. Since I am not doing any cooking or dish washing, it feels like a day off. I will wake up on Thursday morning, go for a long run, decide what to wear, and my responsibilities are done for the day.

Last year I thought that I missed cooking for Thanksgiving, so we went back to it .... and at the end of the meal when we were cleaning up, the whole family unanimously decided (with me leading the charge) that we would go back to our tradition of eating out for Thanksgiving.  And now two days out, when I don't have to be strategically planning my shopping so I am not waiting in absurd lines at various grocery stores with overflowing shopping carts all around, I am so happy we decided to do so. Eating out for Thanksgiving isn't so unusual for NYers, and last year when I was juggling cooking a giant turkey and all the sides in my tiny city oven, I remembered exactly why. 

If I were cooking for Thanksgiving this year, I would be keeping things simple. I might serve a soup as an appetizer, and then for the main a turkey (of course) with  two sides, and a pie for dessert. The soup would be something very simple, and something I could make in advance. Something like this cauliflower soup with flavors of roasted garlic, shallot, and tahini lingering in the background with lots of crunchy bits to top it off. 

I like to call this a sheet pan soup, and sheet pan soups are totally my thing. What I mean by sheet pan soups are that all the veggies are tossed in a spice mixture and roasted on a sheet pan in the oven until tender and caramelized ... then thrown into the blender with some other ingredients to blend it and balance it out. It's the lazy lady soup, but also can be made to impress by reserving some of the veggies for toppings and adding in some other fancy bits like nuts and seeds to make it pretty and give it texture. This is a soup that I would make if I wanted a quick home-cooked meal, but only had about three-ish things with soup potential in my fridge. But this is also a soup that I would make for a dinner party or a festive occasion (hello, thanksgiving) as an appetizer because you don't need to spent lots of time on it, but it still makes a really nice first impression. 

cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking

cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup 

SERVES
2 as a main, 4 as an app

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
3 large shallots, peeled and cut in half
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves with the peels left on
a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons of tahini
the juice of 1 lemon
2-3 cups of water, or broth

for the toppings:
a handful of pumpkin seeds
about 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
a couple of florets, reserved before blending

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF. 
  • Place the cauliflower florets, shallots, and garlic onto a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper over top and then toss to evenly coat the vegetables. 
  • Roast for 30-35 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork tender and light brown around the edges. 
  • Transfer the cauliflower and shallots to a blender (reserving a couple of florets for topping, if you like). Remove the garlic peels and transfer the roasted garlic to the blender as well. Add the tahini, lemon, and 2 cups of the water or broth and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust any seasoning that is necessary (if you used water you might want to add more salt and pepper, but if you used a broth you might not need to). Slowly add the third cup of water or broth while the blender is running, until you have the consistency you like. 
  • Pour into individual serving bowls, and scatter the toppings over top. Serve warm. This will keep for a couple of days in an air-tight container in the fridge and easily reheated on the stovetop. 

honey baked eggplant

honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking

In case you've been wondering where I have been for the past few months ..... I've been cooking LOTS, in this space in these photos here. Our new studio with my friend and now partner, Hetty, has been bustling with activity ever since we finished our kitchen renovation back in August and opened our doors. We've hosted dinners, lunches, photography workshops, cooking classes ... we've even had people come and teach their own trades in our space, like macrame and bagel-making.

Last saturday we hosted a workshop that was the first of it's kind for us, and it was all about publishing food stories. We spent the day discussing different perspectives on publishing from conception to blogs to books and magazines, from a variety of experts and cookbook authors. The conversation was informative, candid, but most importantly, inspiring and fun. It was our hope that everyone who was at the studio that day left feeling their creative energy completely recharged. I know that we certainly did.  

No matter what the event at the studio, there will always be some sort of food component.  Last Saturday our lunch menu for the publishing workshop consisted of cauliflower with romesco, roasted brussels sprouts with a ginger scallion sauce, mushroom toasts, and this honey baked eggplant dish (which everyone kept calling eggplant lasagna, which is probably because it was reminiscent of lasagna/eggplant parmesan with layers of thinly sliced eggplant, red sauce, and cheese). We also made a vegan / dairy-free version by using a dairy-free cashew yogurt in lieu of the cheese (in the same amounts, with some garlic and seasoning mixed in) and that version was a big hit as well. So many people asked for the recipes so we decided it would be a great first recipe for our brand new studio blog, where we hope to share many of the recipes we create in the studio for events or just for ourselves. So head over to THE BLOG for this delicious recipe, and be sure to subscribe to our neighborhood studio newsletter so you will never miss a recipe.

Oh, AND, I will be posting new recipes here again too, now that we are in our groove over at the studio, and I am so excited because I have SO many fun, new recipes waiting for you. 

honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey-eggplant_NS-07.jpg
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking
peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking

As someone who anticipates summer more than any other season, it's hard towards the end of the season to not sit back and think about how good the summer has been compared to other summers. How many warm perfect days vs. rainy days ... how many beach bbqs did we do or just overall days spent on the beach and swimming in the ocean. Did I get in my fair share of epic outdoor dinner parties. This summer had mostly ups and just a few downs. We had a lot of rainy saturdays, and for some reason these last few weeks of august have felt more like the last few of september, needing a sweater in the early morning and late evening. But weather aside, I have to say, everything else about this summer has been pretty great. I relished in my vacation time, just as much as I did getting back to work and getting our new brooklyn studio ready. We opened officially last weekend, and that definitely was a big highlight of my summer.

Once I have had a chance to anaylze my summer, I pretty much always come to the same conclusion. Summer is the best, and even the least best summer is still pretty darn amazing. 

This summer I did a lot of cooking. Even more than I usually do, and I consider that a big summertime win. With all of the amazing fruits and veggies at my finger tips, I have a hard time passing up any opportunity to cook with the summertime gems .... whether it's just for myself, or for a big group of people. I made a point to always make myself breakfast and lunch at home,  and I tried to keep eating out for more special or social occasions, or for when I was craving the crab pasta or wood grilled whole fish at one of my two favorite restaurants in town. Usually when I am doing a lot of cooking, I like to get creative to keep from getting bored, but this summer I was drawn to the most simple preparations .... a quick satuee or roast of vegetables served with a simply grilled fish or chicken was pretty much on repeat. As was this dessert here. I made a version of this crisp every single time we had guests this summer. In the early summer is was with strawberries and rhubarb, mid-summer it was with cherries and blackberries, and right about now I am making it with the perfectly ripe peaches and blueberries (my favorite fruit crisp duo). 

I have been working for a long time towards a crisp that is free of gluten and dairy, but hardly noticeable to traditional crisp lovers. This version which uses olive oil instead of butter, and a mixture of polenta and a gluten-free flour blend for a bit of crunch and texture, is by far the winner. I was so surprised at how well olive oil works to make a crispy crunch dessert topping. I have also been loving serving it in this limited edition teal colored dutch oven by Le Creuset. The color makes the dessert pop, and the dutch oven is the perfect vessel to cook and serve the dessert in because the top comes in handy for when you want to bake this ahead of time, and keep it waiting on the countertop, covered, until you're ready to serve. I would strongly suggest making this at your next dinner party, before the blueberries and peaches and summertime leave us until next year. 

**This post is sponsored by Le Creuset + Williams Sonoma. All opinions are my own. I am giving away one of these dutch ovens over on my Instagram, so head there for a chance to win! Thanks for supporting the brands that support WCGL! 

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peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking
peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp

This recipe is inspired by the strawberry + rhubarb + polenta crisp in Gjelina, by Travis Lett, but is adapted to be made gluten + dairy free. 

SERVES
10+ 

INGREDIENTS 

for the topping:
1 cup of gluten-free flour
1/2 cup of quick cooking polenta
1/3 cup of sugar (coconut palm sugar or white sugar)
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
1 egg
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

for the filling:
2 pints of blueberries
5-6 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
1/3 cup of sugar (coconut palm or white sugar)
2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour
the juice of 1/2 a lime
a pinch of sea salt

Vanilla ice cream for serving

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF. 

Make the topping:

  • In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the egg and olive oil and whisk until combined. This topping will be a little wetter than more traditional crumble toppings, and that is ok. This can be made in advance and stored in an air-tight container the fridge, if using the same week, or you can place it into a container and store in the freezer for a few months. 

Make the filling, add the topping + bake:

  • In a large dutch oven (3.75QT) or baking dish (10"x14"), combine the blueberries, peaches, sugar, flour, lime, and salt. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the top. 
  • Bake until the crisp topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling, about 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes before serving. 
  • Serve warm with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. 

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza"

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking

The farms stands has been open for several weeks now, where I spend my summer on the East End of Long Island. They've certainly been open since my last blog post here ........ it's been so nice and refreshing to spend the past several weeks cruising the farms with little on my list, getting inspired by what I find. I literally cried the first day the farmstand in my town opened. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, and they were happy tears, obviously .... I must have been feeling a little overly emotional that day, but still, the farms in our area make me that happy. 

I decided recently to take a little more time to myself, away from writing recipes, and writing in general. After a big project like writing a book, I felt like I needed some more me-time to reboot, refresh and to get reacquainted with myself in my kitchen, without an agenda, or without a huge to-do list of recipes. Going to the farm stand without a list of groceries has been liberating, and energizing. I desperately needed that jolt of energy, and to cook for fun a little again before diving into our next big project that gets going in a few weeks (MORE ON THAT HERE). Someone recently said to me, you know that you love what you do if you miss it while you take a break. So happily, I can say, I do love what I do .... I did miss writing and coming up with new recipes, and I am so excited to be doing it all over again.

Often times when am I developing recipes, I will have a recipe in mind (or mostly written) before I even start cooking. One of the biggest things that I have discovered (or remembered!) during this time to myself is that if I let some of that control go a little bit, some magic can happen in the kitchen. This recipe is a perfect example of that happening. I went to the farm with no list, just wanting to pick up a few veggie gems to cook with for the week. I picked up some fresh chives, half-a-dozen or so squash blossoms, a jar of pesto, some goat's cheese, and a few other things. I knew for lunch I wanted to make something with those squash blossoms, and I also had some sort of pizza/flat bread thing on my mind. I had chickpea flour in my pantry, because I always have chickpea flour in my pantry ... so I started cooking with hopes that I could turn my regular socca/chickpea crepe recipe into something more pizza-like. And here it is. I have made this a few times since that day, because it was that good, and I knew it was the first recipe I needed to share to get me back into this space. Of course you can mix and match with whatever topping you like, including a dairy-free cheese, or other veggies combinations, but I do hope you try this chickpea/socca pizza base. It is one of the best gluten-free bases I have found for when the mood strikes for something pizza-like. 

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza"

MAKES
about 2 mini pizzas (4 slices each)

INGREDIENTS

for the socca pizza crust:
1 cup of chickpea flour
1 cup of water
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
a couple pinches of sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
a handful of chopped chives (optional)
a couple tablespoons of ghee

for the toppings:
6-8 squash blossoms, stems and pistol removed
a few tablespoons of pesto (either homemade or store-bought)
several dollops of goat's cheese, or your favorite non-dairy cheese

METHOD

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chives (if you're using), until fully incorporated and a batter has formed. Set aside to rest for about 20-30 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat the broiler and have your toppings ready to go, next to the stove top. 
  • Heat a large cast iron with the ghee over medium-high heat. Ladle about 1 cup of the batter into the pan and cook until bubbles start rising to the surface and the edges look cooked. Then, place a couple of spoonfuls of the pesto onto the batter, a couple of dollops of the cheese, and finish with 3-4 of the squash blossoms and then place the cast iron into the oven under the broiler. Cook for 5-10 minutes (checking often since broiler cooking times vary greatly). You know the pizza is done when the cheese is melty and the edges are browned.
  • Remove, and carefully transfer the pizza to a cutting board, cut into slices, and serve.
  • If you want to make additional pizzas (the batter will make 1-2 more), then start all over again with heating the ghee and ladling the batter into the cast iron. Alternatively, you can save the batter for another day/use. It will keep for about a week in an air-tight container in the fridge. 

chocolate chia mousse + cardamon rose coco whip | from the kale + caramel cookbook

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You may have noticed that I have been away from this space for a little while. I have been taking a much needed mini work break, after the last push of my cookbook and before starting on some exciting new projects ..... one of which includes a studio space in Brooklyn, NY, that me and my good pal, Hetty, are opening in a month or so. The space has long been a dream of both of ours, and will be used for so many things, from hosting lunches, dinners, cooking classes, cookbook clubs, to anything and everything that combines friends, family, community and all things food. To stay informed on the space, and  the events we will be hosting later this year, head to the website, and sign up for our newsletter: https://www.neighborhoodstudiobk.com 

While I have been away, a number of really wonderful books, and cookbooks have been released, and I have been enjoying going through each one, reading their stories, and cooking their recipes. This recipe I am sharing today came from a newly released cookbook, Kale and Caramel, by my friend, Lily Diamond who has a well-loved blog by the same name. Lily is one of those people, even though we have yet to meet in person, it feels as though I know her so well. Through her honest, thought-provoking writing, and her love for nature and beautiful, tasty, healthy food, it is hard to not fall in love with Lily herself, and want to be best friends with her. 

While I have made a few recipes from her book, I chose to share this one because it looked like the perfect kind of chocolatey, healthy, indulgence, and because Lily was so kind to send some gorgeous, dried, edible rose petals with her book, and I new I needed to use them asap. The chapters in her book are organized by herbs and flowers, which I thought was such a fun and unique way to organize a cookbook. Also, I am not well versed in cooking with certain flowers such as jasmine, orange blossom, and rose, so it's been really fun learning about and experimenting with these beautiful flavors. But, my favorite part of the book is that is not only provides recipes to eat, is also gives recipes for homemade, plant-based beauty infusions such as face masks, exfoliators, and lotions all using ingredients found in your kitchen, that are pure enough to eat. I cannot wait to try out every single one! To get more info on this wonderful book .... click this link to head to Lily's blog to find out more: http://www.kaleandcaramel.com/kale-caramel-cookbook-recipes-for-body-heart-and-table/

chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip | what's cooking good looking
chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip | what's cooking good looking
chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip | what's cooking good looking
chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip | what's cooking good looking

chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip

*This recipe is from the Kale and Caramel cookbook, by Lily Diamond, pg. 216

MAKES
4-6 servings 

INGREDIENTS
 

for the chocolate chia mousse:
3/4 cup of chia seeds
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
2 pinches of sea salt
2 1/4 cups of nut milk of your choice
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon of orange zest
1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom

for the cardamom rose coco whip:
1 (13.5 oz) can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated upside down for a few hours
2 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon of rose water
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom

some (optional) toppings:
1 /4 cup of cacao nibs
1 tablespoon of dried edible rose petals

METHOD

Make the mousse:

  • At least one hour before serving, combine the chia seeds, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the nut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla and whisk until all of the cocoa powder clumps are dissolved and the chia begins to thicken. Cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight. 
  • Transfer the pudding to a blender or food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. 
  • Then, in a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips until they are completely smooth. Add the chocolate, orange zest, and cardamom to the blender or food processor with the pudding and blend or pulse until all is incorporated. Taste and adjust any sweetness or salt if you like. Transfers the mouses to a large bowl and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to set.

Make the coco whip:

  • Open the can of coconut milk (that's been refrigerated) and scoop out the thick coconut cream and discard or save the liquid for another use. In a large bowl, mix the coconut cream, sugar, rose water, and cardamom. Then whip with an electric mixer on high until the mixture is smooth, light, and whippy. 

Assemble and serve:

  • Divvy up the mousse into individual serving glasses or bowls, and top with a spoonful of the coco whip. Finish with a sprinkle of the cacao nibs and rose petals (if using), and serve.