Is it cheating?

Perhaps. But I don’t fucking care.

What are the herbs and spices you use all the time? You know, the go-to-can’t-cook-without-them ones. Your desert island selection.

Besides the obvious kosher salt and fresh black pepper, I think the two straight spices I use ALL the time are freshly grated nutmeg and thyme.  But there are three others that I have come to realize I cannot cook without.

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And, no, I am not on their payroll. Although Himself is always after me to monetize my blog (yeah, right, with all three people who read it…)

But seriously – I use Sunny Paris with eggs, scrambled or poached/en cocotte. It is exquisite: échalotes et fines herbes. Yum.

 And the Buttermilk – besides the obvious (our dairy-free chipotle ranch dressing for taco salads), it is the secret ingredient in my cauli mash, which is our new Bill-friendly version of mashed potatoes that we eat at least twice a week.

But the star, the star of this little triology of corporate happiness is the Tuscan Sunset.   It turns ground turkey and tomatoes in to an absolutely fantastic sauce. Every time.  Brown the meat and some onion. Deglaze with a little wine. Add the TS and some San Marzano tomatoes. Twenty minutes and you’re in heaven. Promise. 

Are these a little spendy – yeah. But they last a ways. And, to have all the ingredients in Tuscany on hand would be more expensive than just getting the jar. 

One of these days I’ll post the how to for the mash and the sauce. In the meantime, ya’ll know I’m a huge proponent of cook it yourself, but we all need a little helper. And these three are mine.

Purée de choufleur à l’ail et aux fines herbes

When I was growing up, mashed and vegetables together meant one thing: potatoes. Then I went to Paris – they call it a purée there. And you can purée lots besides potatoes – carrots were quite popular. Then I had a friend from New England tell me how her family always had mashed turnips instead of potatoes for the big feasts.  Food is so awesome – a virtual root cellar full of possible variations.

Take one bag of frozen cauliflower....
Take one bag of frozen cauliflower….

Forgoeing mashed potatoes when Himself had to change his diet was probably the most traumatic thing for me. Mashed potatoes are their own food group in my family. But, luckily there’s the interwebs. And friends.  Through some trial and error, I’ve come up with a great flavorful creamy purée that we look forward to at our house.  I’ve had a couple friends ask for the recipe, so here it is – Purée de choufleur à l’ail et aux fines herbes.  Although we just call this cauli mash at our house.  I was hoping if I fi-fi-chi-chi’d up the name a little, it would fancify things a bit.  Now, before you go any further please take heed: this is not mashed potatoes.  Let me repeat:  this. is. not. mashed. potatoes.  If you want something that tastes like mashed potatoes, you will need to actually eat mashed potatoes.

What this IS (caveat aside) is a delicious, rich, smooth purée that captures the slight sweetness of the cauliflower and garlic and which has a lovely creamy texture that goes great with roasted or grilled meats. 

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A little butter, a little garlic, a little sour cream, some herbs ….with and “h”.

 

Honestly, if we could eat real cheese in our house, I would totally put this in a buttered casserole and toss it in the oven with some cheddar on top. That would be freaking amazing. … …. if we could eat cheese. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Cheese. Damn my dairy-rejecting genes. Bastards.

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With a little daub of Kerrygold butter, of course. Because butter.

 

 

I really hope you try this one. If you like cauliflower, this is an awesome and fast side dish that will fill the craving for creamy spudnicks without a starchy overload. And remember it has herbs. With a fucking “H” in it. Try it!

Ingredients
1 20oz package generic frozen cauliflower
1 fat or 2 small cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sour cream or cream cheese (or, if you live at our house, Tofutti sour cream)
2 tsp. Penzey’s “Buttermilk” seasoning blend (or italian herbs if you don’t have Penzey’s lying about.)
Instructions
Put the cauliflower and the garlic in ‘wave safe bowl, covered, in the microwave on high until it’s quite soft and hot. That takes 9 minutes in my wave. Drain off any water that come out during cooking.
Put that and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor. (Or the kitchen robot, if we keep up our Frenchie trend.)
Pulse until it’s a delightful smooth concoction; you may need to stop and scrape down your sides. Don’t go too far, I’ve heard you wind up with a gluey mess. I’ve not experienced that, but best to stop before that happens

Servings 3
Calories 138
Fat 10 g
Sodium 66 mg
Carbs 11 g
Protein 4 g

Cucumber Watermelon Salad with Dill and Mint

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Sweet, salty, savoury, crunchy.

 

Are you ready to taste summer? I am. I have found myself daydreaming about the bounty to come – piles and piles of tomatoes and squash and melon. And the salads. Oh, the salads.  I find myself rejecting recipes of late if they involve turning on the oven.  Mind you, it’s not super hot yet. Not at all. It’s just that I’m ready.

So it’s safe to say the baking tornado of the last few months at The Yum are at an end. Which left me, well, idea-less for a post. After much guilt, I gave myself permission to say fuck all and go out for the day. Stop #1 – Za’atar for a falafel breakfast.  I fucking love that place.  Hopped over to Caravan while waiting for my order, and he had these gorgeous crates of mint and dill and cucumbers and eggplant and lemons and ……aaaaaah. I had to have some.

Those, some olives, some fig jam and sesame candies for Himself and away I went.

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When I saw the watermelon in the fridge as I was putting things away, I knew what to make. And then immediately consume.

This is fast, and should be served and eaten immediately.  I even got to feel all fancy-pants when I rolled the dill up in the mint leaves for a quick chiffonade.  (Thank you, Sarah Moulton and FoodTV!) This baby is all about the fresh and crunch. Mmmmmm. Chompa-chomp-chomp.

You could totally add some cubed feta and a wedge of bread and call this summer supper (just leave out the salt if you do).  I inhaled mine as a snack. Couldn’t even wait to grill some chicken or something to eat with it.

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Come on, Summer. This just has me wanting you more.
Ingredients
2 c. watermelon in ½” dice
1 c. jicama in ½” dice
1 c. cucumber in ½” wedges
1 thin slice red onion, separated in to rings
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of white balsamic or wine vinegar
Four or five fresh mint leaves and a thumb-sized sprig of fresh dill, chiffonaded
Dash of S&P
Instructions
Toss together and eat.

Servings 2
Calories 83
Fat 1 g
Sodium 6 mg
Carbs 20 g
Protein 2 g

Spicy Sweet Curried Carrot Salad

The pretty carrots were SO worth the extra fifty cents!
The pretty carrots were SO worth the extra fifty cents!

Another carrot salad in time for Easter.  Hmm…..maybe if this happens again next year, we’ll have a real pattern.

Anywho….got this bag of pretty carrots at TJ’s to cook with the brisket for Saint Pat’s. Only thing is, the red ones lose the red when cooked and just look normal. So, a cold recipe would keep the prettiness.

That was the first time we’ve had carrots in the house since himself had to change his diet – they are on the verbotten list, along with peas and bananas.  But I digress.

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Hey, Mikey! He liked it.  I went easy on the hot pepper at first; when I added more Himself was disappointed that he could taste the curry less. Sigh. Your tongue can only process so much data at a time.

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 Give this a whirl. If you don’t have curry paste lying about, use powder. It’ll still be yummy.
For the salad
3 carrots, peeled then shaved in to strips
½ shallot, cut in to thin rings
¼ c. craisins or currants or sultanas
¼ c. pistachio meats
For the sauce
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. dijon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp. curry paste
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
S&P
2 Tbsp. red or white wine vinegar
3-4 Tbsp. avocado or olive oil
Instructions
Use your veg peeler to shave the carrots. Cut the carrots in half across the middle first, or you will wind up with a papardelle like salad.
Put all the salad ingredients in a bowl.
Whisk together the sauce in another bowl.
Dress the salad right before serving.

Servings 4
Calories 134
Fat 5 g
Sodium 44 mg
Carbs 23 g
Protein 2 g