Brassicas: Cooking the world’s healthiest vegetables by Laura B. Russell

0

BRAS_Romanesco_Summer_Salad_image_p_49

Romanesco Summer Salad

 

Laura B. Russell has done it again!  Yup, that’s right, she’s made me drool. Her new book Brassicas is stunning, sumpteous, and best of all, user-friendly.  I will, without a doubt, be cooking my way from cover to cover.

It’s been quite awhile since a cookbook’s jacket copy has inspired my heart to skip a beat. And so it did, when I flipped to read about what awaited me in the pages of Brassicas. I had known that Laura was working on an all-vegetable cookbook, and had filed that somewhere in the back of my mind as interesting (and something to look forward to).  After all, I was a fan of her first cookbook The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen.  But I had no idea how excited I would be when this cookbook finally graced my table.  If you are a fan of cruciferous and other brassicas veggies, you too will feel like this book was written especially for you.  It’s a veritable candy shop for those who like their greens. It’s a celebration of the world’s healthiest vegetables, of their boundless potential and rich natural flavors.  From the inherent sweetness coaxed out of brussels sprouts (see recipe for Charred Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Fig Glaze below) to the peppery zip of arugula and watercress salads, to the creaminess of Cauliflower Hummus, this book will take you on a journey through the wonders of brassicas, superfoods of the vegetable kingdom.

Featuring 80 recipes, Brassicas is chock-full of simple sides, salads, breakfast dishes, soups, snacks and even smoothies.  Veggies aren’t just for balancing out your plate at supper, they are to be featured, as highlights, all day long.   In addition to one knock-out recipe after another, Brassicas is also structured in my favorite format for cookbooks: chapters are devoted to a single vegetable or class of brassicas.

The majority of the recipes are made with recognizable and easy-to-find brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts, which is a plus for shoppers. But for those wanting a little exotic variety, there are gorgeous recipes for broccoli rabe, kohlrabi, mizuna, and collards, just to name a few.  I, for one, am always looking for ways to introduce new foods to my family.  And, I’ll venture to say, this is a book full of superfoods that will inspire even professed veggie-haters to gobble up what’s on their plates. Look at the glorious Romanesco Summer Salad picture, featured above. I’m sure I can convince my two boys to eat this simply based upon its other worldly resemblance to dinosaur tails. Fun food! And my husband? With its nod to Italian al fresco dining, that’s one romantic looking plate!

For those with dietary restrictions, please note that all of the recipes are gluten-free. Laura has also included a “Special Diets Table”, for identifying major food allergens. Many recipes are naturally allergy-friendly, and for those containing a major allergen, many can be made allergen-free with a substitution, as identified on this table. The two recipes I feature below are gluten-free and free of all Top 8 Allergens.

Brassicas is available for pre-order now and wherever books are sold on April 8, 2014.

 

Romanesco Summer Salad

Serves 4

 

Although vibrant lime green Romanesco (sometimes called broccoli Romanesco or Romanesco cauliflower) looks like the love child of cauliflower and broccoli, it is actually closer to cauliflower in terms of taste and how it is used. Its color is fantastic in this lively salad, though you can definitely use white cauliflower if that’s all you can find. Cook the Romanesco just long enough to take away the raw bite, 2 to 3 minutes tops. Normally I would suggest plunging the florets into ice water to halt the cooking immediately, but introducing extra water here will mute the flavor and dilute the dressing. Instead, cook them fast and then spread them on a baking sheet so they cool quickly.

 

1 cup water

1 medium Romanesco or regular cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size florets (about 5 cups)

2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1⁄2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1⁄3 cup chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons drained capers, coarsely chopped

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. (If you have a steamer insert, put it in the pot to hold the Romanesco. If you don’t have one, don’t worry about it.) Add the Romanesco, cover the pot, turn down the heat to medium, and steam for 2 to 3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the Romanesco to a rimmed baking sheet or clean kitchen towel, spreading it in a single layer, to cool.

In a small bowl, to make the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly with a fork to form an emulsified vinaigrette.

Put the Romanesco in a serving bowl. Add the bell pepper, onion, dill, capers, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will keep well for several hours. Just before serving, taste and add more salt if needed.

BRAS_Charred__Brussels_Sprouts_with_Pancetta_and_Fig_Glaze_image_p_59

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Fig Glaze

Serves 4

 

Nothing tastes better with Brussels sprouts than cured pork, which is why I unapologetically offer you recipes that flavor sprouts with both pancetta and bacon (page 61). Here, the salty pancetta plays well with the sweetness from the fig jam, and you can finish the dish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to add a tangy note (see variations). I found fig jam near the grocery store’s cheese counter (not in the jams and jellies aisle), but you could also try apricot or peach jam instead. You may want to add a touch more jam than I suggest, but strive for a subtle sweetness rather than a cloying, sticky mess.

 

3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

3 to 4 ounces pancetta, diced

11⁄2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large) through the stem end (about 6 cups)

1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons fig jam

1 tablespoon water

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

In a large (12 inches or wider) frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a small bowl. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the Brussels sprouts, keeping them in a single layer as much as possible. Having a few extra sprouts is fine, but if they are mounded in a pile, they will not brown or cook evenly. If necessary, use a larger pan, cook them in two batches, or pull out the extra for another use. Stir in the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are tender and well browned—even charred in spots. If the sprouts are browning too quickly, lower the heat to medium.

Add the fig jam and the water and stir until the jam melts and coats the Brussels sprouts. Add the reserved pancetta and the pepper and stir to combine. Taste and add additional salt or pepper if needed. Serve warm.

Variations For a sweet, salty, tangy version, add a drizzle (a teaspoon or less) of balsamic vinegar at the end. Aged balsamic is an especially good choice. Although I prefer pancetta here (I like its unsmoked rich pork
flavor), you can use bacon in its place.

Recipes reprinted with permission from Brassicas by Laura B. Russell (Ten Speed Press, © 2014). Photo credit: Sang An.

Brassicas comp 17.indd

Allergy Free Vegan Focaccia

3

Gluten Free Vegan Focaccia

Makes 1 square 9-inch bread

This rustic flat bread is great served with white bean dip or dunked in red sauce. It’s also wonderful dipped in olive oil. Be sure to serve it warm.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water (110°to 115°F)

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 (1/4-ounce) packet rapid-rise yeast

3 1/2 cups Gluten-Free Bread Flour Mix (see below)

1 tablespoon xanthan gum

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

 

1. Combine the water, agave nectar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix well. Make sure the yeast is completely dissolved.

2. Whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture in two batches and mix well for about 1 minute, or until the dough is coming together.

4. Spray a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with baking spray or grease with vegetable shortening and dust with cornmeal, tapping out any extra.

5. Transfer the dough to the pan, using a rubber spatula. Use a frosting spatula to smooth down the surface and coax the dough into the corners of the pan. Cover with a folded dish towel or cloth napkin. Place the pan in a dishpan and pour hot water to come two-thirds up the sides (or just fill your kitchen sink basin). It may float, but don’t worry, that’s fine. Be sure to fold your cloth so it’s not dragging in the water. Let the bread rise for 1 hour. I generally replace the hot water with new hot water after the first 30 minutes. Check it periodically to make sure it’s still quite warm.

6. After the dough has risen for 1 hour, use your fingers to gently make dimples all over the top of the bread. Return the bread to its warm bath to continue rising while you preheat the oven.

7. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Once it’s heated, pour the olive oil over the top of the bread, brushing lightly with a pastry brush to distribute it evenly. Sprinkle the top with the coarse sea salt and rosemary. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until golden on top. Transfer to a cooling rack, turn out of the pan, and let cool for about 15 minutes before slicing.

 

Gluten-Free Bread Flour Mix

Makes 6 cups

1 1/ 2 cups millet flour

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour

2 cups tapioca starch

1 cup potato starch

 

Combine all the ingredients in a gallon-size zipper-top bag. Shake until well blended. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Focaccia and Gluten-Free Bread Flour mix recipes reprinted with permission from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook: How to Bake Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, and SesameCopyright © 2009 by Cybele Pascal, Celestial Arts, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: Chugrad McAndrews.

(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)

SAFETY NOTE: Because each person’s food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns before consumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

 

Allergy Free Focaccia for Amy Green’s Baby Shower

22

My sweet friend Amy Green of Simply Sugar & Gluten Free  and her lovely husband Joe are having a baby! Any day now, they’ll be adding a little one to their already loving and warm household.  By the way she nurtures those beloved dogs, not to mention her tens of thousands of loyal followers, I know Amy is going to be the best mom in the world!  In honor of her soon-to-be-born baby, some of us in the food blog world decided to throw her a baby shower, virtually.  Thanks for organizing the party, Hallie and Maggie!

Gluten Free Vegan Focaccia

Makes 1 square 9-inch bread 

This rustic flat bread is great served with white bean dip or dunked in red sauce. It’s also wonderful dipped in olive oil. Be sure to serve it warm.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°F)

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 (1/4-ounce) packet rapid-rise yeast

3 ½ cups Gluten-Free Bread Flour Mix (see below)

1 tablespoon xanthan gum

1 tablespoon salt

¼ cup olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

 

1. Combine the water, agave nectar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix well. Make sure the yeast is completely dissolved.

2. Whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture in two batches and mix well for about 1 minute, or until the dough is coming together.

4. Spray a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with baking spray or grease with vegetable shortening and dust with cornmeal, tapping out any extra.

5. Transfer the dough to the pan, using a rubber spatula. Use a frosting spatula to smooth down the surface and coax the dough into the corners of the pan. Cover with a folded dish towel or cloth napkin. Place the pan in a dishpan and pour hot water to come two-thirds up the sides (or just fill your kitchen sink basin). It may float, but don’t worry, that’s fine. Be sure to fold your cloth so it’s not dragging in the water. Let the bread rise for 1 hour. I generally replace the hot water with new hot water after the first 30 minutes. Check it periodically to make sure it’s still quite warm.

6. After the dough has risen for 1 hour, use your fingers to gently make dimples all over the top of the bread. Return the bread to its warm bath to continue rising while you preheat the oven.

7. Preheat the oven to 450?F. Once it’s heated, pour the olive oil over the top of the bread, brushing lightly with a pastry brush to distribute it evenly. Sprinkle the top with the coarse sea salt and rosemary. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until golden on top. Transfer to a cooling rack, turn out of the pan, and let cool for about 15 minutes before slicing.

 

Gluten-Free Bread Flour Mix

Makes 6 cups

1 1/ 2 cups millet flour

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour

2 cups tapioca starch

1 cup potato starch

 

Combine all the ingredients in a gallon-size zipper-top bag. Shake until well blended. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Focaccia and Gluten-Free Bread Flour mix recipes reprinted with permission from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook: How to Bake Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, and SesameCopyright © 2009 by Cybele Pascal, Celestial Arts, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: Chugrad McAndrews.

(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)

SAFETY NOTE: Because each person’s food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns before consumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

For other fantastic Gluten-free and Sugar-free treats coming your way to the baby shower, check out the other party guests below. Everyone is cooking up something wonderful!

Congratulations, Amy and Joe!

xoxo

Cybele