Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Italian cauliflower

My college roommate's dad, Dennis Poland, used to make an egg-battered fried cauliflower dish that was delicious. I think that dish involved deep or at least shallow frying. The day before traveling to Cleveland I sauteed a similar dish in the skillet. It was so good (but fairly different than the inspiration) that I made it three times in the last week.

Italian-ish Cauliflower
3 cups frozen cauliflower florets
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
2 Tbs fine bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon mediterranian spiced sea salt
Parmesan cheese
Vegetable oil
Optional: substitute one cup broccoli for one cup cauli, or add some chopped bell pepper as I did in this photo.

Saute until tender: cauliflower and onions in some oil and sprinkle with sea salt/spice mix.

Beat eggs and crumbs in a mixing bowl. Pour contents of skillet into bowl with egg mixture and toss to coat. Let stand a couple minutes and toss again. (I even prodded some of the florets with a fork to let the egg seep in.)

Add more oil to the skillet, then pour egg and cauliflower mixture into skillet. Cook until egg coating is set and browned.
Transfer to a serving dish and toss with a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan.

Thanksgiving Highlights

I haven't been blogging very much lately... and it's not that I don't want to. I think about blogging a lot. I dream about it. Day dream that is. But these days I've really been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Or my wings cut off. And maybe one of my feet cut off too.

Well tonight I'm finally forced to sit down and do something fun-productive because Joe has the car and I'm stuck without any way to get back to work and do A) interviews for a holiday pops story B) write said story C) write tour of homes story D) fix my new column "Girl Eats World" about the cushaw squash E)Gather information for a new photo feature I'm starting Thursday F)edit and layout the wedding announcements G) Call people to set up interviews for the Madrigal Feaste story. There's probably an H) sitting somewhere on my desk, but for now that's all I can remember.

I really don't like December, and it's not even December yet.

OK enough whining. Let's look at some wonderful Thanksgiving highlights:
These are the cushaw squash pancakes I made the night before we left for Cleveland. We ate them in the car on the way there.

Joe and I got to see many of his relatives on our trip and enjoyed many, many home cooked meals. This is a small selection of the desserts we had to gorge on Thanksgiving Day. The cookie is a soft Italian Biscotti... They were lightly iced and had orange zest in the dough. Made by another Italian in Grandma Giammo's apartment building. Must get that recipe! Joe devoured half the tin for first breakfast on Black Friday. Behind the biscotti is tofu pumpkin pie... my mom's recipe made by Joe's mom, just for me (and Jack, who is also lactose intolerant.)
And here's an adorable chickadee, looking more colorful than I remembered them, at the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River nature center-- a place I could probably spend hours sitting in the bent-branch rockers, ogling critters until the sun goes down. Some genius placed several feeders just outside a wall of reflective glass windows. I think it's one of my favorite spots on earth. The day after TG, the Parrino clan braved the cold to take a very short walk in the snow crusted woods and to sit in those rockers. We saw chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, red bellied woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers, mourning doves, junckos and the pudgiest squirrel I've every seen. He didn't bound, he waddled.

Seafood pancake

I've been storing up photos from my cooking class at Akemi's for some time... this is from two weeks ago. Here is a rice flour and egg pancake with Chinese chives grown on Akemi's patio, scallop and shrimp.

Last Tuesday we filled Saya's apartment with smoke after an incident involving a pressure cooker and red beans. I forgot to take my camera, but maybe she'd be happy about that :-)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Last night Brenden and Jennifer took us to DiFabio's in Madisonville. We've been talking about going since maybe last year! It was well worth the wait, and it was a good way to end the "wheat fast." On that night's menu: We ordered bruschetta and the Couchmans ordered mozzarella sticks. Of course we all tried some of each. The bruschetta really had a strong basil taste and the garlicky flavor also came through. The mozzarella sticks were just as they ought to be, with a chunky marinara sauce for dipping. We also had soft breadsticks (which I dunked in the left over bruschetta topping) and a very good family-style salad with house Italian dressing. It had little chickpeas, olives, peperoccinis, tomatoes, onions and croutons. Joe and Brenden both had the toasted ravioli, Jennifer had the manicotti and I had the angel hair with pesto and a big meatball on top. Little Emily Couchman ate a fruit cup and a box of raisins before joining us as we split desserts. Couchmans tried the pumpkin cheese cake, while Joe and I had a canoli with a teeny cup of dessert wine (which I thought tasted like robitussin, but kept sipping anyway). Notice, everything I just mentioned had wheat in it. And most of it had dairy. But I'm still alive to tell about it, so I guess God, through my intestines, had mercy.

DiFabio's also has a very nice atmosphere... red checked table cloths, warmly lit by candles. A cup of crayons to doodle on the butcher paper covering the checked tablecloth. One wall covered in colorful crayon drawings. Friendly staff, and very fast service. (Almost too fast, I felt like I was wolfing everything down! Oh. I guess I was.)

Looking forward to our next trip there. :-)


My first time trying Hananoki in Clarksville, Tenn., was a success. Though this "salad roll" was a little different. Notice there's no rice or seaweed in this roll, which is encased in cucumber coils. The center has imitation crab, shrimp and a very small bit of smoked salmon and some avocado. I didn't realize what I was ordering because I changed my mind at the last minute so Blair and I could get two different things and share. She ordered what I was originally going to get. THe volcano roll was so good that I forgot to take a photo. It was basically california roll with some "crunch" or fried panko bits on the inside. It was the reverse kind of sushi roll... and it had a big mound of imitation crab shreds marinated in a spicy sauce. And it had been torched so the tips of the crab mound were singed. Very tasty.

I also enjoyed their salad... the dressing was mayo free. I might have added a little sugar to it to make it perfect.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Faux rice cake and eggs

I thought Akemi and Saya were going to come over. They thought I was going to come over. No problem, that just meant we got to eat 2 snacks~!
The first course was dessert: We made "rice cakes" or mochi in Japanese (mwa ji in Chinese) out of milk and cornstarch. Note the absence of rice in that simple ingredient list :-) I found out that you can also make the cakes with soy milk. The toppings are some ground soybean flour (tastes like peanuts)mixed with sugar and some sweet red bean soup. The combination was perfect. And it's pretty healthy. Not much fat or added sugar.

To make:
200 ml milk or silk
2 rounded tablespoons cornstarch

Stir these ingredients together in a saucepan on high heat for a few minutes until it begins to thicken (don't stop stirring.) Take off heat and keep stirring. When it forms sort of a creamy pudding texture, stop stirring and let it cool for a few minutes. For toppings:
3 tablespoons soybean powder (buy it at an asian grocery, it's the color of cornmeal) mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar
or drizzle with honey. Not exactly sure how to make the red bean soup, but I think it just involves boiling some red beans in sugar water then letting it cool down.

I made this dessert again Thursday night after eating at Hananoki with KNE gals. Then Joe and I made it again for lunch Friday. We're hooked!

I don't really need to tell you how to make these, do I?
Boil eggs, dunk in ice bath, peel shells, slice eggs in half. Put yolks in a bowl, whites on a plate or tray. Mix yolks with rice vinegar, sugar, salt, oil, mustard and pickle relish to taste. Sorry, I don't measure things. Mixture should be fluffy, so add more liquids like pickle juice or oil to fluff if it still seems cakey. Scoop mixture back into whites and sprinkle paprika and dillweed on tops.

Ugliest dessert ever

Remember our pet cushaw? It had a red sticker with a recipe on it... and after cooking the giant gourd Saturday night, we decided to try it out. The result was an extremely ugly custard that tasted like a lighter and more spiced version of pumpkin pie filling. Joe really liked it. In fact I think he ate most of it while it was still cooling on the stove top.

Recipe for Cushaw Squash:
2 cups cooked squash
1 1/2 cups milk (could have used less)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix everything together. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce to 350 and cook until set. Let it cool before serving. Or don't.

Danny Vowell, I'm still waiting for the recipe

... and for seconds.

For Michele's goodbye dinner at Mary D's last weekend, Danny made peanut butter chocolate banana cream pie... and IT'S DAIRY-FREE! Who knew you could make pudding with water? Not health food, of course, but super-yummy. And, no, I didn't eat the crust.

You might be wondering why this slice has my name on it. Danny brought the leftover pie to work and I wanted to secure a piece before the vultures other new era employees descended upon this decadent dessert.

Hot pots and cold, wheatless nights

Been eating a lot of boiled things in the fondue pot lately. This photo is from last week, but I also had hot pot tonight. I thought I would have been creating a lot of wheat-free baked goods...I have some recipes I created from the first time I went without wheat in Taiwan. But I never got around to buying the flours I needed to do that. So here I am, on the last leg of the no-wheat experiment, without having really experimented much in the kitchen. My sinuses, sadly (or happily) are no different. So Friday night I'm going to pig out of pasta... semolina wheat pasta.

Anyway, back to hot pot. If you want to make one, simply boil some leafy greens (cabbage and romaine are good) and some seafood- tilapia fillets or imitation crab sticks or fish cake from an asian market. Add corn on the cob or cut up sweet potato. Cauliflower, mushrooms and tomato also work well in the mix. I also like tofu, but I've yet to meet a Southerner who will touch this most misunderstood curd. For an addictive dipping sauce, I mix sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and chopped garlic and green onions. But be warned that this will keep your breath stinky for a good 12 hours. So best to eat hot pot at night. Especially cold, wheatless nights.

Still life

These tomatoes have been green for 2 weeks now. They're premature, but saved from the frosts of last week. Will they ever blush? Or will they stay hard, green and stubborn? I am contemplating a green tomato relish. Just have to find the time.


Hi Mom! Here's the mum I was talking about. Not only is it gorgeous, but I also love the way it smells. Reminds me of sugary Chinese chrysanthamum tea.


I know if I ever had any regular visitors, I've probably lost them by now. So sorry for my 2-week absence from blogging. It wasn't intentional. I just have been entirely swamped with my new job and my old job. Tonight is the first night I've decided to just ignore the dishes and the 15 pages of interview notes that need transcribing and just sit down and blog. And boy do I have a lot of things I've been storing up for The Moody Foodie. Take persimmons for example. I bought these lovely little tomato-looking fruits on our Korean grocery shopping trip two weeks ago. This picture is almost as old. If you've never had a persimmon, it's like a cross between a cantaloupe and a peach with the slipperyness of a concord grape. There's no discernable seeds, but you must remove the peel, which is slightly thicker than tomato skin. The cute, cartoon-like leaves also must be cut or pulled off.

The first time I ever ate persimmon was 7 years ago when I lived in California. I was staying with a family who welcomed me into their home and cupboards. One highlight of my visit was a tea party complete with fancy china and homemade scones. But I'm digressing. In the cupboard was a huge ziplock bag of sliced and dehydrated persimmons and figs. My mouth fell in love. I found myself visiting that ziplock bag frequently. I now know how expensive dehydrated persimmons can be and feel bad for plundering their store. Walworth family, if you ever read this, please know that week of recuperation was one of the fonder memories of my year in SoCal.