Simple Pleasures.

Simple Pleasures.
Irish soda bread on its way up North with Noah.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

No-Carb Rice? Yes. Well sort of.

Low Carb. Low Calorie. Starch free. Utterly yummy…..RICE. Well, not rice. It's cauli-rice, to be exact. And you're going to love this clever imposter...especially after the holidays, when you're atoning for all of your high-cal, high carb sins.

Yes, it's been a long time since my last post and a long journey it has been in the Rosen/Freundlich household. Just after I wrote about that great marinated London Broil back in May, one of us was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. 

As part of our adjustment to this new fact of family life, we've had to change our diet and our kitchen radically. We're now living on what is called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Similar to Paleo, it does away with all grains and starches, refined sugars, processed foods and more. I'm not exaggerating when I say that SCD makes gluten-free look like a lifestyle of wanton abandon. I've literally had to relearn how to cook, finding alternatives and substitutions for the pastas, whole grains, yummy desserts, lovely sauces, and convenient cheats that were cornerstones of our family eating experience. 

It hasn't been an easy change but the effect it's had on our Crohn's has been darned near miraculous. And funnily, while it has helped our Crohny put on pounds, the rest of us have shed a good bit of weight. No mystery, really, since our traditional dinner trio of protein, veggies, and a starchy side has become protein, veggie, and another veggie. And my cake dome no longer houses the irresistible treats it once did.

While I certainly wouldn't suggest that anyone adopt such a limited diet unless they need to (SCD is meant for those with ulcerative colitis, Crohn's and other inflammatory and digestive disorders), I have discovered some amazingly delicious and healthy dishes that just about anyone will dig. Especially those of you who are trying to cut down on carbs. Case in point: This elegantly simple cauli-rice recipe, which is a staple for SCDers and Paleo people, alike. I serve it alongside roasted meats, as a fluffy bed for curries, and nuzzled up under stir-fries. Give this ingenius recipe a shot--it may not take rice off your shopping list but it will sure give it a run for the money, honey.

Basic Cauli-Rice (from Danielle Walker's amazing Against All Grain cookbook)

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup water

Go unearth the grating attachment for your food processor and put it in place. With the machine running, feed the cauliflower florets into the feeding tube and grate them into "rice" grains. Alternatively, you can grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater. (I haven't tried the latter method, but it sounds like a pain to me.)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the riced cauliflower and continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Add the water, then cover and steam for 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked (but not mushy) and the water has been absorbed.

Voila! CauliRice!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ready, Set....Steak.

Steak, steak, steak, steak, steak, steak, steak. (I'm humming this to the Monty Python "men men men" song, in case you're wondering.) And I'm itching to share this little old recipe with you.

I discovered it this past winter, after picking up a London broil at Fairway under duress. I say "under duress" because, you see, I've never liked London broil. It's got no bone. It's got no discernible marbling. It reminds me of an old leather shoe. But the stuff was on sale for 4.99/lb and my friendly Fairway butcher swore to me that a big old slab would win raves as long as "ya marinate the hell outta the thing."

Not one to pass up a bargain or a challenge (especially from a man wielding a cleaver), I promptly ordered up a slab of said meat and headed home to find the marinade from hell. Who knew I'd hit pay dirt on my very first go. It's from Epicurious and it is divine for these reasons:

1) Most ingredients come straight from the pantry and you can always have them at the ready.

2) The resulting steak is so delicious and flavorful, I'm convinced that this marinade could indeed make an old leather shoe taste good. I started making a 2 1/2 pound steak for this family. I'm now embarrassed to say I've upped it to 3 1/4 pounds for the four of us, and nothing is ever left over.

3) It requires an overnight soak but that overnight soak makes it the ABSOLUTE PERFECT THING to make ahead when you are ditching the family for dinner the next night so you can go out carousing or if you'll be working late. I made this at least once a week over the winter while I was taking my EMT course in Elizabeth. It took exactly 5 minutes to set up and it was a savior. All you or the nearest Neanderthal need do about half an hour before dinner the next night is throw it under the broiler or onto the grill, boil up the leftover marinade and get those mandibles going. I discovered a recipe for Greek lemon potatoes that also marinates in a bag overnight and served it as a side. I might post about that next. If you can't wait, however, you can email me.'s the secret sauce. I throw it together in my food processor but you can just as easily whisk it up in a bowl:

4 large cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsps. balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsps. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes
2/3 cups olive oil

2 1/2 - 3 1/2 pound slab of London Broil

In a bowl or food processor, whisk/blend together marinade ingredients until combined well.

Lightly score the London broil on both sides (see picture if you don't know what that is or how to do it.) Put steak in a large resealable bag and pour marinade over it. Seal bag, pressing out excess air, and set in a shallow dish. Marinate meat, chilled, turning bag once or twice, overnight.

Take meat out of bag. Pour marinade into a small pan and boil well. (The recipe tells you to toss the leftover marinade. I cook it up and serve it on the side, figuring I'm killing off all those bad germs with the heat. If anyone out there knows otherwise and wants to let me know if I'm putting everyone at risk, do tell.) Grill or broil meat, 9 to 10 minutes on each side, or until it registers 135 F to 140 F. on a meat thermometer for medium rare. (or to taste) CUT MEAT VERY THINLY on the diagonal across the grain. Devour.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Baking for Passover? Make These Amazingly Easy, Utterly Yummy Coconut Macaroons

So I was at this bris yesterday (woo hoo!) and a family friend bee-lined across the apartment right before the ceremony, grabbed me by the arm and fretted..."Help! I have to make something for a seder I'm attending and I don't cook. What the heck should I make?" By the color of her face, you'd think she was the one on the chopping block. Luckily, I had an easy answer: Danny's Macaroons.

Now, just in case you are one of those people who confuses meringues and macaroons...or are among those people who hate both of these desserts because you’ve eaten crappy store-bought versions of them at Passover seders...let’s set things straight.

Meringues are essentially whipped egg white and sugar, sometimes with coconut and other stuff, and they can be really gooey and crunchy and amazing (you can find my recipe on this site).  Macaroons are coconut and egg white, but they are more dense and coconut provides almost all of the heft. Very often they are made with almond paste, almond flour, or almond essence—which ain't my thing. Good almond-free macaroons—on the other hand-- are one of my favorite foods on earth. I love love love them, especially with a thin smear of good chocolate across their base.

I tried a bunch of recipes on my search for the perfect rendition of this cookie. I did it the hard way—creating my own egg white and sugar base. And I did it the sleazy easy way, with sweetened, condensed milk. The verdict: Easy aced it. This recipe, from some guy named Danny Cohen, has become such a cult favorite that this guy actually calls himself Danny Macaroon and now makes a mint selling his cookies by mail order. Save your pocket change and make them yourself. They really are stupid easy and ridiculously delicious.

One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
One 14-ounce can sweetened-condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
4-8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted in a double boiler or in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (if you are just smearing the bottom, you need less. If you plan to drizzle--which is no necessity--melt more.)

1.     Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. (I tend to beat these whites a little more than I do for most recipes. The stiffness helps keep the cookies from spreading too much. Just don't go crazy. You don't want them to be dry.) Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.

2.     Scoop tablespoon-size mounds (I make mine a little bigger, using a smallish cookie/ice cream scoop) onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 20-22 minutes, until just golden; shift sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. WATCH THESE CAREFULLY AND START CHECKING BOTTOMS OF THE COOKIES AT ABOUT 18 MINUTES. THEY ARE HIGH IN SUGAR AND THUS BURN IN A BLINK! Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely.

3.   Use an icing spatula or any kind of flat blade to smear the bottoms of the macaroons with the melted chocolate, sort of pulling off the extra and letting it fall back into the bowl. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. You can just smack the macaroons chocolate-side down on the parchment….they will peel right off later. If you plan to drizzle, the neatest way to do it is with a pastry bag. But I know that's probably too much for most people, especially declared non-cooks like that family friend of ours. You can just take a spoon and drizzle the stuff onto the tops or skip the drizzle all together. There's plenty of chocolate on the bottom of the cookie to keep you happy. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes (or longer is fine) until the macaroons are set. Return to room temp before serving. Macaroons can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Totally Bitchin' Brussels Sprouts

I'll put it right out there: THESE BRUSSELS SPROUTS ARE BETTER THAN SEX. And my love life is just peachy, thanks. So that should give you a good idea of how freaking wonderful this recipe is.

I didn't merely stumble upon this Holy Grail of sprouts preparation. My brussels sprouts odyssey spanned years. All because I simply refused to accept the fact that I, a person who adores cabbage and its many cruciferous cousins, just didn't like the little orbs. They looked so cute in their cardboard tubs at the supermarket. I knew they were nice and healthy. They looked just like tiny green cabbages, the larger version of which I adore. But the few times I'd made brussels sprouts or ordered them out, the tastebuds take-home was blecchh. Bitter and mushy.

Not one to surrender to a vegetable, I started recipe hunting and menu scouring in earnest about two years ago. This just so happened to be around the time that the foody world in general launched into its love affair with brussels sprouts. Suddenly, there were tons of recipes out there (still are) and sprouts were showing up on every chichi menu in town. Paul, the boys, and I discovered the insane, butter-bathed beauties served at Alta in the Village. Friends raved about favorite recipes that were flavored with pancetta or bacon. But let's be honest: You can put pancetta on a Scrunge and it will taste good. As far as I'm concerned, pork products on vegetables is cheating. And drowning them in butter or deep frying them, to some extent, is a bit shady, too.

Pancetta aside, I did begin to make some headway on the home front. I began roasting my sprouts with Seasonello and olive oil until they were nutty brown. I tossed in a little grainy mustard for a change of pace. Over time, brussels sprouts began appearing on my kitchen rotation about once every two weeks--partially thanks to the huge bins of them  beckoning to me at Fairway.

It was a Wednesday, right after New Years that I finally hit pay dirt. I was checking out,  and came upon (I get chills just thinking about it) the golden recipe for Momofuku's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette. I made it that night with a 1 1/2 pounds of Brussels sprouts and we quickly devoured them. The fact that Noah and Ben --two teenage boys and tepid vegetable likers at that--nearly came to blows over the last three orbs should give you an idea of how good they were. I made them again three days later, again soon after that, and have had to restrain myself from making them every freaking night since I first tasted these babies. The final proof that this is a great recipe: I served 5 POUNDS of these brussels sprouts to a dinner consisting of 6 innocent adults the other night and only three measly sprouts remained at the end of the meal. (I snarfed them down while mopping off the counter.) That's nearly a pound of brussels sprouts per person. Amazing,.... but not something I'd necessarily recommend unless you want to sleep in separate bedrooms for the night. I need not go into the details as to why.
Oh, and just in case you're sitting here saying, "Ew, fish sauce!" Calm down. Fish sauce doesn't taste fishy. It's in just about every Thai or Vietnamese dish you eat. It's the Asian equivalent of anchovies. And Italians put those BEEPs in everything. I do, too, and my kids haven't a clue. We're talking umami here. Not fishy. So just go for it. You can get fish sauce at any Asian market--ask the store clerk to suggest a good brand. You don't want to go with cheap, artificially flavored stuff. One more thing: On a few occasions, I've had leftover vinaigrette and Brussels sprouts on hand, but no mint or cilantro. Made them anyway, without the fancy herbs. Not quite as great, but totally bitchin' anyway.

So here's the recipe, slightly adapted. And now that I'm at the end of this column and hope I've sold you, I'll just say. Well. They're almost as good as sex.

Here goes:

2 Tablespoons very thinly sliced cilantro stems (or to taste)
3 Tablespoons chopped mint (or to taste)
Neutral oil, like grapeseed, canola, or vegetable (not olive)
2-3 pounds brussels sprouts (smaller are better) (you will have more vinaigrette than you need, so feel free to buy more sprouts. Just remember what I told you about side effects)

For vinaigrette:
1/2 cup fish sauce (adjust to taste - some brands are saltier than others)
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup sugar
1 garlic clove
1-3 bird's eye chilis (I use a couple of drops of hot chili oil instead. I'm sure you can use red pepper flakes or skip all together.)

For vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a jar. Taste. If too salty, add more water and/or lime juice. This recipe will make more vinaigrette than you need. It will keep for a week or more in the fridge.

For the Brussels Sprouts: 
Preheat oven to 400. Trim sprouts and slice in half, from top to bottom, so you are cutting through the stem end.  Throw onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with enough neutral oil to coat (about 1 Tbsp. per pound) Arrange sprouts so they are all nestled cozily, cut face down. Roast in oven, checking for browning ever 10-15 minutes, tossing them around gently once or twice with a spatula only after they start to brown nicely. The sprouts are ready when they are tender but not soft, with a nice, dark brown color in various places. When ready to serve, transfer sprouts to a serving bowl (or just leave them on the baking sheet if you're lazy like me.) Pour on a generous amount of dressing (I never use all of it on one recipe unless I'm making, um, a ton). Throw on the chopped mint and cilantro. Toss gently one or two times to coat. Eat hot or at room temp.  Send me a thank you email after you're done doing the dishes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The 2013 Cookbook is Ready!

Happy New Year! Hope y'all spent the evening and day  in some way that made you smile. I put the finishing touches on this year's edition of my cookbook this morning and I'm all set to send it out into the cybersphere. Want your copy? Just shoot me an email at and I'll get right back to you with an attachment and printing instructions.

Best to You....