mediterranean meatballs + cauliflower tabbouleh

IMG_9182IMG1231
Ever have one of those weeks when nothing feels right? When getting out of bed is a Herculean effort? That, coupled with some frustrating emails in my inbox, made for a meh start to my week. And while I have some ideas for my new creative project, I’m feeling stuck. Perhaps it’s the Monday blues because I’m hoping that things will turn around as the week progresses. Luckily, I have leftovers of yesterday’s yummy meatball + cauliflower tabbouleh to come home to tonight.

Send love and orange kittens.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Hemsley & Hemsley’s The Art of Eating Well
For the meatballs
1 pound of ground lamb or beef (I opted for beef sirloin, 85% lean)
1 egg
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
1 and a ¼ tsp of sea salt
½ tsp of pepper
¼ tsp of ground cumin
¼ tsp of ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp of ghee or olive oil for frying
Optional: 1 pinch of ground chilli or a little fresh chilli

For the tabbouleh
2 medium heads of cauliflower, roughly grated by hand or use a food processor (choose the medium teeth on your grater)
1 tbsp. of ghee, olive oil or butter
1 medium red onion or 1 bunch of spring onions finely chopped (I decided to nix this)
4 large tomatoes, diced (I nixed this)
3 large handfuls of parsley, finely chopped
1 large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon (I used lime instead)
4-5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Toppings: Scatter over chopped radishes, nuts or seeds (such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)

DIRECTIONS
Steam your grated cauliflower in a saucepan (lid on) with a couple of tablespoons of water and your ghee or butter. On a medium heat, it should take roughly 3 minutes for the cauliflower to cook (not too soft!), but check there is enough water at the bottom of the pan so that the cauliflower doesn’t burn.

Drain any excess water and tip your steamed cauliflower into a large serving bowl

While your cauliflower is cooling, chop all your tabbouleh ingredients and then combine everything together. Taste for seasoning.

In a big bowl, combine all your meatball ingredients and mix well. Be careful not to overmix, you just want all the seasonings to come together.

In a wide saucepan, add a little ghee, olive oil or butter and fry a small piece of the mixture to check for seasoning. Adjust the remaining mixture as necessary.

Wet your hands and shape the mixture into balls. We used roughly 1.5 teaspoons of mixture per meatball but make them any size you like – the larger they are, the longer they’ll take to cook.

Heat up a little more ghee, olive oil or butter, and, over a medium-high heat, fry the meatballs in a few batches until lightly browned on all sides and cooked through – this should take about 6-7 minutes. (You can always brown the meatballs in advance and finish them off in the oven later if you’re having people round).

Serve your hot meatballs with the tabbouleh. If there are any leftovers, eat cold the next day with some homemade hummus.

IMG_9183IMG1231

the cauliflower bonzana: creamy soup + coconut rice

IMG_7427IMG1231
You may have noticed that I’ve gotten a little cauliflower crazy around these parts. When gluten and dairy have been violently excised from your diet, one has to find alternatives. You should know that I lived a cauliflower-free life for the greater part of 37 years. It resembled a bleached-bone plant, and somehow I’d always associate the cruciferous vegetable with my mortal enemy, THE MUSHROOM.

KNOW NOW THAT I WILL NEVER CONSUME THE MUSHROOM. EVER.

But I digress. Lately, I’ve found a host of recipes that make inventive use of this veg, so much so that I uttered the phrase, You know you’re an addict when… after I found myself consuming cauliflower twice in one day.

For lunch, I hoovered this super-simple creamy soup. Don’t skimp on roasted cauliflower because it becomes tender and sweet, and melts beautifully when blitzed with coconut milk. My soup reminded me of mashed potatoes, but I’ll take it. Especially if I’m pairing it with homemade chicken tenders, which I dredged in almond meal and coconut flour. (SWOON!)

For dinner, I ran back with open arms to my beloved veggie burgers and paired them with blackened cauliflower rice, which is a fancy way of saying I burned the rice while answering emails. And naturally I played the part of a five-year-old, mashing up her veg burger and mixing it with the rice and getting all giddy and the like.

However, what’s on my mind, aside from the itch that has slightly abated, is the fact that I’ll be in SPAIN in less than a week! If you’ve been to Barcelona, Granada and Seville, please send all your tips.

On to the recipes!

IMG_7415IMG1231

INGREDIENTS: Creamy Cauliflower Soup Recipe from The Paleo Kitchen, modified slightly
1 large head of cauliflower (2 1/4 lbs) cut into florets
1/4 cup melted coconut oil, divided
1/4 tsp of coarse salt, plus more for taste
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 can full-fat coconut milk
freshly-ground black pepper, for taste
1/4 halved pecans + 1 tsp olive oil, for garnish

Note: I halved this recipe, since I only had a pound of cauliflower, and it worked beautifully!

DIRECTIONS
Pre-heat the oven to 450F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Add the cauliflower to a large bowl, drizzle with two tablespoons of coconut oil, and sprinkle in salt. Toss to coat. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, or until tender and brown, stirring once after the 25-minute mark.

Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onion + garlic and saute for five minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the cauliflower, broth, and water, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste. Blitz to smooth using an immersion blender or a standard blender. Serve in soup bowls with garnish + if you’re up for it, some chicken tenders (dredged in coconut flour + almond meal, flash-fried in a plan for color and finished off in the oven).

IMG_7422IMG1231
IMG_7419IMG1231

INGREDIENTS: Cauliflower Rice Recipe from The Paleo Kitchen
1 large head of cauliflower (2 1/4 lbs) cut into florets
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup vegetable broth
Coarse sea salt + black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
Since I’ve no idea how to use the shredding attachment on my food processor, I used a box grater to mince the florets into rice-sized pieces. It took forever. Note to self: learn how to use the attachments for the food processor.

Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower rice to the pan and stir for 10 seconds, then add the broth and stir until combined. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix well, uncovered, for 5 more minutes, stirring every minute or so to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.

When done, serve with my FAVORITE VEGGIE BURGERS.

IMG_7430IMG1231

roasted cauliflower with parsley, currants, + tahini dressing

IMG_7161IMG1231

I should consider renaming this space, love, life, cauliflower considering how many cauliflower recipes I’ve found in the past few weeks. Perhaps I should have been shoveling this last night instead of writhing in pain from a small plate of pasta. I woke this morning plagued with hives, a rash, I don’t know what, but I did the one thing one should never do: read the internet. As you know, the internet gives you all kinds of crazy ideas, and naturally I jumped to the conclusion that I have celiac. After I emailed my nutritionist (and several friends) in a panic, Dana responded that I need to: stop reading the internet, I need to stop eating gluten, and I need to breathe it out until I get my bloodwork back from the lab.

So there’s that.

Putting the whole gluten/rash/hysteria thing aside, I’m feeling golden. I love that word, golden. It reminds me of college and boys in baseball hats, and over late night beers and greasy plates of pasta and Sicilian slices, my guy friends calling me Sulli, everyone talking about feeling good, living life, feeling golden. There was a time when we were so excited about what lie ahead. There was so much possibility–we were giddy over it.

Next week I’m spending a few days upstate at my agent’s summer home, line-editing my novel, eating on his porch, and kayaking in the morning. A solid manuscript, friends who are rocking out in every way they can, and great opportunities coming my way–life is golden.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Vibrant Food (you need to own this cookbook!)
1 large cauliflower (about 3 pounds), trimmed and cut into florets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
1/4 cup currants (I used dried cherries, as that’s what I had on hand)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped kalamata olives (I nixed this as I didn’t have olives on hand)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the tahini dressing
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt to taste. Arrange the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once, until the edges are brown and caramelized.

While the cauliflower roasts, make the dressing. Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt until smooth and creamy. Add the water and whisk until combined. The sauce will be thick. Add more water to thin it slightly if you like. It will continue to thicken as it sits.

Toss the warm cauliflower with most of the dressing. Add the currants, olives, and parsley and toss to combine. Taste and add more dressing or salt, if desired.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

IMG_7157IMG1231

this cauliflower tabbouleh is the business

IMG_7067IMG1231
Let me make one thing clear: juice cleanses are ridiculous. They’re a socially-acceptable means of starvation. I have to laugh when I hear people talk about how cleanses “clean out your toxins,” to which I respond, you have organs for that. Against the very clear scientific evidence, marketers prevail, and the juice business is all in for cash money millions. Instead of downing gallons of pricey, sugary juices (have you read the labels on your favorite juices, because you might as well have a cookie), why not reframe your “reset” to eat virtuously. Instead of living on liquid, load up on veg, lean proteins and fish. Instead of replacing your meals with a juice, why not have one as a snack? Or, in my case, a side salad for the days where I can’t bear to chop up vegetables.

But I digress.

Based on the above rant, I was initially dismissive of Juice: Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing & Living Well, however, after poring over the recipes, I found an extraordinary amount of smoothies, juices, soups, and veg-based meals that are low on sugar and high on nutrition. So I set aside the whole juicing philosophy in favor of a pile of recipes that are both virtuous and satisfying. Case in point: this cauliflower tabbouleh.

Cauliflower was a prime candidate for the Never Again Tour 2014. It smells funny, it vaguely reminds me of a mushroom (and you know how I feel about the VILE, WRETCHED MUSHROOM. DIE MUSHROOM, DIE!), and the idea of eating it raw gives me vertigo. However, I’ve started to amass quite a few recipes that have transformed my fear of this cruciferous veg into something delicious. I love this tabbouleh. I’ve finally survived my gluten withdrawal, and I love how the shredded flash-boiled cauliflower takes on the texture of rice. Paired with fresh herbs and ground seasoning, this side dish is complete magic.

Almost as good as gluten, guys. ALMOST.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Juice: Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing & Living Well
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups diced celery, about 5 stalks
Seeds from 1 large pomegranate, about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup finely diced red onion or shallot (you can soak it in ice water for 15 minutes to take the raw edge off)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I also added the grated lemon zest because lemon)
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Place the cauliflower in a large pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Add the salt. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until crisp tender. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the cauliflower in the ice water to stop the cooking.

Drain the cauliflower and transfer to a clean kitchen towel to dry a little.

Using a box grater, grate the cauliflower. It will look like barley or rice. Transfer the grated cauliflower to a serving bowl.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Taste for seasonings, especially if you allow this to sit. You may need an extra pinch of salt.

IMG_7069IMG1231
IMG_7065IMG1231

roasted veggie salad

IMG_6879IMG1231

When you come home from work and you are absolutely DONE with chicken, I’ve found that this roasted vegetable salad is saving me from the road to ruin. I’ve written about this salad before, however, I’ve since added a kit + kaboodle of veggies to the mix. My recent remixes include: kale (curly kale is best), brussels sprouts, violet + orange cauliflower, sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) to the mix. Any veggie worth roasting deserves to be in this dish. Last night I came home and threw all the goods in the pan, making sure I struck a balance between cruciferous + colored greens. And believe me when I say that nothing compares to a hot bowl of charred veg slathered in a faux-cream sauce while watching old episodes of Gossip Girl.

Though I still miss my beloved SCONE. I need to keep that real.

IMG_6978IMG1231

brunch for two: lemon chicken + roasted veg salad

IMG_6704IMG1231
IMG_6722IMG1231
IMG_6706IMG1231

LEMON CHICKEN INGREDIENTS: 2 large {or 4 small} chicken cutlets pounded to 1/2 inch thick | 1 cup whole wheat flour | 1 tsp cracked black pepper +1 tsp sea salt| Zest + juice of one lemon | 1 lemon sliced thin | 2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil |

LEMON CHICKEN DIRECTIONS: Mix the salt, pepper, lemon zest, and flour in a large bowl | Dredge the cutlets so both sides are covered | In a large pan melt the butter + olive oil | Add the chicken and lemon juice | Fry for 3-5 minutes per side | Remove the chicken from the pan, and add them to a bed of your roasted veggie salad {I added 2 cups of kale + an additional tbsp of oil to the original recipe} and add the sliced lemon, and fry for a minute on each side until the slices are golden brown | Add the slices and remaining juices to your culets | Serve pipping hot!

love.life.eat of the week

collage451

love.: It’s no secret that I’m mad for the color blue. In blue we believe, in blue we trust. When I organized my closet this year I was shocked to find that nearly every item I owned was in some shade of this magnificent hue. So it’s no surprise that my covets this week (as I’m on a deep shopping hiatus) are beautifully blue. From Erikson Beamon’s Duchess Earrings, which are rather grand and made for royalty (too bad my ears aren’t pierced) to Shop Terrain’s Textured Burlap Tray (imagine biscuits piled high!) to this rustic soapstone Cheese Slate Board, to this darling homemade Natural Linen Napkin set I discovered on Etsy (not blue, but certainly in the dreamy aquatic territory), part of me can mentally transport myself to the sleepy shores of Biarritz even while I’m bundled up for a New York winter.

Artists + bloggers I’m loving right. this. moment.: Not*Otherwise (she preaches the truth), Nicole Franzen (her photographs are transformative) and Elephantine (her prose is quite lovely).

life.: I promise you (and myself) that this is the year where I will break ranks. And although that sounds cryptic, intentionally so, I’ve been surprised by just how much I love my French classes at the French Institute Alliance Française. Every Saturday, myself and 12 other hopefuls watch movies, play games and learn how to think in a new language. For those three hours I joke with new friends, get dramatic with vowel pronunciations, while proclaiming, Oh, we’re so French, while we’re clearly not. But for that small pocket of time I can immerse in a world that is so far removed from the one I knew and closer to the one I will inevitably know. And I also have access to the FIFA library, cultural programs and a whole new suite of possibilities, gratis! In grade school I switched out of French class because it was all too complicated, it wasn’t the language we spoke in the streets, and I’m glad to have returned to new ways to think of words. Change doesn’t happen until you leap out of your comfort zone, so here’s me, reaching for sky.

eat.: This week I’m craving a mix of the very virtuous and the very naughty. Last night I read a feature of the designer Kelly Wearstler in Bon Appetit magazine, and I was shocked that my favorite mag would publish a piece about a woman who basically starves herself during the day and has one meal at night. PSA, PEOPLE: JUICING IS SOCIALLY-ACCEPTABLE STARVATION, AND IT’S NOT OKAY. It’s okay to eat, folks — everything in moderation. So if you’re feeling the need to feast on kale check out this yummy Crunchy Kale Salad made with nuts, avocado and tahini. Surprise your taste buds with the melange of flavor in this protein-packed Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Harissa recipe. And find morning comfort in this Barley Porridge with Maple-Glazed Almonds and Blood Orange.

Or perhaps you want to indulge in flights of almond fancy with this etherial Almond Bread Pudding or these Salted Caramel Banoffee Éclairs, or these Lemon Seed Poppy Rolls by one of my favorite foodies.

french