Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cauliflower is the New Potato, or Kale, or Something

Consider the cauliflower; a crociferous vegetable grown in cool weather.  Here in California it is available most of the year round.  You can find it on restaurant plates, accompanied by broccoli and carrots, steamed until they are limp, wilted and tasteless.  Cauliflower has erupted in the past year to be the next "it" food, you will find recipes for it from pizza crust, to "planks" that vegans adore roasted in the oven, and now Trader Joes' is selling it riced, so you don't even have to cook it before you use it.
Cauliflower comes in colors, and as you would suspect, the darker the color, the more beneficial it is for you.  White cauliflower contains high levels of vitamin C, A, calcium, folate, and cancer fighting
phytochemicals.  Its brothers and sisters, the purple, green and orange, all contain higher levels of these nutrients.  So bottom line, cauliflower is good for you.  But, how do you make it so that your family will love it.  If they have had that trio of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli residing limply on their plate, you have to work some magic for them to try something else.
Today I decided to try something new; a variation on arancini, the deep fried risotto balls that I love so much, but using cooked cauliflower, and Romanesco instead of the leftover risotto to form the balls.

Romanesco---Love the way this looks

Start by cooking 4 cups cauliflower in boiling salted water until tender.  Drain thoroughly and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Saute 1 finely chopped shallot and 2 garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil until tender.  Cool the mixture, and add to a food processor.
 Process the cauliflower, shallot mixture, 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and 2 egg yolks.  Taste for seasoning, and adjust using salt and pepper. 
Using a portion scoop, form the mixture into balls, and roll in panko or bread crumbs.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Heat 2 to 3 -inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees, and deep fry the balls until golden brown, turning frequently.  Drain on paper towels, and serve warm.

These would make a great snack for Super Sunday.  You can freeze the balls before frying---fry them frozen.  If you would prefer to use less oil, form the mixture into 1/2-inch thick silver dollar pancake size patties, and fry in a bit of oil in a non-stick pan. 

I hope you'll try cauliflower, many people are using cauliflower instead of starches like potatoes, to try and cut down on their carb intake.  I think cauliflower is a terrific vegetable no matter how or when you serve it.  Buon appetito!
cancer-fighting phytochemicals know as glucosinolates - See more at: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Cauliflower_112.php#sthash.u1qVLRLy.dpuf

cruciferous vegetable

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oils,Vinegars and Spirits

Olive oils and Balsamic vinegars

Last week my pal Phillis Carey and I were invited to a tasting at Vom Fass, a new store in Hillcrest, that specializes in oils, vinegars, and spirits---what a great time we had!  Vom Fass is a German company, and their line up of oils, including nut and seed oils, as well as olive oils is impressive, but some of my favorite tastes were the vinegars.  The fruit vinegars were delicious, with a blast of the fruit flavor and a finish of tartness that was exceptionally well balanced. 
Nut and seed oils

The beauty of this kind of store is three fold:  one, you can taste to your hearts' content; two, you choose how much you want to buy and the type bottle you want it in, and three you can come back and refill the bottle when you're done.  I love that!  They even have small recipes cards for the oils and vinegars.
 The other side of the store is reserved for spirits, and some wines.  This pyramid is all spirits, including some barrel aged gin (which we tasted) and whiskeys, as well as Scotch. 
Here the spirits are bottled to be sold

Tequila anyone?
They even have absinthe, and classes on each type of spirit.  We had a great time tasting that morning, and the store itself is a little jewel box.  It's worth the trip to check it out, and while you are in the area, check out Penzey's spices as well. 
Vom Fass is located at 1050 University Avenue Suite 103 in San Diego, there is nothing else like it in San Diego. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Join me in Italy, October 8 to 16th, 2016

This year in response to the many students who have expressed an interest in a culinary tour of Italy, I am partnering with Pro-Travel International and their amazing agent Merlene Lynch for a culinary tour of Central Italy and Rome. 
This is a fully escorted tour, I will join you everyday for our activities, acting as guide, and as interpreter, and our travel agent will be along to help with logistics. 
October 8th travel from US to Rome, arriving on October 9th.   The tour is limited to 16 participants, making it a small, intimate group, giving us flexibility to go to small towns, and have unique experiences.
Upon arrival in Rome, our travel agent will meet you and a private bus will transfer us to Todi, a beautiful, small hill town in Umbria and stay for 5 nights at the Hotel Bramante. Lunch upon arrival and rest time.  Dinner together at the hotel.

Our first full day, we will have a cooking class at the hotel with their renown chef, and lunch.  After a brief rest, we will head to Assisi, the home of St. Francis, the patron saint of Italy for a private tour, and dinner on your own.

Day two we will head to Pienza to a working farm, and watch as pecorino cheese is being made, and then enjoy lunch at the farm.  Pienza is the home of the best Pecorino in Italy.

After lunch a short trip to Montepulciano, and a walk about before returning to Todi and dinner at the Michelin starred restaurant Casa Vissani.  

Day 3 takes us to Citta' di Castello in northern Umbria for a truffle hunt, visit to the truffle museum and then a truffle lunch.  October is truffle season, so we are in for a treat.  We will return to Todi, dinner will be on your own. 

Day 4 we will travel to the capital of Perugia, and participate in a hands on chocolate class at Perugina, directed by their master chocolatier. 

After the class we will head to Spello (my adopted hometown) and have a wine and olive oil tasting and lunch at Enoteca Properzio, one of the top 3 wine bars in Italy, owned by my family, the Angelini's. Wine and olive oils are available for shipment home.

On our return to Todi, we will stop in Deruta for a ceramics demonstration and time to shop for ceramics. Dinner on your own.

Day 5 we will check out of our hotel in Todi and head to Rome.  On our way into Rome we will stop at Eataly, a 4 story food emporium for lunch on your own (there are 18 restaurants in the store) and time to shop for goodies to take home.

We will arrive at our hotel, and in the afternoon be taken to a pizza class.  Dinner will be your very own creation.  

Day 6, after an early breakfast, we will be transferred to the Vatican for a private morning tour of the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. The rest of the day will be at your leisure to explore the eternal city. 

 Day 7, Check out and transfer to the airport. 

Our travel agent will be happy to arrange before and after tour extensions for you. 
Since space is limited, a non-refundable deposit will be required by February 12, 2016.
COST IS FOR THE LAND PORTION ONLY:  Merlene will be happy to arrange airfare.

  • The Per Person, Double Occupancy cost:  3395 Euro  (Equivalent to approximately $3678 in U.S. dollars as of exchange rate on 04JAN2016)
  • Per Person, Single Occupancy cost:  3730 Euro (Equivalent to approximately $4041 in U.S. dollars as of the exchange rate on 04JAN2016)
  • Please note:  The charge to your credit card will be in U.S. dollars to equal the active Euro exchange rate on the date that your payments process. 
  • February12 , 2016:  Deposit deadline for NON-REFUNDABLE Deposit of 1290 Euro (Equivalent to approximately $1398 in U.S. dollars as of the exchange rate on 04JAN2016) 
    Please e-mail me diane@dianephillips.com for more information, and for a booking form.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year

As 2015 came to a close, we didn't celebrate till last night when our friend from Rome, Rick Breco came to have dinner and we had a slumber party.  Rick is one of the founders of Noi Salon in Rome, and I met him several years ago in Rome when my hair was in need of a dramatic makeover.  We've remained Facebook pals, and I go to the Salon every time I'm in Italy--he's the best, but he's also a great friend.  The Phillips family tends to adopt those we love, and he's one of the family.
When I asked him what he'd like for dinner, I gave him two choice, Boeuf Bourguignon, or Cioppino.  He suggested Cioppino for a primi, and the Boeuf as a secondo.  Fortunately, I was the decider and we had the Cioppino, which is a terrific do-ahead meal.  You make the base ahead of time (you can even freeze it) then add the seafood and it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cook all the seafood in the base.
Recipes like this one are great to have up your chef's coat sleeve, so think about it the next time you have a dinner party. It only need lots of sourdough bread to sop up the sauce, and a salad.  I made a limoncello tiramisu for dessert, but it was kind of overkill.  Next time it will be cookies and a dessert wine.

1/3 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped red and yellow bell pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes in heavy puree (I used Cento San Marzanos)
1 1/2 cups white wine (Pinot Grigio, or Sauvignon blanc)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound King crab legs, split, and cut into 3-inch pieces (if they are too big they take up too much room in the pot)
1 pound scallops, cut in half if large
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
20 to 30 Manila clams
1 pound sea bass or halibut filets, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil

In an 8-quart stock pot, heat the oil, add the garlic, onioin, pepper, red pepper, oregano and basil, and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until the onion and pepper are softened.  Add the tomatoes, wine, sugar, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.  At this point you can refrigerate the base for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.  

30 minutes before serving, heat the base, and add the crab, scallops, shrimp, clams and fish.  simmer until the clams open (discard any that don't open) and the shrimp turn pink.  Stir in the parsley and basil, taste for seasoning and adjust using salt or pepper if needed.  Serve in shallow bowls with lots of bread to dunk into the sauce.  
This is a great meal anytime of the year

Make sure to have dish to discard the shells, and water with lemon to wipe sticky fingers

As we begin this new year, I'm so grateful to have a job that I love and students/followers who are so supportive.  Wishing you all the best in 2016. Dr. C. and I are heading back to Rome in April for a month at the American Academy in Rome to study their sustainable food project, something near and dear to my heart.  I cannot wait to begin this next part of my journey, and I'm honored to share with you.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Turnips

At Thanksgiving there are certain dishes that we associate with the holiday, whether it's the cranberry relish your Aunt would bring, the stuffing, the sweet potato casserole or the Poppin' Fresh crescent rolls, we all have that dish we need to have on the table or it wouldn't be Thanksgiving. 
At my mom's house it was mashed turnips, and I have to admit that it really wasn't my favorite food on the table.  Some years she would just mash them, and serve them smothered with copious amounts of butter, or some years (and these weren't my favorites) she'd mix them into the mashed potatoes. 
When I began to make my own Thanksgiving dinners, I would leave out the turnips.  I know they are really good for you, but they didn't belong on my table.  After my mom died, I asked  my brothers if the turnips were on their Thanksgiving table, and they both said, "we don't like turnips."  Then, I got it; the turnips were my mom's favorite dish. 
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I wish you all a joyous day filled with the love of family and friends.  Aloha and Mahalo.