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On my recent trip, I managed to get in a lot of reading on my Kindle. On airplanes, waiting for airplanes, waiting for the bus to load, waiting in lobbies for everybody to show up to leave, and at night when I couldn’t sleep. A fun book was Mr. Mac and Me, by Esther Freud. It takes place in England in 1914. In a time and place where a 13-year old boy has a lot of freedom. Although the war is looming, this little village is relatively quiet and safe, as life used to be. Boys will be boys, and he enjoys sort-of spying on people, especially people he doesn’t know well. He imagines that a man who arrives in town to rent a house with his paints and easels, might be a spy. Thus begins a story that starts from that premise, but eventually takes you into a very special friendship that develops between the man, Mr. Mac, his wife, and this boy. The story is absolutely charming. War brings some brutal truths for everyone in the village, yet this friendship flourishes. Great book.

Occasionally I’ll latch onto a book about food or restaurants. This one, The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal, is a romance (not a sticky sweet one) about a youngish woman (and her dog) who take a big leap to Colorado when she’s offered a job as a chef. The restaurant is fraught with some issues, but the author weaves in a romance, her skills as a leader in the kitchen, throws in some recipes (that I have yet to extract from my Kindle pages, that I want to try) along with it, and you have a book that held my interest all the way through. Formulaic, I suppose, but it’s a cute story. Books about restaurants always divulge some new tangle of how a kitchen runs. I enjoyed the read.

If you haven’t already read it, you are missing a really good and insightful book, Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly. I was riveted from page one, all the way through to the end. O’Reilly has a very engaging way of re-telling history and making it ever-so readable and interesting. He weaves people’s stories, ones  you likely haven’t read or heard, into his narrative, to give you such a sense of place. You can just feel how these soldiers, pilots, prisoners and seamen made their mark, but likely all unsung heroes. It’s a must-read, it really is.

Having read some of Kent Haruf’s other books, I read Our Souls at Night. A lonely widow decides to invite a neighbor man, also a lonely widower, if he’d like to come to her home, at night, to spend the night. I simply can’t tell you anything else because it would give away the story. This isn’t a story about s-x, but about two lonely people who come together for friendship and companionship. It’s very sweet, not twee, but sweet. You really feel for both of these older people. Read it.

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on January 17th, 2017.

mushroom_cauliflower_risotto

Brown food doesn’t always look all that great in photos. But what it might lack in picture worthiness, is more than made up for in flavor. And low calories. And low fat. And nearly zero in carbs. There is no RICE in this dish, just so you know.

Cauliflower “rice” is sold at Costco, and at Trader Joe’s. Perhaps at other food purveyors as well. Trader Joe’s has both cauliflower and broccoli (more stems than green part) that’s been “riced.” That’s not what one usually means by riced, as in using a RICER with a cooked potato – no, this is the fresh, raw vegetable chopped up finely in a food processor so it has somewhat a similar shape as a kernel of rice. You can do it yourself with your own food processor. I’ve not tried it, but you could try using the grater with cauliflower too.

This dish was prepared at a cooking class I attended last month – a great class of French food, and this was served alongside a delicious beef tenderloin. Since then I’ve made it myself as well, and it was every bit as good. Using the word risotto, of course, connotes rice and a creamy consistency. I won’t tell you that it tastes just like risotto, but if you don’t think about it, you can conjure up the toothsome-ness of rice and slightly creamy texture. The success of the dish is all about the mushrooms, actually, and probably the jot of soy sauce added in for umami flavor. You absolutely do NOT taste cauliflower. I can guarantee it!

I’ve mentioned it here before, that one evening several years ago I served mashed cauliflower as “mashed potatoes” and fooled a friend, Lynn, about it. I didn’t know he detested cauliflower – I just thought it was so fun to mimic mashed potatoes, so I didn’t tell anyone it was cauliflower. Lynn lapped it up and liked it. Ever since, when he and Sue visit me, Lynn is wary of what I’m going to serve him. If he knew this was cauliflower he probably wouldn’t eat it, but if I didn’t say anything, I’m sure he’d wolf it down like everybody else did!

Shallot, minced up finely, starts the dish. Along with both Crimini mushrooms and Shiitake types (you need the Shiitake for extra flavor – they’re expensive, but you don’t need all that much of them). Dried thyme and garlic are added, then the cauliflower rice. You add a bit of low-sodium soy sauce, just a tiny bit of heavy cream, and truffle salt (if available). You cook it briefly – about 2 minutes for the Trader Joe’s type, and a bit longer for Costco’s (because theirs is a bit bigger chunks). Parsley is added at the end, and you serve it immediately while it’s still steamy hot. I did make it and had leftovers. When reheated, it wasn’t quite as good, only because the cauliflower was softer with further cooking it.

What’s GOOD: this is a veggie dish that’s loaded with flavor and it’s very satisfying. Add some grated Parm on top if you want to make it extra special. The soy sauce is almost indistinguishable, but it adds good umami flavor. I think this dish is spectacular – I’m fooled that it IS rice.

What’s NOT: nothing, really – it’s quick and easy – certainly comes together a whole lot quicker than making real risotto!

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Mushroom Cauliflower “Risotto”

Recipe By: Caroline Cayaumazou, chef, Antoine’s, San Clemente
Serving Size: 6

1 tablespoon EVOO
10 ounces Crimini mushrooms — sliced
3 1/2 ounces shiitake mushroom — sliced (discard stems)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large shallot — sliced
1 large garlic clove — chopped
1 pound cauliflower — in “rice” form (Trader Joe’s or Costco)
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Truffle salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fresh parsley — chopped

1. In a large skillet or 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and shallot. Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute only.
2. Add the cauliflower “rice” and stir well. Add soy sauce, cream, truffle salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook for a minute or two (longer if using Costco’s cauliflower) until the cauliflower is cooked through, but not so long that it becomes mushy. Stir in parsley and serve immediately.
Per Serving: 126 Calories; 5g Fat (29.1% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 7mg Cholesterol; 587mg Sodium.

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  1. hddonna

    said on January 17th, 2017:

    In the past, I haven’t considered cauliflower “rice” worth the bother. I like cauliflower as cauliflower, and I dislike chopping it, even in the food processor–little bits all over the place. This, however, definitely looks worth trying, since I won’t have to do the chopping, I love mushrooms, and I’m always looking for low-carb dishes to round out a meal. And I bet any leftovers would be great with a fried egg on top–a low-carb breakfast as a bonus!

    You’ll be surprised at the taste. Be careful of the soy sauce – if you use too much it’ll have an Asian taste, and that’s not desirable, of course. And don’t overcook it, or the cauliflower takes on a mushy taste. Let me know what you think. I’m not a big fan of cauliflower in much of any form unless it’s got a significant amount of butter or cheese on it. Even cauliflower “steaks” don’t wow me, though I’ve made them and even wrote it up here on my blog. I know it’s good for us, though. . . carolyn t

  2. hddonna

    said on January 18th, 2017:

    First I’ve got to find the riced cauliflower, which might mean waiting until I can get to Trader Joe’s. But I’ll let you know what I think when I get a chance to try it. I do agree that butter and cheese work wonders for cauliflower, but I also enjoy it roasted until there are crispy bits. I tried a whole roasted one once, with a yogurt sauce, and it was a big dud. Did Smitten Kitchen’s Silky Cauliflower Soup a few days ago, and liked it a lot. It was super simple and didn’t call for much fat, and no milk or cream. It just has half a cup of parmesan–the good stuff–which was different. Wouldn’t mind a little more of it, though.

  3. hddonna

    said on January 22nd, 2017:

    We just had this for dinner tonight. I found the riced cauliflower at my usual supermarket, but it was $4 for 10 oz. I was determined to try this, so bought the cauliflower, but I wasn’t about to get two. I happened to have part of a head of cauliflower in the fridge, so I did what I said I didn’t want to do and whizzed it up in the food processor to make up the amount called for. Turns out there’s nothing to it–it wasn’t messy and took practically no time at all, and you could not tell the difference between that from the supermarket and the stuff I did myself. I was surprised at just how good it was. I thought it would need parmesan, but it didn’t. Mine was a bit too salty, even though I used light soy sauce–maybe mine’s saltier than yours. I could definitely taste soy sauce, too, but that was OK with me. Next time I’ll hold back some until I taste it for salt, though. And there will be a next time! Thanks for the recipe–without you, I would not likely have gotten around to trying riced cauliflower.

    I’m glad you liked it, Donna. I found it too salty also, and I used low-sodium soy sauce. And I agree about thinking it needed Parm, but it didn’t. Maybe it needs less soy sauce altogether. I can’t imagine making it with the full 3 or 4 T the chef recommended. And yet when I had it at the class, I didn’t notice the saltiness, though she also used a low-sodium soy sauce. I suppose every brand IS different. . . Carolyn T

  4. hddonna

    said on January 23rd, 2017:

    I did put in the full four tablespoons of soy sauce. Had you meant to reduce the amount in the version of the recipe you posted?

    No, I think I mentioned in my first comment here to be “careful” about the soy sauce, but I didn’t clarify that that meant maybe not to use as much. When I made it, my cousin was visiting and he eats GF. There is gluten in soy sauce, so he asked me to use less, so I used a bit more than ONE tablespoon, and thought it was plenty. I haven’t revised the recipe, since it was the chef’s “original” recipe. Next time you make it, you might use half that (2 T) and see what you think! . . . carolyn t

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