Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

We're getting some serious summer here in Seattle. That means it's time to break out the ole' popsicle molds and cool off. I used to love the store-bought popsicles and Otter Pops growing up. The sickly sweet orange and red flavors and even the nonsensical grown-up-gagging flavors like Rockin' Mountain Berry Splash. Come to think of it, I may have had a toothpaste with that name when I was a kid. The commercial probably had a cartoon swirl of Colgate with a toothpaste pompadour and Ray Bans,  riding a toothbrush down bright blue rapids off the side of a cliff while playing a sweet lick on an electric guitar. The kids all watch in awe and then enthusiastically brush their teeth because it's just such a cool thing to do. Man the late 80s were out of control.

Where was I? Oh, right. Popsicles. These popsicles are the best of both worlds: fun, sweet and delicious while being made of actual food you can see and pronounce.

1 1/2 cups hulled and chopped strawberries
2 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 2 stalks)
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup, agave or Bee Free Honee
1 tbsp water
1 tsp lime zest

Add all the ingredients to a medium-sized pot and stir until combined. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You won't need a blender for this. While it's cooking, the mixture will break down very nicely. From this:

To this:

You won't need one, but if you would rather use a blender to smooth everything out, be my guest.

After 20 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and let it stand for about 20 more minutes or until it's close to room temperature.

Set out your popsicle molds and pour the mixture into them, filling them to the top. Freeze them for at least 5 hours, or preferably overnight.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cauliflower Steaks with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

How long has it been since you had steak for dinner? I grew up in steak and barbecue country, but I don't miss it at all. The cauliflower version of steak is superior in every way. Easier to make, tastier and not deadly to any being or the planet. You won't have a coronary if you eat one of these a day, either. Win-win all around.

This dish is super simple to make. Some people I've talked to feel a little intimidated by cauliflower steaks, but there's nothing to fear. As long as you get the thickness of the steak and the cooking time right, they'll turn out perfectly every time.

The sauce is sort of a cheater version of romesco. I didn't have any almonds or pine nuts on hand, so I just skipped that part and used the rest of the cauliflower to make it creamier. Any sauce will do for this, so if you prefer a true romesco sauce, go for it. Chimichurri or pesto would be great, too.


1 1-2lb. head of cauliflower
1 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
1 1/2 cup water
1 red bell pepper, roasted (or 4 segments of jarred roasted red peppers)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Make the steaks: trim the leaves off of the head of cauliflower, stand it up on its stem and slice it right down the middle, making two even halves. Stand one half up, move your knife over about an inch and slice straight down again. Then repeat with the other half. You want to only use the two center-most pieces, as those will give you the biggest steaks. If you're making more than two, you'll need another head of cauliflower. Set the rest of the cauliflower aside.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof skillet or pot. I used a dutch oven, which isn't ideal, but it gets the job done. Drop one steak and sear it on both sides. Remove it to a plate and do the same with the other. Put both steaks back into the pan in a single layer, cover and put it into the oven for 10 minutes.

Make the sauce: Cut up 3 cups of the remaining cauliflower into florets. In a large saucepan, combine the florets, water and non-dairy milk and a little salt and pepper. Turn up the heat and bring it to a boil, then turn it down so it'll simmer. Check in around 8 minutes. It should be fork tender by then.

Strain out the cauliflower, reserving a cup of the liquid. Put both into a blender, along with the roasted red peppers and the garlic.

Turn the blender on high and let it go until it's smooth. You may need to add a little more of the simmering liquid if it's not as smooth as you like. It shouldn't be runny, but it shouldn't be a paste, either.

After 10 minutes has passed, check on  your steaks. They should be fork tender, but not mushy. They need to be able to retain their shape. If they're an inch thick, 10 minutes ought to do it. They'll have a beautiful color to them.

Check the sauce for seasoning, then pour a generous dollop onto a plate. With the back of a spoon, spread it around and top it with a steak (or two). Garnish it with something green (it stands out against the orange sauce) and serve.