Last week was a busy one at the cookbook store where I’m lucky enough to work. Spring has an incredible lineup of new cookbook releases and Book Larder is hosting fantastic authors to promote their work. Sara Forte of Sprouted Kitchen stopped by to a packed house to chat about her new book, Bowl + Spoon and something she said struck me. Ashley asked her how she deals with falling into a “food rut”. I imagine a food rut for a food blogger happens a fair amount of time and can be incredibly frustrating, since you kind of need to keep cooking to continue creating the content that is your livelihood. Sara said that when she feels stuck and uninspired, she cooks for others.
You know that book/thing “The Five Love Languages”? It is supposed to tell you the specific way you communicate and receive love best. They are Gifts, Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service. None of those ever felt quite apt for me and also don’t stick me in a category corner. I decided that Food was my love language. Edible art is can cause me to tear up while clapping with glee. That is how I feel the most loved. Creating food for others is how I express to them that they are worthy of being spoiled. Worthy of time being spent recipe hunting, shopping, cooking and cleaning up for them. My inspirational sister-in-law just birthed a child AND became a doctor, all in one week! My initial instinct was to create a week’s worth of meals for them as a way to bolster and congratulate. Unfortunately we live thousands of miles away from each other so that is a bit impossible at the moment.
The post winter/ pre spring season had caused me to fall into a bit of a food rut. Looking through all these incredible cookbooks at work, made me at once antsy to cook, and simultaneously too overwhelmed and (ironically) uninspired. So many dishes were middling, intimidating or their ingredients just weren’t in season yet. Recipe after recipe just created a glaze to fall over my eyes while reading books that had previously incited ooohs! and sparked brain whirrings. Then two things happened that helped yank me out of this stupid attitude of foodish boredom. Sara encouraged me to remember how connecting and communal food is when creating it for others. Also, rhubarb showed up at the farmer’s market. Armed with magenta stalks and a semi-selfless attitude, I invited a couple friends over for dinner. Dinner, rhubarb galette, a hysterical movie and dear friends de-glazed my eyes and brought my attention back to viewing food as an offering of my affection to others.
Pie crust is still a Herculean task in my mind, so I all about the free wheeling nature of a galette, be it savory or sweet.
I followed Food52’s tips of galette creation, and subbed half the AP flour with whole wheat flour because health. You can do the same or keep it all AP. You be you.
Chop up about a 1 to 1.5 lbs of washed rhubarb. Mix in a bowl with a tablespoon or 2 of sugar. I like my rhubarb more tart than sweet. Add a bit of vanilla extract and a bit of ground cardamom. Grate fresh ginger* ( to your liking) to the rhubarb and mix it all together. Add rhubarb mixture it to the chilled, rolled out dough you created with Food52’s help. Fold over the edges, paint on an egg wash and sprinkle a bit of brown sugar to the crust. Bake for 40 minutes or so, checking to be sure it is adequately crispy and bubbly. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and alongside friends.
* I keep my ginger in the freezer which I find makes grating much simpler.
I’m really running out of wintry food ideas. How many more roast vegetables will I be forced to char before delicate pea vines, plush stone fruit and gushingly ripe tomatoes come out to play? Probably as long as it is going to take to get a pair of glasses that actually does its job on my face. (The Grand Warby Parker Incompetence Saga. You don’t want to know.)
You know what I never get sick of charring and also has the power to cheer blurry eyes and downtrodden spirits? Crispy, toasty fried cheese. I don’t really have much more to say other than these served their purpose of comforting me when I needed it. Chocolates, kisses and flowers don’t solve problems, but these Roasted Cauliflower Quesadillas can absolutely assist in calming and abating despondency. Now pair these with a couple episodes of Broad City, and you’ve got a night that will almost make you forget how irate you are at a certain eyeglass company that can’t seem to get anything right.
Turn on your broiler and put a cast iron skillet inside the oven to heat. Chop up a head of cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Also roughly chop a small red onion, a poblano pepper and smash a few garlic cloves. Add these all to a bowl and add a bit of olive oil, 1-2 limes worth of juice and season well with salt, pepper and cumin. Using your hands, mix it all together. Once the cast iron pan is hot, pour the cauliflower mixture in and place under the broiler. Be sure to check and stir it all up every couple of minutes until it all gets a nice char. The garlic will probably be done sooner, so take those cloves out while the rest continues to cook.
Once the cauliflower mixture has the color you want, take it out of the broiler. Shred some extra sharp cheddar cheese. Assemble a large tortilla with the cheese amount you prefer and add a spoonful of the cauliflower mixture, all on one half of the tortilla. Fold over in half. You know how to make a quesadilla. Get a large pan or skillet super hot, coated with just a touch of high heat oil. Once it is hot, place your tortilla on the pan and allow it to get crispy. I suggest really pressing down on the quesadilla as it cooks so the cheese oozes freely and fries gorgeously. Flip to cook evenly on both sides. Repeat until the ingredients run out. Serve with a cool, fresh and zingy salsa and a gin and tonic with extra lime.