Thursday, April 9, 2009

Scallion Cakes

I opened my produce box last week and to my horror, I found a humongous bunch of scallions. Yucky yuck yuck. Ok - they weren't ugly or anything - quite beautiful actually, with pretty shades of purple, white and green.

But if you know me, you know I hate scallions. When I was little, I'd pick them out of my fried rice, spoon it out of bowls of congee, and spit it out after taking a sip of miso soup. I gagged when I ate them. To this day, I pick them out whenever I can. When I tell people this little fact about me, they think I'm crazy because I like to eat pretty much everything. This next little tidbit is probably even more odd. Despite my hatred for scallions - there are only 2 ways I eat them. In both ways - they are used as the MAIN ingredient and can possibly be 2 of my favorite foods. Weird, right? I know. One of them is ginger scallion sauce, which I love to mix with white rice and gobble up, and the other is scallion cake. Hot, flaky, chewy and salty little pastries that have an incredible green onion flavor that I happen to love.


Ingredients:

2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup room temperature water
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

4 scallions chopped into little pieces
A little bowl of salt - course preferred
A little bowl of corn oil

In separate bowls, mix together 1 Cup of flour with the boiling water, and the remaining cup of flour with room temperature water. Once each mixture is mixed well, combine the 2 together and knead until it's fully combined. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest for one hour. In the meantime, chop up the scallions.


Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a a time, roll the dough into a circle that's about 1/8 inch thick. Using a brush, generously brush the dough with oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt evenly over the dough, then sprinkle with chopped green onions. See picture for amount of green onions. (I know, I'd NEVER put that amount of scallions straight into my mouth). Roll up the dough length wise into a log. Then roll the log into a circle. Once a circle is formed, press it down flat. Some onions will ooze out, but that's OK. Repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough.

Once all the cakes are formed, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook the cakes for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower and Artichoke Heart Soup

I think cauliflower is totally under-rated. It doesn't get the praise that other vegetables get because it's not brightly colored, or super flavorful, or filled with uber amounts of vitamins and antioxidants. It's a plain white lumpy thing (although they do come in different shapes and colors...but that's another post...) whose flavor is slightly sweet and mild. Little does one know that it's a good source of fiber and is high in Vitamin C. My mom always said that if you eat things that look like a brain - you'll be smarter. I believe it. Walnuts, pecans, cauliflower....etc. Moms are always right.


That being said, when I found a humongous head of cauliflower in my box last week, I pondered over the many options of cauliflower dishes I could make to make me smarter. I tasted some cauliflower soup at Town Hall restaurant a couple months back, so I decided I'd make my own. I had some frozen artichokes I bought on a whim when I was starving and grabbing everything off the shelves that looked good - so why not throw some in the soup too! The result was a creamy and savory soup that had an everlasting flavor of that wonderful artichoke sweetness. I think roasting the cauliflower and artichoke hearts were key - it added a level of richness that I don't think would have existed if I had just boiled vegetables in the chicken broth.

Ingredients:
1 Large head of cauliflower - cut into little flowerettes
2 Cups of frozen artichoke hearts
3 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer)
1 cup whole milk

1/2 Tbs thyme leaves
1 tsp lemon zest
Salt & Pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower and artichoke hearts in a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Spread it on the baking sheet in one layer and bake for 25-30 minutes until it cauliflower starts to brown. Remove from oven and set aside.



In a big pot under medium low heat, cook the onions and garlic until soft. Throw in the roasted cauliflower and artichoke stir. Pour in chicken broth and stir. Turn the heat to high and bring to boil. Once boiling, bring the heat back to medium low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Add in thyme leaves and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and puree the soup. (Using an immersion blender or ladle into a blender). Stir in milk and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.