Cauliflower Steaks

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When I think of steaks, cauliflower does NOT come to mind. But, sometimes you judge something by how it looks, and that was exactly what happened here. I opened my Tasting Table email, saw the photo, and instantly decided that tonight I was having cauliflower steak.

The recipe called for a lot of ingredients, including a fancy pistou, which I now know means a cold olive chutney or sauce. Surprisingly I had everything in my pantry and figured it would be worth all the effort. And, it KIND OF was. The dish was as pretty as the original photo in that tempting email, and it tasted great, but it took a really, really long time to cook. First you bake, then you saute, and finally you eat, almost an hour and half later. By that time, you are really hungry and grumpy. I don't mind waiting an hour and half to eat, but not for cauliflower steak!

So if you have lots of time, or are vegetarian and can't enjoy a real steak, this is a great recipe, full of flavor. But, as someone who can enjoy a juicy rib eye, I think next time, I'll skip all the oven stuff and throw these pretend steaks into my cast iron to cook up in 20 minutes.
Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Pistou

1 head cauliflower, leaves and root end trimmed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Olive Pistou
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 oranges--peeled, segmented and coarsely chopped
¼ cup green olives (such as Manzanilla or Picholine), pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
pickled onions (my addition)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Set the cauliflower on a cutting board and slice in half vertically. Cut off any florets that do not connect to the cauliflower’s core, creating two “steaks” that are 1½ to 2 inches thick.
2. In a 9-by-11-inch baking dish, stir together the vegetable broth, wine, ¼ cup olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic, bay leaf and salt. Add the cauliflower steaks and tightly wrap the pan in foil. Roast until the cauliflower is fork-tender, about 45 minutes. (It took me over an hour.)
3. While the cauliflower is roasting, make the olive pistou: In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, lemon juice, oranges, olives, raisins, garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and carefully unfold the aluminum foil to vent some steam. Then remove the foil completely and use a spatula to transfer the cauliflower steaks from the liquid in the pan to a paper-towel-lined plate. Blot the top of the cauliflower dry and set aside.
5. Set a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and once the oil shimmers, add the cauliflower steaks. Cook until golden-brown on both sides, about 6 minutes per side. Serve warm with the olive pistou.


For the Love of Pasta

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There's been a lot of pasta on my mind, and in my belly recently. A few weeks ago, we hosted the in-laws and I made a short rib bolognese. Slow-cooked for hours, then shredded, the rib meat was tender and full of flavor. It probably didn't hurt there was Hungarian bacon in the sauce as well. I love a comforting plate of pasta, and this hit the spot. 
To celebrate seven years of marriage, we headed to Mozza for their pasta tasting menu. We started off with their grilled octopus salad. The most amazing octopus I've ever had. We then made our way through five pasta courses, small courses, and two desserts. It was an incredible meal, paired with delicious wines. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday evening.
Short Rib Bolognese
Serves 4 - 6

1 large boneless short rib
1 large carrot, chopped fine
1 large shallot, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
small chunk of Hungarian bacon, sliced
red wine, 1-2 cups
tomato sauce, 32 oz
tomato paste, 3 tbsp
Dry Italian seasoning mix
Fresh oregano
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 lb pasta, I prefer thicker pastas for this hearty sauce. I used some fancy stuff from a local Italian market.

1) Heat olive oil in dutch oven and cook bacon until crisp. Set aside. The Hungarian bacon isn't too greasy, so I didn't have to drain any greasy, but if using another bacon, you may have to.
2) Season short rib with salt and pepper and brown in the same pot. Set aside.
3) Add more oil, if necessary, and cook vegetables and garlic for 5-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and mix in. Add back the meats, wine and tomato sauce. Season with herbs, salt and pepper, and add in the fresh oregano. Cover and simmer for nearly 3 hours, checking in and flipping the meat every hour. 
4) Remove short rib from sauce, and cook sauce uncovered while the short rib cools. Once cool, shred and add back in. 
5) Warm for a few minutes, remove oregano, and add in your cooked pasta. If needed, add some pasta water to the sauce. Cook together for a few minutes and plate. 

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and fresh parsley or basil.