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I am most certainly not taking any credit for this laughingly simple technique that impresses both in flavor, texture, and looks. My version coats a whole head of cauliflower in canola oil, and seasons it with smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until crispy and dark brown on the outside, and tender inside. Serve a wedge over a smooth squash puree* (in this instance, kabocha) and garnish with a bright, fresh gremolata.

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*I went all indulgent with butter and cream, but feel free to omit for a vegan version.

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In addition to packing beef jerky for our backwoods vacation on the lake, I went on a mini baking spree. Oatmeal bars made an appearance, only with dried fruit in lieu of chocolate (a better choice for this recipe). Spiced banana bread also found its way with us, but that’s for a future post. I also used this recipe from Gourmet magazine to make whole wheat berry muffins, mostly as a way to use up the miscellaneous berries that were expiring in the refrigerator.

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I made minimal changes: assortment of berries instead of only blueberries, slightly less sugar than called for, and omission of sugar topping. Recipe:

1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar (I used slightly less, and I think you could even cut it in half for something even more breakfast-friendly and healthy)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk (next time I will substitute with lower-fat milk or milk substitutes)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I may swap for coconut oil next time around if I use a milk substitute)
1 1/2 cups assorted berries (fresh or frozen)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter muffin pan.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in zest.
3. Whisk egg in another bowl, then whisk in milk and butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined (batter will be dense). Fold in berries. Divide batter among muffin cups.
4. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then unmold onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

It’s still warm(ish) outside, and sweet corn and colorful tomatoes persist at farmers’ markets. Let’s make the most of it:

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corn cobs, kernels removed
cherry or grape tomatoes, halved/quartered/left whole, depending on size
kalamata olives, diced
red onion, thinly sliced, soaked in water and then drained
evoo
s&p
burrata, torn

Again, no recipe, just an idea. Make a simple salad with all ingredients, minus the burrata, which is served on top.

I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer, and neither should you. Make this dish as a side, or, better yet, an entree to celebrate this last day of summer.

1 pound green beans, trimmed
4 peaches, cut into wedges
Canola oil
1 pint sungold tomatoes, halved
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup goat’s milk Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp sumac

1. Blanch green beans in salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Shock in an ice water bath.
2. Lightly coat peaches in canola or other neutral oil and grill to desired char.
3. Place green beans on plate or platter and top with peaches and tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
4. Stir together yogurt and sumac, along with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Top salad with a dollop of yogurt.

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In order for a salad to achieve entree status, it must be exciting, varied in texture, and include higher calorie ingredients to keep me sated (think meat, cheese, nuts, avocado…). This salad is colorful, crunchy, and doesn’t skimp on flavor.

2 hearts of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
1 head radicchio, thin slice
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 roasted red peppers, thin slice
4 oz salami, medium dice
10 oz croutons (homemade from stale bread will make this dish extra-special, but store-bought is just fine in a pinch. I used whole wheat focaccia to make homemade croutons)
2 oz pecorino, shaved
Vinaigrette of your choice (lemon or red wine vinaigrette is particularly well suited for this salad)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.

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This past weekend was the first of football season, and–I can’t believe I’m about to type this–I am so excited for its arrival. In the past few years, I have increasingly looked forward to doing just about nothing on Sundays. These days give me an opportunity to cook (and usually drink) all day; it is on this day I experiment with new dishes, or test popular ones I’ve made in seasons past.

One of these recipes is Rice Krispies Treats. I usually keep them traditional, but top them with a spiced chocolate ganache for something a bit more refined. To kickoff the season, this time I stirred in speculoos spread–a flavor that hints at the impending end of summer and transition to the cooler months. So as I prepare to say goodbye to tomatoes, mai tais, and the faint tan I actually achieved this year, I seek solace in Football Sundays.

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Makes 12-15 pieces

4 Tbsp butter
1 10-oz bag mini marshmallows
2/3 speculoos spread
pinch kosher salt
6 cups Rice Krispies or puffed rice cereal
3 Tbsp millet, toasted

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add marshmallows.
2. Once marshmallows are melted, stir in speculoos spread and salt.
3. Add cereal and millet and stir until evenly coated with speculoos mixture.
4. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch greased pan and press down evenly.
5. Let sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

Notes: Of course this is delicious–they’re Rice Krispies Treats, for crying out loud. Speculoos was subtle but prominent enough to make them special. Next time: more millet!

I originally made this soup for 300 people and with loads of butter. The curry flavor was subtle yet present enough to make people wonder why this soup was different from the previous version. Wanting to adapt this recipe to make it vegan and guiltless–yet still rich and satisfying–I swapped the butter for extra-virgin olive oil. By emulsifying it in at the end of the cooking process, the soup thickened and became creamy–much like a vinaigrette behaves once the oil has been added.

1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
4 stalks celery, medium dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

1. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, curry powder, and coriander and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, pour in 3 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Puree soup until smooth, while gradually pouring in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
6. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Notes: Could use a bit more coriander, and perhaps some cumin for some smokiness.