Janurary in the Kitchen – Roast Cauliflower with Cumin and Sumac

Janurary in the Kitchen – Roast Cauliflower with Cumin and Sumac

Roast Cauliflower with Cumin and Sumac

Cauliflower is everywhere these days! It has been one of my favorite vegetables for years and I am pleased to see it finally getting the recognition it deserves. It can be used as a replacement for grains or pasta or pizza crust or potatoes. In many recipes it’s used to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates; with the added benefit you are increasing the amount of vegetables in your diet. But cauliflower is delicious as a vegetable in it’s own right. Cauliflower cheese AKA cauliflower with cheese sauce is a classic. My favorite is a simple roast cauliflower. Cook it in a hot oven an it comes out with a crisp brown exterior and a soft interior.

Sumac is my new flavor passion. When I came across a recipe for roast cauliflower with cumin and sumac, I had to try it. The combination seems spot on. This recipe came from the blog Everybody Likes Sandwiches.

My usual method for roasting cauliflower is simle. Break an entire head of cauliflower apart into florets, coat them with olive oil and coarse salt, and bake it in a hot oven (400 degrees F) for about 40 minutes. That works well and highlights the vegetable. But, I was searching for a crunchier exterior and decided to try a method I’ve seen in several cookbooks. They call for steaming the cauliflower for 5 minutes so it is partially cooked, then roasting it at a much higher temperature (475 degrees F). I decided to try both and see which my faimily preferred.

Both start out the same.

Cauliflower coated with Sumac, lemon and cumin

Cauliflower coated with Sumac, lemon and cumin

Roast Cauliflower with Cumin and Sumac

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 large pinch of kosher salt
  • Ground fresh pepper

Method 1

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl combine the olive oil, lemon, cumin, sumac, garlic powder and salt. Whisk to mix well.
  3. Add the cauliflower and stir to coat with the spices and oil.
  4. Remove the cauliflower to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, turning half way through to brown the other side.
  6. Serve, adding freshly ground pepper

Method 2

  1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F
  2. Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and cool.
  3. In a large bowl combine the olive oil, lemon, cumin, sumac, garlic powder and salt. Whisk to mix well.
  4. Add the cauliflower and stir to coat with the spices and oil.
  5. Remove the cauliflower to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, turning half way through to brown the other side.
  7. Serve, adding freshly ground pepper
Cauliflower roasted two ways, method 1 (left) and method 2 (right)

Cauliflower roasted two ways, method 1 (left) and method 2 (right)

I found that the second method (2) produced a crisper exterior with a creamy interior. But, both were good. My family preferred the second but I think it would depend if you had other food in the oven. Cooking at 400 degrees lets you bake some chicken or other vegetables at the same time.

In both cases the mix of spices was delicious and very complementary to the cauliflower.

January in the Kitchen – Quick Roast Chicken with Citrus, Sumac, and Pomegranate

January in the Kitchen – Quick Roast Chicken with Citrus, Sumac, and Pomegranate

Roast Chicken with Citrus, Sumac and Pomegranate

This recipe is Florida in the middle of winter…sunny citrus, bright sumac, and pomegranate. It’s a winning combination and one that tugs at memories for me. Just out of college I moved from warm and sun-drenched Florida to New York in mid-January. It was quite a shock on many levels; living in a one-bedroom apartment with four other young women, the high cost of food, cold, and worst of all…no citrus. I grew to love New York, but citrus remained out of my price range at the local markets. My parents had seven trees of different varieties in their back yard in Florida. They were unusual varieties, the kind you don’t find in the store because they don’t ship well, the kind that were especially delicious. I craved them. The highlight of that first winter was the box of citrus shipped from home (at great expense). I was a good roomie and shared.

I didn’t spend much time cooking back then, but I would have loved this recipe.

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Pomegranate and Citrus

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Pomegranate and Citrus

If you are not familiar with sumac (it’s new to me and I am still experimenting), it’s related to poison ivy but won’t give you a rash. The powder I found at my local spice shop is staghorn sumac and is not poisonous. The berries are dried and ground before being sold. I have read that some companies add salt to their sumac, so read the package before you purchase it.

Sumac

Sumac

Sumac adds a lovely red color to food and is considered a “flavor enhancer”. It has a tart, berry, and lemony flavor and can be used in place of lemon when you want the flavor without the acid of citrus. It is known to have antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities as well as helping with digestion.

Sumac is most often used in Middle Eastern cooking. It’s a major part of the spice mix Za’atar, and sometimes used in fattoush and tabbouleh.

Chicken brush

  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons pomegranate concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
Sumac, pomegranate brush for chicken

Sumac, pomegranate brush for chicken

  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 tangerine
  • ½ lemon
  • fresh sprigs of thyme and rosemary
  • 4 leg-thigh chicken quarters
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F (very hot)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil
  3. Mix together the ingredients for the sauce or brush.
  4. Wash the citrus and then thinly slice it using a sharp knife or mandolin; you want slices about ¼ inch thick or less. Remove any seeds.
  5. Lay the citrus on the baking sheet. Try not to overlap the slices.
  6. Cut the legs from the thighs, making two pieces
  7. Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the citrus slices.
  8. Brush the chicken with the sauce.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes or until the chicken is brown and cooked, and the citrus is caramelized.
  10. Serve with the citrus; the carmelized citrus is delicious, skin and all.
Roast Chicken with Sumac, Pomegranate and Citrus

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Pomegranate and Citrus

I think Angie at the Novice Gardener and her friends at Fiesta Friday will like this one.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

October in the kitchen – Easy Baked Chicken with Lemon

October in the kitchen – Easy Baked Chicken with Lemon

One of the wonderful things about living in California is having a Meyer Lemon tree in the backyard. It was already a mature tree when we purchased our home 25 years ago. Unfortunately the tulip magnolia it was planted next to is now huge and shades half of the lemon tree in the summer. But, this less than ideal situation doesn’t stop it from producing prolific amounts of lemons.

I use those lemons almost every day. There is not much that isn’t improved by a last minute grating of fresh lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon, or both. Meyers do well in containers if you don’t have yard space; they only need a warm spot with some sun and a deep watering once a week.

For lemon chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken leg quarters, the leg and thigh attached
  • 2 large lemons
  • 8 sprigs of thyme
  • Olive oil
  • A pinch of chili flakes
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¼ cup of white wine
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut one lemon into thin slices and the other in half.
  3. Line a baking dish with foil and place the leg quarters in the pan, skin side up. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and a pinch of chili flakes. Lay the slices of lemon on top of the chicken, then the thyme sprigs. Squeeze the halved lemon over it all and drizzle with olive oil (you don’t need much). Toss the squeezed lemon into the pan with the chicken.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup of the white wine in the bottom of the pan. Pour the cook a glass as well.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the quarters. The juices should run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife. Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes before serving. Don’t toss out those lemon slices! They are caramelized and delicious to munch on.

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Your kitchen is about to smell amazing!

Finished lemon chicken

Finished lemon chicken

You’ll have some scrumptious pan drippings. Pour them into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until they begin to thicken slightly. This simple gravy can be poured over mashed potatoes, yum.

Or, simply moisten slices of some good crusty bread with the juices and bake them until crisp in the oven. I just lay them in the roasting pan until they soak up some flavorful drippings, then place them on a baking sheet back in the oven until crispy. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Yum, yum! Serve the chicken on top.

If you are counting calories, the chicken is delicious “as is”. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some chopped parsley is all that is required.