Thursday, January 30, 2014

How to Cook Delicious Food and Impress Your Friends

Ice houses on one of 10,000 lakes
This year between Christmas and New Year’s, I flew home to visit my parents and some old friends. It was a great time to be lazy, catch up, and enjoy some snow. My friend Ellie, who recently moved to Seattle, was in town and we made the trip up to Grand Rapids, MN to visit our friend Sarah. Our visit included some freezing cold snowshoeing, delicious food, and hours of catching up.

Ellie and Sarah are my two best friends from high school. Among the three of us, I’m the least accomplished. Ellie was a 2-sport athlete in college (soccer and softball). She went to Mayo Clinic for medical school, and although she never talks about it, I’m sure she finished at the top of her class, because she basically had her pick for residency (Mayo) and then went on to do a Sports Medicine fellowship (also Mayo). She’s traveled all over the world, healing children and doing research. She now lives in Seattle and we both work at the same hospital (I’m in accounting). Sarah played basketball in college, taught elementary school in rural Texas for Teach for America, finished at the top of her law school class, and went on to win the very prestigious Skadden Fellowship. The Skadden Fellowship is what brought her to northern Minnesota where she practices law on the Native American reservation. I love being around these two, not just because they are amazing women, but also because they are a strong defense for public secondary education in rural school systems (where we grew up).

But the reason I’m writing about this visit is because Sarah, who is also an amazing cook, shared some recipes with me, that I wanted to share with you. She had Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest cookbook and I had a chance to look through some of the recipes. We all thought it was kind of funny to have the beautiful Gwyneth pictures at the farmer’s markets amidst the recipes, but it seemed like a solid cookbook. Along with the beet salad (below), Sarah raved about the chickpea and cauliflower salad, and then made us homemade ravioli and roasted brussel sprouts.
I made these recipes for Sydnie and Tesia a couple weeks ago and they thought I should share them here. I tried the cauliflower recipe again last Friday for some Oiselle teammates and it wasn’t quite as good (I’d recommend a cauliflower head on the larger side). These are pretty easy, go-to salads without fancy ingredients  and they will impress your friends. I hope you enjoy them with good company!
Roasted Cauliflower + Chickpeas with Mustard + Parsley
  • a 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained and dried in a kitchen towel
  • 1 head of cauliflower, outer leaves removed, cut into bite-sized florets
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon seeded mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley - roughly a handful
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Toss the chickpeas and cauliflower together in a large roasting pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Roast, stirring now and then, until everything is dark and the cauliflower is quite soft, about 45 minutes. The chickpeas get a bit crispy.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of olive oil with a big pinch of salt and a few healthy grinds of black pepper.
  4. While the chickpeas and cauliflower are still warm, toss them with the mustard dressing and the parsley.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Roasted Beet + Avocado Salad - also from It's All Good
  • 1 large avocado, skin removed and diced
  • 4 large beets, roasted (you had better know how to roast beets by now!), and diced the same size as the avocado
  • bunch of scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced - (I actually left this out, because raw red onion is too strong for my belly)
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt & pepper 
  1. Dice up the avocado and roasted beets to be the same size and lay them on a platter.
  2. Sprinkle the sliced scallions and red onions all around. 
  3. Sprinkle w/ kosher salt & pepper.
  4. Spoon dressing over just before serving.
I also made this salad, which I found in Cook's Country

Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
  • 3 slices of hearty bread, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used day old baguette)
  • 2 oz. of Parmesan shaved
  • 6 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t. mustard
  • 1/2 t. of lemon zest, plus 1 t. of lemon juice
  • 8 oz. baby arugula
  • Optional (add cooked shrimp or chicken for protein)

1. Toss bread, grated Parmesan, 3 T. of oil, and 2 garlic cloves together in a pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until croutons are toasted, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool.

2. Combine vinegar, mustard, remaining garlic clove, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 t. salt, and 1/2 t pepper in large bowl and slowly whisk remaining 3 T of oil until incorporated (I use a medium mason jar and shake, shake, shake).

3. Toss arugula and dressing together in large bowl. Top with croutons, optional protein, and shaved parmesan. Serve and accept compliments graciously.

A bit blurry, but here's my trio of salads - cauliflower chickpea,
beet & avocado, arugula with homemade croutons

Evidence that it was a real meal with place settings. Also, Sydnie's leg
Recipe for carrot lentil soup is here.


  1. I liked the cauliflower and chickpea salad so much, I googled it and made it myself the other day. :)

    1. I made another batch for myself on Monday night! It's All Good. :)

  2. I can confirm that all recipes are delicious! The soup picture that I photo bombed (or at least tried to) didn't make the cut? Bummer. Let me know the next time you want to try some new recipes and I can make the journey over.