Sunday, February 11, 2018

Wontons & Dumplings

Sometimes meal planning can be an enormous challenge, especially when we are watching our calories and a lot of our favorite fresh produce is mostly out of season. We are sick to death of boring salads and boneless, skinless chicken. In my continuing efforts to cook lighter dishes without sacrificing on flavor, I decided to take an Asian route and make some soup with lots of vegetables and wontons. I had a bunch of odds and ends in the freezer ready to be made into a healthy broth and I also had pork chops and shrimp. All I needed was veggies and wonton skins.

Wontons are one of the most popular and oldest types of dumplings in Chinese cuisine. There are hundreds of types of dumplings filled with many combinations of meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables, but wontons have been enjoyed all over Asia for 1,000 years. Wontons vary in shape, flavors and serving methods from region to region. For instance, Cantonese style wontons have an irregular shape and are served in noodle soup while Sichuan wontons are triangular and are dressed with chili oil. They are not terribly difficult to make and the ingredients are easy to find.

PORK AND SHRIMP WONTONS

1/2 lb pork, moderately fatty
1/2 lb cleaned and peeled raw shrimp
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 minced garlic clove
1 tbsp sweet Chinese rice wine, such as Mirin
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green portions
salt & pepper to taste
1 package wonton skins

The day before I made wontons, I made a big pot of stock from the chicken bones and veggie remnants that were in my freezer. To give it an Asian flavor, I added a couple nubs of fresh ginger and a bunch of scallion tops while it was simmering. Before I started making wontons, I took the stock out of the fridge, put it in a big pot on the stove and added some shredded Napa cabbage, bok choy greens, thinly sliced carrots and celery and some snow peas, just so the veggies could begin to cook in the broth. Then I turned my attention to the little bundles of deliciousness.

Wonton filling should be juicy and firm inside its wrapper. If the pork is too lean, the wonton filling will be dry and crumbly. Ground pork is fine for this recipe, but it should be 80% lean. However, I like a little more chunky texture to my wonton filling and I figured I could also make some dumplings with the same filling and steam or fry them. Therefore, I decided to use a Porterhouse cut pork chop that had some fat along the edges and a nice section of tenderloin on one side of the bone. Making sure to save all the fat, I cut the meat off the bone of my pork chop and cut it into large chunks, which I put in the bowl of my food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment. I also peeled and de-veined the shrimp, cut them in half and added them to the pork.

When I cook, nothing goes to waste and since I had a pork bone and a bunch of shrimp shells, I decided to make a quick broth that I could add to the soup for an extra punch of flavor. I put the shells and pork bone into a small pot with a chopped green onion, a nub of ginger and a garlic clove and turned the burner to medium high. I sauteed the shells briefly before adding water and turning the heat to low. This small pot slowly simmered away while I made the wontons.

I planned to just finish making the filling entirely in the food processor, but I also didn't want to pulverize the pork and shrimp and lose that toothsome texture I was going for. Before adding the rest of the ingredients, I pulsed the food processor three or four times to roughly chop the pork and shrimp. I measured the rest of the ingredients right on top of the meat and pulsed a few more times to make sure everything was well incorporated, then scooped the filling out into a bowl. Before assembly, I set up a wonton making station with a small bowl of water, small pile of wonton wrappers, some filling and a plate with a thin dusting of corn starch on it to keep the wontons from sticking. One at a time, I put a small blob of filling in the middle of each wrapper, moistened all the edges with a tiny bit of water, then brought the corners of the wrapper up to make a little bundle. Its important to squeeze out any air as the wontons get sealed to prevent them from exploding while they cook. I pressed the moistened edges of the wrapper together to make sure it was well sealed before moving on to the next wonton.

I got about 10 wontons made, which was enough for dinner, then put the rest of the filling in the freezer. I took the wrappers out of their plastic container, wrapped them in a slightly damp paper towel, slipped them into a sandwich bag and put them in the freezer with the filling. By the time I was done making wontons, my broth was simmering gently, so I strained the broth I'd made from the shrimp shells into the pot, dropped the wontons in and let them cook gently until they floated, which only took about 5 minutes. The soup was fantastic with the veggies still kind of firm and the wonderful flavors of shrimp, pork and ginger in the wontons. The filling had that meaty chew that I was hoping for and it was a healthy and satisfying meal for a cold Sunday night.

As the weekend approached, I moved the filling and wrappers from the freezer to the fridge in anticipation of making dumplings by the following weekend. By the end of the week all the soup was gone and when I got home from work on Friday evening, I took the filling and wrappers out of the fridge.


I wanted to see how these dumplings performed both steamed and fried, so opted to steam half the dumplings and fry the other half. I put about an inch of water in a large pot, put my steamer basket in the bottom and laid several cabbage leaves on the steamer to keep the dumplings from sticking. In a small pot, I put about two inches of vegetable oil and turned both burners to medium high. As I was making the dumplings, I tried a few different shapes. For the steamed dumplings, I pinched the corners of the wrapper, then wrapped them around the side, leaving the filling exposed. For the fried dumplings, I made triangles, little bundles and tiny little cylinders that looked like mini egg rolls. I put the open-top dumplings on the steamer basked and put a lid on the pot. Two by two, I fried the other dumplings in the hot oil until they were crispy and dark brown. We enjoyed our dumplings with a little soy, hoisin sauce and sriracha. And they were a wonderful, tasty Friday night treat. There are lots of different types of fillings and cooking methods to experiment with, but this filling is a great all-purpose wonton and dumpling mixture that I know I'll make again and again.



Monday, February 5, 2018

Holla for Challah

I kind of love how inspiration travels and spreads like a weed. One of my very favorite food writers Kathy Gunst published a book in 2016 called Soup Swap and my husband gave it to me as a holiday gift that year. It inspired me to do my own soup swap with my neighbors just a few months later. Kathy's soup swap was born during a harsh winter in Maine as a way for her and her friends to stay sane in the darkest, most frigid days of a long season. They found comfort, creativity and togetherness in bowls of soup. In the midst of a very grey, snowy and dark winter in Pittsburgh, Kathy inspired me yet again! I posed an idea to some friends over drinks recently that we get together once a month and make something, whatever it is that we enjoy making. Marie makes really delicious pickles, Suzanne is an expert cookie baker, Lynn makes amazing ravioli and my bread-making skills are pretty sharp. The more we talked about the varied and interesting culinary skills we all have, the more this idea started to take shape. We are also a bunch of bawdy women who can't resist a glass of wine, a dirty joke and rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. This is how "Bitchin in the Kitchen" got started.

We decided to start small with a group of 6 women, so I invited them all over to my house to teach everyone how to make challah - my absolute favorite go-to homemade bread. For novice bread bakers, this is a perfect recipe for teaching. Its relatively simple and only takes about four hours from beginning to end. Its a really soft dough that can be made without a stand mixer. Its a braided loaf, so there is an opportunity to learn some good technique and its also visually stunning, which leaves people with a sense of accomplishment when they're done. Since I've posted this recipe before, I'll just ask you to CLICK HERE if you're interested in making your own challah.

Lynn, Suzanne and I making dough
One person was unable to attend, so there were 5 of us baking challah in my kitchen. Normally, one recipe makes two large or three small loaves of bread, so I figured if we doubled the recipe we'd end up with six loaves - one to eat right away and one for each person to take home. Instead of combining them into a single batch of dough, we made two separate batches so everyone would have a turn to get their hands in the dough and knead. We all gathered in the kitchen, put on our aprons and assumed our roles. I started the yeast with warm water and honey in two separate mixing bowls while Marie read the proportions of ingredients out loud from my Baking with Julia cookbook. I put two pots on the stove and gently heated the milk, butter, sugar and salt until everything was melted and dissolved. Lynn and Suzanne each took a bowl and broke the eggs into the yeast, stirring to combine, then I poured the warm milk & butter mixture in and added three cups of King Arthur bread flour to each bowl while Suzanne and Lynn stirred. As the dough came together, we added flour gradually until the dough could be turned out onto the work surface and kneaded. Once Nancy arrived, we all got our hands dirty and took turns kneading the dough and as we made this beautiful dough, I talked about texture and feel and how to know when the dough is ready for its first rise. And of course, we drank wine, which lead to silliness and lots of laughter.
The kneading

When the dough was smooth and soft, we put it into two separate containers to rise and spent the next hour and a half playing games and howling with laughter. We took a break to deflate the dough and give it its second rise, then went back for more games , wine and hilarity. Finally, it was time to shape the dough. We turned it out onto the work surface and I cut it into three pieces each, then into smaller pieces for braiding. I showed everyone how to shape the dough and they all did a really terrific job. We ended up with four braided loaves and two twisted, round loaves. We set them aside for their final rise of about 30 minutes and turned the oven on to 375 degrees.

And there was much laughter
Just before baking, we brushed each loaf with an egg wash and sprinkled them with salt and seeds. During the 35 minute baking time, we hung out in the kitchen, cleaned up a little bit and talked about our day and what we learned. I rotated the pans a couple times and reglazed as the loaves as they expanded in the oven. When the challah was done, we stood in the kitchen and admired our work, but I can never wait until the bread is completely cool to cut into it. I chose a loaf and sliced it while it was still quite warm. The best part of the day for me was watching everyone's faces as they took that first bite of buttery, fluffy warm challah. It really is a moment of pure delight and half that challah was gone before we knew it. Everyone brought a challah home and they took my advice and made french toast out of it. So, we all had a ridiculous amount of fun, learned how to make bread and bonded over a shared experience. I ask you, what better way is there to spend a cold, winter day? We will be Bitchin in the Kitchen again next month, this time at Suzanne's house to learn how to make pierogies. I can't wait!!


Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Best Honey Cake

Sometimes inspiration can surprise you just at the right moment. I was hanging around the house last night relaxing after a Saturday morning at work. I'd started making a list for my weekly Sunday grocery run and as I considered what I wanted to cook for Sunday dinner, my phone buzzed to let me know I had an instant message. It was my friend Sue Wasserman who lives in Asheville, NC. Now, its not unusual to get a random message from a far away friend, but I have not seen or spoken to Sue since I was 16 years old. We grew up together in White Meadow Lake, NJ, a small predominantly Jewish community about an hour east of New York City. My family relocated to far southeast Texas just weeks after my 16th birthday and by the time I got to college, I'd lost touch with all my Jersey friends. But thanks to social media, we've all reconnected and gotten to virtually know each other as adults. I am a big fan of Sue's photography and her abundant joy and she's a fan of this blog.

Sue just moved in to a new place and as she was unpacking she came across a loaf pan, which triggered a flashback to the honey cake she ate as a kid. She was sure I'd have a recipe, which I didn't, but I believe life puts up guideposts to help us find our way when we are uncertain. It was as if Sue somehow knew I was looking for inspiration and inadvertently gave me exactly what I was looking for - a challenge to make something I'd never made before. 

Honey cake was a familiar dish for all of us Jewish kids growing up in New Jersey. Its traditionally served at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, in the hopes for a sweet year to come. The recipe dates back to the middle ages when European travelers brought the recipe home from Egypt and the holy land. Because it is based on such an old recipe, the honey cake I remember tended to be dense, dry and heavily spiced. There was always a honey cake on the table at Rosh Hashana, but only the old people ate it. Sue inspired me to see if I could make a moist, light and flavorful honey cake that didn't taste like it was made in the 1300's.

HONEY CAKE

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil 
1 cup good quality honey
1 cup strong coffee or tea
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
zest from one orange and one lemon
1/2 cup sliced almonds

As these projects go, I started by doing a bunch of research and quickly found Two Lazy Gourmets. When I read Juliana's honey cake recipe with its crunchy exterior and moist crumb, I understood what good honey cake was supposed to be. The same proportions and ingredients turned up in just about every other recipe I found with the exception of the spices. Most recipes call for clove and allspice, which just has too much of a pumpkin pie flavor, and Two Lazy Gourmets omitted the spices all together. My variation features the flavors I like most with honey - cinnamon, ginger and citrus zest.  

I have an unusually large collection of jars of honey in my pantry right now. For Christmas, I received a generous basket of local goodies including a big jar of honey from Aunt Sandy who lives just outside of Philadelphia. I also had a jar of rosemary infused artisanal honey from a local producer called Apoidea Apiary right here in Pittsburgh. It turned out both of them were made from knotweed also called Japanese red bamboo, which produces a dark honey with a mild taste. This recipe allowed me to showcase these beautiful local honeys and make them the star of the show. 

This may be the easiest cake I've ever made. This recipe makes 3 loaves or one large round cake. I opted for loaves and sprayed my loaf pans with cooking spray, then set my oven to 350 degrees. I measured out my dry ingredients into the bowl of the stand mixer. Then I basically just dumped the rest of the ingredients into bowl and using the paddle attachment, I mixed it all on low speed until it was smooth and all the lumps were gone, which only took a couple of minutes. I divided the loose batter between the three pans, sprinkled the top of each one with a generous handful of sliced almonds and popped them into the oven.

Forty five minutes later, I removed three deeply browned, shiny honey cakes from the oven and set them aside to cool for at least fifteen minutes before removing them from the pans. They took a little loosening with an offset spatula to get them to release from the pan. I let them cool on a rack for about 2 hours before I tried a slice. Sure enough, the cake was very moist and the crumb was tight but fluffy, almost bread-like in texture. The honey was the predominant flavor with hints of lemon and orange in the background. The exterior had a pleasant chewiness and the almonds brought delightful crunch to the party. Because it is full of honey which is a natural preservative, this cake can last for weeks and the final slice will taste just as good as the first. Serve it with a little whipped cream, marinated fruit or even vanilla ice cream if you want to gild the lily. Or you can just enjoy a slice with a cup of coffee or tea. If you think honey cake is the Jewish version of fruitcake, more appreciated for its cultural connection than its flavor, this recipe will change your mind. 









Sunday, January 21, 2018

Shakshuka

I'd never heard of shakshuka until about two years ago. On a bitter cold winter day, my coworker Maddie mentioned that she was making this dish for dinner and when she described eggs poached in thick, spicy tomato sauce, it piqued my curiosity. A few weeks later, a friend posted on Facebook that she was making the same dish. The following month, I saw it featured in one of my favorite food magazines. Every couple of months since Maddie mentioned shakshuka at work, it has popped up somewhere in articles, on my social media feeds and in conversations. It's like there is some karmic force trying to guide my hands to make shakshuka. So, yeah, I'm taking the hint. The added benefit of this hearty and warming dish is that its very low in Weight Watchers points, which means I have room for dessert!

Shakshuka originated in Tunisia and its commonly found all over North Africa and the Middle East. Tunisian, Moroccan and Algerian Jews brought it with them to Israel during the mass exodus from Arab and Muslim countries that began in 1948 when the State of Israel was established. Tomatoes, onions and peppers are simmered until thick, then eggs are dropped into the sauce and poached until the whites are firm and the yolks are runny. Its served with pita, challah or crusty bread and is commonly found on the breakfast table, but is also a great brunch, lunch or dinner option with a salad on the side. Some recipes I saw called for fresh chilies like jalapeno, some had greens like spinach or kale in them and some added cheese or cream to the sauce. Other variations included sprinkling crumbled feta cheese, chopped olives and chopped mint or basil on top. It didn't turn up in any of the recipes I found in my research, but I added diced eggplant just for giggles. 

SHAKSHUKA

1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and black pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
6 eggs


This dish dates back to the 13th century and I can imagine people cooking shakshuka over an open flame in a hand-forged iron pan and eating it with bread baked in a clay oven. From everything I'd read, it seemed ridiculously easy to prepare. I put a cast iron skillet on medium high and let it heat up while I diced my veg. I decided to saute the eggplant first and allow it to soften and char a bit, which took about 10 minutes, before adding the onions, peppers and spices. We like spicy food, so I added the cayenne pepper, just to jack it up a bit, but for folks who might not appreciate the heat, the cayenne can be omitted. A good technique to develop deep, charred flavor is not to disturb the vegetables in the pan.

Resist the urge to stir and allow them to caramelize in the pan. I cooked my veg for another 10 minutes and it was nice and browned when I added the tomato paste and garlic and gave it all a good stir.  I let this cook for just a few minutes until the garlic became fragrant, then added the tomatoes. I like to drain my tomatoes into a bowl, reserving the liquid, and crush them with my hand before adding them to the pan. Set the liquid aside in case you need it later to thin out the sauce. 


Using a flat wooden spatula, I scraped all the charred goodness, browned bits and caramelized tomato paste off the bottom of the pan and incorporated it back into the sauce. At this point, the sauce was pretty loose and I allowed it to simmer over medium heat for a good 15 minutes to allow everything to cook down and thicken and the flavors to meld. I knew it needed to be thick enough to support the eggs and yet still be saucy enough to gently poach them. When it was time to add the eggs, I turned the stove to its lowest setting and made indentations in the sauce with the back of a large spoon. One by one, I cracked the eggs right into those indentations and gently spooned the sauce up and over the whites of each egg, leaving the yolks exposed.

 
I covered the pan to allow the eggs to poach slowly while I made a salad and sliced and toasted a baguette. Once the whites were firm, the eggs were done, although I did slightly overcook mine and didn't achieve the creamy loveliness of the runny yolk I was hoping for. Still, my shakshuka was pretty tasty. The sauce was rich and complex and the spices married nicely with the vegetables. The eggplant added body and an earthy lusciousness that was so satisfying and the crusty bread was an excellent accompaniment.  On a cold winter night, this saucy, spicy dish of tomato, eggs and crusty bread was perfect. The kitchen karma worked its magic and introduced me one of my new favorite dishes. And with just 3 Weight Watchers points per serving, its a great addition to the regular rotation. 





Sunday, January 14, 2018

Not Your Mother's Shepherds Pie

Winter in Pittsburgh and the house I love to cook in. 
I love cooking in winter. I love soups and stews and slow cooker dishes like pot roast and pork & beans. I love cranking up the oven when its below freezing outside and I love standing over a steaming skillet while watching the snow fall out my kitchen window. I especially love the warm, satisfied feeling and sense of accomplishment that washes over me after eating that steaming bowl of chicken soup with homemade bread or that slow-cooked tomato sauce with eggplant, mushrooms and meatballs.

My husband and I started on Weight Watchers a few months ago and we've slowly but steadily been dropping weight. The best foods for this program are lean proteins and lots of fresh fruit and veggies. Its particularly challenging in the winter because so much of what I crave tends to be heavy, starchy and full of carbs. Of course, nothing is off limits in moderation, but some of my favorite winter foods like pasta, potatoes, rice and bread are all terrible when you're trying to lose weight. In an effort to make healthier choices and still enjoy my favorite cold weather recipes, I've been experimenting with a few variations. So when my friend Jenny told me she was making shepherds pie with mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes, I almost lost my mind.

Shepherds pie is a layered dish made with ground lamb or mutton cooked in gravy with onions and veggies, topped with mashed potatoes and baked until golden brown. It was my mother's favorite way to use leftover leg of lamb and she even had a specific baking dish that she used for shepherds pie. Made properly, this dish is hearty, rich and comforting, but its certainly not "diet" food. This variation delivers maximum flavor without maximum calories.


NOT YOUR MOTHER'S SHEPHERDS PIE

For the topping:
1 large head of cauliflower
2 tbsp fat free half and half
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:
2 lbs ground lamb
1 lb cremini or white button mushrooms
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp olive oil, bacon fat or chicken fat
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Cauliflower is an underappreciated vegetable. Its very low in fat and carbs, high in vitamin c and its incredibly versatile. It can be eaten boiled, roasted, braised, fried, steamed, pickled or just raw in a salad. The last time I bought a head of cauliflower, I sliced it into thick planks, drizzled it with a little olive oil and roasted it in a 350 degree oven and it was scrumptious. Its also excellent steamed with sweet potatoes or butternut squash and pureed together. Riced cauliflower is starting to show up frequently as a substitute for white rice. However, for a dish like shepherds pie, it does present a challenge. Cauliflower has a moderately high moisture content and isn't starchy and stiff like mashed potatoes. The puree needs to have some structure to hold its shape while baking. I knew I'd need to get as much excess moisture out of it as possible. I decided to steam the cauliflower in the microwave with just a tiny bit of water in the bottom of the bowl. I left it in large pieces and chose a deep bowl so the steam would rise and circulate around the cauliflower. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and cooked the cauliflower on high until is was soft, about 10 minutes, then left it sitting on the counter, still covered, until it cooled down. Once it was cooled, I put the cooked cauliflower into a strainer over a bowl and put it in the fridge. I figured it would be easier to squeeze any remaining liquid out of it when it was cold, which turned out to be a good call. By the time I needed it, a lot of the water had drained off and I squeezed out the remaining liquid before moving on to the next step. 

The filling for this dish should be saucy and savory and each step of the recipe builds layers of flavor. Any root vegetables would be good in this dish. This is a relatively simple preparation, but you should feel free to experiment with carrots, parsnips, celeriac, leeks, fennel of whatever you like. I got my onions chopped and mushrooms sliced before putting a skillet with one tablespoon of  bacon fat over medium. I sauteed the onions until just barely translucent, then added a tablespoon of tomato paste, the chopped garlic, cinnamon, dried thyme, about a teaspoon of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. The tomato paste darkens and caramelizes as it cooks and the spices bloom, adding deep flavor to the sauce. When the onions were starting to brown, I added the mushrooms. As they cooked, the mushrooms released a little liquid, which I used to loosen up the caramelized tomato paste and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, adding more flavor. Once the mushrooms were soft, I removed this mixture from the pan so I could cook the lamb.

Before adding the lamb to the pan, I turned the heat up to medium high and added the rest of the bacon fat, the rest of the tomato paste and the flour, stirring briefly to combine and toast the flour briefly. Little by little, I added small handfuls of ground lamb to the pan, giving it a chance to brown slightly before stirring and adding the next handful. If you dump all the cold meat in at once, it cools down the pan and the meat boils instead of browns. I added a little more salt and pepper and cooked the lamb until no raw meat was visible, then I returned the onions and mushrooms to the pan and added the wine. As the sauce cooks and reduces, it thickens and the flavors become more concentrated and luscious, which takes about 15 minutes. Finally, I folded in the peas and set the filling aside while I made the topping.

Normally when I puree squash or make mashed potatoes, my hand mixer does an admirable job. But cauliflower is lumpy and fibrous and I wanted a perfectly smooth and spreadable puree. The food processor was the right tool for this job and it broke down all the tough fibers, resulting in a lovely, soft puree. I added the half & half and melted butter while the cauliflower was processing and its texture was absolutely perfect. One last thing remained to be done before assembly - I mixed the Panko crumbs with the grated cheese and chopped parsley. Finally it was time for the fun part. I cranked the oven to 350 and got ready to assemble a world class shepherds pie. I chose an 8 quart oval baking dish for this task and decided to spread a thin layer of puree along the bottom and up the sides. Then I ladled that lovely lamb and mushroom mixture into that bed of silky pureed cauliflower and they settled in together like an old married couple. I spooned the cauliflower puree in a thick layer over the filling, sprinkled the breadcrumbs all over the top, drizzled a little bit of olive oil over the breadcrumbs and put it on a sheet tray in the oven. Boom!!

About 45 minutes later when I looked in the oven and saw a beautiful brown and crunchy top, I knew I'd hit this one out of the ballpark. This shepherds pie looked magnificent. The breadcrumbs and cheese had baked into each other and turned into a hard-baked crust. The remaining moisture in the puree had evaporated as it baked and it looked perfectly firm. I took the tray out of the oven and allowed my creation to cool while I made a lightly dressed herb salad with cherry tomatoes to accompany our hearty winter fare. After cooling for about 15 minutes, it was time to dig in. The cauliflower held its shape very nicely and yet still had that silky quality to it. The filling had deep, rich flavor with small hints of warm cinnamon and earthy thyme and a fresh pop from the green peas. All in all, this dish was a smashing success and with a lot less fat and calories than the traditional recipe. I think my mom would have loved it. Just as Jenny did for me, I hope I inspired you to try this amazing dish and put your own twist on it. Good luck!