It's not easy to learn to love something you have spent a lifetime detesting. For me, that something is cauliflower, so I've decreed that 2013 will be The Year I Learn to Love Cauliflower. Or, if not love, like. When you're incorporating something new into your diet, start with a dish you already know you will eat. In this case, I swapped cauliflower for half of the potatoes in a creamy rich potato soup, and topped it with sharp Cheddar cheese. What's not to love? Stay tuned as I continue my adventures in cauliflower. I'm pinning recipes ideas to a Cauliflower board on Pinterest, so please leave any links to your own favorite recipes in the comments. Then, make this soup. I loved it, and I know you will, too. By the end of the year, I'll be making it without the potatoes. I promise.
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Once upon a time, I didn't need a scorecard to remember my family's culinary preferences. Now that I'm firmly entrenched in middle age, I forget who loves olives, who hates mushrooms, who likes tomatoes on their pizza and who won't eat anything green. So, it was inevitable that, when I cooked a big holiday dinner for my stepson and grandkids, I would get something wrong, and I came home with three pounds of leftover mashed sweet potatoes that none of the kids would touch. Lucky me: I turned those already-mashed potatoes into this rich and creamy Indian-spiced sweet potato soup. It's vegan and gluten-free, and you can make it even if you don't have leftovers. Top each individual bowl with traditional curry garnishes (cashews, raisins, chopped apple or shredded coconut) to create a hearty one-dish meal.
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For years before I started blogging, I wrote for newspapers and magazines. My stories introduced readers to my neighbors through the food they cooked, most often recipes they carried with them from their family heritage, or from their home countries. Betta lived on the block where I worked in Boston's South End. Born in British Borneo to Dutch parents who moved the family back to Holland when she was a young girl, Betta taught me to make boerenkool stamppot, a traditional Dutch dish of kale with mashed potatoes and sausages. I thought about that combination recently when I came across some leftover mashed potatoes in my refrigerator, and I adapted her recipe a bit to show off some beautiful baby kale from the market. Boerenkool, which means "farmer's cabbage", makes a hearty side dish for any roast or grilled meat, poultry or fish; turn it into a traditional stamppot by serving with your favorite sausages (I served mine with some tri-tip). Betta tops her kale and potatoes very nontraditionally, with a dollop of cranberry sauce.
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Some time during the summer, my slow cooker took up residence on the kitchen counter, and ever since, I've been inspired to adapt some of my favorite stove top recipes to the low-and-slow method. Kasha (buckwheat groats) reminds my taste buds of the best comfort food that came out of my Polish grandmother's kitchen, and it never fails to satisfy, whether I'm serving it as a side dish with roast chicken or brisket, or a lunch or light supper entree with a tangy green salad on the side. If you've never cooked with kasha before, look for it in the ethnic foods aisle at your grocery store; it comes in three different granulations -- fine, medium, and coarse. This kasha, kicked up a bit with caramelized onions and mushrooms, does its thing without the frequent tending the stove top version demands, down to browning the onions right in the slow cooker. You can make ahead and freeze, then reheat in the microwave.
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