I usually can say that I’m a pretty adventurous eater and that I’ll try a food at least once, but hand me a cruciferous vegetable and my appetite magically disappears. I won’t exactly fault the veggies (mainly broccoli and cauliflower in this case) as they really are packed with amazing nutritional value and carry with them every good intention…I blame my mother. Sorry mom, it has to be said that my childhood was happy and healthy; by all accounts it was wonderful, unless we talk cruciferous vegetables. The utmost care and attention MUST be taken when cooking these tricky vegetables and unfortunately a busy farm wife has so many other things to do. Overboiled, soggy, odiferous…these are the adjectives I would use to describe the many ways my mother served broccoli and cauliflower on many occasions. As a result, I have been lightly scarred (or scared) of these innocent veggies during my adult life. I don’t exactly avoid cooking them because I believe that they are very beneficial for my family and instead, I pay attention to serving them properly cooked.
When I heard that Cook the Book Fridays, a lively bunch of bloggers dedicated to cooking entire cookbooks from start to finish, was beginning a new cookbook I felt the urge to join in. They had just begun to cook every recipe from My Paris Kitchen by one of my favourite bloggers and authors, David Lebovitz. Okay, he’s not just one of my favourites…he is my favourite! I was so fortunate enough to meet him last year on our trip to San Francisco and I will be cooking every recipe for this group from a signed copy of My Paris Kitchen because I didn’t lug that thing to San Francisco and back for nothing! That leaves me to this week’s Cook the Book Friday recipe: Dukkah Roasted Cauliflower. I had a dukkah mixture in my pantry but the lure of roasting hazelnuts led me to make David’s fresh dukkah and I’m so glad I did. I found that the method used for the spices in the book (adding them to the same bowl with the hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds) did not allow me to process them as finely as I would like, so I adapted the method by adding the roasted spices directly to my mortar bowl and grinding them finely before adding them to the nut and seed mixture.
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- ½ cup (70 g) sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup (150 g) pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 heaping teaspoons fleur de sel, or fine sea salt
Method1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).2. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven until they begin to turn golden and smell toasty, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer them to a tea towel which you must close around the nuts so they steam slightly and their skins blister away from the nuts. When the hazelnuts are cool, rub them in the towel to remove as much of the papery skin as possible.3. Place the sesame seeds in a heavy skillet and toast them over medium heat, shaking the pan constantly, until they turn golden and smell toasty, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, and repeat the process with the pumpkin seeds. Add them to a small bowl.4. Place the coriander seeds in a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and toast just until they begin to smell fragrant, about 45 seconds. Remove from the heat and add to mortar. Repeat with the cumin seeds. Repeat with the fennel seeds and finally, the black peppercorns. Grind with a pestle until the roasted spices are quite fine.5. Place the hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and the salt in the work bowl of the food processor and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Add the spices and process until the mixture is finely ground. Be careful not to over process so the nuts don’t become oily. Transfer to a serving bowl.
I may have had a rocky start with cauliflower but picking and roasting wild hazelnuts on our farm is a treasured memory. There wasn’t a lot to do before my siblings came into the picture and it was a much simpler time and place back then. I remember heading out into the woods surrounding our farm and I probably wasn’t much older than seven years old. I found a bush with some interesting spiky green pods and I picked them. Even though my fingers were covered in minute splinters, I knew I had found hazelnuts. My dad was surprised that they grew nearby and that I had found them. I suppose I was just curious about the edible wild world around me. Funny thing is that last summer, while I was visiting the farm, I happened to notice my dad had picked a pail of wild hazelnuts and was drying them out on a flat piece of cardboard. I guess sometimes kids do teach their parents new things…now if only I could teach mom how to cook cruciferous vegetables!