Emboldened by the postmodernist innovative ideas from our recent trip to Chicago, I embarked on culinary experimentation of my own. Inspiration was promptly provided by a beautiful purple cauliflower from Dupont Circle farmer’s market called Sicilian–Violet. I thought it to be a particularly appropriate choice, given the fact that my good friend The Blissful Adventurer has just returned from a trip to Sicily.
The idea was to start with a simple base (such as oven-roasted cauliflower florets), and to pair them with a few different flavors. Clearly, I was already nostalgic about playing with the succulent brine-and-butter Glidden Point oysters from Maine, and a set of tinctures at the Office on our Chicago trip (green peppercorns, smoke, curry, lemon, ginger, and fennel, for anybody interested :-)).
Speaking of Chicago, we had a tasty cauliflower dish at the Purple Pig (a “cheese, swine, and wine” kind of place, by their own description), which involved charred cauliflower, toasted breadcrumbs, cornichons, and parsley. I think it is only logical to eat purple cauliflower at the Purple Pig, if it is too hot to eat pig…
Our favorite homespun combination turned out to be furikake-seasoned cauliflower (a perfectly balanced Japanese mixture of sesame seeds, salt, sugar, and seaweed). This method is also perfect for Hakurei turnips that remind me of the Russian baby turnips (“repka”) that I liked to snack on when I was growing up. I ate them raw – they had delicate skin, and were as sweet as honey, as a Russian would say. As you can imagine, roasting makes them even sweeter.
The other two combinations involved dips: a Greek yogurt dip ( seasoned with lemon, salt, mint, red pepper, and sumac, which is one of my very favorite Middle Eastern spices), and Thai sweet and sour curry made with a Por Kwan-brand Tom Yum paste, light coconut milk, and kefir leaves.
Cauliflower and turnips were washed down with a Spanish Verdejo, which, to me, is the ideal summer wine. It tastes of the salty ocean and tropical fruit, and has the acidity and backbone to stand up to garlic, spice, aged cheese, char, and just about anything else you throw its way. Besides, you can get a very tasty version for as little as $12.
To complete my light lunch menu, I made a super-quick summery Russian-style sorrel soup with new potatoes. Just in case you are unfamiliar with sorrel, here is what it looks like:
The fastest way to make sorrel soup is as follows: cut up new potatoes (I don’t bother with peeling them), and cook them in vegetable organic stock. Once they are very close to being done, add the sorrel, and lots of lemon juice. Cook for another minute. To serve the soup, add quartered boiled eggs, and sour cream, or crème fraiche, to ramp up the tang. You can eat it hot or cold.
So, to recap: a Sicilian cauliflower variety with a Japanese seasoning, also served with a Greek dip with a Middle Eastern spice, and with a Thai curry. A Japanese turnip as a Russian childhood food memory. A Russian soup with American cage-free organic eggs, stock, and French-style crème fraiche.
This is one tasty melting pot…
This is great! We made a purple cauliflower puree earlier this week! Must be the season!
That sounds so lovely, and your whole dinner menu, too!
My guess is that I could not resist the purple cauliflower, because just like red wine, it is full of anthocyanins (and I am fond of red wine :-)).
It was just too pretty to pass up — and I share your love of red wine!
Wow, you have shown me why food blogging is so popular! And that last paragraph alone should earn you some sort of United Nations award. Keep up the good (and salivation-inducing) work!
Yes, food provides us both with culinary inspiration and with opportunities for seguing into something completely different. Thanks for your kind comments!
Ah, sorrel soup. Such an easy recipe, the way you explain it. Bookmarking this, comrade.
“It is so easy a cat could do it!”
Are you a fan of Nicole Hollander?
Sorrel soup turned out to be one of my favourites, several years ago, when a neighbour gave me a large bag of freshly picked leaves. Here in Hixville I can’t find such products. Absolutely loved the Millennium Park when I visited Chicago. So cold, though.
We were very lucky, – it was in the 80’s and 90’s during the Memorial Day weekend, and all sorts of temperature records were being broken.
It all looks so good, but especially the purple cauliflower!
Thanks! And yes, purple cauliflower’s natural beauty is rather dashing.
I was just recently reading (and loving) your post, as usual, so I thought I’d nominate you for the food stories award. If you’re interested, you can check it out here: http://foodstoriesblog.com/food-stories-award/
I am very flattered, thanks!
OK, I have just now read 2 posts in a row that mention sweet turnips. One Japanese and One Russian! I want them both and thanks so much for the shout out! We must get together and play with some of your experiments soon 🙂
I am hoping to schedule a trip to Colorado before the end of the summer, so I keep checking ticket pricing. Keeping my fingers crossed!
very cool! You guys are totally welcome here even if it would be on our luxurious air mattress 🙂 There are apartments in building for $60 a night which is pretty cool and you would not need a car unless you wanted it while you were here…keep us posted!
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