Gastown Grazing

One of Kale’s favourite foodie activities in Vancouver is hanging out in Gastown for a progressive dinner with friends.  They hop from restaurant to restaurant for different courses throughout the evening.  It can be called a dine-around or dinner crawl, depending on their mood; but the places are spontaneously selected and no two evenings are the same.  That’s the fun part!   For those of you less familiar with Vancouver, Gastown is a stylish, historic neighbourhood in the city centre and considered a hub for unique dining.  Since most of Kale’s gastronomic experience of Gastown is nocturnally-driven, she thought a progressive lunch would be a good Kake2Kale challenge.  And, to up the ante,  Kale wanted to find comfort dishes, with superfoods, that can be eaten in a bowl. At first, I was skeptical and thought we could only eat pasta and soup. But Kale convinced me to be open and surprised by what we might find. I’m glad she did, and without any plans, here is how we grazed our way through Gastown on a rainy January afternoon!

Flying Pig
The Truffled Cauliflower Gratin with 4 cheeses on the menu of the Flying Pig restaurant peeked our interest. Kale and I knew we HAD to have it.  As we were giving our order, the server suggested we order the brussel sprouts as well.  They were served in boats, which was bowl-like enough for us.  Wow, the brussel sprouts were outstanding. They were roasted with capers, which brought a brightness to the earthy flavor of the sprouts.  The cauliflower, however, was a little underwhelming as they were under cooked.  Please bear in mind I am not a restaurant reviewer, but I do know what I like.  The cheeses were yummy though – white cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan.  Cauliflower and brussel sprouts are both cruciferous vegetables which have indole-3-carbinol and promotes a healthy balance of good estrogen.  They also have anti-tumour properties and are high in fibre.  So we were off to a good start!

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Jules Bistro
For a romantic meal where you feel like you’ve been whisked away to an intimate, pretty, little jewel (pun intended) of a restaurant in France, Jules Bistro is the place for you.  More importantly, the food is delicious as well!  We ordered a bowl of mussels with a leek cream sauce, which turned out to be light and flavourful.  The sauce was sooo delicious, and I couldn’t stop dipping chunks of baguette into it.  We went in search of our next course after being fortified with protein, Omega 3’s as well as minerals – like calcium, zinc and iron – from the mussels. Continue reading

Cauliflower Steaks with Red Pepper and Shitake Mushroom Sauce

Cauliflower, The Next Kale?

Kale is everywhere it seems, in salads, in smoothies, made into chips, hidden in cake (check our first post), in our name. But perhaps it is time for the ubiquitous kale to move over and make room for another worthy vegetable. Which one shall it be, carrots, beets, jicama, iceberg lettuce, onions? Nope! The consensus of foodies ahead of the curve indicate it’s cauliflower!

My earliest memories of cauliflower, was of Mom serving it boiled and then topped with oyster sauce. I always welcomed this dish, as it tasted so homey, it was my comfort food while other kids had macaroni and cheese. Well, we had mac and cheese too, but only after Mom went to boot camp once she got accepted into the military, but let’s save that story for another time.

My mother-in-law liked to serve cauliflower cooked in cream of mushroom soup, and so my husband, asks me to make it every once in a while now. But of course, I make my own sauce if time permits, or I rely upon any of the organic versions available. Cream of mushroom soup was the “go to” ingredient in helping immigrant families become westernized. I ‘m sure our grocery list didn’t look much different from other immigrant families who wanted to fit in: Wonder bread, Shake and Bake, the mysterious cottage cheese, peanut butter, Spam, just to name a few. But back to the cream of mushroom soup, it dressed up chicken, pork, serving it just as a soup. Oh, those were the days before we found out how much sodium was in those tasty soups.

Who by now hasn’t had roasted cauliflower, pureed cauliflower, or cauliflower soup? But, what about cauliflower as an entrée? This vegan and gluten free recipe for cauliflower steak with a cashew, red pepper, and shitake mushroom sauce, was inspired by a recipe I saw in Bon Appetit.

What is so great about cauliflower? It has a high amount of vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and it contains Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), as does all cruciferous veggies. I3C is important for detoxing xenoestrogens, the harmful type of estrogen, from our bodies. We don’t want these in our bodies because they act as hormone disrupters, and have toxic effects. Xenoestrogens are found in plastics, BPA, pesticides, dry cleaning solutions, air fresheners, perfumes, etc.

Cashews: Have lots of minerals, B vitamins, mono-saturated fat, which is good for your heart.

Red Pepper: Lots of vitamins A (good for eyes), C (good for skin), vitamin B6 and manganese (these two work in tandem to support the nervous system), and lycopene an antioxidant that can help prevent UV damage.

Shitake mushrooms: Not only are mushrooms rich in vitamins, minerals and polyphenols they also activate the immune system, have strong anti-tumor properties and prepare white blood cells to be ready to fight off disease.

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Cauliflower Steaks with Red Pepper and Shitake Mushroom Sauce
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side

  • 1 medium head Cauliflower
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400°. Slice off the bottom of the cauliflower removing the leaves, but still keeping the core in place. Then put the cauliflower on the cutting board, with the stem side down and from the center, cut 2 slices that measure ½ inch per slice. Toss the cauliflower bits left over after the slices have been cut, with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Put onto a large rimmed baking sheet and put in the oven.
  • While bits are roasting, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side, adding 1 Tbsp. oil to pan between batches. Take out the cauliflower bits from the oven and make room on the sheet for the steaks, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast cauliflower until tender, about 20 minutes, and make the sauce during this time.

Sauce:

  • 1 cup cashews, (soaked for 2 hours then drained)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. sherry
  • Heat olive oil in pan over medium high heat, add garlic, sauté for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms cook for about 5 minutes, then add the sherry. Sauté for another 1 minute to cook off the alcohol and remove from heat. Season with a little salt.
  • Put the first 5 ingredients in a food processor or a good blender and puree.
  • To plate, smear the sauce on the plate, place the steaks on top and scatter mushrooms on top. The sauce can be heated as well before serving.  The bits can be served in a bowl alongside.

Bon Appetit! – {Kake}

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