Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese

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Confession: I’m on a soft-goat-cheese + soup kick.

It started with my Skin-and-All Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese when I decided to use goat cheese to make the soup creamy. In the past, I’d been adding milk or yogurt to vegetable soups (see Creamy Cauliflower Soup). Then I found that herbed goat cheese is richer and the herbs add a lovely flavour. True, it’s also caloric but, when you’re making a quart or more of soup, the amount per 1 cup serving (roughly 20 calories) isn’t going bust your diet.

And this soup has two great pluses:

  1. It’s delicious hot or cold so I also use it as a drink at dinner rather than water. More vegetable intake and refreshing!
  2. It yields 2-3 cups of homemade chicken-vegetable stock that can be used in other recipes. Yum!

P.S. The soup in the photo also included a zucchini and leek because they were hanging around in my vegetable bin, but just cauliflower and regular onion would be just fine.

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Steamed Cauliflower: Variations

First of all: Many thanks to Jeff from jeffs kitchen for this post.

Jeff had read the cauliflower-tasting story from my post, Can Our Tastebuds Have Orgasms?, and clearly felt sorry for the spouse who ate the cauliflower I had served plain. Why plain? Because I thought that beautifully fresh cauliflower would taste great on its own.

And it did! To me, that is.

Anyway, Jeff wrote a great comment on that post with ideas for spicing up the cauliflower that I want to pass on to you.

Jeff steams his cauliflower whole, but you could also steam florets or roast them (see Roasted Veggies Redux) using these spices.

How to Steam a Cauliflower Whole

  1. Cut out the core from the bottom of the cauliflower.
  2. Place the head in a large cast-iron pot.
  3. Add about 1/2 inch of boiling water. (You can also add flavours to the water—see below.)
  4. Sprinkle spice generously over the cauliflower head (see possibilities below).
  5. Reduce heat so that the water is simmering.
  6. Cover pot and steam for 10-20 minutes. The amount of time will depend on the size of cauliflower and how soft you prefer it.

Jeff’s Spice Possibilities:

  • Allspice: Also add 1 tbsp. coconut milk to the boiling water.
  • Curry: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • Garam masala: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • A good quality paprika: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water. According to Jeff, “I’ve experimented with smoked paprika, and it tastes like I did it in a pot on a grill. The paprika adds a layer of flavor, and using smoked paprika adds yet another layer.”

I can think of other variations such as using cumin or fresh dill. Have you done something interesting with cauliflower that you’d like to share?

Curried Cauliflower-Sweet Potato Puree with Quinoa

HURRAY!

IT’S CAULIFLOWER SEASON!

But here’s the problem with this wonderful and versatile vegetable: the heads are big and awkward, and they takes up too much room in my fridge. So when I’ve gone a little overboard (bought 2-3 heads because they’re cheap as all get out), my instinct is to cook immediately and purée.

This dish occurred because, in addition to cauliflower, I already had half-a-microwaved sweet potato and cooked quinoa on hand.  Why not throw them all together, add some onion and Indian spices, and see what happens?

The result? A new and interesting taste for me and the spouse: spicy in a curry-ish way with a slightly onion-y crunch and an undercurrent of sweetness. We ate it last night with chicken sausages and…yum!

Now, you might find this dish too bland because I am always catering to my sensitive stomach. Therefore, I suggest you mix all the main ingredients together and then spice to taste. You could also play around with the amounts of cauliflower, sweet potato, and quinoa, depending on what you have.

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“Smoothie” Sailing!

Spinach Smoothie

Does the food blogosphere need yet another smoothie recipe? Probably not, but bear with me, please. There is method to my madness.

The smoothie story begins on the July 1 weekend when we were celebrating Canada Day on our boat with 3 grandchildren (all early teens) and one daughter.

We were having a grand time until a stomach flu swept through the boat in the middle of the night. I’ll spare you the grim details but it involved throwing up and fevers.

The only positive note was that I lost 5½ lbs.!

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Basic Cold Summer Soups

This post comes to you via the dieter’s never-ending question, “How do I gorge on vegetables today?” And it comes with a picture of Cold Creamy Cauliflower Soup, made last summer.

In the winter, it’s fine to roast vegetables but, in the summer, you want something cool, refreshing, and delicious to drink. But you can’t guzzle down what everyone else can: beer, soda, fruit juices, mint juleps, etc. Even that old fallback, diet soda, is getting a bad rap.

Have you ever considered a cold, delicious, vegetable soup?

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Low-Calorie Snacks

Snacks and dieting…dieting and snacks. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, these are two things that don’t go well together.

In my pre-diet days, I loved the oh-so-easy snacks. I’d just grab something from the fridge or cupboard that would quickly satisfy my carb or salt cravings.

Snacks on a diet don’t have that happy-go-lucky quality. For me, snacks now require careful planning from the grocery store right up to the finished product. Even a simple nosh like an apple requires making sure I always have apples in the house.

But this post isn’t about the simple snacks. I don’t know about you, but sometimes an apple, a handful of carrots, or a bowl of popcorn (how to make your own in the microwave, oil-free) just won’t cut it. I want a snack more interesting in taste and texture that is also

  • Low in calories, i.e., has little or no fat. (Sugar isn’t a problem for me; I use artificial sweetener.)
  • Healthful because it has nutritious ingredients.
  • Filling so that I don’t get hungry again so quickly.
  • 2 Weight Watcher (WW) points or less so it doesn’t overwhelm my daily count. (Roughly 100 calories.)

To that end, I am now experimenting with snack recipes, mine and others’, with the express purpose of keeping the calorie count down. As part of this effort, I decided to compile a list of all my low-calorie recipes to better understand how to replace empty calories with good ones. I thought you’d find this list helpful.

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Cauliflower-Turnip Vichyssoise

A true vichyssoise is a thick soup that includes potatoes and cream. Regrettably, it is outside of my dietary bounds, no matter how much I love it or try to alter it with low-cal milks.

So I was utterly delighted with this culinary experiment. The soup looks like a vichyssoise! It tastes like a vichyssoise! (Well…okay…sorta…)

The spouse even agreed the soup was good and then said suspiciously, “What’s in it?” Yes, he knows me well.

The experiment began, as many of them do, at the discounted vegetable rack where I picked up 2 heads of cauliflower and 14 turnips. (I didn’t quite expect so many in the bag, but I hadn’t counted them either.)

After I got home, I realized I had something of a turnip dilemma. Why not, I reasoned, add a couple of turnips to my Creamy Cauliflower Soup?

Why not? As it turned out, the two vegetables have a lovely, toning-down touch on each other’s flavour. The taste is a subtle, happy mix of the two, and the soup is smooth, creamy, and delicious, hot or cold.

“Turnip!” the spouse said. “I knew it!” I beg to differ.

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Carrot-Parsnip Puree with Cauliflower “Breadcrumbs”

Recently, I posted a Cauliflower “Pizza Crust” recipe in which raw cauliflower florets are food-processed until they are the size of “tiny pebbles.”

That culinary metaphor seemed okay at the time, but it didn’t turn my imagination in any other direction.

Then I made more pizza and had cauliflower pebbles left over—three cups, in fact.

What to do with all that cauliflower? While staring at it, another metaphor came to mind: “coarse breadcrumbs.”

Now dieters can only make limited use of real breadcrumbs—too many carbs, too many calories. But why couldn’t I substitute cauliflower “breadcrumbs” instead?

It was one of those “aha” moments.

So I had a topping. Now what about a base? That choice was easy: one of readers’ favourite recipes on this blog is Cauliflower-Carrot Bake. I decided I’d do a carrot “something” and this was the result…

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Mushroom-Olive Pizza Slice with Cauliflower Crust

Google “cauliflower crust,” and you’ll find about a dozen recipes, most very similar. They’re intriguing—imagine eating pizza again! On the other hand, they pose a major problem for yours truly: way, way too much cheese for a dieter.

So I cut the cheese way, way down, made some other alterations, and prayed the crust would hold together. And it did—not that you could hold it in your hand and curve it the way you could a bread crust, but it was

  • Stiff enough to cut with a fork
  • Solid enough to support the sauce, mushrooms, olives, and cheese

And it didn’t taste like cauliflower! In other words—a cause for celebration!

And you know how everyone wants a different topping? We’re no different in this house. Hence the following recipe is ¾ mushroom, onion, olive, and sheep cheese for me, ¼ mushroom, onion, cheddar cheese, and absolutely no olives for the spouse. He really doesn’t know what he’s missing!

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Introducing The Bean Bake Blog

As promised, I will no longer be deluging you with bean bake recipes. However, my fascination with them continues. So many foods; so many bean-bake possibilities.

Hence The Bean Bake Blog now is happily ensconced in its own little corner of the blogosphere, and I’m in the process of copying all the recipes from here to there.

And I’ll let you know when I post something new there since this dish fits the criteria of this blog as a gluten-free, dairy-free, diet food.

And, if you’re interested, I’m abandoning ship on the kiwi bean bakes. I recently learned that kiwi and pineapple can’t be used in jello because they contain an enzyme that breaks down the protein in gelatin (thanks to friend Becky, daughter Lisa, and ever-helpful Google for this cooking tip).

I think this is also happening with the protein in the eggs, and that’s why the bakes don’t set properly even when I add foods such as avocado, banana, and cauliflower which usually help stabilize the bakes.

Yes, you read that correctly. My last kiwi try was with cauliflower! Lovely taste actually.

The spouse and I are off to the Caribbean for two weeks. There he can engage in his favourite pastime—scuba-diving, while I engage in mine—sloth. If I meet any interesting foods, I’ll let you know.