Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Moroccan Cauliflower Recipe + A "Specific Carbohydrate Diet" Cookbook Review

[Photo: My New Year's Eve Dinner Table]

We decided to spend a relaxed New Year's Eve at home, with a movie, a bottle of wine, and a home-cooked Moroccan feast for two. What better opportunity to crack open some cookbooks I haven't yet used? Seeing as my partner has re-started the South Beach Diet and I'm doing my own low-glycemic food thang, the first book I went to was Eat Well Feel Well by Kendall Conrad. This is a book of recipes that comply with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

One of the perks of being a food blogger is having publishers send you new cookbooks to look at. Unfortunately I am way behind on cookbook reviews, so many months after receiving this book from Clarkson Potter Publishers, I'm finally getting around to using it, perusing it, and sharing my feedback here. I was won over by the beautiful color photographs in the center of the book. I must admit I have a serious aversion to cookbooks that don't have full-color photos, so the photo section of this book was a real plus. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is used to treat sensitive tummies as well as guts that have been damaged by Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulities, etc. Celiacs and gluten intolerant folks who eat a strictly gluten-free diet usually find that their guts eventually heal and are generally able to tolerate any non-gluten foods after the healing period is over. However, many of us have multiple food allergies or other digestive disorders. Others find that they continue to be sensitive to a variety of foods and have trouble with digestion long after they are gluten-free, due to damage to their digestive tract. A small number of people find that they simply cannot digest grains at all, and that non-gluten grains make them almost as ill as gluten-containing grains. This cookbook is based on the diet described in the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Healing Through Diet by Elaine Gottschall, which is the bible of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). The diet eliminates "virtually all starch and complex sugars" and features a balance of "smart carbohydrates, good proteins and fats, and essential vitamins and minerals." It is grain-free. No unfermented / un-aged dairy products are allowed so the diet is lighter on dairy than most. This way of eating has helped many people recover from life-threatening digestive disorders.

The difficulty of digesting grains has been explored in other books over the years, such as Against the Grain by Melissa Smith. I don't personally feel a need to eat this way, but many if not most of these recipes are also low-glycemic and low-carbohydrate and therefore fit well into my household's meal plans. Best of all they don't reflect deprivation, but rather an enjoyment of the plentiful healthy gut-friendly foods available at the farmer's market or grocery store. There are grain-free recipes for everything from grain-free Cashew Butter Tortillas to Peach Pocket Pies, and from Shepherd's Pie with Mashed Cauliflower to Tom Yum Kai with Coconut Milk & Lemongrass Infusion.

Tonight I tried my first recipe from the book, which was Moroccan Cauliflower. While it was the photo that first caught my eye, I was also intrigued by the unusual (or at least new to me) method used for cooking cauliflower. Although my favorite method for cooking cauliflower is roasting it, I think this will be my new cauliflower technique for when times is short or I'm trying to reduce the fat in a dish. By steaming the entire head of cauliflower without cutting it first, it avoids all the wasted little cauliflower bits that litter the cutting board when you try to cut a raw cauliflower into florets, because it's far easier and neater to slice a whole head of cauliflower when it's cooked. The presentation of this dish is lovely, and it might even convince one of those notorious cauliflower haters to reconsider.

Here is my adaptation of the recipe from Eat Well Feel Well. I hope you enjoy it, and have a fabulous, healthy and safe New Year!


Adapted from Eat Well Feel Well by Kendall Conrad.

[ Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free / Pareve / Vegan / Soy-Free ]

1 medium head cauliflower
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed (use frozen garlic if raw garlic is too sharp for you)
1 tsp fine sea salt or table salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Trim the stalk of the cauliflower to the base, removing all leaves except the smaller green leaves closest to the head. Fill a pot with half an inch of water, place whole head of cauliflower in it (stem side down), and cover with a lid. Simmer on medium heat for 10-20 minutes (will vary depending on size of head, I had to simmer a medium head for about 15) until the desired tenderness. Remove from pot immediately, transferring to a cutting board or serving platter.

While cooking the cauliflower, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Lightly toast the ginger, paprika, cumin and cinnamon over medium-low heat in a small pan for 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and whisk into the liquid mixture, combining thoroughly.

Cut the cauliflower in 1/2-inch thick slices, transfer to a serving platter and drizzle all of the spiced oil over the slices. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve hot or warm.


NOTE: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click through the link and purchase something from the site I will receive a small commission that helps me pay for the costs incurred from running this website.


glutenfreeforgood said...

Wow, that cauliflower looks wonderful. You're right, what a great way to avoid wasting any of the little bits and pieces. Your "dressing" sounds yummy as well and also something that would work for so many other veggies. Good health information too; great post all the way around!

Here's to a healthy and happy 2009!

Best wishes,

Cheryl said...

I'm always up for cauliflower! I'll have to try this.

Abby said...

that looks great . . . I spent New Year's morning making aloo gobi, so apparently I'm not the only one wanting cauliflower this holiday :) happy new year!

Rachel said...

A lovely sounding cauliflower dish. I'm bookmarking this one. Happy New Year!

Valerie said...

I am curious whether the whole cookbook is vegetarian (in which case I'm interested in looking it up) or if it's just this one recipe.

Rochel said...

Your pictures of the cauliflower turned out wonderful. I am glad that this recipe was so easy that it turned out yummy even when i made it.

ByTheBay said...

Thanks for all the nice comment, you guys! I really can't even tell you how tasty this dish is. It was perhaps even better the following day (leftovers). So easy and so different than anything I'd ever tasted.

Valerie: The book is not vegetarian, it has many vegetarian recipes in it however.

Rochel: I'm so glad it turned out so well for you and not just for me. That always makes me feel good because you never know how what will happen when a recipe is read and interpreted by another set of eyes (and of course when it's cooked in another kitchen).

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Recently some of my acquaintances told me they had to switch to gluten free food and they were very happy to find your blog as well as other blogs which feature gluten-free food.

"they don't reflect deprivation, but rather an enjoyment of the plentiful healthy gut-friendly foods available at the farmer's market or grocery store."

I think this is really important because nobody likes feel deprived.

I'm going to try out your cauliflower recipe really soon - maybe even tonight - because there seems to be an abundance of fresh cauliflowers right now and I happen to have the rest of the ingredients. :)

Twisted Cinderella said...

how unusual! It sounds wonderful!

(I have never tried roasting my cauliflower but I have heard that it is fabulous that way)

Simply...Gluten-free said...

That looks lovely! Check out my latest post for a free give away of a great book on gluten

Absolutely Not Martha said...

hi! just wanted to mention that I’m doing a post about favorite gluten free food products on absolutely not martha. I’d LOVE to hear what yours is--just leave me a comment (if you haven’t already).