Hello Summer! Whole Grain Summer Berry Crisp

I changed my header photo. Like it? Strawberries from my garden, blueberries from the store. Well…that’s not technically true. The strawberries are really from Bob’s garden. He deserves all the credit. I’ve been so lazy this season and haven’t really done much gardening at all (I’m guessing that armchair/backseat gardening doesn’t count).

So with all of these amazing berries staring at me how could I not make a dessert? I mean, Evan likes the crisp part of apple crisp, so this might be a good way to get him to start eating berries. Right? Bob rolled his eyes. “Yeah, you keep telling yourself that.”

Okay fine, whatever. I made it because I wanted it. But I truly did have hopes that Evan would try some. I did make it small. And whole grain. And not a huge amount of butter or sugar.

And Evan didn’t eat any of it. But it was f*cking awesome. Every last bit of it.

Whole Grain Summer Berry Crisp
This is dead simple. Layer the berries in the bottom of the pan. Add a splash of orange juice. If they’re not as sweet as you like, you can sprinkle with sugar to taste. Cover with the topping, dot with butter and bake at 350ºF until bubbly.

2 cups 5 grain rolled hot cereal (or rolled oats if you prefer)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups mixed berries
splash of orange juice

Cauliflower Two Ways

As a method of giving a 7 year old with a persnickety palate a measure of control, Thursday nights are Evan’s-Choice-Dinner-Night at our house. And no matter what he chooses, we honor that. We did lay a ground rule that we would not be having just candy or cookies for dinner, but that’s pretty much the only rule. We’ve been doing this for about a year now and E really looks forward to it. Initially, he tried to come up with really ‘grown up’ meals that he liked. The very first week, he decided we would have fried polenta, spinach (raw, dipped in dressing) and he and Bob would have grilled salmon while I had lamb. Impressive eh?

He sliced the polenta (the tube variety), carefully put it in the frying pan, put the spinach on everyone’s plate and helped Bob prepare the salmon. He (E) was soooo proud of himself and we all had a great time making dinner together. We had that same meal a few weeks in a row and then it occurred to him that it truly was up to him and so all of a sudden we were having pancakes or scrambled eggs (well, they would eat the eggs and I’d have to ask Evan what I was going to have….usually a bowl of cereal or something). Still, not unreasonable….who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner?

And then….one night last summer, after soccer, it became Pagliacci pizza night. It’s been there ever since. Half cheese, half veggie. Guess whose is whose! I love pizza as much as anyone but it’s getting kinda boring. It’s been so many months that the Pagliacci delivery guy (and it’s always a guy it seems) frequently shows up with the usual and announces that it’s on the house. I think we’re their best customers.

But tonight I made a request of E that we also have some cauliflower that needed to be used up.

Cauliflower can be pretty meh but I bought it thinking “we should eat more cauliflower for a change because I know it’s good for you”. There’s a lot of good stuff in cauli, despite looking so innocuous. You can find out just how good for you here (super cool site called NutritionData). Plus, I was enticed by the pretty green cauli in the store. Didja know that green cauliflower has more protein than white (www.usda.gov)? Can’t wait for purple to hit the produce aisle again. And orange cauli has a boatload more vitamin A than white. If you slice it from the top down like a loaf you get these lovely fans.

The flowerettes need to be tight for this to work and the green one I bought was looser so we cut little trees instead.

Here are two dynamite methods for making cauliflower. The green ones were tossed in olive oil, coarse salt and pepper before roasting and grating Parmesan on them and putting them under the broiler to melt it. It got all cheesy and crispy and salty. I’m drooling just writing about it. The flat white fans were brushed with a honey-mustard dressing I whisked together and they were tender but not falling apart and the honey had caramelized in the oven. Delish!

Ev agreed to us having cauliflower, and even managed to try some. And then he went back for more pizza.

Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower and Honey Mustard Roasted Cauliflower
Crispy parmesan option adapted from Dinner with Julie

Cut cauliflower into flowerettes or slice into fans. Lightly spray baking sheet with olive oil Pam.
Option 1: Toss (or brush) cauliflower with olive oil. Spread out on baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt and a grind of pepper.
Option 2: Toss (or brush) cauliflower with honey mustard dressing (below) or your favourite store-bought version. Spread out on baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt and a grind of pepper

Roast at 400˚F (time will depend on your oven; mine took about 15 minutes).
For Option 1 take out when it’s starting to brown but edges aren’t too crispy. Finely grate Parmesan cheese and finish under the broiler until cheese is melted and edges are crisp.
For Option 2: Roast until browned.
Serve immediately.

Quick Honey Mustard Sauce
1 tbsp smooth dijon mustard
1 tbsp (generous) liquid honey
olive oil
Whisk mustard and honey (add more of each to suit your taste). Drizzle in just enough olive oil to thin the sauce.