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Queenie Cooks: Cauliflower Puree with Garlic and Walnut Oil

Reader, I know what you're thinking: ANOTHER cauliflower recipe? What, is this woman being paid by some sort of cruciferous vegetable consortium to force-feed us tree-like foods until we keel over?

The answer sadly, is no. My income is in no way supplemented by some bizarre veggie subsidy. The plethora of cauliflower is due simply to my stubborn belief that tomatoes don't belong in the Northeast until July, unless they arrive in a can. I try to be as seasonal and local as I can (hence my recent raptures for ramps), and cauliflower helps me do that.

That said, this recipe is no sad capitulation to a stubbornly reticent spring season. It is, in fact, really freaking good. It's almost - dare I say it - better than mashed potatoes. (Gasp!) I think it has something to do with the sharp flavor of the cauliflower, which plays beautifully off of the cream and butter, and the slight amount of garlic, which is somehow less offensive to me here than it is in mashed potatoes.

The trick to bringing out all that flavor is making sure your cooking water is well-seasoned - either use plenty of salt, or substitute vegetable or chicken stock, depending on your vegetarian status. Well, that and the butter. And the cream.

There's another reason I love this recipe: I get to use my secret weapon du jour to make it. That's right, folks - I am in lust with my immersion blender. The thing comes in handy more often than I can say. Want to puree a soup? Do it right in the pot. Want to whip a bit of cream? This thing has a whisk attachment. Want to make all your friends jealous of your culinary wizardry? Get an immersion blender. (For less than $40. Really.)

Serve the puree with, well, anything. It goes marvelously with roasted or braised chicken, underneath chickpea stew, or, frankly, on its own as a sort of naughty-feeling-but-not-naughty-at-all bowl of comfort.

Cauliflower Puree with Garlic and Walnut Oil

1 large head cauliflower, about two pounds, cut into evenly-sized florets
3 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. heavy cream
2 tsp. walnut oil
2 tbs. finely chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a pot large enough to hold the cauliflower. Fill halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt (about a palmful, if you have small palms like mine) and the cauliflower and garlic. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 7-10 minutes.

Drain the cauliflower and place in a narrow, deep bowl. (I actually use a 2-quart saucepan.) Add the butter and cream, along with a big pinch of salt and several turns of the peppermill. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture until smooth. (If you're looking for silky, pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer.)

Divide the puree between the plates, then sprinkle with a touch more salt and pepper and the parsley. Drizzle a bit of the walnut oil over the top. Serve immediately.

The puree will keep, tightly covered in the fridge, for a few days. Reheat gently over low heat.

Serves 3-4 as a side.


Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies

Photos by Cate
If you have a bike, a car, or can conveniently catch the water taxi or a bus, you must make a stop in Red Hook! Red Hook is part of the area known as South Brooklyn. It is a peninsula between Buttermilk Channel, Gowanus Bay and Gowanus Canal. Unreachable by subway, this is one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods, as it offers many specialty spots. Of course it holds our beloved IKEA, Fairway, and it is also the only part of New York City that has a full frontal view of the Statue of Liberty, but what I am talking about are the amazing bakeries, vintage shops, and ball park food carts.

One of my most favorite places to visit when I go to Red Hook is Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies. These delicious little treats are made in-house from pure key limes. They also make their own Graham crumb crust and are praised for their use of freshly squeezed key limes, instead of generic bottled key lime juice. A single-serving individual pie fit well in my personal budgeted-baked-goods allowance, as it was only $4. You can also purchase an 8" pie for $15 or a 10" for $25.

Affordable + tasty = a must* stop!

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies
204 Van Dyke St
(between Van Brunt St & Conover St)
Brooklyn, NY 11231


Oh. My. Goodness.

You may not know this, but Elisabeth and I are kind of big dorks. Like when we were in grad school together, we were the dorky kids running stats programs on the computer and getting excited about pages and pages of results. And, as you probably do know, we have an affinity for both a) all things cool, and b) things that are well-designed. So this is seriously right up our alley. Let's just let this one speak for itself (too late, I know):

Head over here to see it in all of its glory. Super cool, right?


Join us in welcoming . . .

Cate!  Cate is the newest production assistant to join the YOU + ME* team.  You may remember joining her on a visit to the Brooklyn Flea.  We could go on and on raving about the quality of her work and how much we enjoy hanging out with her, but we think she describes herself best (I mean, we never would have come up with texture-ist, but you can bet we've added it to our vernacular).  So without further ado, here's Cate in photos and in words:

My name is Cate Geiger and I am an artist, stylist, creative-ist, color-ist, texture-ist, food-ist, currently living in Brooklyn. I feel that my professional and personal life often collide, as both call for seeking out unique and intriguing places or things.  Likewise, both require a strong dose of creativity.  Be it for food, repurposed furniture, vintage jewelry, or little trinkets–if it sounds interesting, is in a strange location, or doesn't have a door out front stating what it is, I'm going in!

Through my blog posts, I would love to let you in on some of my day to day excursions. I have some spots that I frequently visit and some that I am still hoping to discover. But every one of these places will either be a bit off the beaten path or a place that can offer you something special, and I will definitely give you a reason to seek it out for yourself!


Kitchen Basics, Lesson 5, Cooking Oils

randy mayor

Have you noticed how the cooking oil aisle in the grocery store has seemingly multiplied in size in the past few years? What was once an exclusive soiree of corn, canola and olive has turned into a full-fledged party. Newbies include avocado, safflower, sesame, walnut and more. Pretty cool, huh? Now, only if we knew what to do with all of em'...

To start, all oils have something called a "smoke point." This is the temperature at which the oil will break down and lose its ability to be effective. A high smoke point allows for more heat than a lower smoke point would. This (and flavor) are essentially what makes oils differ from each other. 

Here is a quick guide of oils and their respective smoke points to help navigate you through all the many choices:

Avocado Oil, 520 F
Butter, 302 F
Clarified Butter, 374-482 F
Canola Oil, 468 F
Coconut Oil, 351 F
Corn Oil, 457 F
Grape Seed Oil, 399 F
Lard, 280-394 F
Mustard Oil, 489 F
E.V. Olive Oil, 374 F
Palm Oil, 446 F
Peanut Oil, 448 F
Safflower Oil, 509 F
Sesame Oil (Unrefined), 351 F
Soybean Oil, 466 F
Sunflower Oil, 475 F
Walnut Oil, 399 F

Remember, when deep-frying or pan-frying it is important to use a cooking oil with a high smoke point such as Canola. Flavorful oils such as walnut and olive oil, which have a slightly lower smoke point, are best used in dressings, very low-heat cooking and even as substitute for the fat in baked goods. 

Good Luck, and Happy Cooking!


Happy Wednesday, Watercolor Edition!

Pretty, right? I don't know whether it's the colors that are just starting to bud on the trees, but I am super into watercolor these days (do you remember this tutorial we did? It could work well for Easter, too...).


The Beers Girls Try To Talk Design

Happy Tuesday, You + Me* Readers! We apologize but this post is going to be really short, because we're in the middle of preparing to open -- really open! It's been a long time coming and we're trying tie up all the loose ends, so time is in short supply. We know we normally post about lovely alcohol, but we wanted to switch it up and post about design... We're crossing our fingers Miya and Elisabeth don't get too mad!

One of the final things we're doing this week is getting our tables set. An amazing carpenter built the tables out of reclaimed wood from a barn in Knoxville dating from the 1800s. They're beautiful, but we thought there was a way to make them even better. We were inspired by this "Before and After" featured on Design Sponge. Check out this poem that someone hammered into this coffee table!

Now, take away the inspiring poem and replace it with quotes about beer and the Golden Girls theme song, and that's what our tables will be like!

Have a great week Readers!



Well, happy Tuesday, everyone. This made the rounds a long time ago, but what with the return of color, I think it bears revisiting. Plus, I am super homesick for San Francisco, and this helps a little bit.

And here's another one from the same ad campaign. Just proof (again) that design is cyclical.

How are your weeks going?


Marthe, Marthe, oh... Marthe.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that craftsmen are a dying breed.

There are however, a handful of devotees out there still making their livelihood from pre-industrial revolution means. These folks are busy creating masterpieces the "slow" way - with care, precision and pride.

Marthe Armitage is the perfect embodiment of a true artisan. Using hand-cut lino blocks, Marthe crafts unbelievably beautiful wallpapers and fabrics, all on an antique 19th century off-set lithographic printing press (which she has been using since the early 1960's).

Inspired by nature, her images are perfectly organic and yet stylistic at the same time. It's hard to imagine any of her designs ever going out of style.

Pushing 80 years old, Marthe continues to hone her skills, and produce prints everyday. If that's not the true spirit of craftsmanship, I'm not sure what is.

Here is where you can find her current collection.

All images by Gardens Illustrated Magazine


Queenie Cooks: Romaine Hearts with Lemon, Crème Fraiche & Fried Capers

You know how sometimes you just crave the familiar? I've been feeling that way of late. I've had a crazy month, and the next two weeks promise to be just as (wonderful and) nutty. When the world sweeps me up in its madness like this, I find myself dreaming of simple comforts: reading in bed on a Friday night, taking a bracing walk through Central Park in the cold - and comfort food, of course.

Sometimes comfort food means a big bowl of pasta, and sometimes it means a burger from the local greasy spoon. And sometimes - especially when I'm feeling a bit off-balance - it means salad. See, I love salad. I don't understand people who turn their noses up at leafy greens of any kind. In my house, salad is practically a religion, and certainly its own food group. I. Love. Salad.

This romaine salad, based on one I first enjoyed at the adorable Anella (in Greenpoint, Brooklyn), has become one of my very favorites. It's only been in my repertoire for a little over a year, but it's already earned a permanent place of honor. That's partly because of its deceptive simplicity, and partly because it makes use of three of my favorite ingredients: capers, fresh croutons and crème fraiche. (Which, let's face it, is really just schmancy sour cream, and I love sour cream, too.)

While this is an incredibly easy dish to prepare, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure your salad plates and your romaine are both chilled to a delightful crisp. There are times when you want the lettuce in a salad to be closer to room temperature; this is not one of them. You want firm leaves and a nice temperature contrast with the capers and croutons.

Second, make the fresh croutons. Do not be tempted to use croutons from a package, no matter how high-falutin'. The buttered toast flavor of the fresh ones is key to the success of this salad. If you want to swoon, you simply must toast a slice of bread in butter. There's nothing else to be done.

Romaine Hearts with Lemon, Crème Fraiche and Fried Capers
Adapted from Anella

1/4 cup plus one tablespoon canola oil, divided
2 tbs. capers, rinsed, drained and dried for 30 minutes on paper towels
1 tbs. butter
1 slice bread (I used whole wheat, but you can use whatever you like.)
3 tbs. crème fraiche
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 romaine heart, halved lengthwise
1 tbs. dill, finely chopped
1 tbs. white onion, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fry the capers:
In a small skillet or saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup of the canola oil until very hot. (A drop of water flicked onto the surface should crackle and evaporate immediately.) Add the capers and fry until they turn dark brown and smell nutty. Turn off the heat and, using a slotted spoon, remove the capers to a plate covered with paper towels. Set aside.

Make the buttery croutons:
In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the remaining canola oil with the butter. Once the butter has melted and is slightly foamy, add the slice of bread and turn the heat down slightly. Toast until dark brown on one side, then flip and toast the other side. Remove to a cutting board and slice into 1/4 or 1/2 inch squares. Set aside.

Make the dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraiche and lemon juice. The dressing should have a thick but drizzle-able consistency, like homemade ranch dressing. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad:
Place the romaine heart halves side by side on a chilled plate. Drizzle generously with the dressing (Use it all; don't be afraid.), then sprinkle with the dill. Follow with the onion, then the croutons, and finally the capers. Finish with a bit of salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves one, generously, or two, if you're really, really good at sharing.