I’ll put it out there right now. I don’t really like Christmas. I think working in retail for a spell killed any Christmas spirit I had. At work, we’ve been planning for winter events at the library since about two months ago. We’ve already instructed staff to decorate the Main Library this week so that we can be ready for the WinterFest kickoff downtown on Sunday, November 18, which is also the first year that the Celebration of Lights Tree Lighting and Parade will happen before Thanksgiving.
The only thing I’m okay with is the food part of the holidays, and ABRAMS Books has the perfect cookbook to get you ready to impress your guests or hosts with ease. The title and beautiful, crafty-looking cover had me thinking that this would be a cookbook of recipes to make and give as gifts. While there are certainly recipes that would make wonderful gifts, like pine syrup or smokey tea shortbread, it is more of a guide to entertaining.
Yvette Van Boven is an acclaimed cookbook author and food stylist who also has a popular cooking show in Holland. She splits her time between Amsterdam and Paris, and you’ll get to see lovely, wintry photos of both in the book. The cookbook has some really handy information that includes stress-relief tips, to-do lists, and themed menus. Most of the recipes are divided into pre-preparation and preparation sections.
While I am happy to have this cookbook in my collection as a reference book for entertaining, it’s not something I would particularly seek out. It gave me that Martha Stewart too precious vibe if that makes any sense. That said, I appreciated all of the veg-friendly recipe and menus. I almost made the vegetable spiral tart with avocado-curry cream, but since it had egg (y’all know I hate eggs), I opted to try out a soup that had a few of my favorite things. See what I did there?
Cauliflower Creme with Coconut, Cumin & Pine Nuts
This was a rich, creamy soup that had unique components. I opted to veganize it by using Earth Balance butter and unsweetened cashew milk in place of regular milk. Typing this out has now reminded me that I accidentally dropped and broke my pestle while getting ready to lightly crush the cumin seeds. Heavy sigh.
For the Cauliflower Creme
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2-3 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar
- Pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
- 1 (13.5-ounce/400-ml) can coconut milk
- 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (200 ml) milk
- A small splash of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, briefly toasted in a dry skillet
- A handful of croutons*
Saute the onions in the oil and butter over very low heat in a heavy pan until they are golden brown and sweet, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon, and stir well. Add the cauliflower and saute for about 10 minutes over low heat.
Add all the liquids: the coconut milk, stock, and milk. Stir well and place the lid on the pan. Let simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree the soup until smooth with a hand blender, and season with some salt and black pepper.
Heat up the soup and ladle it into bowls. Drizzle with a dash of oil, sprinkle with pine nuts and croutons, and serve.
*Cube day-old bread and arrange it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with pressed garlic; sprinkle with some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and bake in a 335 F (170 C) preheated oven until cubes are just light brown, about 12 minutes, depending on the size of your croutons. Flip them halfway through for even browning.
P.S. This is the second post sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. I am so excited to be part of thirty bloggers selected for this partnership! That means they send me cookbooks to review. This is a total librarian foodie dream & I am so honored to have been selected!