SOMEBODY STOP ME!

I simply cannot help it. I’m about to share yet another recipe for cauliflower-in-disguise. But, believe me, this one will change your life. Have I ever promised to change your life with a recipe? No. So trust me, because I never lie. Cross my heart, etc etc. The whole thing starts as 99% of the cauli-rice recipes do: process the florets into bits.  But then, the twist: instead of boiling or simmering it, you will roast the riced cauliflower. Yes, straight into the oven with a delicate coating of coconut oil. And here I am, salivating just by the thought of how great this recipe turns out. Every. Single. Time Perfection, my friends. Perfection. I am so in love with cauliflower that Phil could be a bit jealous of it.

Cauli-Rice with Asparagus and Almonds

BAKED CAULI-RICE WITH ASPARAGUS AND ALMONDS
(inspired by The Clothes Make the Girl)

1 head of cauliflower, any color you like
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
3/4 teaspoon of salt
ground black pepper to taste
sautéed asparagus
toasted slivered almonds

Heat oven to 425F. Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Break the cauliflower into florets, removing the stems. Place the florets in the food processor bowl and pulse until the cauliflower looks like rice. If necessary, do it in two batches, depending on the size of your cauliflower.

Place the riced cauliflower rice in a large bowl, add the melted coconut oil and salt. Toss with two wooden spoons until the rice is coated with the oil. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast until tender and beginning to get a few brown spots, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your asparagus using any favorite recipe and mixture of spices. Toast some almonds lightly seasoned with salt.  When the cauli-rice is baked, transfer it to a serving bowl, top with the asparagus and almonds, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  The difference this method makes in the final product is hard to imagine. The cauli-rice gets all loose and with the exact amount of moisture, not soupy and lifeless. The coconut oil will be barely noticeable. I suspect that even if you don’t care for its taste in this preparation you won’t object. Perfect marriage.

You can take this dish into so many different directions: make it Mexican with the right mixture of spices, add a nice home-made salsa on top. Make it Indian with a curry blend, make it Italian, Brazilian, Korean, it is truly a superb blank canvas to work on.

I’ve made it several times so far, and also used a yellow-orange cauliflower for a show-stopper of a side-dish. I love it. Love it. Period.  Here it is, next to a roasted chicken leg made with a marinade that included a certain ginger syrup of my past.

CauliRiceOrange
I say goodbye with the firm intention of not blogging on cauliflower for at least a week!. I’ve got will power, I’ll nail this. Although….

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ONE YEAR AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

TWO YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

THREE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

FIVE YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

 

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: MINI-QUICHES WITH DUXELLES AND BABY BROCCOLI

It seems like FOREVER since we’ve had a Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club, but finally here we are, having the greatest time together…  My assigned blog for the first month of 2015 has such a cute name, makes me smile:  A Calculated Whisk… Becky, the cook behind the blog is a teacher of English to young Spanish-speaking kids, and next year will be starting to work on her master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology. Impressive!  Her site focuses on Paleo-friendly recipes, but is  not restricted to them. For those interested in the Paleo life-style,  I recommend reading her series of posts starting in January 1st, 2014, in which she shares her experience doing the Whole30 thing and blogging daily about it. That is endurance on several levels!  ;-)   Becky has two incredibly cute cats, Cupcake (a butter-addict) and Furpaws (prefers to hang inside the kitchen sink hoping for a sip of water straight from the faucet).  I say we pet lovers have our share of idiosyncratic creatures to deal with…    I am quite fond of Paleo recipes because they are usually moderate in carbs and high in protein, which is my preferred way to eat, so I had no problem finding stuff in her blog that pleased me. In fact, I intend to enjoy in the near future her Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Kale Marinara, her Chickpea Mushroom Spread (this one not Paleo), her Pumpkin and Pecorino Souffle (pretty intriguing gluten-free version), and her Spicy Cocoa Chili.  But this recipe won my heart to share with you today: Mini-Quiches with Duxelles and Broccoli.  As I expected, they were cute and absolutely delicious!

Mini-Quiches2

MINI-QUICHES WITH DUXELLES AND BROCCOLI
(slightly adapted from A Calculated Whisk)

makes 12 mini-quiches

for the duxelles:
2 tablespoons ghee
1 large shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup minced mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

for the mini quiches:
2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets
4 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup coconut milk, full fat
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil, for greasing the pan

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 12-cup muffin pan with olive oil.

To make the duxelles, melt the ghee in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and most of it is gone, about 10 minutes. Season the duxelles liberally with salt and pepper, then set aside on a plate to cool.

Return the skillet to medium and add the chopped broccoli. Cook, stirring frequently, until bright green and crisp tender, about five minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Stir in the duxelles and broccoli. Divide the mixture among the 12 greased muffin cups, filling each one about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until just set in the middle.

Gently run a knife around the edge of each quiche, and carefully scoop them out with a spoon. Enjoy hot or warm. Leftover quiches can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days and reheated.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I turned this recipe into a Neolithic version by adding feta cheese, my apologies to all modern cave men out there.  But some pieces of leftover feta were staring at me from the fridge JUST as I was grabbing the eggs, and they actually screamed when left behind: “Please, take us, take us!”. I could not ignore them, I’m sure Becky will forgive me for the tweak.  Those of you on a strict Paleo kick, simply omit the feta, but adjust the salt accordingly.

These were so tasty and convenient both as a side-dish at dinner or as a snack. Of course, you can think of all types of goodies to add to the mixture, keeping it Paleo with diced roasted butternut squash, shredded zucchini, or stretching a bit its limits with a little Roquefort or other yummy cheese.  However, this version joining broccoli with mushrooms is going to be hard to beat.

Mini-Quiches1

Becky, as soon as this post is public, I am going to subscribe to your blog, as I don’t want to miss any of your future recipes. I truly enjoyed secretively exploring your site, and look forward to more…

As usual, my readers are all invited to go poke a blue frog. There is one waiting for you at the end of the post, and once poked, you will be able to see what all my fellow Secreters have been up to in the first month of 2015! And if you are curious about who had my blog, take a look at this beautiful post by Tara.  She made brigadeiros!  Clever girl!

ONE YEAR AGO: Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

THREE YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

TWO APPETIZERS FOR THOSE WHO LIKE IT HOT

These appetizers would be great for a tapas party or to share with guests before a Tex-Mex meal.  They are very simple to prepare and both can be assembled in advance. Conveniently, both recipes are baked at the same temperature, 375 F.   When your guests arrive, stick the dishes in the oven, and they will be done by the time everyone is settling down, getting ready to enjoy the evening. I cannot decide which one I liked more, but chorizo has been a favorite ingredient these days, so maybe I lean towards the stuffed mushrooms as the winner. The recipe I’m sharing with you today came from Melissa’s blog,  “I Breathe I am Hungry“, which is a great site for those into low-carb and gluten-free nutrition. Even though I don’t fall into any strict category, whenever I  host a dinner party I like to include options that are lower in carbs, especially when it comes to appetizers because carbo-loading before a full meal seems a bit excessive.  The second recipe I won’t be sharing with you, but you can get it by ordering Melissa’s e-book The Gluten-Free Low Carber, which is a fantastic source of recipes, many of them not available in her blog.  Remember that  even if you do not own an iPad or Kindle, e-books can be assessed from your laptop.

ChorizoStuffedMushroomsCHORIZO, SPINACH & MANCHEGO STUFFED MUSHROOMS
(very slightly modified from I Breathe I am Hungry)

12 – 15 button mushrooms
6 ounces (about 3 links) chorizo
1 shallot, chopped
2 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese (or sharp Cheddar)
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
salt to taste (you will need very little)

Remove chorizo from its casing and saute in a medium frying pan for a few minutes. Add the chopped shallot and cook for about 3 minutes until translucent. Meanwhile, clean off the mushrooms and remove the stems. Place the caps on a large plate and microwave for 2 minutes to soften.

Add the cream cheese, shredded cheese, and baby spinach leaves to the chorizo mixture. Stir well and cook for a minute or two until the spinach wilts. Remove from the heat. Stuff the mushrooms with about a tablespoon each of the filling. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375 F oven for about 10 minutes. Longer if you like your mushrooms really soft. Remove and cool for a few minutes before eating.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: These are addictive. Now, Melissa herself warned about how hot they are once baked. Be careful and give them a little time to cool down before you bite into these babies. If you are serving them to company, I suggest offering small appetizer forks, so your guests can cut them in half with the fork.  It is hard to keep your composure if you bite into these and find out that the center feels like molten lava on your tongue. Please, don’t ask me how I know… (sigh)

And now the second appetizer: a Jalapeno Popper dip, creamy, spicy, truly delicious!

JalapenoDip

Of course, you could send the low-carb for a walk and dive into this dip with crackers, toasted baguette rounds, and tortilla chips.  But if that’s not acceptable think about slicing jicama very thinly and using the slices as a chip.  Whatever rocks your boat.

For the full recipe get Melissa’s e-book, The Gluten-Free Low Carber. I highly recommend it!   Her recipes are very creative, and even if you don’t worry about carbs and gluten, you will find plenty of stuff to drool over. Some of my favorites: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara (a happy accident in her kitchen). three versions of Flax Crackers, Buffalo Balls (don’t worry, it calls for ground chicken… ), Ham and Spinach Calzones (yes, gluten-free, very interesting dough using cream cheese), Faux-lafel with Tahini Sauce (creative twist on a classic) and of course I absolutely must make her Brazilian Chicken Pies. She also offers recipes for gluten-free pie and pizza crust, as well as low-carb ketchup, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings.

ONE YEAR AGO: Baked Ricotta, Take Two

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Uncanned

THREE YEARS AGO: Pork Ragu

FOUR YEARS AGO: Friendly Kuri Squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Celery and Apple Salad

 

GUEST POST FOR COOKIE MONDAYS: LINZER COOKIES

I am so excited because Prudy, the gorgeous hostess of the blog Butter, Basil, and Breadcrumbs invited me to write a guest blog post on her series entitled “Cookie Mondays”.   If you don’t know Prudy’s site, stop what you’re doing and pay her a visit right now!  One of the things I love about her blog is that she shares bits about herself that are incredibly fun to read, and often quite touching and profound.  There will always be a great recipe going along with it, but it’s definitely not just about recipes.  For instance, in a post about fruit sushi, she tells this story about having lunch with her boss when she did not know him very well. I quote:  “Have you ever tried to eat a whole chicken with chopsticks?”  Priceless… Another example, in a post about filled donuts, she shares her experience with the dreaded senior discount (I can totally relate! Me? Old?  You must be kiddin’ me!). One more: imagine a post about peas and carrots that makes you consider a choice between becoming fluent in all languages or able to play any musical instrument… Yeah, only Prudy can pull that one ;-)

Anyway, I am honored to be part of the list of lucky bloggers invited to compose a post for her site, and it’s my turn to invite you to read about our adventure making Linzer Cookies! Our adventure, you might ask? Yes, this was a project Phil and I tackled together on a chilly Sunday morning. Fun, fun, fun… and mighty tasty!

Now, without further ado, click here for the full post.

cutting

TUSCAN GRILLED CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE SKEWERS

Talk about being slow to blog about stuff.  This recipe was made last August, so it will appeal a lot more now to the lucky folks who live in places such as Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, are enjoying the best time of their lives, aka SUMMER!  I was slow to blog, but even slower to give it a try, as the recipe is from Fine Cooking, year 2006.  Eight years and a few months ago.

You will need to prepare in advance a delicious rosemary-infused olive oil, and there will be leftovers. I confess that this was probably the reason why I dragged my foot for so long before making this recipe. I am not big on preparing infused oils and sauces and dressings that can be used later. They sit in the fridge making me feel guilty as the days go by and their expiration date approaches.  Still this rosemary concoction would be great in a simple spaghetti aglio & olio or drizzled over your favorite pizza topping.  Very flavorful stuff, the smell as it simmers will make you wanna dance. Not a dancer? It will make you wanna sing. Not a singer either? I will settle for a smile. Make it a big one, though.

Tuscan Chicken Sausage Skewers

TUSCAN GRILLED CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE SKEWERS
(from Fine Cooking magazine, issue #80)

2-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut in half
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. Rosemary-Garlic Oil (recipe follows)
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 2-inch pieces
24 large fresh sage leaves

Up to a day ahead and at least a couple of hours before serving, toss the chicken in a medium bowl with 2 Tbs. of the infused oil, the fresh rosemary, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Heat a grill to medium heat. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup oil into two small bowls (one for grilling and one for serving, if desired). Alternately thread three pieces of sausage, three pieces of chicken, and four sage leaves onto each of six 12-inch metal skewers.

Grill the skewers, covered, until one side is browned and has good grill marks, about 4 min. Brush with some of the rosemary-garlic oil, flip, and cook the other side until it, too, has good grill marks, about 4 min. Brush with more oil and flip again. Continue cooking, flipping, and brushing with oil until the sausage and chicken are both cooked through, about 10 min. more.

Let cool for a couple of minutes and then arrange on a platter, and serve with additional oil, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

RosemaryOil
ROSEMARY-GARLIC OIL
(slightly modified from Fine Cooking magazine, issue #80)

1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic starts to bubble steadily, 3 to 4 min. Add the rosemary, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a clean glass jar or other storage container, cover, and refrigerate. Use within five days.

ENJOY!

to print the infused oil recipe, click here

skewers

Comments:  This was a pretty nice recipe! I did not baste the skewers often while grilling, only once, but that did not hurt them a bit. Vegetarians forgive me, but the mixture of chicken with sausage is a winner, and the sage leaves add a lot of flavor and visual appeal.  If you want to add veggies to the skewers, I think eggplant cubes could work well, they would stand to the cooking and be done more or less at the same time as the meat. Of course, onion would be another great option. Something to consider when summer is finally back bringing with it my beloved flip-flops, shorts, and t-shirts. By now I am even looking forward to golf…   ;-)

Note added after publication: I was kindly reminded by my readers in Florida that they are currently all happy under a 70 F sunny weather.  It is a bit like sticking the knife and twisting, so yes, go ahead Floridians, and make this recipe.  Think about me as you do it, and send me some of your warm weather ASAP.

ONE YEAR AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Pork Tenderloin & Apples

TWO YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

THREE YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

FOUR YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

FIVE YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

 

 

KEN FORKISH’S WARM SPOT SOURDOUGH

First bread post of 2015!  Not the first bake of the year, because this was made for Phil’s birthday on the last week of December. He chose the whole menu, which consisted of oysters on the half-shell as a first course, and clam chowder as the main dish. Also according to his request, no dessert to keep things moderate.  Perfect for me.  The bread was all that bowl of chowdah needed to shine in its creamy glory!

Warm Spot Sourdough1

WARM SPOT SOURDOUGH

I am not going to share the full recipe (from Ken Forkish’s book Flour Water Salt Yeast), but you can find it online with a visit to Karen’s site. And don’t just limit yourself to that recipe,  look around and be amazed by her talent. Just a recent example: she tackled Pretzel Rolls, the traditional Laugenbrötchen. That is on my mile-long list of things to try this year. Now, back to my sourdough…

A little walk through the method… The bread takes three days to prepare, but don’t let that intimidate you. It is worth your time. The interesting twist in the recipe is keeping your sourdough starter at a higher temperature of fermentation, around 85 F. During the winter that can be a challenge, but I am the lucky owner of a bread proofing box. Problem solved. Because the starter ferments at a higher temperature you will need to refresh it more often than usual, but as I mentioned in my previous sourdough post, Ken is particularly helpful in laying out a nice schedule for each of his recipes.

After the bulk fermentation, in which I gave four folding cycles to the dough, the bread is shaped, and retarded in the fridge overnight. From the fridge it goes straight into the hot oven, no need to bring it to room temperature.

One of the things I did differently in this bake was to flour my banetton, cover it with plastic wrap (Saran Wrap type), flour the plastic and place the shaped dough for its final proof, seam side UP (going against Ken’s usual method).  Next morning, I inverted the bread on parchment paper, slashed the surface and baked it with my normal method of steam (Dutch oven covered with a wet lid).  Ken likes to allow his breads to open naturally, so he proofs the shaped loaf with the seam side down, then simply inverts it on the baking sheet without slashing. I did this on my first time making this recipe a couple of months ago, and even though the bread tasted as good as this one, it failed to open in a more dramatic way.  Take a look:

FirstLoaf

Maybe it is just a matter of personal preference, but I rather help the bread open in a more defined way.  One more remark before I go: I liked the use of the plastic wrap because it gave me extra confidence removing the bread from the banetton. I’ve had too many situations of dough sticking and compromising the shape of the loaf in the end.  I suspect my skills to shape the loaf and generate enough surface tension need improvement. Until then, I will be using this trick, and if you had problems with dough sticking give it a try…

The bread had good oven spring, the crust was just the way we love it!

CrumbCRUMB SHOT

So there we have it, another birthday celebration, with good music, juicy oysters, delicious bread, and a warming bowl of soup, all in the comfort of our home!  Life is good…

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Bran Muffins, Rainbows, and a wonderful surprise!

TWO YEARS AGO: Cider-Marinated Pork Kebabs

THREE YEARS AGO: Golden Age Granola

FOUR  YEARS AGO: Mushroom Souffle for Two

FIVE YEARS AGO: Stollen