TWO SALADS AND A BLOG AWARD!

Three reasons to smile today, how about that? Two very colorful salads to counteract the somber days of winter and the even more somber political scenario.  Plus, the joy of receiving a blog award. Not bad to close the first month of 2017!

The first salad was inspired by a very nice food blog, Hanady Kitchen. She is a veteran food blogger, but only recently I got to know her site. Better late than never. Love her cooking style. The star ingredient is Halloumi cheese, very unique ingredient that is worth trying to find in your grocery store. Depending on where you live it could be tricky. It is a grilling cheese originated in Cyprus, made of goat and sheep’s milk. Instead of melting away as a regular cheese would, it stands up to the heat and develops a crust that will leave a lasting impression in your gustative memory. Instead of the grill, I used my All Clad fish pan, and it worked like a charm.

salad

HALLOUMI SALAD WITH TOMATOES AND AVOCADO
(inspired by Hanady Kitchen)

1 block of Halloumi, cut in small squares
1 tablespoon olive oil
a few grape tomatoes, cut in half or large tomatoes cut in chunks
1 avocado, cut in chunks
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 tablespoons Verjus (or lemon juice)
1/4 teaspoon sumac
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil on a non-stick skillet. Add the squares of Halloumi and fry until golden brown, flip to fry the other side. Remove slices to drain on a paper towel, squeeze a little lemon juice over them. Reserve.

Add the tomatoes and avocado chunks to a medium size bowl. Make a dressing with the grape seed oil, Verjus (or lemon juice), whisking well to combine. Add sumac, salt, and pepper, whisk again.

Add the dressing to the veggies, then the pieces of Halloumi. Mix gently, adjust seasoning. Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: Halloumi will definitely become a constant guest in our kitchen. Nothing quite like it. That crust is perfect, the texture inside still firm with that delicate sharpness of the cheese. Perfect to nibble all by itself, or added to salads such as this one.

Moving on, the second salad comes from Fine Cooking magazine, and uses white asparagus as the main ingredient, but here’s the kick: it is raw and sliced very thinly. I know, mind-blowing…

shaved-asparagus-salad

WHITE ASPARAGUS, PARSLEY AND CRANBERRY SALAD
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine)

12 oz. white asparagus, trimmed, sliced very thinly on a sharp diagonal
1/2 oz. (about 1 cup) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 Tbs. Sherry vinegar
1 tsp. honey
lettuce leaves, for serving

In a medium bowl, toss the asparagus with the parsley leaves and cranberries. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper until emulsified. Toss the salad with enough dressing to lightly coat, and serve over lettuce leaves.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The only “problem” with this salad is that one bunch of asparagus will make enough for two, three people tops. Making this for a crowd could be tricky, unless you don’t mind spending considerable amount of time slicing asparagus. Nothing wrong with that if it suits your mood… Be Zen, though. I was not sure Phil would like the salad, but he absolutely loved it, thought it was different from anything he’d ever had before.  I tell you, the combination of raw white asparagus with cranberries is perfect. Plus they look nice together too.

And now for the Blog Award!  I was surprised with a comment from Bernadine (Bern Bakes) telling me that she awarded me the Mystery Blogger Award.  Stop by here to read more about it.

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WHAT IS MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD?

“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.  Okoto Enigma

There are some rules, and of course I will break some of them, because as I mentioned before, I do not forward awards, so I hope I don’t offend anyone by it.

  • Display award on blog  DONE.
  • List rules DONE.
  • Mention creator of the award & provide link  DONE.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link DONE.
  • Say three things about yourself. CHECK BELOW
  • Answer five questions from your nominee CHECK BELOW
  • Write five questions for your nominees to answer (sorry, not nominating anyone)
  • Nominate from ten to 20 other bloggers. (see above)
  • Notify nominees by commenting on their blog (see above)
  • Share your best post CHECK BELOW

THREE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF

I decided to ask Phil to help me out, as I got in a kind of paralyzed mode trying to come up with something. Here is what he said, almost without blinking…

You are very determined (that is 100% true)
You are very organized (he is not talking about my bench, I can tell you that)
You respect people who are intelligent AND work hard (good sense of humor gets me too)

I guess these will do.  I think I’ll add I am very good at multi-tasking, but maybe that comes with organization?  And obviously it all melts away when faced with cake baking.

ANSWERING QUESTIONS FROM BERNADINE

Whats your current favorite T.V. show?
Big Bang Theory

What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
White chocolate

Do you have a bad habit?
Worrying

Do you have a good habit?
My exercise routine. And I am very proud of it too…  (since you asked.. 😉

If you could meet one celebrity or person you admire who would it be? Why?
President Obama. I don’t think explanations are needed.

SHARE YOUR BEST POST

After almost 8 years of blogging, it’s very hard to choose my favorite. Instead, I will share the most popular on the blog, which happens to be one of my favorite cakes, I’ve made it plenty of times.

Here we go… The Ultimate Apple Cake

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH, BERNADINE!
Nice to be recognized!

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: When Three is Better than Two

TWO YEARS AGO: Somebody Stop Me!

THREE YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

SIX YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

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

 

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GOING NAKED… AND MY HUSBAND LOVED IT!

Obviously, I am talking naked tomatoes. Obviously. Another almost non-recipe that went from spotting on a site to preparing and blogging in record time… The source for this little gem is the video blog Food Wishes, hosted by Chef John. I’ve been following his site for a long time, he always posts interesting stuff, but I admit to rarely watching the videos. I am a very impatient person. Give me the recipe, if possible with just a photo or two, and I’m a happy camper. But, I must say whenever I watch his videos, I feel happy I did. He is a natural teacher, concise, and very witty. Anyway, these naked tomatoes intrigued me. I read his post while we were away in Portland. We landed back in town, and stopped at the grocery store on our way home. I made a beeline for the fresh produce stand. Not a single cherry tomato to be found. However, gorgeous grape tomatoes said hello to me, so I asked “do you mind if I take your clothes off?”

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NAKED GRAPE TOMATOES
(adapted from Food Wishes)

a bunch of grape tomatoes
salted boiling water
ice water bath
a little patience and loving care
extra-virgin olive oil
white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic, or sherry vinegar)
dried thyme to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Make two very small and not too deep incisions in each grape tomato on the side opposite of the stem.

Drop them in salted boiling water for just a few seconds. The moment the skin starts to curl up, remove them quickly and dump them in ice water until cold.

Carefully peel off the skin, one by one. Be Zen. It is good for you.

Add them to a small bowl. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, thyme (or another herb of your choice), salt and pepper. Pour over the tomatoes, cover with plastic and leave at room temperature until serving time.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: I will not lie to you, peeling small tomatoes is a labor of love. But worth it. If you have a dinner party, these would be amazing as appetizers. Grab a toothpick, pop one of these naked cuties in your mouth, repeat. I also envision them served over crostini, a nice smear of ricotta underneath, maybe even baked ricotta. Have you ever had baked ricotta? Here is a recipe for you, just to make things easier. Both Phil and I loved these tomatoes, the resulting texture is wonderful! The dressing, instead of slipping off the tomato skin, permeates delicately through its flesh. Is that sexy or what?

dinner-servedDinner is served: Turkey Portobello Burgers, avocados,
and Naughty Grape Tomatoes… 

naked-grape-tomatoes-from-bewitching-kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Cream Cheese Mini-Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

TWO YEARS AGO:  Star-Shaped Chocolate Brioche Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

FOUR YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

FIVE YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

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MANGO SALSA WITH VERJUS

If there was a folder with “non-recipes” in this site, this concoction would feel at home sitting inside. It is way too simple to qualify as a recipe. But it turned out so delicious, I must share and save it for my records.  If you have mangoes available at the grocery store, you should give this salsa a try. I used Verjus because I was anxious to try it, but don’t let that stop you if you don’t have a bottle in your pantry.  Lemon juice will work great too, a little more acidity never hurt a salsa, trust me on that.  Due to food sensitivities, this is an onion-less preparation.  I will include them as an option since most people consider salsa not be salsa unless loaded with onions. Honestly, I prefer it without.  However, you should go heavy on the cilantro.

mango-salsaMANGO SALSA WITH VERJUS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 juicy, small mangoes, diced
1 large cucumber, diced
2 large red tomatoes, Heirloom is possible, diced
1/2 large onion, diced (optional)
1/2 Serrano pepper, finely minced
cilantro leaves, minced
2 tablespoons avocado oil (or another oil of your choice)
1 tablespoon Verjus (or juice of half a lemon)
salt and pepper to taste

Add all the diced veggies to a bowl.   In a small bowl, whisk the avocado oil with the Verjus or lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Pour on the veggies, mix well, add the minced cilantro and toss gently to combine.  Keep in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.  Adjust seasoning and…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: I served this salsa over very simply grilled chicken breasts, and ended up eating a lot of salsa with a little bit of chicken for my meal that evening. Leftovers held very well in the fridge, and were amazing when added to mashed avocados for a tropical take on guacamole. I added a little more Serrano pepper just because.
Phil made a little quesadilla with Queso Fresco and a hearty spoonful of the salsa. As you can tell, this simple mixture of sweet mango and veggies is quite versatile and will brighten up many types of dishes. Next time around it will go over grilled salmon. I salivate just thinking about it…  Frozen mango slices are available, but I am not sure they would work here. I think nothing beats the fresh fruit at its peak in this type of preparation.

mango-salsa-from-bewitching-kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Raspberry Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Brownies

TWO YEARS AGO: Scary Good Pork Burgers

THREE YEARS AGO: Review of exercise program Focus25

FOUR YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Post-workout Breakfast

SIX YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers

 

 

TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SALAD WITH ALMOND VINAIGRETTE

The salads we make at home are so simple that they never make it to the blog.  A little bit of slicing and dicing, a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and nothing else. But this recipe from a recent issue of  Food and Wine, is definitely worth talking about. I had never sautéed nuts to add flavor to a vinaigrette, and was amazed by the outcome. I adapted the original recipe to include Neo, the single cucumber  produced in our backyard. You know, The One. We are good at biochemistry, my friends. Or so we hope. Gardening? Not so much…

tomato almond

TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SALAD WITH ALMOND VINAIGRETTE
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

Heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin
yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil, in chiffonade

In a medium skillet, cook the almonds in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about
 7 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl; reserve the almonds for the salad. Immediately whisk in the vinegar, lime juice and agave nectar. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Allow it to cool to close to room temperature.

Spread the tomato and cucumber slices on a large baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with salt and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.  On a serving platter, scatter half of the almonds 
and top them with 
the tomato and cucumber slices. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the remaining almonds and fresh basil.  Serve right away. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The first adjective that came to my mind when I tasted the salad was “intense.”  The toasted almond flavor permeating through the oil is a real game-changer. Other nuts could be used instead. Consider  a macadamia, pistachio, perhaps a hazelnut version. I must make it again soon to profit from summer tomatoes, still so juicy and delicious. Not much hope for another homegrown cucumber, but there’s always next year…  Next time I will slice the cucumber a bit thinner. Other than that, it is a winner.  If you check the original recipe in Food and Wine, you’ll notice it called for several types of fresh herbs, but I only had basil around, so that’s what went into it.  I already feel the sadness of summer leaving us. Might as well make batches of tomato salad while we can. With a tissue nearby in case I get too emotional…

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette, Bewitching Kitchen

Grab a pin and share away…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Eggplant Tomato Stacks

TWO YEARS AGO: The Couscous that Wasn’t

THREE YEARS AGO: Apple-Cinnamon Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blueberry Galette

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

SIX YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner

 

 

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SECRET RECIPE CLUB: FALAFEL & A BONUS RECIPE

The Secret Recipe Club is an event that pairs two food bloggers in secret. Once we get our “assignment”, we have about 3 weeks to browse through the site, choose a recipe from it, cook and blog about it at midnight of Reveal Monday. I’ve been a member for a long time, but I still remember exactly how it felt when I joined. Those “newbie” feelings, never quite sure if your write-up, photos, chosen recipe were good enough. I got to know amazing food blogs through the SRC, and that is a bonus like no other. Long before I joined the club, I was a faithful follower of a very unique blog, called Chef in Disguise. At some point in the not too distant past, Sawsan, the hostess of that site, joined The Secret Recipe Club, and when I learned about that, my heart missed a beat, out of pure thrill. And then it missed another beat, from disappointment. Disappointment because she was not in my group. At that time there were four different groups. I was part of Group D, she was placed in Group A. Bummer. But it so happens that major changes took place, instead of four separate groups we now have three, bloggers moved around, and voilà: I found myself sitting in Group A.  But, what’s even better, today I have the greatest honor and pleasure of cooking from her site.  Those are incredibly big shoes to fill, Sawsan is an outstanding cook, photographer, and writer. But having interacted with her over many years through emails and comments I also know she is an amazing human being. Kind, generous, loving, devoted to her family, friends, profession, and culture. Through her blog, I learned so much more than cooking. Just to offer you a very small but representative example: in this post she explains Ramadan and does so in a beautiful, profound and touching way.  But that’s just one example. Sawsan’s mission is to open her kitchen and home to people all over the world. You’ll find stories of her family as she grew up, stories of her kids adventures in school or how they are all dealing with moving from Jordan to UAE.  You will also find recipes ranging from straightforward to incredibly sophisticated. There is simply nothing she won’t try and then excel at. You don’t believe me? Take a look at this cake she made for her son. Or this one for her daughter. And when she does this type of challenging projects, she makes sure that anyone can follow her steps, by writing very detailed tutorials.  These “how to” posts are amazing sources of information, a bit like having a teacher holding your hand.

As usual, I like to make a list of the recipes that I considered for this Reveal Day. From Chef in Disguise, my list was a mile long, but I will take a minimalist approach: Pão de Queijo (because I was thrilled to see her making a typical Brazilian concoction),  Date Bread Rings, Cheese and Anise Flat Bread,  Mille-feuille for home-made Napoleon, Braided Date Bread (almost made this one…), Lavender Chicken, Pavlova (always wanted to give this one a try), Kabsa (irresistible rice and meat concoction from the Arabian gulf).  But I also want to offer you four examples of tutorials that are a must-read: How to make Labneh Cheese How to make Feta Cheese…  How to make mozzarella and armenian string cheese… and another one very dear to my heart: Sourdough starter 101: how to create your sourdough starter from scratch.

So, what did I pick? For starters, Falafel. Not an easy choice, because a couple of years ago I had an epic disaster in the kitchen attempting to make them. Our dear friend Cindy had traveled all the way from Oklahoma to visit us and one of our goals was to make falafel together. Things seemed to be going well, but when we got to the part of frying them, they disintegrated in the oil, every single one of them!  It was a royal mess, we had to resort to a plan B for our dinner. I confess that when I have this type of problem with a recipe, I usually avoid attempting it again for a while (in Sally’s speak: for a while = forever).  But Sawsan’s post was my chance to do it right.  I was quite nervous about it, but here I am to report back: HUGE SUCCESS!  A personal culinary demon has been exorcised for good!

(Just when I finished editing and scheduling this post, Sawsan published a new article.
I won’t say a word about it. Because once again, she’s said it all).

served-3

 

FALAFEL
(slightly adapted from Sawsan’s Chef in Disguise)

This recipe makes 35 falafel patties

500 g soaked chickpeas (measured after soaking)
125 g soaked peeled fava beans (measured after soaking)
½ cup parsley leaves (remove stems)
½ cup cilantro leaves (remove stems)
1 medium shallot
¾ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoons ground cumin
¾ teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon all spice
½ teaspoon black pepper

to add 10 minutes before cooking
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda

for the tahini sauce:
2 Tablespoons of yogurt
1 tablespoon Tahini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
a dash of salt

Prepare the Falafel Mix: Soak the fava beans and the chickpeas in water in separate containers overnight. The following day drain the fava beans and the chickpeas, rinse them with fresh water. You should weigh them after soaking, and place the required amount in the bowl of a food processor. Process the grains together until smooth, remove from the processor and add the shallot, parsley, cilantro, salt, peppers, and spices to the empty processor. Process until a paste forms, add the grains back and process everything together until very smooth.  Scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times so that  you’ll end up without large chunks of grains.  You can freeze the mixture at this point or place it in the fridge for a few days.

Ten minutes before frying, sprinkle baking soda and baking powder on the falafel mix, knead and let rest.

When ready heat 1 inch deep of cooking oil in the frying pan on medium heat. Scoop the falafel by using a specialized Falafel scoop, an ice cream scoop, or by using 2 spoons whereby you scoop the falafel paste in one, and press the other spoon against it to compact it into an oval shape. You can also use your hands to roll the falafel into balls. Drop the falafel gently into the frying pan. no more than 4-5 because if you add too many the oil will cool down and the falafel will fall apart Fry for a few minutes until the falafel turns brownish, flipping it once to brown both sides.  Take the falafel out and place it on a paper towel to get rid of excess oil.

Make the sauce: mix the Tahini sauce ingredients in a small bowl until you get the right texture, you can add a bit more water or lemon juice if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve as a dip or spoon some over the falafel on your plate.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe click here 

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Comments: To make this wonderful recipe, you’ll need two special items. First dried, peeled fava beans (although you could use all garbanzo beans if you cannot find fava). I will add a little note here. Sawsan once offered to send me a bag of dried favas straight from Jordan, so that I could have the best possible product to make falafel from scratch!  Can you imagine? I told you she is very kind… So, for this recipe I searched for the very best product I could find through amazon.com as far as reviews from customers go.  The second item, which is not mandatory, is a falafel maker. You can see what it looks like in the photo below  I advise you to buy a large one, because some available are way too small. The one I got is this model. It is described as extra-large. Trust me, you don’t want anything smaller. Of course, you can make falafel shaped with spoons or your hands, but I wanted to make sure I did a good job. Remember, it’s Sawsan’s blog I am talking about…

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I made the falafel mixture two days before actually frying them.  Kept the bowl in the fridge, then kneaded the baking powder and baking soda right before cooking them, as instructed by Sawsan. To my amazement, not a single one dissolved in the oil, and the taste… out of this world delicious! I used a heavy hand with the herbs, so mine turned out a bit more green than Sawsan’s.

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These tender, flavorful little morsels were perfect served with the tahini sauce…

Falafel, from Beiwtching Kitchen


BONUS RECIPE

And now that we got the Falafel talked about, I must share with you a bonus recipe. In part, I made it because I wanted to have a backup post in case the falafel turned into oily crumbs. But I am so glad I picked this salad, because it was one of the best things I cooked so far this year.  Grilled peaches ROCK!

Grilled Peach Salad with Lavender Dressing

GRILLED PEACH FETA SALAD WITH LAVENDER DRESSING
(slightly modified from Sawsan’s Chef in Disguise)

for the salad:
3 cups greens (I used a spring mix)
3 tablespoons of feta crumbled, or to taste
2 peaches cut into segments

for the lavender dressing:
4 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon mustard
½ teaspoon dried lavender flowers
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used white balsamic)

Make the dressing: In a bowl add the lemon juice, salt, mustard ,lavender, and balsamic vinegar and whisk Slowly drizzle the olive oil while you continue whisking until you have added the entire amount.

Prepare the salad: On the grill or in a pan on the stove top, lightly grill the peach segments. In your serving plate, arrange the greens, topped with the grilled peach segments. Crumble the feta cheese on top.

Drizzle the dressing on the salad right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: What a wonderful salad this was!  I made the dressing one hour before dinner, because I wanted to make sure the lavender taste would sip through the dressing, and I think that was a good move… I coated the grill pan very lightly with a coconut oil spray, and the peaches were done in a couple of minutes, beautiful marks all around. I allowed the slices to come to room temperature before assembling the salad. A winner, all the way!  I am definitely incorporating grilled peaches in our diet, and might even be daring and grill some fresh apricots next time, use a mixture of the two fruits…


Grilled Peach Salad, from Bewitching Kitchen

Sawsan, I cannot tell you how happy I was to get your blog to cook from! Having been a reader for so long, your place feels like home in the blogosphere…  I hope you also enjoyed your assignment this month!  Happy Reveal Day!

I invite my readers to click on the blue frog. She will take you to the collection of recipes my virtual friends prepared this month. And of course, I wish everyone in the USA a Happy 4th of July!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2015

TWO YEARS AGO: Sous-vide Pork Chops with Roasted Poblano Butter

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

FOUR YEARS AGO: Amazing Ribs for the 4th of July!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Baby Back Ribs on the 4th of July

SIX YEARS AGO: Blueberry Muffins

SEVEN YEARS AGO: A Pie for your 4th of July

FAKEBBOULEH

Meet the lighter sibling of tabbouleh. Made with riced cauliflower instead of cracked wheat, it is every bit as delicious, but won’t make  you feel stuffed after going back for seconds. I don’t know about you, but I can never stop at one serving of tabbouleh. I always go back for another helping, or when dining at home just the two of us, I keep visiting the serving bowl with my own fork: a little mindless bit here, another there as we talk about life, the mysterious process of bacterial iron uptake, or which brand of shoes could prevent my ankle from saying nasty things to me during a longer run. You know, real important stuff.

fakebouleh

CAULIFLOWER A LA TABBOULEH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
salt and pepper
2 cucumbers, seeded, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried mint)
1/3 cup parsley leaves, minced (or amount to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
zest and juice 1/2 lemon

Rice the cauliflower florets in a food processor, blender, or grating box. Heat the coconut oil (or other fat of your choice) on a large skillet, preferably non-stick.  When the oil is hot, add the riced cauliflower, season lightly with salt and pepper, and move it around for a few minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a dish to cool. I like to use a baking dish to get the cauli-rice well spread.

Add the cucumber, tomatoes and parsley to a bowl. Don’t be skimpy on the amount of parsley, and mince it very well. If using fresh mint, add it to the bowl too.

Make a quick and simple dressing with the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, add salt and pepper, dried mint if using it.

Add the cooled cauliflower rice to the veggies, pour the dressing on top and mix gently.  It gets better with a little time in the fridge.  Serve at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

dinner

Comments: There are several ways to cook riced cauliflower, each with a slightly different outcome. When I enjoy it as I would real rice, I prefer to bake it. For this type of recipe, I’ve tried three ways: baked, microwaved, and sautéed in oil. I favored the third option because the texture was perfect to mimic cracked wheat.  Baked would be my second choice, the problem is that the grains of cauliflower shrink a lot more in the oven. You can of course use any method you like, just make sure it is all at room temperature when you mix the fakebbouleh. As to the parsley,  next time I will add more to my version. I love it and like my tabbouleh – fake or authentic – to be pretty “herbal.”

Next day leftovers were all I had for lunch. I did squirt a little more lemon juice on top because I believe there is never too much lemon on this type of preparation. It freshens up everything. One last thought before I leave you… I usually add a lot less dressing to salads than most recipes call for, so if you try this recipe, keep that in mind and consider doubling the amount. A touch of Maldon salt flakes right before indulging is not mandatory, but quite pleasant for the taste buds.

dinner-2

Dinner is served!  Grilled chicken breasts were perfect with my fakebbouleh…

ONE YEAR AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

THREE YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

SIX YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

 

 

 

 

PLAYING WITH PECTINASE

I subscribe to a site called Chefsteps.com that deals with stuff going from molecular gastronomy to sous-vide, but also covers more mundane topics, like making the most of your mandoline or brewing that perfect cup of coffee. A few weeks ago they featured the use of pectinase to turn clementine segments into the sweetest gems similar to those you can buy canned, but are extensively processed to taste so great. The method couldn’t be simpler: you peel the fruit, separate the segments and place them in a bowl with water containing a few drops of pectinase. What is pectinase? First, a very brief lesson in biochemistry. All enzymes are proteins with a specific activity on a component referred to as its “substrate.” They usually follow a nomenclature with the suffix “ase” to indicate which substrate the enzyme acts upon. Proteases degrade proteins and are of course part of our digestive system. DNase destroys DNA, and it is a nightmare for those working in molecular biology. We need to be always protecting the DNA we work with from being degraded. Pectinase destroys pectin which is the main component that forms that white pith around citric fruit segments. The pith is not only harsh in texture, but also in taste, quite bitter.  By allowing pectinase to work, that outside layer is removed, and you’ll end up with perfectly smooth pieces of fruit that will taste considerably sweeter. Even though pectinase is not toxic, once you get the fruit the way you want it, simply rinse the water containing pectinase out, blot the pieces dry and enjoy them.

clementines

Aren’t we awfully cute?

Pectinase is sold – like almost everything you can dream of – by amazon.com, and it’s pretty affordable, plus a little bit goes a loooong way. One of the interesting things about enzymes is that they are not consumed in the reaction, so like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going and going. Adding five drops works, but adding one works too, it will simply take a little longer. I added about 4 drops to the bowl and left the fruit at room temperature for a couple of hours, then stuck it in the fridge for 6 more hours until we were ready to use them. You can leave the fruit in water longer, for a day or so, no problems.

pectinasecomposite
Pectinase, like most enzymes, will work faster in warmer temperatures, so it is conceivable to use sous-vide (or even a simple water-bath) to speed up the reaction without cooking the fruit in the process. Think anything around 100F for 30 minutes to one hour.

The clementines were delicious to nibble on while binge-watching “How I met your mother” late at night, but when added to this favorite salad of our recent past, it made for a LEGEND… wait for it… LEGEND… wait for it… LEGENDARY MEAL!

 

salad

Use this recipe, but substitute clementines for grape tomatoes…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Poached White Asparagus with Lemon and Pistachios

TWO YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard’s Saffron Bloomer

THREE YEARS AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

FOUR YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

SIX YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere