IN MY KITCHEN, APRIL 2016

It’s already April in Australia, you know…   

😉

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It’s been a while, my friends… my last contribution to IMK was in January, but better late than never. Here I am to give you a little tour of what’s been happening in our kitchen for the past three months. This fun monthly event began years ago thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and is now hosted by the one and only Maureen, from Orgasmic Chef.  Whenever I participate, I like to start by talking about gifts… So let’s get this party started, shall we?

From our graduate students who came back from a trip to India…

GoodiesCollage

These are dangerous goodies. Bake Bites are addictive little morsels with a punch of spice and just the right amount of heat. I usually allow myself to have four and then move the bag away, which is tough to do, but I believe it builds character. Soan Papdi is impossible to describe. It is sweet, it melts in your mouth, but it has a super complex mixture of flavors. If you think about edible perfume, that could be a good way to put it. It sounds odd, I admit, but it is absolutely delicious.  We cut very small slivers, and savor them in complete silence. If you ever find yourself in India, search for these babies, and put a few bags in your luggage.  ;-)

From Phil…

coffeecupcollage

One more coffee cup for our collection… he keeps searching for pieces from Mary Rose Young to be available online, and whenever he finds a great deal, he is quick to act. This one is particularly adorable with the flower on the handle.

From my stepson Alex…

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Two amazing books from The Modernist Cuisine, that include a beginner’s kit to play with molecular gastronomy. I do molecular biology for a living, and can tell you one thing, these gastronomic experiments are a lot more fun and involve zero frustration.  Stay tuned for a drink using Blue Curaçao “caviar” made with calcium lactate gluconate.

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IN OUR KITCHEN…

opener

This very simple gadget is a life-saver! I saw it recommended by America’s Test Kitchen and decided to order one. If you stumble on that bottle that simply will not open, get this baby and be prepared to be amazed. It works by releasing the vacuum so that the lid opens with no effort. I was skeptical. Then I needed to open a bottle of roasted piquillo peppers when Phil was away and the dogs were obviously of no help whatsoever. Worked like a charm! You can order yours with a click here.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

matcha

A very good quality matcha tea powder. Of course, I go into eye-rolling mode with the benefits listed on the package. Natural this, natural that… Natural mood enhancer? Yeah, right. But apart from the hype, I love the taste of matcha and this in particular is better than all the ones I’ve tried. Smooth, perfect with some yogurt or added to a smoothie.

IN OUR KITCHEN….

labna

Found this labna in a special grocery store in town. OMG! I inhaled that whole thing in less than a week. Phil did not even have a taste. I made sure to describe it to him as salted yogurt, and left it at that. He twisted his nose, and I said to myself “Labna, you are mine, all mine….. “  (insert evil laughter here).

IN OUR KITCHEN….

datesyrup

From the same store, date syrup. Another OMG, this is delicious and you can use in many ways: marinades, added to yogurt, smoothies, salad dressings… If you like pancakes in the morning, a drizzle of date syrup could be a nice change from the usual maple.

IN OUR KITCHEN….
molasses

Last acquisition from the same store.. pomegranate molasses.  I always have some in my pantry and my old bottle had just a tiny little bit left inside. Time to bring a new one, this brand seemed nice enough, haven’t tried it yet.

 

IN OUR KITCHEN….

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A jar to keep my sourdough starter in the fridge and also at room temperature during feeding times. I love the large opening, because my 1/2 cup measuring cup fits right through it. Less flour mess = more joy in the Bewitching Kitchen. Found it at amazon.com, recommended in a bread baking forum.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

cilantro

A great way to store cilantro that I also learned in a cooking forum and put to test. Cut the stems close to where the leaves start, add the bunch of cilantro to a container with a lid, and just a little bit of water inside.  Close the lid and store the whole thing in the fridge.  Amazing how much longer the cilantro lasts, in perfect state!  I imagine it would work as well for basil or other herbs, but cilantro is the one that gives me the toughest time. It goes funky before I have a chance to use it all.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

simplestShrimp

The simplest and most succulent shrimp!  Made sous-vide. You can even start from frozen, increasing the time of cooking slightly.  I prefer to defrost them first, add a little bit of butter, salt and pepper to a bag, vacuum seal.  Into the sous-vide the bag goes at 135 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. Open the bag, drain it if you want, or use the liquid as part of a pasta sauce or risotto.  Am I allowed to use one more Oh Em Gee in this post or would that be too much?  Oh, well…

 

IN OUR KITCHEN…

honey

Truffle honey. Yes, you read that right.  I haven’t tried it yet, in fact I’m waiting for the right opportunity to crack this special bottle open. I read that this honey drizzled over a nice Roquefort is a non-stop ticket to paradise. Will let you know once we try it.

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And now it’s time to allow our furry friends to say hello, they’ve been quite anxious to be on the blog after three months away from the spotlight…

 

chiefyboy

Chief, after the milestone of turning 17 years old, has had his share of health issues. He is hanging in there like the trooper he is, even playing tug-of-war when he feels up to the challenge.  Mom knows she has to be gentle with him, the days in which she could hold the toy up in the air to see Chief furiously dangling without letting go are over…

buck bath

Buck got tricked big time. His Dad offered a Happy Easter hug, but the hug turned into a strong grab followed by a fast walk to the laundry room. There, some soap torture was waiting for this brave Jack Russell. How unfair is that?

BathBuck

That does it!  I am never EVER leaving this bed.
To think I’d worked so hard to develop my unique fragrance, and now it’s all gone!

 

dapperduke

I’ve always suspected I am the Special One. See? I get professional grooming, and have a bow-tie to prove it. No laundry room dirty maneuver works for me. I am the Dapper Duke of Manhattan!

 

BuckComposite-2

Not so fast, Dapper Duke!  I get to play with my ball on the sofa when Dad is not around.
Who’s special now?

oskytripleDo I really need to answer?

 

Actually, Dapper Duke, we think you do need to get some answers ready….

NaughtyWhat has the toy done to deserve this?

(He wouldn’t even look up…. Guilty as charged!)

OskyupsetWell, first let me say that the toy started it all, but you were not around to see what IT did to me. And, even if I got carried away in my revenge, nothing justifies Mom getting all hysterical and cutting short our walk because Dad pointed out that a bunch of “cool bats” were flying over us. I have no idea of “cool bats” are, but they certainly ruined my evening.

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That’s all for now, folks!  Hope you enjoyed this little tour of our kitchen…

Until next time, keep calm and cook on!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

TWO YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

THREE YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

FOUR YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day

WHEN SIDE DISHES STEAL THE SHOW

With this post I bring you two recipes, one of them so simple that it’s hard to call it a recipe. However, both were so delicious that made the main dish (you know, for us carnivores the meaty component) seem like a mere supporting actor in the play. I warn you, though, my pictures of the eggplant concoction did not turn out particularly great, but if you go pass its looks and make it, you’ll fall in love with it. The recipe was on Foodbod, hosted by Elaine, aka The Vegetarian Goddess. She always comes up with amazingly creative recipes for veggies, and this one also features a nice story behind it. You should stop by her site to read all about it. A fainting priest is involved. How about THAT for adding spice to a recipe? As to the other side dish,  it was a humble spiralized butternut squash. Oh. Em. Gee. I wish I had doubled tripled the amount because Phil and I ended up fighting for the last strand, and well, I won. I like to think it was due to my relentless tropical charm. But perhaps the hissy fit spoke louder.

showstoppers

IMAM BIYALDI
(slightly modified from Foodbod)

1 medium/large eggplant
1 medium shallot, peeled and sliced
1 rib celery, diced
1 can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Olive oil, with abandon…

Heat your oven to 400 C.

You can leave the hat on the eggplant if it will fit in your pan. Cut a slit down one side of the eggplant, don’t cut all the way through, and don’t cut all the way to either end.  Open the eggplant and using a teaspoon scrape out some of the flesh and chop it up.  Keep the whole eggplant to one side.

In a pan over a medium heat, heat a good glug of olive oil then add the shallot and celery and start to soften. Add the chopped eggplant and cook for a few minutes.  Add the spices and salt and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook it all down to a lovely sauce.  Stir in the lemon juice and take it off the heat.

Place your eggplant in an oven proof dish, slit side up. Open it as much as possible and spoon the lovely sauce into the eggplant as much as you can then spoon the rest over and around it.

Drizzle with copious amounts of olive oil.

Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: When I read all the praise that Elaine gave to the eggplant recipe, which in her side of the planet goes by as “aubergine” (so much cuter it’s not even funny), I was intrigued, but to be completely honest I didn’t think it was possible for something that simple to be so amazing. Sometimes I love to be proven wrong. The tomatoes and spices interact with the flesh of the eggplant turning it into something with incredible depth of flavor. You’ll have to make it to believe me. This basic method can be adapted to other spices and herbs, what matters here is to allow the slow roasting to take place, don’t rush it.  I can visualize the eggplant turned into a pasta sauce, or even a flavorful addition to a risotto. It would be great as a spread on sourdough bread even. One dish, endless possibilities.

Now, let’s focus on the spiralized butternut squash – just use the neck of the squash for this preparation. Peel it (I know, I hate it too), and grab your favorite spiral cutter to make the strands. Then, coat them lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F (about 200 Celsius).  You can move the strands around after 10 minutes or so.  Make more than you think you need, even if you are serving it to folks with squash issues. And watch their issues turn into craving…


Elaine, thanks for another gem of a recipe!
I wish my photos turned out better, but taste comes first, right?

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Venting on Vaccines

TWO YEARS AGO: Prime Rib Roast, Mexican Style

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

FOUR YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

 

 

 

AUBERGE PECAN-WALNUT BREAD

BBBuddybadgemarch2016Every once in a while I see a recipe and get “the itch.”  It will not leave my mind until I make it. Not only I catch myself thinking about it in the middle of the day, but I often dream about it. In my dreams, I might gather the ingredients and jump into action, or sometimes get into an almost nightmare mode in which I cannot read the ingredients or find them in my pantry. The mind works in odd ways. I have no idea why some recipes do this to me, but the most recent example was the Auberge Walnut Bread blogged by Karen, as part of the Bread Baking Babes group. It is a fun virtual event, also happens monthly as The Secret Recipe Club, but in this case a member of the group picks one bread recipe and everyone makes it. This month’s bread was chosen by  Elizabeth, hostess of From OUR Kitchen.  I highly recommend you stop by and indulge in her blog. She is hilariously witty, and keeps a wonderful site!  Back to BBB, I have thought about joining the group because c’mon, who would not like to be a “Babe?” However, I don’t think I can handle another monthly commitment. Instead, I watch them from a safe distance and marvel at all the breads they bake.  Until  now, that is.  When I saw Karen’s post, I got the itch, and because it is a bread that doesn’t require a sourdough starter, I made it right away. You should too. You won’t need to knead it by hand, you won’t need to fold it, baby it, watch it, nothing. It is one of the easiest bread recipes to tackle, and the result will blow your mind: a soft, moist, flavorful crumb, with a darker color than you would expect from a bread made only with white flour. Smells amazing as it bakes, tastes amazing with anything you’d like to pair it with.  But I advise a little blue cheese.  To quote Karen

Oh Em Gee…  😉

Auberge Pecan Walnut Bread

AUBERGE PECAN-WALNUT BREAD
(slightly modified from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

120 grams pecan pieces
50 grams walnut pieces
7 grams (one package) active dry yeast
85 grams (1/4 cup) honey (I used acacia)
320 grams (1 + 1/3 cups) warm water
30 grams (2 tablespoons) olive oil
500 grams (3 + 3/4 cups) bread flour
7.5 grams (1 + 1/2 tsp fine sea salt)
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Heat the oven to 400 F. Spread the pecan and walnut pieces in a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes. Let them cool. Pulse them in a food processor until you have both crumbs and medium pieces.
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In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, honey, and warm water. Stir and let stand for about 10 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour, sea salt, and walnut pieces. Stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until the ingredients are combined. Knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes, until the dough is fairly smooth. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 75 minutes.
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Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out without deflating it.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in a floured banneton for the final rise. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.  While it rises, heat the oven, with a baking stone (if you have one) on the middle rack, to 400 degrees F.  When the dough has doubled, invert it on a sheet of parchment paper, slash the surface with a razor blade and quickly place it over the baking stone.  Use your favorite method to generate steam (I invert the lid of a Dutch oven slightly moist and bake the bread covered for about 20 minutes). Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 40 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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Comments:
As you know, I love sourdough baking, but there’s something wonderful about having a loaf of bread cooling less than 3 hours after gathering the flour.  In fact, the dough was quite fast to rise, it did not need 75 minutes for the bulk fermentation, in 65 min it was more than doubled, so I shaped it. And instead of allowing a full hour for the final rise, I decided it was good and ready at the 50 min mark.  I toasted the nuts the evening before, and added them to the food processor right before mixing the dough. Easy as pie, except for the fact that the goal was to make a walnut bread and it turned into a pecan bread with a hint of walnuts.  It is my personal saga, a perverse Flour-Vinegar-Nut trilogy. When it comes to those items, I am always stumped by the difference between what “I think I have”, and what “I do have” in the pantry.  But, I can tell you that pecans worked very well, and the bread tasted terrific! Very moist, I am sure it would have lasted for several days at room temperature, but since it’s just the two of us, on the second day it was sliced and frozen for   future enjoyment.
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Auberge Pecan Walnut Bread2
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Elizabeth, it was great to “meet” you! Looking forward to following your adventures… And of course, Karen, you never cease to inspire me with your bread baking and cooking in general… Nice to have one more recipe from your site showcased in the Bewitching Kitchen…

crumb
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A SMASHING PAIR

No, I am not talking about Phil and I, although the thought crossed my mind…  It is actually a quote from my newest cookbook:

Have you tried roasted carrots and avocados together?
What a smashing pair!

I don’t think I ever thought of mixing carrots with avocados, but the other day a simple email with notification of a new post by Kelly arrived, and I dropped everything I was doing to check it out. She shared the recipe for a gorgeous quinoa concoction found in  “The Clever Cookbook.”  Cute name, almost as cute as the blog hosted by the author, Emilie: The Clever Carrot. I can see you’re smiling now, it’s impossible not to smile at the name. I need another cookbook as I need a third eye, but my will power for certain temptations is non-existent. I don’t even try to put up a fight anymore, just go to amazon and get the job done.  Ordering the Kindle version minimizes the amount of guilt, in case you are wondering how I deal with my weaknesses.

That night I laid in bed for a long time reading the book,  and could not wait to make this salad, because who could resist getting acquainted with a smashing pair? Less than 24 hours later the salad was part of our dinner, and it was a tremendous success!  I urge you to try it too. I modified the recipe a bit, but you can find Emilie’s original in her book,  which by the way is a total delight! You need to have it, so don’t even bother resisting.

Spice Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

SPICE-ROASTED CARROT AND AVOCADO SALAD
(adapted from The Clever Cookbook)
printed with permission from Emilie Raffa)

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 heaped tsp Southwest spice blend (I used Penzey’s)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
a few yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1 ripe Hass avocado
Juice of ½ lemon
Pinch of salt
arugula leaves

Heat your oven to 425 ° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the carrots in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and sprinkle with Southwest spice, and a little salt. Toss well to coat. Spread the carrots out on your sheet pan. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are caramelized and tender. In the final 5 minutes, add the slivered almonds on top. Remove from the oven, add the tomatoes.  Give it a good stir. Allow the mixture to cool slightly while you dice the avocado and drizzle the pieces with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Add the avocados to the carrots, and toss gently to combine. Place the mixture on top of arugula leaves on a serving bowl, drizzle olive oil and some more lemon juice, adjust seasoning with salt. Toss very gently and serve at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

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Comments: Talk about a delicious dinner! It’s not everyday that a salad draws enthusiastic compliments from my beloved husband. We both went crazy for this one, and Phil in particular thought that the grilled chicken was a perfect match, making the meal worthy of a fancy French style bistrot. On a slight tangent: the chicken was super simple.  I marinated boneless, skinless chicken thighs early in the morning in a mixture of yogurt,  a touch of olive oil, lemon juice, paprika and turmeric. A smidgen of agave nectar just because. When it was time for dinner, I scraped the marinade off, seasoned the meat with salt and pepper, and grilled until done. The combination of sweet roasted carrots, the hint of spice, and the creaminess of the avocado was irresistible!

served
The salad has enough substance to stand proud on a fully vegetarian menu. Maybe paired with a hearty pasta dish, or next to crostini with mushrooms and cheese?  Or you can skip the greens and use the smashing mixture over grains such as farro or quinoa. Your call.

Emilie, thank you for allowing me to publish your recipe…
I must say you are absolutely right, roasted carrots and avocados are “a smashing pair!”

Now, a little bit about the book…

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The book is organized in a slightly unusual way. You won’t find chapters for Main Dishes, Appetizers, or even a particular kind of ingredient. Instead, her approach is to divide the book in strategies that make your life easier in the kitchen. For instance, the first chapter is called “Prep Ahead Vegetables”, and shows how if you invest a little time in prepping veggies they can help you out in many recipes. The chapter includes soups like 30 minute Broccoli and Feta Soup which immediately called my name.  The following chapter, “Back to Basics”  lists her “non-negotiable” items. Stuff that she always has around like toothpaste, chocolate, and the cell phone  (yeah, she is adorably witty). In that chapter, you’ll learn how to make her Triple Duty Chicken Stock, Basic Tomato Sauce, and Master Stir Fry Sauce. Well, you get the gist of it. A little investment of time to make batches of those, and cooking on a daily basis will be a breeze.   But my favorite chapter was one called “Process This.” Clever ways (it is a clever cookbook, after all) to use the food processor. I must try her Banana Cloud Cake included in the chapter, and the user-friendly No-Peel Butternut Squash Soup (sounds like a dream, right?).  Two other chapters that I was quite fond of: “Batch Cooked Grains” and “Freezer Marinades.” The Clever Cookbook is definitely one that will not sit collecting dust in your shelf.  If you are a busy person, with or without kids around, this book is a must-have. To order, follow this link. And while you are around the ordering process, go ahead and subscribe to Emilie’s blog too. I did, because I don’t want to miss her future culinary adventures…

Kelly, thanks for the heads up about Emilie’s cookbook and blog. Loved “meeting” her through you…

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

TWO YEARS AGO: Crispy Chickpea and Caper Spaghetti

THREE YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chickpea and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

FIVE YEARS AGO: Double Asparagus Delight

SIX YEARS AGO:  Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Cheese Torte

 

 

PULLED PORK, SLOW-COOKER VERSION

You know you’ve been blogging for too long when you’ve got not one, not two, but three recipes for pulled pork… This one inaugurates our latest acquisition, a crock pot… I know, as if I needed another cooking gadget. But, I used to have one and when we moved four years ago I gave it away. Ever since that day, for reasons that I cannot quite comprehend, the most enticing recipes using slow-cookers kept reaching me. I finally could not take it anymore, this baby was on sale at our grocery store and that was the end of my resolve.  This version of pulled pork was recommended by our post doc, who makes it regularly. She is one impressive, hard-working scientist, awesome runner (two marathons and countless half-marathons under her belt), and great cook. Yeah, she’s got it all…  I confess that her praise of the crock pot was the final push for me to get it. This is one of her and her husband’s favorite recipes, and I can see why: the meat turned out melt in your mouth delicious, moist, with the right amount of spice and soooo easy to put together! As a bonus, clean up is a breeze: the surface basically cleans itself with no need for elbow grease. I am sold. Stay tuned for more adventures in the slow-cooking world…

Crockpot Pulled Pork2

 

PULLED PORK IN A CROCK POT
(from B.N.)

3 tablespoons paprika
1 to 2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup honey (I used 1/4 cup)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half

In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (all of the spices) with a fork. Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir to form a paste. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top it with the 2 pieces of pork and then pour the honey paste over all sides of the pork pieces. It’s okay if some of it (or a lot of it) just drips down to the bottom.

Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork. Serve warm with fixings like homemade cole slaw and cornbread, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

pulledporkcomposite

There is really something to be said for adding ingredients to a crock pot and coming back hours later to a delicious and effortless dinner. Some cuts of meat will work better than others, though. I think the key to mastering the slow cooker is not pushing its limits. If you add boneless chicken breasts to it and cook them on high for five hours, you’ll have dry, tasteless meat on your plate.  Pork butt (or shoulder) is a nice match for the slow cooker because it has so much fat all through the meat, it will never get dry.   I’ve been trying to perfect my favorite recipe for chicken thighs using the crock pot, but haven’t found the holy grail yet. I am getting close, though.  You just wait!

served

As to this pulled pork, it was perfect!  I like to enjoy mine in a pretty low-carb way, with guacamole and queso fresco crumbled on top, maybe a leaf of lettuce to wrap it up. Messy but tasty.  Phil prefers to have his with some rice or corn tortillas. Do as you please.  Of course the recipe makes a lot of pulled pork, so it is a great option for dinner parties, but I like to get a couple of dinners out of it, then freeze what’s left.

One more thing: there will be a lot of liquid inside the crock pot at the end of cooking.  I strain it, de-grease it, and  pour most of it over the shredded meat. You can save some of the sauce and freeze for later.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Pie of the Century

TWO YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken

THREE YEARS AGO: Leaving on a Jet Plane

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Pearfect Drink

FIVE YEARS AGO: Ming Tsai Under Pressure

SIX YEARS AGO: Paris, je t’aime!

CAULIFLOWER CRUST PIZZA

I might very well be the last food blogger to try it, but after reading about cauliflower crust pizza for a couple of years, here I am to report on my first attempt at turning a classic into its lighter, gluten-free cousin. First, let me say that I don’t see it as a way to replace the “real deal.”  All those glorious characteristics of the authentic pizza crust will always have a place in our kitchen. But, if you are in the mood for something lighter or if you need to cook for someone who suffers from celiac disease, this recipe will please you more than you imagine.  I wolfed down a little more than half a pizza (!!!!) and instead of heading straight to the couch to lay down and wait for that carb-induced coma, here I am typing this post to share with you.  Behold the power of the cauliflower crust!

baked

(Broiling issues, courtesy of a Jack Russell named Buck)

 

CAULIFLOWER CRUST PIZZA
(slightly modified from Chef in Disguise)
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Yield one pizza crust
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1 small to medium-sized head of cauliflower (about 1 cup after squeezed to remove liquid)
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried herbs (I used dried thyme)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used 1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese)
tomato sauce
toppings of your choice

Place a pizza stone in the oven, or turn a baking sheet upside down and use it if you don’t have a pizza stone. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

Wash and thoroughly dry the head of cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, and process until they are the size of rice. Place the cauliflower rice in a pot and add enough water to fill the pot 2/3 of the way up. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the cauliflower. Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and twist the towel around the cauliflower and wring it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a pizza like crust.

In a medium bowl, combine the cauliflower, egg whites, cheeses, dried herbs and salt,  and mix by hand, you sort of knead the dough together. Transfer the crust to your parchment paper. Press evenly forming a circle. Make sure it is as tight as you can make it. You also don’t want it to be too thin or too thick.  With the help of a cutting board, transfer the parchment to the oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it after the 10 minute mark. When it starts turning golden brown, it’s done.

Remove the pan from the oven. Add your sauce, toppings and cheese. Place under a broiler till the cheese melts and bubbles. Watch it carefully or it will bun.

 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

caulicrustcollage

Comments: Two things are very important when making pizza crust out of cauliflower. First you absolutely must minimize the amount of water present in the processed cauliflower or the binding agents (egg whites and grated cheese) will not be able to hold it together. When you think you squeezed enough water out, squeeze some more.  Made me think  of David Rosengarten decades ago when demonstrating a recipe for tabouli. Mince the parsley, when you think you minced it enough, mince some more. You simply cannot over-squeeze the cauliflower. Capisci? Second thing, once you place it under the broiler, watch it like a hawk. Sawsan says clearly in her blog “it will burn quickly.”  Which makes you wonder why yours truly would place it under the super powerful broiler of our oven, and then decide that Buck seemed too agitated and needed to go out to the backyard. I said to myself “this will only take a minute.” Indeed. Problem is that it also only took a minute to almost burn part of my beautiful pizza.  Lesson learned.  Do as I say, not as I did. Watch the pizza, move it around, especially if your broiler is very powerful.

charred

 

Will I be making it again? No doubt.  But probably not as the single item in our dinner, because making one pizza was already quite involved, and it would not be enough for the two of us, since it’s so light.  But I can see us having two pizzas, one “authentic” and one cauli-crust version. Or the cauli-pizza and a huge salad with barbecued ribs on the side… (just kidding).

I made this version a couple of days after having our entire lab over for a “regular” pizza party. There was one small pizza leftover, and some toppings like grilled zucchini, cheese and tomato sauce. The leftover pizza was warmed up in the oven and made Phil a happy man. The cauli-crust was embellished with the toppings that were ready and waiting in the fridge, and made Sally a happy woman. Don’t you love happy endings?

Sawsan, thanks for your great tutorial on the pizza crust! 
Next time I’ll be a better virtual student…
(sigh)

ONE YEAR AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

TWO YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

THREE YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

FOUR YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

FIVE YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

SIX YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola

SIXTEEN SWEET YEARS!

Seasons may change, weather blows, but you still leave a mark on me!

Our song… 

Photograph king, watches you go
Fashions may change, heaven knows,
but you still leave a stain on me
Supplement queen,
your colours may fade
Seasons may change, weather blows, but you still leave a
mark on me

Wrong-negative fades-never the twain, reckless and tame

I like the beat of your drum
I like to look in your eyes
I like to look thru your things
I’d like to beat on your drum

I like the smell of your flesh
I like the dirt that you dish
I like the clothes that you wear
I’d like to beat on your drum

Disco brat-follow the pack
Watching you peel, heaven knows, prison can’t hold all
this greedy intention

Vanity’s child-picture you now
Music may change-hi-di-ho keen to follow your nose

Wrong-love out of tune
Sweet is the night,
bright light destroys me

I like the beat of your drum
I like to look in your eyes
I like to look thru your things
I’d like to beat on your drum

I like the smell of your flesh
I like the dirt that you dish
I like the clothes that you wear
I’d like to beat on your drum

 

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May we always be the perfect match!

 

perfect match

Thomas Keller Bouchons au Chocolat & Whipped Cream

For the recipe, click here.

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