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
(adapted  from  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

You will basically process the cauliflower into bits, then roast it with the coconut oil in a 425 F oven. For all the details of the recipe, click here

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!

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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.

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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

 

 

MILLET COUSCOUS WITH ROASTED CARROTS

Saw this recipe in Bon Appetit.  Made it that same evening for dinner. Lightning speed. Not that usual for me, but I had all the ingredients and was also anxious to cook millet for the first time. One of our grocery stores carries a very nice assortment of grains, seeds & flours in bulk. It is quite convenient when I feel like baking a special bread but do not want to carry home 1kg of oat flour or some other exotic being.  Millet was one of the goodies I brought home from a recent visit.   This recipe, a perfect way to welcome it in our kitchen.

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MILLET COUSCOUS WITH ROASTED CARROTS
(from Bon Appetit)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (I used a bit less)
1 cup millet
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 + ¼ cups chicken broth
6 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
¼ cup roasted almonds, chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems (I omitted, did not have any around)

Heat oven to 400°. Toss carrots with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add millet and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until millet is tender, 25–35 minutes (it took me closer to 35 minutes).

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil (I used about 1 teaspoon instead) in a small skillet over low heat; cook almonds and cayenne, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Serve millet topped with carrots, cilantro, and almond mixture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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When I told Phil we were not having “real couscous”, he was a bit surprised. It looks almost exactly the same as semolina couscous. It takes longer to cook, though, and has a firmer texture. The flavor is slightly more “nutty”, but still quite mild.  I imagine most people will love it, there’s really nothing not to like about it. Plus, like your regular couscous, it will absorb the flavors of everything else you cook with it. Use  a flavorful chicken or veggie stock if you have it around.  The roasted carrots and sautéed almonds turn it into almost a complete meal.  Of course, we enjoyed it with a nice roast chicken, just because… Full disclosure: the roast chicken was prepared at the grocery store.  And I am not even slightly ashamed to admit it.

On a slight tangent,  a couple of years ago I read a pretty good article written by one of the popular celebrity chefs, I don’t remember who it was,  it was not Thomas Keller, but some other star almost as bright.  Anyway, he went on and on about never buying a roast chicken from a rotisserie. That he could have a much better dinner by buying the chicken (organic, of course), sticking it in the oven with just a sprinkle of salt, pepper, a lemon or two quickly placed inside the bird.  I am all for cooking from scratch, but I must say a chicken ready for me on my way home from work is very handy. It makes life so much easier! I don’t have to deal with the raw chicken, I don’t have to wait for my oven to warm up to temperature (it does take a while with our potent Supernova), and I can concentrate on making a quick and easy side dish such as couscous, or from now on, millet…   So, yes, 8 times out of 10, I reach for a rotisserie chicken.  And 6 times out of 10, I resort to cheese pre-shredded, from a bag.

Confession: good for the food blogger 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Mozarella-Stuffed Turkey Burger

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy Halloween!

THREE YEARS AGO: Clay Pot Roast Pork

FOUR YEARS AGO: Panmarino

FIVE YEARS AGO:  A Classic Roast Chicken

 

 

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: QUINOA FRIED RICE

Did you miss my Bewitching party? Click here to enter the giveaway… 

The month of June brought with it a ton of activities. School is out, so a lot more work in the lab, my blog turned 5 years old, and the World Cup of Indescribable Ordeal is on.  I used to root for one country only, but now two teams make me shout expletives at referees and goal keepers, as well as scream instructions to the players, fuming like a mad woman because they simply  do not listen. But, let’s leave soccer behind and concentrate on things that don’t have the potential to induce a fatal coronary.  Like Reveal Day of  The Secret Recipe Club, always a pleasure, always something I look forward to. This month I got one of the most entertaining food blogs ever!  Starting with its name, 84th and 3rd. Here’s what JJ, an American living in Sydney has to say about it:

84th & 3rd is an ordinary corner, not particularly remarkable, in the most remarkable city in the world. But it was only meters from that corner that a seed was planted, a dream of doing something that she loves and being able to share it with others. 84thand3rd.com is that something.

She divulges just enough to perk my curiosity, and make me want to be there right now. In fact, Australia is one place I long to visit, and hope that one day our adventures will take us there. When I got my assignment, I thought about taking a quick look at the site, but instead I literally had to drag myself away from the computer, because I could not stop reading. Just to give you a small taste of her writing style, here’s a paragraph from one of her posts, in which she talks about her partner…

.… When I met RJ he used to eat at least 4 slices of white bread a day. Not necessarily as part of a meal mind you, but just because. Toast for breakfast, toast before dinner [no matter what or when dinner was], bread with dinner. Sliced, white, from a plastic bag, every time. It appalled me just a bit – as did putting ketchup/tomato sauce on beef stew but we’ll save that one for later… *waves at RJ* hi mate, yes, I’m talking about you again –

 Isn’t she a hoot?  She also describes herself as someone who “Practices yoga to stay calm[ish], runs to stay sane[ish], and does both to eat cake”… I must say I detect some similarities here, although I would substitute bread for cake.  😉 So, after spending a lot of time amusing myself with her stories and recipes, I assembled a list of possibilities for this month’s assignment.  Here they are:  Mushroom-quinoa meatballs with Rustic Pasta Sauce, Strawberry Cucumber Coconut-water Slushy,  Rocket Parsley Pepita Pesto,  Spiced Pear & Red Wine Chocolate Cake, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde, and this chocolate tarte that I swear I am making before the month of July is over. Yeah, public commitment, you guys and girls better be ready for it… But now it’s time to reveal the recipe that crossed the finish line of this month’s culinary marathon…

Quinoa Fried Rice
QUINOA FRIED RICE
(slightly modified from 84th & 3rd)

2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled (I used red quinoa)
a little olive oil
4 slices ginger, sliced into thin strips
1 small Serrano chili, finely diced
1 bunch of cilantro leaves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
large handful green beans, cut into small lengths
2 medium zucchini, diced
3 scallions ,white and light green part only, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

Add a small splash of olive oil to the hot pan. Fry ginger and garlic for 30 sec stirring constantly, add chili and cilantro and fry for a further 30 sec.

Add bell pepper and beans, toss or stir for a couple of minutes. Add zucchini and green onions and toss for a couple of minutes more.

Push veggies to edges to make a hole in the center. Drizzle in 2 tsp sesame oil, wait for it to heat up and dump in quinoa. Stir in center of pan for 30 seconds then toss with veggies to mix everything together.

Drizzle in tamari and toss to combine. Serve with extra scallions, and cilantro.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Ingredients
Comments: This was absolutely delicious!  As you can read on her original post, this is the type of recipe you can use to clean up your fridge of all those veggies that wave at you when you open it, begging for attention. It is also a perfect use for leftover quinoa, although I cooked some earlier in the day just to have this side dish as our dinner. Asparagus would work great, but really any veggie could work, even chunks of roasted butternut squash, or eggplant.   Just keep the soy, the sesame oil at the end, and don’t leave out the fresh ginger.

Zucchini-side
I close this post with another excerpt from JJ, which expresses exactly how I feel about blogging.

“Blogging is an interesting beast. It is a person sitting in front of a computer expressing things in pictures and words, terribly solitary from the outside peering in… or so you’d think. But when you look a bit closer you realise that many of those people sitting at their computers have formed little communities. Sometimes online, sometimes in person, generally with people they never would have met otherwise, and it really doesn’t matter how the community works or where it came from but simply that it is there.”
(JJ, from 84th & 3rd)

That’s it, folks.  Could not have said it better!  JJ, it was great to receive your blog as my assignment this  month, I will be following you from now on, looking forward to your adventures! As usual, if you want to check what my fellow secret bloggers cooked up this month, poke the frog below. She is cute and loves attention…

ONE YEAR AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette
TWO YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars
THREE YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini
FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto
FIVE YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

HAVING FUN WITH JACQUES PEPIN

I wish the title of my post could be taken literally, because I’d love to meet Mr. Pepin…   Unfortunately (or perhaps I should say malheureusement), I was just playing with one of his recipes:  a broccoli puree from his book “Fast Food My Way”  that might very well be one of the side dishes I make most often.  I am not the only one who loves it, Phil asks me to make it whenever he is grilling a side of salmon or cooking fish filets.  It is a perfect accompaniment for seafood, but I also like to pair it with roast chicken or pork.  Versatile, non?

Broccoli & Spinach Puree

BROCCOLI AND SPINACH PUREE WITH BROWN BUTTER
(inspired by Jacques Pepin)

2 large heads of broccoli, florets only
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups spinach leaves (or more, to taste)

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the broccoli florets and the garlic clove. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and reserve some of the cooking liquid.

Melt the butter in a small skillet and cook it over low heat until it turns golden brown. Do not let it burn.

Put the broccoli and garlic in the bowl of a food processor, add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Process until almost smooth, open the processor, drizzle the browned butter and add the spinach leaves on top. Process again until fully smooth, adding a bit of the reserved cooking liquid until the puree achieves a consistency you like.  Taste and adjust seasoning.   Serve right away, or refrigerate. It reheats well in the microwave.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I do hope you’ll try my version of Pepin’s recipe, it is amazing how just a little spinach took this puree to a higher level.  A subtle change in texture, a real bump in flavor.  I normally don’t preach on nutritional content of food, but the humble spinach always makes me feel great. Old Popeye cartoons speaking (and dating me), I suppose.

Plated

This puree matched nicely with a simple tilapia filet prepared according to this recipe.  Leftovers can be either enjoyed after a quick tour in the microwave, or… go the indulgent route and use it as a basis for a souflee. I suggest following  the basic method from Julia Child.   You simply cannot go wrong by joining Julia & Jacques.  Almost as good as Sally and Phil…    😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Brined-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

TWO YEARS AGO: Pork Ragu

THREE YEARS AGO: Friendly Kuri Squash

FOUR YEARS AGO: Green Light for this Salad

SAUTEED ZUCCHINI WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND BASIL

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I’m always trying to find different ways to prepare zucchini, as we both love it so much. One of my favorite recipes is a simple stir-fry like this one, but the timing (and the size of your pan) must be just right, as a slight variation will result in overcooked, limp zucchini, with no bite whatsoever.  This recipe from Fine Cooking follows a totally different path to the stir-fry happy-ending.  Pieces of zucchini are lightly salted and sit for 10 minutes, a process that will draw out a lot of moisture and the bitterness that might turn some people off.  After that, you will be on your way to a tasty side dish.

SAUTEED ZUCCHINI WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND BASIL
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine #65)

2 medium zucchini
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt + more for seasoning
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely diced
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced

Wash the zucchini and dry them with paper towels. Trim off the ends and quarter the zucchini lengthwise. Arrange the zucchini, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Blot the quarters dry with the paper towels. Cut each quarter on the diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Pour in 2 Tbs. of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini browns and softens enough that you can cut through it with the side of a fork, about 5 min. Take the pan off the heat, toss in the sun-dried tomatoes and basil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the lemon juice and  serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I have a bit of a troubled relationship with sun-dried tomatoes.  The ones that come packed in oil are often too greasy for my taste, but their texture is much better than the dry-packed ones. My approach is to buy the ones in oil, and before incorporating in the dish let them rest on a piece of kitchen paper to blot the excess oil away.

Fresh tomatoes would not deliver the same punch of flavor.  Sun-dried tomatoes are similar to red pepper flakes, instead of having their flavor uniformly diluted across the dish, they give you little spikes of heat.  Perfect!

This was a delicious way to prepare zucchini, yet another recipe that can be adapted in many ways.  Try adding roasted red bell pepper in place of sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro instead of basil, a bit of mint…  Don’t omit the lemon juice, though.  It is a must!

ONE YEAR AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

TWO YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

THREE YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

FOUR YEARS AGO: Love me tender…

QUINOA WITH CIDER-GLAZED CARROTS

A note to subscribers:  Google Reader will shutdown on July 1st, 2013. If you have a subscription to this blog through Google Reader, please sign up for email notifications, or switch to another reader. I recommend Feedly or Bloglovin.  They will automatically retrieve all your Google reader subscriptions. 

I’ ve had plenty of versions of quinoa in the past, but this one takes the number one spot. The carrots added a sweet-sour note, the thinly sliced almonds a delicious crunch, and the quinoa married them together with its light and refreshing nature. Cannot praise this dish enough. I was inspired by this recipe from Bon Appetit, and decided to come up with a version to be served hot instead of cold, but with similar flavors. If you are searching for a recipe to please vegetarians or a perfect side dish for pork, poultry,  perhaps a thick slab of grilled salmon, look no further. This is perfect!

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QUINOA WITH CIDER-GLAZED CARROTS AND ALMONDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Bon Appetit)

1 cup quinoa, very well rinsed and drained
salt
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced at an angle
2 Tbsp apple cider
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

Heat oven to 450°. Bring quinoa and 4 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain; return quinoa mixture to saucepan, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl; let cool.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with oil (or cover it with parchment paper). Whisk cider and honey in a large bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add carrots and toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and roast until tender, 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the almonds and cook over low heat until fragrant.  Set aside, keeping it warm.

Whisk vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add carrots and almonds to quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Drizzle the vinegar & lemon mixture and mix well tp combine all ingredients.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you are new to cooking the seeds of Chenopodium quinoa, please remember to rinse them extensively.  The seeds  have a natural coating of saponins that taste very bitter.  Processing the seeds for sale includes pre-washing, but you will notice that the water still foams slightly once you soak the seeds.  A couple of years ago, I read somewhere that quinoa goes rancid very easily, so the advice given was to store it for  no more than 6 months (or freeze it).   I tried to find a source for this information,  but now I find plenty of sites stating that it lasts for several years in the pantry.  Oh, well. I guess one can always open the bag and do a sniff test.

Cooked quinoa freezes very well, so you can prepare a full bag and portion it in the freezer for later. I actually cooked it on a Saturday and made this recipe for our dinner on Tuesday.  Pork tenderloin kebabs completed the meal, but the truth is we both raved about the quinoa a lot more.  Bonus:  we got our intake of carrots all taken care of!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

TWO YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

THREE YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands

A TASTE OF YELLOW TO HONOR BARBARA

Long before I started my own site, I already followed Barbara’s blog, Winos end Foodies.  For a while I was unaware of her health problems, until one day I clicked on the “About” page and learned that she started blogging right after being diagnosed with cancer, in 2004.  She used Winos and Foodies to get her mind away from her illness, and through the years of blogging she touched many people’s lives.  A lot has been written about Barbara, you can read a particularly touching tribute  here 

A few months after I started the Bewitching, I wrote Barbara an email and was amazed by how kind and thoughtful she was, sending me advice and encouragement. She read, left comments, dropped me private emails, it was hard to imagine that she could do it all while fighting one of the toughest battles a person can face.  I feel fortunate to have known her, at least virtually.

If you’ve never stopped by Winos and Foodies, please do so. She wrote about art, photography, food, her relationship with her husband of so many years, and occasionally about her tough times with cancer.   You will notice that  contrary to what most bloggers do (myself included), she didn’t post a blogroll of websites she enjoyed.  Instead, she created a page called Blog Friends, and listed everyone by name.  A special, sweet gesture, so typical of her.

In 2007, fascinated by the performances of Lance Armstrong 0n the Tour de France, she launched the event “A Taste of Yellow”  ,  to coincide with LIVEstrong Day, and to raise awareness about cancer in the community of food bloggers.  Barbara passed away on June 29th, so this year’s event, hosted by Jeanne (Cook Sister), is dedicated to her.

For my participation in this series of Taste of Yellow, I chose to cook with beautiful ears of corn.

COUSCOUS WITH CORN AND SCALLIONS IN BROWN BUTTER
(adapted from Fine Cooking, Aug/Sep 2012)

1 + 1/2 Tbs butter
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
kernels of 2 ears of corn
2 scallions, finely sliced (white and light green parts)
3/4 cup couscous
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 cup boiling water

Melt the butter on medium-low heat and cook stirring occasionally,  until the butter gets a hint of golden color. Do not let it turn brown at this point because it will still cook a little further.  Add the thyme, and cook until fragrant.

Add the corn kernels, salt and pepper, cook for 2 minutes, increasing the heat slightly so they brown up.  Add the scallions, cook until they soften, another minute or so.  Add the boiling water all at once, close the pan and remove from the heat.  Let it rest 5 minutes, fluff with a fork, and serve.

to print the recipe, click here

My deepest condolences go to Barbara’s husband Bryan, their two sons,  family and friends in this difficult time. She will be missed.

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