Cauliflower Fritters, A Work in Progress

 

Hot on the heels of puréed cauliflower success (see previous post), I put my mind to getting cauliflower back on the plate. Though it's not perfect yet, this version passed the muster of my most critical dining companions. Not that I ask for criticism and when I do I call it feedback, as in…aren't these “cauliflower” fritters great. The cauliflower is silent.

The much maligned white vegetable is almost never good steamed, at least for haters, so you have to work it. Roasting can do the trick, but really if you have a few minutes and a Ninja, throw some extra flavor and texture into it. AND if you are following Passover rules, or even if you aren't, this recipe fits the bill.

I will add one final caveat – next time I make this recipe, I'm going bold with a deep fry. The shallow fry here is way healthier and tasty, the deep fry will develop a bigger crunch.

Ingredients:

1/2 head cauliflower, processed

2-3 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup matzah meal

1 tablespoon potato starch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

A couple of sprinkles cayenne

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

Neutral veg oil

Mix vegetables with dry ingredients and spices. Stir in wet ingredients. Form into patties. Cover bottom of pan with thin layer of oil.

 

When it starts to shimmer, fry patties in a couple of batches. Don't overcrowd. Flip,when brown on one side. Sprinkle with salt.

Eat, enjoy – B

 

Gluten free Breakfast Salad :-)

Yes, I woke up craving a breakfast salad. Actually, coffee…and a stale chocolate covered, raspberry, kosher for Passover marshmallow. But after that, a breakfast salad.

The cool thing about salad is it can literally be made from anything to suit any palate, aversions and allergies. To prove my point, one lovely, well known event venue not far from the house offered “candy salad” as a bar/bat mitzvah menu option. If the overall price had been more budget friendly, we might even have gone there!

Since I also obsessively worry about wasting the vegetable bin, making salad can ease my anxiety. That's how the whittled carrots got shredded into today's mix.

Salad for breakfast can satisfy several of the day's produce requirements (unless it is the aforementioned “candy salad”). And while some elements can be cooked, they don't need to be, making it a perfect beginner dish. Any extra protein can be added to round out the dish.

SOTD (salad of the day) Ingredients:

Handful of sugar snap peas, slivered

Smaller handful of carrots or 1 large carrot, shredded

1/2 small yellow pepper, matchsticked

3 oil soaked sun dried tomatoes, chopped

Sprinkle of feta or goat cheese

Drizzle olive oil

Splash white vinegar

Sprinkle salt & pepper

Pinch sugar

Combine all ingredients. Adjust dressing. Serve.

Endnote: keeps for the road, EZ additions or substitutions include leftover chicken, pork, chickpeas, chive, scallions, cherry tomatoes…get the picture?

Enjoy – B

 

For the Love of Pesto

I love pesto...and it loves my hips. Back in the day, I used to (and sometimes still do) add butter after I tossed the pasta with all the oil, herb, cheesy, nutty deliciousness that is pesto. After all, what was one more fat added to the mix. I was still in my thirtees!

But now I'm not and traditional pesto loves hanging out with me too much to make it a regular table guest.

But the genius of this Everyday Food recipe delivers an updated version of pesto that lightens the load so to speak. No guilt, just pleasure. I add that I was out of olive oil this weekend, but the recipe calls for lemon juice, zest and oil, so I used my Nudo lemon oil. Though I typically don't buy flavored oils, this one is delicious. I boosted the flavor with more lemon juice.

Btw, I used whole wheat pasta this time for a nutritionally well rounded, but feel free to use your favorite. Gluten free works too!

Btw - don't forget to add the white beans.

Enjoy. As always--B

 

Strawberry Shortcakes

I'm a Joanne Chang groupie, mastermind of Flour in Boston. I can't get there but I channel her through her cookbook whenever I have an excuse. That's what I'm calling Friday night – an excuse to bake and it needed to be quick because I had already overscheduled and was due to deliver dessert to my friend. Shortcakes are biscuits with more sugar. Chang's recipe laces up the sugar with butter, cream (!) and eggs. She measures ingredients by weight or by cup to be super useful. I urge you bakers to get the book for the shortcakes alone.

Everyone else, you can have the strawberry recipe which is perfect for Easter, Passover or just about any day. Chang uses balsamic vinegar & lemon zest. Delicious with whip cream, ice cream, or on just about any cake.

Strawberry Ingredients:

1 quart strawberries, cut into 5-6 pieces

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

Combine all the ingredients. Let sit 15 minutes and toss occasionally.

Whip cream:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste (a new obsession)

Whip cream by hand or in mixer with whisk attachment. When thicker, add sugar and paste. Taste and adjust. Taste again.

Enjoy–B

Note: I didn't have lemon zest – no one complained

 

Fried Rice Du Jour

So the other day my son says, “Can you make the fried rice with only egg and chicken?”

“Why yes, son,” I said. “I can make fried rice with only chicken and egg. But I won't.”

“Why not?”

“Why do you think?”

“Because you want us to eat our vegetables?”

Bingo! And for that you earn an extra helping of overly enriched, veggie heavy fried rice. Light on the fried. I'm sorry, I can't help myself – too long in the tooth and even longer at the stove – to hide produce in the dessert. It is what it is. On the other hand, a little salty soy goes a long way down the hatch if you know what I'm saying. So I lace up the brown rice with this week's vegetables, plus onions and carrots and whatever protein is on hand with soy sauce and serve.

While it won't win any awards in the great kitchens of China, it is a great way to get everyone to eat their vegetables.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dry brown rice, cook according to directions

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots or more, sliced thin

4 scallions, sliced thin with whites and green separate

4 large mushrooms, halved and sliced

2 handfuls snow peas, de-stringed if necessary and sliced into pieces

Vegetable oil of choice, neutral flavor

2 eggs

1 cup cooked protein of choice, guess what? We had leftover chicken.

Cook rice and prep everything else.

Start with a tablespoon of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion & salt. Cook 3-4 minutes. Add carrot and scallion whites. Cook a couple minutes. Add mushrooms, cooking till juice evaporates. Toss in snow peas. Cook 1-2 minutes. Then add the chicken and rice. The pan may need a bit more oil. Woks work reat, but I'm still in the old non stick skillet for this one.

Whisk the eggs and add to hot pan, tossing until egg is cooked. Time for scallion greens and a soy sauce to taste for incentive.

Serve & answer silly questions, such as “can this be made without vegetables?” – B

Note – easy to make vegetarian by skipping chicken and adding soybeans.

Note 2 – Have you ever tried some of the Asian chili sauces as a condiment?We, and I mean all of us, even the ones with the silly questions, recommend them.

 

Chicken & Dumplings: The Return of Comfort Food

There’s nothing left to say but this…it was going to snow…in March…just days before spring. So I had to make chicken and dumplings. Plus my biggest guy was already sick, meaning I’d already put together chicken soup (possibly my best ever! I used a pre-brined organic chicken. OMG delicious. Thanks Trader Joe’s – you’ve redeemed yourself from the twice bad cream incident.) It's a twist of sorts on the last time I visited this great comfort food with you. Both delicious. Both easy. Here is this week's approach.

I had cooked chicken and stock, and every intention of jamming the dish full of vegetables and not so much fat. Veggies are easy, carrots, onions and celery all count towards the daily servings. Don’t be afraid to use the less than perfect specimens from the bin. Like my mom, I throw them in wherever I can. To make a “creamy” sauce sans cream – use vegetable oil, a little flour and flavorful stock. The oil and flour make a roux, the stock sets it into sauce. Works every time.

The dumplings are lighter with all purpose white flour, but I subbed cornmeal for some of it. Honestly, even I don’t think it would count as whole grain serving…unless I sold them in the freezer section, with a picture of a field slapped on the box after paying a company to measure the fiber.

With chicken that’s already cooked, this dish didn’t take more than 20 minutes to assemble. The next 15 allows the dumplings to rise.

Stew Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

3 smallish stalks of celery, chopped

½ bag whittled carrots or 3 carrots sliced

2 big pinches dried thyme

¼ cup vegetable oil plus more for melting veggies in pan

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 quart chicken stock

1 mug frozen peas defrosted

3-ish cups of chopped up chicken already cooked

Salt & pepper if desired

Dumpling ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup cornmeal

¾ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 pinches thyme

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter or oil

Add a tablespoon of oil to heavy bottom pan that has a lid. Melt onion, carrots & celery with a pinch or two of salt over medium heat. Add the thyme. Add ¼ veg oil and whisk/stir in 1/3 cup flour. It will look gloopy, especially with the vegetables already in there. Cook a minute or two, then slowly add stock. I used mine straight from the fridge – I don’t recommend that, I just forgot to take it out. Anyways it still worked.

When it starts to bubble and thicken, turn down the heat. Let it cook for 5 or so minutes. Then add chicken and peas. Taste and adjust seasonings.

While the stew is cooking, combine the dry ingredients for the dumplings. Add the milk and butter making sure the butter isn’t super hot and the milk isn’t icy cold. Stir until combined – mine needed a touch more moisture, I chose to delete some flour. Still, the dough should be sticky. Drop by tablespoon on top of hot stew. Put the lid on it and wait. In 15 minutes – comfort. As the cook, eat a dumpling before the rest of the family to check for “doneness”.

Enjoy the dumplings – B

 

BTW – this dish can be kosher!

BTW2-if you don’t feel like making dumplings, serve over noodles, with rice or spaetzle or simply cut up 3 large russet potatoes into half inch chunks and add to the pot.

 

Birthday Cheesecake

What the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl almost gets. She asked for a Cheesecake Factory confection. I agreed to make something similar in style. And where better to start than on the website (Kraft) responsible for the cookies. Here's the link to the recipe.

For an easy to put together crowd pleaser, I would definitely do it again. But I may experiment with cooking the cheesecake in a water bath to slow and gentle the cooking. That said, there was not a slice left.

The topping is just stiff whip cream with more cookie crumbs. The candles are spirals!

Eat, enjoy – B