Tag Archives: cauliflower

Let’s Spread Hummus, Not Hate

I’ve been making hummus, the Middle-Eastern chickpea spread for decades. I am very anti commercially processed hummus. One, I dislike the consistency, and two I can make 5-6 times as much for the price of one 8 ounce container. Although I have frequently advocated for using soaked, dried chickpeas, I’ve been working at making a good hummus with canned chickpeas; and I have finally come up with the result I was looking for using a few tricks that made a significant difference. I found it amazing that using these 4 techniques made for a creamy and delicious hummus I was ready to eat and serve to others.

  • Technique #1: warm your chickpeas. I found warming my chickpeas in the microwave for about 2 minutes helped to give me the same incredible consistency I prefer when I cook the chickpeas from scratch. And lets face it there are times that time is of the essence when soaking and cooking them isn’t practical.
  • Technique #2: Save your canned liquid. The starchy liquid from canned chickpeas is called Aquafaba. It is often used by vegans as an egg substitute. Here we will use it to flavor and thin out our processed chickpeas to just the right consistency.
  • Technique #3: Patience grasshopper! Process, process, process! It is extremely important that you process your hummus for as long as it takes, which can be as long as 10 minutes! I find the time can vary quite a bit for unknown reasons. I will sometimes add 2-3 tablespoons of ice water near the end, if the consistency is at all grainy.
  • Technique #4: Taste as you go. I can’t tell you how many times when I have neglected to do this that I end up making adjustments that weren’t necessary. The two primary factors being salt and lemon juice. Once it’s added you can’t take it away.

I make hummus several times a month. I can’t get enough of it, and it’s so versatil. You can add roasted carrots, beets, avocado, or marinated artichokes to it and end up with something completely different. Lately I’ve been slightly obsessed with using it as a replacement for pasta or rice, and turning it into a dinner hummus. I have used ground lamb and topped it with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, green onions and cilantro. I have roasted a sheet pan of veggies like eggplant, zucchini and squash. You name it, and you can create a healthy topping for this classic spread. This week I used cut up boneless chicken thighs, caramelized onions and roasted cauliflower seasoned with my homemade ras el hanout https://twistedbasics.com/2019/03/16/got-the-munchies/ and was totally blown away with the result. This will definitely be on a permanent rotation in this house! Don’t be daunted by the several steps; it still comes together relatively quickly and is well worth the effort!

MIDDLE EASTERN DINNER HUMMUS

FOR THE HUMMUS:

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid from one can
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves

MAKE THE HUMMUS:

  1. Heat your drained chickpeas in a microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes. Throw the garlic down your entry shoot while your food processor is running, processing to chop it. Stop and add chickpeas, tahini, oil, 1/2 of the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, then process until a coarse paste forms, about 45 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
  2. Slowly add the chickpea liquid and process until smooth and creamy (up to 10 minutes). Don’t rush this step. If after processing your hummus still looks granular, add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 3 tablespoons). Taste adding additional lemon juice and/or salt. This will make more than you will need for this recipe, but yay more for later. Place finished hummus in bowl and set aside.

FOR CAULIFLOWER:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut or broken into small flowerettes about 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and ras el hanout. Place on baking sheet in one layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly charred around the edges.

FOR CHICKEN & ONIONS:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  1. In a medium bowl, toss chicken with ras el hanout. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. (I love my cast iron skillet for this). Add chicken in an even layer; cook, undisturbed, until the bottom of the chicken is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches. Turn over chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4 more minutes; transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. To the same skillet reduce the heat to medium and add the sliced onion, za’atar, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until softened, lightly brown and caramelized. Add 1/4 cup water and the raisins to the skillet, the chicken and cauliflower. Stir gently and heat until warmed through. Season with salt to taste.

FOR ASSEMBLY:

On a decorative platter, spread the hummus 1/2-3/4 inch thick to completely cover the bottom of platter. Make a well in the center of the hummus and spoon the chicken, caramelized onions and cauliflower over hummus. Top with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley. Drizzle with olive oil. Pass pita or pita chips for serve.

Serves 4

“Middle age is about getting super excited about different flavors of hummus!”

Cutting Carbs? No Problem!

I’ve been a vegetable lover all my life (well, except beets and okra, but that’s another story). Being organic vegetable farmers, we eat seasonally as much as possible. There are certain vegetables we return to again, and again for their amazing versatility; one of these is cauliflower. You can rice it, steam it, roast it whole or with other vegetables. This particular recipe calls for it to be made into a luscious gratin. This is a riff on a recipe from my main man, Yotam Ottolenghi. He is an absolute genius when it comes to vegetables. I have switched up some of the spices, and adjusted for our heat preference. Feel free to do the same.

This gratin can be made in advance (up to one full day) and refrigerated until ready to bake. It will pair well as a vegetarian dish with a side of brown rice, or goes well with roasted chicken and/or fish. I find a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of micro-greens rather than parsley works well too.

CAULIFLOWER GRAIN WITH MUSTARD & CHEDDAR

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large cauliflower , broken into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon medium curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups white cheddar (about 6 ounces), shredded on large holes of box grater
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I blast mine in a food processor)
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for 5 minutes, drain in a colander and let cool slightly.
  2. In a 12-inch non-stick skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 8 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the cumin, curry powder, mustard powder, and chilies and cook for 4 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the mustard seeds and cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Pour in the heavy cream. Add 1 1/4 cups cheddar and salt/pepper, then simmer for about 4 minutes, or until sauce slightly thickens. Add the cauliflower and stir gently to coat. Remove from heat.
  4. In a small bowl, place the 1/4 cup cheddar, with the breadcrumbs and parsley. Mix until combined. In a 9-inch buttered casserole dish, fill with the coated cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Bake until golden; about 25 minutes (slightly longer if refrigerated)

Serves 4

“There is nothing that is comparable to it, or as thrilling,

as gathering the vegetables one has grown.” –Alice Toklas

Mi Casa es Su Casa

Needing to shed a few pounds, I’ve been busy creating dishes that although leaner are still interesting. Lately I’m finding many ways to use cauliflower rice. It’s so easy to make and so incredibly versatile. If you really want to cut corners, many grocery stores sell it prebagged for convenience in the produce section.

As I have pointed out in my recent cookbook, Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat! vegetables do not have to be boring! There is no substitute for fresh veggies, when it comes to feeling healthy. When I make cauliflower rice, I like to use a large head so I will have additional meals at the ready. I simply vacuum seal it in 4 cup increments. One large head can produce enough for 3 meals! When I made this Mexican Cauliflower Rice dish today, my wife could not tell the difference between real rice and its faux counterpart.

MEXICAN CAULIFLOWER RICE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, riced (approx. 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 1 paste tomato, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 teaspoons green tabasco

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. To make cauliflower rice, separate head into flowerettes and slice stalks into 1 inch pieces. Place in food processor and pulse 7-8 times or until course and resembles rice. Measure out 4 cups and set aside.
  2. Chop your veggies and prep ingredients. Combine spices in a small bowl and mix.
  3. Whisk together Greek yogurt and green tabasco. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat a 12 inch non-stick skillet on medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. Add onion, peppers, tomato, and garlic. Sauté for 5-8 minutes or until soft.
  6. Add the spice blend, stock, and tomato paste. Mix well and cook for 2 additional minutes.
  7. Add cauliflower rice and cook until desire texture is reached, folding ingredients until thoroughly incorporated, about 5-6 more minutes.
  8. Add minced jalapeño and mix.
  9. Plate and drizzle dressing over the top. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serves 4

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.” —George Bernard Shaq

Hunkering Down

Most of the leaves are off the trees, and the view from my window is brown and gray. We are preparing to self-quarantine for the winter. Our larder and freezers are full of food prepared during our growing season. For all practical purposes we are ready to be home. The wood is stacked and the farm put away for the season.

Winter is actually a much needed quiet time on the farm, regardless of the pandemic. Val and I have stacks of books at the ready. The days are centered around food, discussion, reading, writing and cribbage. It is a simple life that suits us. There are times when the only sounds are the ticking of clocks, the wind across the lake and the crackling of the wood stove. This quiet is the counterbalance to the pandemic and the political tension all around us. With open hands, rather than fists, we will heal our tattered hearts and listen.

The following recipe makes more Indian butter sauce than you will need for one head of cauliflower, but it freezes beautifully and can be at the ready the next time you want to make it. If you want a little more bulk, steam some jasmine rice and serve it along side. It soaks up that wonderful sauce; and you might not have leftovers. You also will want all your spices measured out before you make the sauce, so you can sprinkle them in all at once. Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients, it comes together rather quickly; and you will find it on your regular rotation.

Steamed cauliflower sections with Indian butter sauce ready for roasting.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH INDIAN BUTTER SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut in quarters leaving as much of the green leaves as possible
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large or 3 small shallots, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated on Microplane or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • Cooked jasmine rice (if using)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Roasted cauliflower with Indian butter sauce

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot over high heat, place a steamer basket, 2 cups water, and your quartered cauliflower. Cover, bring to a boil and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the cauliflower with tongs and gently let it drain on a clean kitchen towel. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Next, make you butter sauce. In a medium heavy sauce pan over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, add the shallots and a pinch of salt; cook until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and lime juice. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the heavy cream, and tomatoes with their juices. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and lime zest.
  5. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place your drained cauliflower quarters evenly on it. Baste each quarter generously with sauce and roast for about 25 minutes.
  6. Place cauliflower on attractive platter and sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.

Serves 4

Beautiful roasted cauliflower, with Indian Butter Sauce
Enjoy!!

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self” —May Sarton

Talking Heads

We absolutely love vegetables. I guess that is one of the reasons that we are vegetable farmers. I have seen multiple recipes for roasting whole heads of cauliflower. In fact I think it’s a ‘thing’. Two years ago I created a Ras el Hanout spice mix that I have used on endless things, from Lamb Ragu, to Moroccan Almonds, to this roasted cauliflower. The mix is savory more than just hot. I feel that you have a party in your mouth when you taste it. You can find this mix in my new cookbook Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat! It is also available on this blog by searching for Moroccan Almonds. This would accompany anything on the grill, particularly lamb chops. We ate it with leftovers and were swooning!

WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium to large cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Several grinds of fresh black pepper

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a pot large enough to hold the head of cauliflower, fill with cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Clean cauliflower by removing outside leaves and cutting core horizontally so it sits level.
  2. Bring water to a boil and place cauliflower head in the pot with the core on top.  The whole head does not have to be submerged. Cover with lid and cook for 6 minutes. Lift with slotted spoon and place in wire mesh strainer for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place head of cauliflower in a casserole dish that gives it several inches around it.
  4. Melt butter, oil, salt, pepper and Ras el Hanout over low heat. Baste with butter and spice mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Baste again. Bake for an additional 25 minutes. Your cauliflower will take from 45 to 90 minutes depending on its size. Baste every 25 minutes until a metal skewer inserted in center indicates that the cauliflower is soft. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Slices into wedges.

Serves 4-6

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Laughter is the brightest, in the place where the food is.”  –Irish Proverb

Short On Stature, Big On Flavor

Ready for slow cooking in the oven

Ready for slow cooking in the oven

I have a confession.  I’m really a vegetable lover.  When it comes to meat, it better be savory and it better be tender!  This recipe meets both requisites with ease.  We are fortunate to have great resources for grass-fed beef in our area, such as Woodbridge Dairy in Byron Center, Michigan.  With beef short ribs there are two different cuts available: English-Cut and Flaken-Style. When I develop recipes, the biggest challenge for me is to measure amounts to duplicate the result.  I have decided that the Paleo approach is a template that each of us decides to what degree we follow.  For example, wine is a beautiful meat tenderizer, the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process; so you will find dry red wine in this recipe.  It is up to you whether or not you adjust for it.  I also don’t use the flour often recommended during the browning process. Instead I used tapioca, which is gluten-free to help thicken the sauce.  I also serve it over mashed cauliflower instead of the typical mashed potatoes, to help keep it in the Paleo realm.  The result was well received.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and/or adjustments for this approach.

Browned short ribs ready for the oven

Browned short ribs ready for the oven

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs:

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 lbs grass-fed bone-in English-Cut beef short ribs (about 10-12 pieces)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 12 medium sized carrots, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 cup finely diced shallots
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Aleppo chili flakes (I use Penseys)
  • 1 cup homemade beef stock
  • 2 cups dry red wine (whatever the cook’s drinking)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup Tapioca
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 recipe cauliflower mashed potatoes (recipe follows)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.  Dry short ribs and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Heat a Dutch oven to medium-high.  Add olive oil and brown all sides of beef ribs in a single layer (about 12-15 minutes total). Set a side.  Repeat with the remaining ribs.
  2. Lower heat to medium. Add celery, shallots and carrots to oil and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until shallots are soft.  Add garlic and tomato paste.  Stir to blend, about 2 minutes.  Add Aleppo chili, thyme, bay leaves, stock, wine, and Tapioca.  Bring to a simmer.  Place beef ribs on top of sauce.  Turn to coat.  Place in oven, covered for 3-4 hours; pulling out each hour to turn ribs in their sauce. Cook until fork tender.
  3. Put a dollop of cauliflower mashed potatoes in a shallow bowl.  Top with one or two ribs, sauce and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 4-6

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes:

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower, cut into flowerettes; placed in pot with water to cover and 1 tsp salt. Bring water to boil and cook for 15 minutes
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Drain cauliflower and add it to the bowl in a food processor with ghee, salt and pepper.  Process until smooth.

Savory and tender

Savory and tender

“Food in the end, in our own tradition is something holy. It’s about sharing,

it’s about honesty, it’s about identity.”  —Louise Fresco