Fall Favorite: Cauliflower 3 Ways

Now that Fall is officially here I’ve been getting into some new recipes for one of the seasons most versatile vegetables: cauliflower and her cousin, romanesco.  Part of the Cruciferous family, one cup of cauliflower has more than 73% of your daily vitamin c!  Cauliflower can also help you to detox, it’s got anti-inflammatory properties and is an excellent source of dietary fiber.  As you’ll see from the wide variety of recipes I’ve gathered here, cauliflower is super versatile and full of as much flavor as nutrition.  Happy Autumn eating!

cauliflower-rice-low-carb-1024x682

My first recipe suggestion is to make rice out of cauliflower, a low carbohydrate, high fiber, nutrient packed alternative to a grain side dish.  I’ve eaten this rice as a side with baked chicken, in lettuce wraps with shredded pork, basically it can be substituted anywhere you’d usually use rice.  How cool is that?  Check out this super simple recipe on LowCarbSlowCarb.com under, you guessed it, Cauliflower Rice!

cauliflower-steak-au-poivre-4-1024x682

Next up, Cauliflower Steaks.  This recipe was sent to me by a friend who I have shared many a steak tartare and pork chop with so I knew it had to be delicious.  I was a bit skeptical but he assured me this was no wimpy vegan alternative, it’s filling, awesome plant food thank you very much!  The recipe I like best comes from JaxHouse.com aka Jacky Hackett, a food enthusiast mom blogger.  You can find her simple and easy recipe under ‘Cauliflower Steak au Poivre.  The trick is using your cast iron skillet in a very hot oven and the results are wickedly good.

Cauli-Crust-Grilled-Cheese-(3)

This last recipe is sure to convert you to the power of what you used to think of as a bland white vegetable: The Cauliflower Grill Cheese.  Yes, it’s gluten free, it’s a full serving of veggies and it’s got a gooey cheese center.  This recipe can be found on TheIronYou.com a blog run by a guy named Mike who thinks we could all eat better and exercise more for a more awesome us, I think he’s onto something!  Search for ‘Cauliflower Grilled Cheese’ and you’ll find a recipe for what will become one of your fall favorites, no matter what your relationship is to gluten.  Pair this with a hot bowl of tomato soup and call it lunch.

Cauliflower Pizza: A New Take On Veggie Pie

I was skeptical about this idea of using cauliflower as the base for a pizza crust.  Then, a former coaching client sent me the recipe she had used, telling me I would love it.  Since she and I have shared a bunch of recipes I decided it was time to see what I was missing out on:

Does this look like a vegetable to you?

Does this look like a vegetable to you?

The recipe I was sent is this one, from the site Eating Bird Food, which is all about how healthy foods can and should be delicious, I couldn’t agree more!  I took the recipe and made it double, with minor changes:

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups riced)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cheese- use your favorite- mozzarella is great, we had some goat Gouda so I used that.
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons each basil and oregano

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven and pizza stone, if you have one, to 400° F
  2. Prep a 12 inch round baking tray- you can grease the tray or use parchment paper.
  3. Remove the stems and leaves from your cauliflower and chop the florets into chunks. Add to a food processor (I used my Cuisinart) and pulse just until the texture is similar to rice. If you don’t have a food processor or Vitamix, you can grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater or chop it.
  4. Sauté cauliflower “rice” in a non-stick skillet (I used our large cast iron pan) over medium heat and cook until translucent, approximately 10-12 minutes.   Mine did not get very translucent but it did get cooked somewhat which is the whole point.
  5. In a bowl combine all remaining ingredients, starting with the eggs so you can whip them up.  Then add the cauliflower and mix well to combine.
  6. Spread dough out evenly over greased tray or parchment paper – about ¼ to ⅓ of an inch thick. The pizza should be about 12  inches in diameter.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden, crispy on the edges and cooked through the middle.
  8. Remove the crust from the oven.
  9. Top with sauce and toppings.  Add whatever you like best, you’ll be eating this pizza with a fork so go for it: sautéed onions, mushrooms, fresh chopped veggies, pesto, cheese, fresh herbs, etc.
  10. Broil the pizza for 5 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted. Allow the pizza to cool for 2-3 minutes then cut and serve immediately.

I topped our pizza with one crumbled Italian sausage, sautéed onions, hot pepper flakes, more oregano and basil and just a bit of grated Romano sheep cheese.  I thought we had pesto in the freezer (wishful thinking!)  which would have been perfect for the sauce.  I could have made pesto out of garlic, olive oil, salt and some of the collard greens we had but didn’t think ahead enough.  It turned out really well even without the green and I am already thinking about what to make next time!

If you want pizza you can eat with your hands, try the flax crust I posted earlier and be sure to let us know what your favorite toppings are!

Jamaican Jerk Veggie Curry with Mahi Mahi

And now for some on the fly leftover Jamaican jerk ‘curry’ with whatever is in the vegetable crisper…

1/3 of a quart ball jar of leftover Jerk sauce. 1/3- 1/2 can of coconut milk. Purple cabbage from the garden, roughly chopped. A small handful of carrots from my Dad’s garden and a few thick slices of onion.

Turn the heat to medium, mix and simmer with a lid on for 3-4 minutes. Add the thickest part of some chopped kale, simmer for 3-4 minutes more with the lid on.

Add the rest of the chopped kale. Put the lid back on and simmer til it’s done.

Add some toasted (or raw) coconut flakes and serve with….

baked Jerk Mahi Mahi, leftover carrot ginger soup and hot ginger tea, yum!

Pork (or Tempeh) and Peppers with Fire Cider

Our friend Tom learned to cook this flavorful and simple Italian dish from his grandmother.  He served this along with some other amazing food- he made a tomato sauce from scratch, a huge colorful salad and  individual apple tarts for dessert- the last time Dana and I went to dinner at his place.  Here’s a version of Tom’s recipe, he used our Fire Cider in place of the vinegar from the original recipe.

Ingredients:

4  pork chops, bone in.  You can also use sliced pork or sliced tempeh.  If using tempeh I would marinate it first in some Fire Cider for about 20 minutes.

about 16 pepperoncini, sliced.  You can buy these or easily make your own!

sliced onion and sliced red, green or yellow peppers, about a handful per pork chop/serving

salt and pepper to taste

3-4  Tablespoons olive oil

3-4 Tablespoons of Fire Cider

Pork chops with colorful peppers and a side of sautéed greens.  This image is from the food network, Tom’s pork n peppers got all eaten up before I thought to take a picture. A testament to the deliciousness of his recipe!

Season your pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.   In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and add your chops (or tempeh).  Saute until browned on both sides then move to a covered plate to keep warm.  Add both kinds of peppers, onion and Fire Cider to the pan and continue to cook on medium heat, until peppers and onions are lightly browned. Serve over pork chops (or tempeh). This dish goes nicely with a big side of greens sautéed in garlic and olive oil.

Broccoli Fritters and A Garden Update

Ok, how about the garden update first and then the recipe for Broccoli Fritters that John found for me on Smitten Kitchen (love the name and the recipes, thank you thank you!).

Our garden at Green Meads Farm in Richmond is growing like crazy; veggies, weeds and that invasive comfrey too.  Last night Dana and I harvested carrots, lots and lots of lettuce: baby romaine, red sails and black seeded simpson as well as spinach, it doesn’t like the heat but it’s hangin’ in there.  Here’s a shot of the garden, the back third is still pretty much all weeds but we’re doing what we can with our hand tools.

There are a couple of hops plants in the foreground and off to the right with our 5 veggie and herb beds in the middle.

Dana harvested a bunch of Holy Basil and is drying it inside on some old print screens Crispina donated to us a few years back, can’t wait to make tea with it!

Holy Basil!

We have been eating salad non stop since the weather turned and I think in about a week or so we’ll be picking chard and kale.  Can’t wait to make these broccoli fritters with our home grown broccoli in another few weeks!  Here’s the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, I only changed one thing: the flour.  Her recipe calls for a half cup of regular wheat flour which easily swaps out for 1/2 cup of chick pea flour or about 2 tablespoons of coconut flour.  Enjoy!

Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli Fritters

“There’s a lot of broccoli and very little pancake in this fritter. The broccoli is not grated or pureed, but left in small, recognizable bits that are bound lightly, faintly, to their batter of egg, parmesan and flour. And when you cook them right — that is, to a crisp, in a preheated, heavy, oil-slicked skillet — they get a fantastic crisp edge to them.

To serve: I like these with a dollop of the garlicky lemon yogurt I share here, roughly 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tiny minced clove of garlic, a bit of zest and salt. It would also be good with this homemade ricotta, with or without additional lemon juice. They’re also good simply, with just a squeeze of lemon juice. I think I’d also enjoy them with a little crumbled feta on top. Oh, and of course, you can put a runny fried egg on top of it. But I don’t need to tell you that.

Yield: nine 2 to 2 1/2-inch fritters

8 ounces (1 small-to-medium bundle, 225 grams) fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (65 grams) chick pea flour or for almost no carbs at all, 1-2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes or several grinds of black pepper
Olive, coconut or vegetable oil for frying

Prepare your broccoli: Separate the florets from the biggest stem(s). Cut the florets into 1-inch chunks. To prepare the stems, I like to peel them, as the skin can be thick and doesn’t cook quickly, then slice them into 1/2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups of chopped broccoli total.

Steam your broccoli until tender but not mushy: Use whatever method you prefer. My quickie, lazy method is to bring a 1/2-inch or so of water to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the broccoli, place a lid on it and simmer it for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the broccoli, then set it aside to cool slightly.

In the bottom of a large bowl, lightly beat your egg. Add the chick pea or coconut flour, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Then, add the somewhat cooled broccoli and, using a potato masher, mash the broccoli just a bit. You’re looking to keep the bits recognizable, but small enough (1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks) that you can press a mound of the batter into a fritter in the pan. Once mashed a bit, stir or fold the ingredients together the rest of the way with a spoon. Adjust seasonings to taste.  If it seems like there is not enough batter simply whip up another egg, add some more grated cheese, it’s a pretty flexible recipe!

Heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil (I usually use a mix of olive and vegetable oil), about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then to a serving plate if you’ll be eating them shortly or a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven if you’d like to keep them warm for a while until needed. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed. Serve with some of the suggestions listed in the head notes, above.”  Freezes and reheats well so make a big batch and save some for later!

Camp Food and Travel Pictures: Cape Hatteras N.C.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, only 4 more hours to go!

Last week Dana drove us over 600 miles from the Berkshires to Frisco, NC on Cape Hatteras and back again, whew!   Our little ’84 Jetta was packed with camping equipment and of course, lots of food!  The state forest camp grounds were beautiful and totally worth the long drive to get there.  We camped for the first part of our trip and then moved a few miles down the road to a house on the beach that we shared with friends, what an awesome vacation!

The view of the Atlantic from our camp site in Frisco, NC

First I want to share my favorite way to enjoy avocados, with some tamari, wasabi and a spoon….

Chipolte, salt and lime on the left and my tamari and wasabi half on the right.

All you need is a spoon, and maybe someone to share the other half with : – )

Dana’s camp stove, which he took bike touring with him over a decade ago, decided it was time to retire when we tried to use it our first morning.  So we had to rely on the charcoal grill at our site.  Good thing we brought our cast iron pan!

Chopped cabbage, sauerkraut, bacon and eggs; everything you need for a hearty seaside breakfast.

I cooked the bacon first, then sauteed the cabbage, pushed everything to the side and fried the eggs in the rest of the bacon fat. Flax crackers and sun tea on the side. Eating directly out of the skillet means no dishes to do, we are on vacation after all!

One night for dinner we grilled asparagus and then cooked sausages and kale with mushrooms and onions in the skillet. Dinner is served.

Best beach house dinner: fresh fried mahi mahi fish tacos (‘slaw and corn tortillas not pictured) and sashimi tuna with bacon tacos. Gotta give Bill credit for the bacon and sashimi combo and the picture too!  I used romaine lettuce leaves to make my tacos, wicked good guys, you gotta try it!

Osso Bucco with Carrots, Cabbage and Onion

Pork and cabbage, how much more New England can dinner get?

This was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be when I asked James about the pork shanks in the case at The Meat Market.  I had not planned on making osso bucco for dinner (it sounds a bit intimidating, right?!) but accidentally defrosted this instead of the pork chops I’d bought at the same time!  As with many of my culinary discoveries, I was hungry and had to work with what was on hand.  I’m glad I did, osso bucco made with pork shanks is amazingly delicious and easy, it just takes some time.

At 5:30 in the evening I heated up my smaller cast iron skillet, lightly oiled and browned each side of the pork shank for a minute or two.  Then I added a couple frozen cubs of homemade stock (from our Thanksgiving turkey, still giving!) and a healthy 1/2 cup of red wine along with some carrots and onion slices.  I put the top from our creuset (any oven safe lid will do) and put the whole thing in the oven.  I set the oven to 300 and the timer for an hour.

At one hour the meat was thoroughly cooked but not falling apart.  Another hour and it was perfect, the sauce had reduced, the veggies were cooked and the meat was super tender, no knives necessary.

About 10 minutes before the skillet came out of the oven I chopped a bit of onion and sautéed it in butter with cumin and salt.  Added some shredded cabbage and cook it til it was wilted.

Next time, we'll definitely need one for each of us!

The cooked cabbage went into the cast iron pan with the reduced stock/wine/pork juices after we served the osso bucco and the veggies.  It wasn’t a ‘quick meal’ but it really didn’t take much time or effort in the kitchen.  And it was super flavorful, a great meal to make if you want to impress and a have a few hours before you want to eat!

Dana’s Frittata with Greens and Chilies

As the weather continues to get colder it’s time to turn up the heat and that includes the food we are eating.  A great way to keep warm during the cold months is to eat foods that warm us up and the following recipe is for a one dish meal that’s served hot and also has a healthy dose of heat from chilies in adobo sauce.  This is my husband’s recipe and our go to, one dish dinner.

Dana’s Frittata with Greens and Chilies

Since this is a one dish meal the amount of the ingredients depends on the size of your skillet.  My cast iron skillet is about 11 inches in diameter, so adjust accordingly. You don’t need to worry about getting the measurements exact.  And, as with most of the recipes I love, there is plenty of room for improvisation and substitution.  This recipe will feed about 3-4 people and can be made in about 30 minutes or less.

The Ingredients: Local and Organic, please!

2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

5-7 large Eggs (I always get my eggs from the farm on Michael’s Road in Hinsdale) lightly beaten with a pinch of salt and 1 Tablespoon of water or milk.

1 bunch of Greens, any kind will do, Kale and Collards are my favorites, ribs removed, finely shredded.

1 medium Onion, chopped or sliced into half moons

2-3 cloves of Garlic, pressed or finely chopped

1-3 Chilies in Adobo (Goya brand) these are HOT so use with caution!  Chop them fine and be sure to include some of the sauce.

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon smoked Paprika

1 teaspoon Oregano

½ teaspoon/dash of Lemon juice

Salt to taste

Cheese, optional, for topping

 

Dana adds the chopped kale to the onion mixture.

The Procedure:

Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to your skillet over medium heat.

Sauté the onions until soft with about 1 teaspoon of salt.

Add in the garlic and cumin and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Add the green veggies, chilies and paprika and a dash of lemon juice.  Mix well and continue to cook until the greens are wilted.

Add the oregano to your eggs, mix well and pour the egg mixture evenly over everything in the skillet.

Let it cook until the eggs are mostly set.  Top with cheese if you like.

Put the whole thing in the oven under the broiler.  This is why cast iron is so handy!  The top will set and bubble and then brown.  When it’s got a nice toasty top that means it’s done and ready to eat.  Serve straight out of the skillet.  This is a complete meal but you can always serve with whole grain toast and a side of greens.  Also, if you have leftovers this makes an excellent breakfast and you get extra bonus points for having veggies at breakfast!

Just out of the oven and ready to eat!

Easy Italian Style Kale

 

Three different types of Kale, all of them delicious and nutritious!

Three different types of Kale, all of them delicious and nutritious!

 

I wrote the following recipe for my friend Jonathan.  He is thirteen and has taken an interest in eating well and trying out new foods.  He had never eaten kale before but when I told him he could season it to taste like some of his other favorite Italian foods he was willing to try it!  Kale can be grown all year-long in the Berkshires and it can be prepared so many ways.  I have a great Kale Chips recipe on my blog and there are literally hundreds of recipes on the web.  This hearty green makes an excellent addition to any diet.

Easy Italian Style Kale

Makes 2 generous portions in about 20 minutes.

Ingredients: all organic, all the time!

1 bunch kale, any kind will do! Ribs removed and ripped into pieces.

2 cloves garlic, minced or even better, use a garlic press and press directly into the pan when it’s time to add the garlic.

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more if necessary

½ medium onion, sliced into half moons

1 Tablespoon capers

5 – 7 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thin

1 Teaspoon each fennel and oregano

Sprinkling of hot pepper flakes

Splash of Balsamic

Salt, if necessary, to taste

The Procedure:

In a cast iron skillet heat the oil over medium heat and add the pepper flakes and fennel.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes.

Add the onion, capers and sun-dried tomatoes.  Cook until the onion is clear and wilted.

Add the garlic, stir to incorporate and then add the kale and the oregano.  Mix well so that the kale cooks evenly.  When the kale is wilted but still has a bit of bright green to it, add a splash or two of balsamic.

Taste, adjust for flavor.  Add more capers or herbs, more hot pepper and garlic or nothing at all!

Remove from heat and eat.

When I want to turn this side dish into a meal I will separately cook up some hot Italian pork sausage from Holiday Farm in Dalton, slice it and add it to the kale just before serving.  French lentils also work really well with this kale dish for a hearty vegan option or in addition to the sausage.

 

Cooked kale, ready to eat!

Cooked kale, ready to eat!

 

Raw Collard Green Salad with Romano and Walnuts

The main ingredients: Collards, grated Romano and walnut pieces, yum!

Raw Collard Green Salad

Serves 1-2 people as a main course or 3-4 people as a side.  I admit to eating this whole salad all by myself after an epic and hilly run!  Takes about 20 minutes to make.

Ingredients: all organic, always!

One bunch collards, ribs removed and sliced into thin strips

Handful or two of walnut pieces

Grated Romano cheese, about  1/3 of a cup

Optional: if you want to make this a more complete meal add some chicken pieces, a can of high quality tuna, kidney beans, tempeh or a couple of sliced hard boiled eggs

For the dressing:

¼ cup walnut or extra virgin olive oil or a mix of the two

1 Tablespoon balsamic

1 Tablespoon dijon mustard

2 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1-2 cloves of garlic pressed (if you don’t have a garlic press you can mash the cloves with a fork)

Removing the ribs from the collard leaves.

The Procedure:

In your large salad bowl add all of the dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.

Add the thin sliced collards and toss to coat.

Top with walnut pieces and the Romano cheese.  Toss again.  If you want to add any protein, now’s the time.  Reserve a little grated cheese and few walnut pieces to add to the top for a pretty presentation.

You can eat immediately or you can let it sit out for an hour or overnight in the fridge.  The longer it sits the softer the collards will be and the more the flavors will meld.  This is a great salad to make ahead or if you love to have leftovers for lunch the next day!

Ready to eat!

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