Fried Cauliflower Florets with Creamy Garlic Tahini Sauce

 

Fried Cauliflower Florets with Creamy Garlic Tahini  Sauce

Fried Cauliflower Florets with Creamy Garlic Tahini Sauce

Whenever I eat out at a Mediterranean restaurant, I find it hard to not just compose a meal from the appetizer menu.  With things like lentil soup, lemon and garlic potatoes, hummus and pita bread, fattoush salad, grape leaves, and fried cauliflower on the appetizer menu, who needs a full entree!  I often find myself struggling not to order one of every thing on the appetizer menu.  I usually settle upon the potatoes or the fried cauliflower.  The fried cauliflower is amazingly simple.  Unlike most fried things that come dusted in flour or some other type of breaded base, this doesn’t.  This recipe calls for only one ingredient, cauliflower!  The tahini sauce is great with this, but the cauliflower is pretty amazing on its own.  Your kids will love these cauliflower florets, mine did!

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Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 5-7 minutes

Ingredients:

1 small head of cauliflower

2 cups of grape seed oil or another high temp oil

Sea salt to taste

Ingredients Creamy Garlic Tahini Sauce

4 tablespoons of tahini paste

8 tablespoons of water

1 tablespoon of lemon juice, more if you like

2 cloves of garlic grated

Directions: Pre-heat the oil to 320F in a deep fryer.  Add ingredients for the tahini sauce to a small bowl and mix until well combined and creamy, then set aside. If you want this to be extra creamy, place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until creamy, then transfer to a bowl.

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Cut the cauliflower into florets.

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Add the cauliflower florets to the deep fryer.

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Fry until golden brown.

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Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, season with sea salt, serve and enjoy!

 

 

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Herbaceous Grilled Lamp Chops

Herbaceous Grilled Lamb Chops

Herbaceous Grilled Lamb Chops

Last weekend I visited a Persian market.  The market filled me with all sorts of food inspiration, but it mostly left me with a strong desire to eat lamb.  I guessing that desire came from the cooked foods section, which had fresh lamb kabobs and shawarma. The market also housed a rather large meat department, it had lamb in every form, hooves, hearts, livers, basically every part of the lamb that a better cook than I am could possibly want to cook. A far cry from the selection at my local Whole Foods! I feel like I hit the lottery if they have stewed lamb meat once every 4 months.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous to be able to walk into your local market and find, um..choices?  Like ramps in the spring time, in California–but I digress.  Let’s just say, I left the Persian market with market envy.   I shop at Whole Foods so often that when I go into a conventional grocery store, I’m always amazed at how inexpensive things are.  Haha..call it reverse sticker shock! Thank you Whole Foods!  Surprisingly, I did not leave the Persian market with lamb.  I did find some great spices, some pomegranate molasses, and a few other great items.  I left with my new finds and a mission to cook these lamb chops.

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Ingredients:

1 lb lamb chops

2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic minced

1 teaspoon lemon powder, can sub with lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon of olive oil

Directions: To a small bowl add garlic, rosemary, lemon zest and oil, mix well.

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Dry lamb chops, season generously with sea salt. Rub the lamb chops with the herbaceous garlic paste.

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Place lamb chops on a hot grill, and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until lamb chops are cooked to your liking.  Remove from grill, serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon and enjoy!

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D.I.Y. Cheese Crackers–How to make Cheese It Crackers

DIY Cheese Cracker's--DIY Cheese it's

DIY Cheese Cracker’s–DIY Cheese it’s

My mom is a lover of all things snack related, so for Mother’s Day I want to give her what she enjoys most. I had been planning on making cheese cracker’s for Page, she was given gold fish crackers as a snack at school, and came home and immediately asked me to buy them.  Not really going to happen.  So since my mom and Page share a love of great snacks, I thought I’d make these cheese crackers for them. These cracker’s are what AWESOME aspires to be! They’re better than great! And they’re 1000 times tastier than store bought cheeze it’s.  The recipe I used comes from America’s Test kitchen, so if you want the recipe in it’s original form click here.  I used less salt than the original recipe calls for.  Cheese already has a lot of salt, so adding too much is overkill. Do pick a great quality cheese for these, because quality matters for this particular recipe–good cheese=great cheese crackers. The recipe calls for the use of Annatto seeds, I found them quite easily in the spice section of Whole Foods.  If you can’t find them, omit them from the recipe–your crackers will be white, instead of orange–not a big deal, they’ll still taste beyond amazing!!!

 

Ingredients:

6 ounces of organic sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated

4 tablespoons of butter (2 ounces)

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of Annatto seeds, coarsely ground (optional)

2 tablespoons of boiling water

Directions: To a small bowl add add the coarsely ground annatto seeds and the boiling water.

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Allow the seeds to steep in the boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain and allow to cool to room temperature.

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Meanwhile, add the butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, and cheese to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment,

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mix on medium speed until cheese and butter are creamed and well combined–about 30 seconds.

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Add in the flour and cornstarch and mix until combined–about 1 minute.

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Add in the Annatto seed water,

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then mix until dough clumps together or forms a ball–about 15 seconds.

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Transfer dough to a  lightly floured counter, flatten to a disc, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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When ready to cook, pre-heat oven to 375F.  Line two bake sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and working on a floured counter, roll out the dough to 1/16 inch thickness–or as thin as you can get it without falling apart when you move it.

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Cut the dough into 1 inch squares using a pizza or ravioli cutter or use small cookie cutters to cut out shapes.

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Use a skewer to poke holes in the center of the crackers,

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Transfer to the parchment lined bake sheets, place in the oven and bake until light and golden–about 18 minutes.

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Remove from oven, allow to cool completely, then enjoy.

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These can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

 

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D.I.Y. Chicken Breakfast Sausage-How to Make Breakfast Sausage

Chicken Breakfast Sausage

Chicken Breakfast Sausage

 

One of the most difficult parts of the day for me is deciding what to feed Page for breakfast.  Like any child, she’s opinionated about what she’ll eat, but she seems to be more obstinate in her choices during breakfast.  She doesn’t eat what I imagine most kids do in the morning, no breakfast cereals, or breakfast bars.  She is more into things that take more time, like eggs, bacon, quesadillas! She loves a hot meal to start her day off, so this week when I went shopping, I thought I’d switch things up a bit and make some homemade breakfast sausage for her.  I’m using ground chicken for this recipe, but feel free to use pork, if you’re so inclined.  The fresh herbs in this recipe are what make these sausages amazing! What’s more amazing is that you don’t need to grind the meat yourself.  Order a pound or two of ground chicken from your  meat guy/gal add some fresh herbs and BAM–Jimmy Dean style sausages for you and your loved ones.  These would be perfect for Sunday Brunch, or for your Mother’s day breakfast–point your husbands right to this site.  One pound of ground chicken made about 12 sausage patties.  I put 5 in the refrigerator, and froze the rest for later use.  If you don’t plan on cooking these within 5 days of making them, then I suggest you freeze them right away.

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 lb of Organic air chilled ground chicken (dark meat)

2 tablespoon of fresh sage (finely chopped)

2 tablespoons of fresh thyme (finely chopped)

1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

1 tablespoon of maple sugar (can substitute with maple syrup or brown sugar) Omit if you’re on Whole 30

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you want)

 

Directions:  Add the ground chicken and spices to a medium sized bowl,

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Form patties, and either refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze in an air tight container for up to 3 months.

 

When ready to cook, spray a cast iron skillet with coconut oil, bring pan to temperature, then add patties, cook for 3-4 minutes on each side,

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or until golden brown, and meat is cooked through in the center.

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Remove from pan, serve and enjoy!!!

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Garbanzo Bean Salad with Lime Herb Vinaigrette

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Garbanzo Bean Salad with Lime Herb Vinaigrette

 

Salads are the perfect lazy meal. Add a little of this and a little of that and you have a great meal that didn’t involve 1 minute of cooking. It’s no wonder I love them so much.  When I’m in the mood for a hearty and filling salad, I always use legumes as base and build out from there. This salad makes the perfect lunch, or lazy dinner.

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Ingredients:

10 ounce can of organic garbanzo beans–drained and rinsed

1/2 cup of  organic persian cucumbers, diced

1/2 cup of organic radish, diced

1/2 cup of organic bell pepper, diced

3-4 oz of Feta cheese–crumbled

Sea salt to taste

Lime Herb Vinaigrette

1/4 cup of fresh organic lime juice

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint

1 medium clove of garlic, grated

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

Sea salt to taste

Directions:  Add all of the ingredients for the Lime herb vinaigrette to a bowl,  whisk together and set aside.  To a large bowl add the ingredients for the salad, season with sea salt and toss gently.

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Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss once more and enjoy!

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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Before I had my own child, I spent countless hours in the kitchen with my nieces and nephews baking cookies.  It was a tradition actually. A tradition that my  now 22-year-old niece looks back on fondly.  Great considering the fact that I do not consider myself a baker.  This particular recipe is a chocolate chip recipe from Serious eats, but with my spin on it.  By spin, I mean I used the listed ingredients, mostly–and a little extra chocolate, but I did not follow the directions as written.  I sort of did things my way.  If you want to make these cookies exactly as Kenji over at Serious eats intended, then by all means follow this recipe.  In either case, this recipe is tried and true. The brown butter in this recipe lends a nice toffee flavor to these cookies.  I let the dough rest before cooking these.  My intent was to let it rest over night, but the dough smelled so good that Page insisted that we bake a few right away, so we did, after it rested for about 8 hours.  To be honest there was not really a noticeable difference between the cookies we baked early and the ones that were baked the next day.  Good cookies are just good cookies. But that could have been a result of me not following the directions word for word.  But that aside, these cookies were amazing!!!  If you were lucky enough to have one of these at a bake sale–you’d be a lucky duck indeed!

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Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

10 ounces of all purpose flour (about 2 cups)

8 ounces of cooled brown butter (2 sticks) see directions for browning butter here

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

5 ounces  of granulated sugar or 3/4  cup

5 ounces of  tightly packed brown sugar or 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (go to my Instagram account to see how to make your own)

10 ounces of chocolate chips

2 teaspoons of kosher salt–I used Pink Sea Salt

2 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Directions: Add  flour, salt and baking powder to a bowl, mix and set aside.  Add cooled brown butter and sugars to a bowl with the whisk attachment.  On medium speed, cream together, for about 5 minutes. Kenji’s recipe calls for using brown butter that has not fully solidified, but I am a busy woman, I put my brown butter in the refrigerator, and came back for it 3 hours later, so I decided to cream it with the sugars.

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After butter and sugar mixture has creamed, change to the paddle attachment and add in the eggs and vanilla mix on medium speed until the mixture comes together.

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Add in the flour mixture and mix on low speed until dough  is just barely combined , about 15 seconds.

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There should still be some dry flour remaining.

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Turn off mixer, add in chocolate chips, using a silicon spatula, fold the chocolate chips into the dough,

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Transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate.  I rolled the dough out onto parchment and then sealed it in a Ziploc bag.  Then separated it into 3 equal sized cookie logsso that I could freeze them for later–that didn’t really happen–I gave one roll away, and we ate the rest:

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Allow the dough to rest overnight, or as long as you can–up to 3 days in the refrigerator, then cut or scoop dough out into tablespoon sized  portions on to a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.

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Bake on 325F for 13-16 minutes.  The cookies should be brown on the edges but soft in the middle.  Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack to cool, then enjoy!

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How to Brown Butter

How to Brown Butter

How to Brown Butter

It has been said that butter makes everything better.  In my opinion  brown butter is butter in it’s best form.  The nutty, butterscotch notes butter has once it has been browned are heavenly!  I love to use brown butter in everything from sauces to baked goods.  In fact, the other day, Page and I were baking with browned butter, and even she–in all of her 3-year-old astuteness–could not stop saying how good the brown butter smelled.  The aroma had us both in a euphoric trance–I’m not exaggerating–we were both giddy over the smell–and the cookies…the cookies were AMAZING!!!  I’ll share that post another day.  You can make as much, or as little, of this as you’d like.  Once the butter has browned, you can place it in the refrigerator to use for later.  A good brown butter sauce can liven up everything –even veggies.

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Prep time: none

Cook time: 5-7 minutes

Ingredients:

2 sticks of butter

Directions: Place the butter in a stainless steel or clear bottom sauce pan

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and melt over medium low heat.

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Once the butter has completely melted, things move along pretty quickly, the solids have already begun to separate for me and it’s been about two minutes:

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At about 5 minutes in the butter will start to bubble and and splatter, stir, stir, and stir some more:

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Now is the time to watch the butter like a hawk, because then this happens:

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Foam, a lot of foam, which makes it hard to see if the butter has browned underneath, so move the foam to the side with a spoon to see if the butter has browned. image

You’ll be able to tell the butter has browned because you’ll start to see brown bits of milk solids on the spoon and in the pan.

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The butter will also start to smell AMAZING!! It takes on a sweet, nutty almost butterscotch aroma.  I was happy with the color at this point, but you could go a little longer–just be careful not to go too much longer, because the butter continues to brown even after you remove it from the heat. After you’re happy with the color,  remove it from heat and transfer to a heatproof container.  Make sure to transfer all of the butter milk solids–the milk solids are the best part.  They don’t look appetizing but they are.  I added them after I took this picture, just so you guys could see what they look like.:

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Continue to stir for a  few minutes to help cool it down.

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Use it right away or allow the brown butter to cool to room temperature before transferring to an air tight container and then the refrigerator for later use.

 

Persian Spiced Salmon Kabobs

Persian Spiced Salmon Kabob's

Persian Spiced Salmon Kabob’s

 

I love a good kabob and lately I’ve been craving them.  Salmon is such a hearty fish, and there are many great ways to prepare salmon, but when you want to switch things up a bit–grilled salmon is the way to go.  I made a paste to adorn this salmon, and it’s rich in Mediterranean flavors.  I used sumac, which can be found in any middle eastern store, or in your local Trader Joe’s–it’s where I got mine.  Sumac is tart,  sour and is often used in place of lemon in middle eastern recipes.   If you can’t find sumac, then by all means feel free to substitute with the zest of a lemon.  The flavor is this dish is fantastic.  The fresh thyme was amazing! I felt like I was eating at one of my favorite Persian restaurants.  Page really loved it, and my husband could not stop with the compliments.

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Prep time: 5 minutes

cook time: 7 minutes

Total time: 12 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1lb of salmon– dried with paper towels, de-skinned, and cubed into 1 inch pieces

1 teaspoon of sumac powder– can substitute with lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of fresh thyme-stems removed

1 teaspoon of olive oil–or oil of your choice

sea salt to taste

Directions: To a small bowl add the garlic powder, cumin powder, fresh thyme and oil, mix well and set aside.

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Rub the spice mixture on the salmon,

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then add the salmon to skewers,

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Grill the salmon for 3-4 minutes on each side, remove from grill, serve and enjoy!

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Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing

Creamy Caesar Dressing--DIY Caesar Salad Dressing

Creamy Caesar Dressing–DIY Caesar Salad Dressing

My latest obsession is salad.  Crispy and crunchy vegetables with a drizzle of oil, and a splash of citrus or vinegar–what’s not to love?  Salads are a great way to get in a few servings of fresh vegetables in their raw state.  As much as I love salads, they can become a bit boring if you don’t mix things up a bit.  The easiest way to do that is to switch out the vegetables and the dressing.  I often make caesar salads with romaine lettuce, but sometimes I switch out the romaine and replace it with baby kale, or lacinto kale.  It makes for a hearty salad and an especially delicious twist to the standard caesar  salad, we are all used to.  I’ll post the recipe I use for the kale caesar another day, but today, I’m sharing my recipe for my favorite creamy caesar salad dressing.  It’s my go to dressing, when I crave a creamy salad dressing.

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: none

Ingredients:

1 clove of garlic pasted

2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon of anchovy paste

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup grape seed oil

5 teaspoons of olive oil

3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

black pepper to taste

Directions:  To a small bowl add the grated garlic and lemon juice, allow to sit for 10 minutes.  If you have a hand mixer like I do, add the lemon garlic mixture, (after it sits for 10 minutes), and the rest of the ingredients to a bowl and mix until the mixture thickens–about 1-2 minutes.

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Transfer to an air tight container and chill until ready to use.

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If you don’t have a hand mixer,  whisk worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture.



While whisking, drizzle grape seed oil and extra virgin olive oil into bowl in slow, steady stream until fully emulsified.


 Add 3/4 cup Parmesan and pepper to taste; whisk until incorporated:

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust–How to make Cauliflower Pizza Crust

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

 

I’m trying to find different ways to serve vegetables to Page.  She has a new found love for pizza–before she wasn’t at all impressed.  Recently, I’ve started to get her involved in helping me to make the meals we’re eating.  I saw a food documentary about food, and kids.  In it the narrator said that the best way to get kids to eat vegetables is to have them take part in cooking. Page is at that age where she’s very eager to help, so I thought why not take advantage of that.   I’ve also really wanted to try out a cauliflower pizza crust on our new baking steel.  I have to say that I was more than impressed with the results–so was Page.   Now for those of you wondering if this will taste anything like that delicious yeasty bread that you’re used to with pizza–the short answer is no.  Bread is bread–this is an alternative to bread.  Although it’s not bread–it mimics bread in form, and it is so delicious that it stands on it’s own.  The reason cauliflower is most often used by people as a substitution for grains is because it has such a mild flavor.  It also has great texture. This recipe requires that you add cheese.  I used parmesan, but you could use mozzarella, or pecorino, or a combination of your favorite Italian cheeses.  I also used fresh basil, but you can use rosemary, or another herb of your choosing, dried or fresh–totally up to you.

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 small head of cauliflower

1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of truffle salt

1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh basil

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan–or cheese of your choice

1 egg

Directions: Pre-heat your oven and pizza stone or baking steel  to 450F for 45 minutes. Steam the cauliflower for 5-7 minutes–or until fork tender.

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Transfer cauliflower to a processor and process until cauliflower looks like grains of rice.

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Transfer processed cauliflower to a clean kitchen towel, or a nut milk bag, and squeeze until the cauliflower becomes dry.  You want to squeeze out as much water as you can.

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Transfer the cauliflower to a medium size bowl, and add garlic powder, salt, basil, and cheese–mix together into a ball.

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Spray a sheet of parchment paper with oil.  Add the cauliflower mixture to the center of the parchment paper, and with your hands begin to flatten and form it into the shape of a pizza.

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Once you have the shape you want, place it in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

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Once it’s golden brown and bubbly like this:  remove it from the oven.

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Now you can top it with your favorite tomato sauce, cheese and toppings.

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Once you have it topped, place it in the oven to cook until the cheese and topping melt.  Remove from oven, cut serve and enjoy!

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This made a 10-12 inch pizza, not a crumb was left over.  Everyone enjoyed it–my husband didn’t even know that the crust was made from cauliflower until Page told him! If you like this try my recipe for Tortilla Pizza!