Cauliflower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Parsley and Pasta

If you know me at all, you know I love meat.  Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is not my strong suit (is it still even five?! who knows?!).  That’s why you’ll be shocked to learn my newest cookbook is vegetarian.

Try and contain your shock.

It’s called “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison and you’ll learn everything you need to know about tons of great veggies, from growing them to trimming and preparing.  Great book and hopefully you’ll see more vegetable dishes here.  (http://deborahmadison.com/vegetable-literacy/)

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It’s comical how bad that picture is.  Winning!

Cauliflower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Parsley, and Pasta

  • 1 cauliflower (cut into small florets)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 pinches of saffron threads (shout out to my mom for always sending me saffron)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • salt
  • 8 oz pasta (I used medium shells)
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Start by cutting up the cauliflower.  This is my first time cooking cauliflower and man, that’s a weird vegetable.  Like a hard white brain.

Side note: my dad HATES cauliflower so I never really ate it growing up.

Second side note:  raw cauliflower is so tasteless even my dog wouldn’t eat it off the ground.

Anyways, cut that brain up into little florets.  You can also cut up the stem into pieces but I got a little freaked out by that.  Plus I figured I had more than enough without the stem.

The recipe calls for steaming the florets, but I don’t have one of those handy steamer UFO things you put in the pot that holds the veggies over the water, so I decided to blanch them instead.  I’ll go into that later.

Prep the rest of your ingredients, for we all know that prep is the most important part of the process!  You don’t want to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off and with tears streaming down your face from cutting onions while you’re overcooking your cauliflower.  Always have everything cut and ready to go.

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Small cameo in that picture of my Jambox, which is the best thing I’ve bought in awhile.  Bluetooth speakers for the WIN.  And yes, it’s gold.  YOLO.

Side note #3:  for those of us with crap vision, the key to NOT crying while cutting onions is contacts!  I figured this out on Thanksgiving a few years ago when I was wearing glasses and releasing a lot of eye water.  This was unusual for me, so I tried putting my contacts in and voia la!  No more tears.  Of course I didn’t learn from my mistake and was wearing my glasses last night.  I looked like I had been watching Marley and Me I was crying so much.

Anyways, bring two pots of water to a boil, one for the pasta and one for the cauliflower.  Also prepare an ice bath for the cauliflower.  You want to cook it in the boiling water, then shock it in the ice bath to halt the cooking process.

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You’ll want to keep an eye on the cauliflower, as you don’t want it to cook completely through.  3 minutes or so should do it, you want to taste some and have it still have a little crunch to it.  It’ll cook completely later on in the skillet.

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Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

I’ve never made any Cajun or Creole food, so I figured it was about time to experiment.  This is a Cajun-style recipe because the base of the gumbo is a dark roux and the aromatics are the trinity of onion, green pepper and celery.  This recipe is based off the “Spicy Seafood Gumbo” from Emily Ansara Baines’s “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook,” although I added sausage, forgot to buy celery and the store didn’t have any okra.  Okra is an awesome vegetable, you should add some if you have it.  But anyways, this is a pretty easy and turned out pretty delicious. DSC_0298 Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 2 tbsp seafood seasoning, I used some crab/shrimp/crawfish boil seasoning I found at the grocery store
  • 2 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you want less spice)
  • 2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 sausage of your choosing, I used boudin sausage made of pork and pork liver
  • 1 box of rice, I used Zatarain’s brand Dirty Rice Mix

Start by boiling water for the rice and prepare per the box directions. Heat the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Take a wild guess at what I used… DSC_0284 THE DUTCH OVEN DUH. When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir with a fork or whisk.  I have this super nifty flat whisk and it rules at making a roux.  It’ll initially foam up a bunch like this: DSC_0285 So the tricky part about making a roux is that it’s so easy to burn it’s insane.  When you’re doing this part, make SURE you’re constantly stirring and watching it.  I stopped for 10 seconds to take a picture and ruined my first attempt; had the whole house smelling like burnt popcorn and you DON’T want that in your food, it’ll taste naaaasty. Just keep stirring.  Slowly it’ll start to get golden. DSC_0288 And it’ll get a little brownish… DSC_0290 Keep stirring constantly, you want your roux to be as dark as possible without having any burnt bits. DSC_0291 Keep going until it’s EVEN MORE brown.  DO NOT STOP STIRRING seriously it’s not fun to stir that long and burn it. DSC_0293 Continue reading

French Bread (with honey butter)

Oui oui!  It’s my first foray into the art of bread making and went for it by making the French bread recipe from Emily Ansara Baines’s “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook”, a gift from my dear friend and twin Scully (note:  she is not actually my twin).

The recipe calls for dousing the finished loaves in honey butter, so really, there was no going wrong with this bread.  It does take some work (and time), but the result is pretty satisfying.

French Bread

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Makes 2 loaves.

  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package (or 5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal (i was out of it)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp honey

In the bowl of a stand mixer and the paddle attachment, combine 2 cups of the flour, the softened butter and the salt.  Slowly add the water to make a gross watery floury swamp.  Beat until it’s sort of blended.  Change to the dough hook and then start adding the flour.

Eventually you’ll get a ball of dough.

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Ginger Carrot Soup

It’s nearly time for grocery shopping in my house.  Things I still have a lot of:  beer (i love playoff football! WHAT A GAME BY THE PATS!), carrots and ginger.  Plus I just love soups.

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Ginger Carrot Soup

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, cut into a small dice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a hunk of ginger, minced (2 tbsp maybe?)
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into somewhat-uniform pieces
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • fresh ground black pepper

Step one:  crack a beer.

Done?  Good.  Now do your mise en place (french for “to put in place” which is just your prep work).  Peel and cut your carrots.

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Brady was a huge help by lying right under where I was trying to stand.

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Try and cut your carrots into uniform pieces so they cook evenly.

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Spicy Beer and Lime Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas for dinner, because who doesn’t love them?!  Based on THIS recipe:  http://www.howsweeteats.com/2013/12/spicy-beer-braised-lime-chicken-enchiladas/

Spicy Beer and Lime Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • the zest of one lime
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz of beer (I used Corona)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • the juice of one lime
  • 8 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • flour tortillas (I used 9, but depends on the size of them, I suppose)

Let’s start with the rub.  Zest the shit outta a lime into a bowl:

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Add the sugar, cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

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Heat a skillet or something (I used my Dutch oven because duh its the greatest most versatile thing in the kitchen) with the olive oil over medium high heat.  While that’s heating up, mix together your rub and smother those chicken breasts.  I mean, COVER them with the entirety of the contents of the bowl.  Add to the skillet.

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Brown them on both sides, a few minutes per side.

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Happy 2014!

Hello, 2014!

It’s been nearly 4 months since my last post and I am so so ashamed.  But I have been doing things, and here is the post to prove it!

I had to travel a bunch to Grand Rapids, Michigan (which is a tundra right now, I’m glad I haven’t had to go lately) for work and it’s actually a pretty cool town.  There’s a bunch of good craft brews along with some good places to eat.  My favorite place is the Winchester (http://www.winchestergr.com/) where my coworkers and I shared this awesome roasted cauliflower appetizer.  Notice the dramatic presentation of the whole head stabbed through with a large knife.

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The mussels with tomatoes and sausage were pretty good too.

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Airport Chiles margarita? You betcha.

I also had this weird spaghetti pie thing…

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As usual, I’ve probably eaten at Tacodeli another 50 times, but here are two of my favorites, the Delibelly (pork belly special, only on Saturdays) and the Heather (refried black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and fried cheese).

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Hot and Sour Soup

Let’s just collectively agree that we’ll overlook the months it’s been since I’ve last posted.  I was traveling a bunch for work and bought a house and had to move!  Those are valid excuses, right?  RIGHT?!  But just look at that thing!

I mean, look at that awesome thing!

Okay, I suck, but it’s a new year now and I’ve got a sweet-ass new kitchen to cook in, so here’s hoping I can start posting with more frequency.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or like, in Miami or San Diego, the two places in this country that are not frozen tundras, IT’S REALLY COLD OUTSIDE.  Polar VORTEX WHAT EVEN IS THAT.  THAT SOUNDS LIKE A HORROR MOVIE.  Even here in the hell fires of Texas, yesterday’s high temperatures only reached the mid-30s.  There’s ICE outside DURING THE DAY.  That’s like freaky New England weather and I thought I left that shit behind.

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I CAN’T EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. ICE. IN TEXAS.

Enough, Mother Nature!  (But seriously you can’t even go outside in Canada without getting frostbite.  NOT COOL.)

While it’s still cold, all I ever want is soup.  Hot soups, cold soups, ALL OF THE SOUPS.  And since I figured I can’t ALWAYS make Tom Ka Gai (https://thegirlwhoate.com/2013/06/19/tom-ka-gai/), I decided to move onto another Asian soup:  Hot and Sour!  I used THIS recipe:  http://food52.com/recipes/25530-joanne-chang-s-hot-and-sour-soup and it was delicious.

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Hot and Sour Soup

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 4 green onions, white and green parts, minced
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 5 mushrooms (I used button, but any sort should still be delish)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 cups rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha (less if you want it less spicy, more if you want to be crying)
  • 2 eggs

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