Cauliflower Leek Faux-Mac & Cheese

IMG_2113

Is there anything cauliflower can’t do? Seriously, if I were in the habit of writing odes to cruciferous vegetables, they would all be addressed to cauliflower.

Last night I tried out noodle-less cauliflower mac and cheese. I was afraid Colin would object to a dinner that was basically just vegetables and cheese, so I added a bit of chicken and a light dusting of bread crumbs. I had leeks to use up, so those went in too. Colin gave it the seal of approval. And I keep going to the fridge to nibble on leftovers.

Ingredients:

  • One large (or one-and-a-half small) heads of cauliflower
  • Chicken or bacon, optional (I used two chicken thighs)
  • The white and light green parts of two leeks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk (alternately, 2 cups half-and-half in place of milk and cream)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of your choice. I used 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup of a swiss-gruyere mixture from TJ’s.
  • 2-3 tbsp. butter or oil
  • Red pepper flakes, garlic powder, etc.
  • Breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. If using meat, place it in a pan w/ oil and cook through. I used chicken thighs in coconut oil.
  2. Chop the cauliflower small. I tried to dice it, as much as one can dice cauliflower. The pieces were most 1/2″ or smaller in length. Place in a pot with a little water and steam, covered, until fork-tender.
  3. Chop leeks thinly. Remove the meat from the pan and add more butter or oil if necessary. Saute leeks with desired seasonings.
  4. When the leeks are soft, add cream and milk/half-and-half. Bring to a low simmer, then add cheese and stir until melted. Turn heat to low.
  5. Chop meat and add it to the cheese mixture.
  6. Drain the cauliflower well. Spread it in a baking dish, then pour over and stir in the cheese mixture. Taste test; you may want to add salt.
  7. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Advertisements

Things I’ve Been Eating

Avocados. I love avocados. I think I could say they are my favorite food. No recipe, just thought you needed to know.

Pickled onions. Again, on everything! My toleration of onions has been growing. I still won’t eat them raw, or in big chunks. But if they are minced or sliced thin, caramelized, or pickled, I love them! Usually I had just been making my salad dressings in advanced and letting the thinly sliced or minced onions sit in them and pickle a bit in the vinegar or lemon juice. But now I have graduated to keeping a jar of the onions in my fridge for use as a condiment, or just plain! There are ton of recipes out there, but I was looking for a no thrills no fuss brine, especially not one with cinnamon or cloves, yuck. Now go make your own immediately!

Sweet and sour lentils. They are so good! I can’t get enough. The sauce is what makes it, and I’m sure all you paleo/ketos could just use the sauce with ground chicken or beef, or as a marinade. I did not use the nut butter because that didn’t sound good to me, I used agave instead of maple syrup, and half the soy sauce. The chili paste is not something to skip, and is another condiment that should always be in your fridge. Yum!

20140403-180925.jpg

Cabbage! Mostly because I get one every 2 weeks in my organic grocery box. Except for yesterday, and I am actually kind of depressed. Lots of salads, like the one I mentioned in the taco post, and LOTS of cabbage soup (just carrots, onion, garlic, cabbage, and broth. And hot sauce. Usually with a side of bread or biscuits and a salad). But my favorite cabbage thing has been curtido. I made it for tacos (I eat a lot of tacos…), but it is something you can eat as a side or put on anything. I even put it on the sweet and sour lentils. The dried oregano is very important, it gives it a sweet floral flavor that is so delicious.

Chimichurri! Michelle’s post about Laylita’s blog got me browsing again, and I decided to make Patrick the CC marinaded chicken (the latest post) for work lunches/dinners. I used the leftover CC to marinade veggies for the grill (see veggies in the above pic). And for a special dinner for Patrick I made him this steak, which he loved! Everybody should look through the site, it has tons of delicious recipes, I am drooling!

Beets. They were literally piling up from my grocery box, so finally I ate them all within a very purple 2 week period. Probably not the best idea, if ya know what I mean. My favorite recipe was one I looked for after eating at Pambiche. The meals came with a small portion of ensalada de remolacha which was so good. I added a little more vinegar, you probably should too. One of my meals combined pretty much everything I just posted about all mixed together on lettuce, and it was delicious.

Well, I think that’s all the notable stuff. Hope something inspires you!

The Best Fish Tacos

Patrick and I haven’t eaten dinner together for the last 3 days due to work, so tonight we wanted to have a “fancy” but still simple dinner. I had some macadamia nuts in the cupboard and plenty of taco toppings in the fridge, so Taco Tuesday it was. I know that doesn’t sound too fancy, but these were my favorite fish tacos. So good that I’ve even gotten Patrick’s extremely picky (seriously, she lives on top ramen and raw cookie dough) cousin to try them and ask for seconds. It’s super easy to throw together and cook, maybe 10 minutes prep if you are just cooking for 2, and 20 minutes in the oven. I have only ever used tilapia, but I’m sure you could try it with other fish and just adjust the cooking time.

Ingredients:

1 tilapia fillet per person, you can leave it whole or cut it into smaller pieces equal in size.
Macadamia nuts, maybe 1/2 cup per fillet? I never seem to have enough, so I thin it out with bread crumbs or panko.
Egg, beaten and thinned with a little milk or water.
Flour, seasoned with S & P or whatever.
Tortillas (duh)
Various taco toppings.

Preheat oven to 400. Get out your cookie sheet and sili pat.
Grind up the nuts in a food processor till crumbly.
Dredge the fish pieces in flour, then in the egg, then through the nut crumbs. Place on cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes, or till done.

So easy! Usually we top it with a pineapple salsa (pineapple, jalapeño, cilantro, onion, and lime juice), but I wanted to use what I had, so I made a quick cabbage salad (cabbage, cilantro, lime), scooped out some avocado, and used some of my peach salsa, pickled onions, and peach-mango-habanero hot sauce. Yummy!

Here are some crappy pictures:

20140401-230211.jpg

20140401-230224.jpg

20140401-230231.jpg

Salmon Poached in Green Coconut Curry

IMG_2102

I had some salmon in the fridge that I was planning on throwing on the grill last night. But then I suddenly recalled one of the best salmon dishes I’ve ever had, from a sort of hip pan-Asian restaurant here in Tucson. The salmon was poached in coconut curry, and it was wonderful. After that was in my head, grilled salmon sounded pretty boring. I glanced at a couple green curry recipes, but basically just winged it. Here’s what I did so that you don’t have to wing it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp grated lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Basil leaves (I probably used about 15, because that’s what was left on my basil plant after some enthusiastic pesto-making the other day)
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 can Trader Joe’s Extra Thick & Rich Coconut Cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cube bouillon
  • 2 green onions, cut into long, thin pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
  •  2 (?) bell peppers, sliced thinly (I actually just used a couple handfuls of mini bell peppers, since that’s what I had on hand)
  • 2 small or 1 large carrot(s), chopped
  • 1/2 lb broccoli florets
  • 1 whole salmon fillet
  • Rice or cauliflower rice, if desired. We ate ours as a sort of soup.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Heat a pan on medium-low. Add coconut oil.
  3. Once the oil is heated, add the grated lemongrass, basil leaves, and ginger paste. Stir until fragrant.
  4. Turn the heat up to medium. Add the green onions, carrots and bell peppers, along with the curry paste. Stir. After about 2 minutes, add the onions and broccoli.
  5. Once the broccoli florets turn dark green, add the coconut cream, water, fish sauce, lime, and bouillon cube. Turn heat up to medium-high.
  6. Once the bouillon is dissolved and the mixture begins to simmer, place the salmon fillet in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. Pour the curry and vegetables over the salmon. You want the dish small and deep enough that the curry will completely cover the fish.
  7. Place in the oven for 10-13 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily. Serve immediately.

IMG_2097 IMG_2098

IMG_2099
This stuff is THE BEST. I put it in chia seed pudding, in protein smoothies, in keto cheesecake… basically, I put it in anything I can think to put it in.

 

 

Is Anyone Else Obsessed with Chia Seed Pudding?

Because I am. I’ve been making it with a half and half mixture of canned coconut milk and a thinner boxed coconut milk that TJ’s sells that’s more like soy milk in consistency. I add berries and cinnamon (and, okay, a little bit of sugar-free vanilla syrup). I am going to Mexico this weekend with a bunch of friends and am bringing two big jars of it. So if you need me in the next few days, you can find me eating creamy, delicious chia seed pudding on a beach in 80-degree weather.

image

Pan de Yuca

Image
Photo from laylita.com: http://laylita.com/recipes/2008/01/14/pan-de-yuca-pan-queso. Check out her recipe too!

I did some quick research to see if this was a recipe that the limited dieters among us could consume, and I’m not totally sure. Pan de yuca (pronounced yoo-ka)  is a really common, delicious bread here in Ecuador- it’s made with yuca starch, grated fresh cheese, and an egg. Yuca (also called cassava, manioc, or tapioca) starch appears to be paleo (sorry Nuna, I didn’t do any keto research), although most places mention that yuca doesn’t have any particular nutritional value, so it should be consumed in moderation. A brief google search for “is fresh cheese paleo” brought up a bunch of different results, mostly of people saying “it’s up to you”. And I know eggs are paleo! So Sarah, this could possibly be a recipe you could make, depending on your paleo choices. And it’s bread, so obviously I know that Rach will love it.

I’m not sure where you can find almidón de yuca (tapioca starch)- my guess is probably at any Latin specialty store, and definitely online. It’s obviously non-perishable, so I might try to bring some back with me in August too! I just use the recipe on the bag of starch that I buy here- it’s basically 500 g of yuca starch and 500 g of grated queso fresco. I don’t usually use that much cheese, and a fresh mozzarella would make a good substitute for queso fresco. My go-to for Ecua-food recipes, Laylita Pujol (www.laylita.com) includes a entire stick of butter in her recipe, but my bag of starch just calls for one egg and enough milk to moisten up the dough. Yuca starch is a lot like corn starch- it’s hard if you punch it fast, but if you’re “delicate” with the dough, it “liquifies”. So slowly, carefully add milk to the grated cheese/egg/starch mixture- you want to make sure that when you form the balls that will become the yuca bread, that they won’t spread apart when you put them on your baking sheet. I probably used about 1/4 cup of milk, but use a bit less at first. The recipe is pretty forgiving, so just remember a 1:1 starch: cheese ratio plus a beaten egg and some milk, and remember that you can use a bit less cheese if you want.

Image
chewiness inside

Then shape the dough into small balls, and place in your oven at high heat (my gas oven doesn’t have a thermometer, I’d guess about 400 F) for 10-15 minutes until they’re cooked- you’ll see flecks of browned cheese. The breads are chewy (tapioca starch…)- that’s their glory! So don’t worry if they seem a little chewy (see photo above). I cooked mine on my silpat and they slid off no problem- I love the silpat! Serve these little guys at your next dinner party, brunch, or evening soiree as an appetizer. To add to your cultural capital, feel free to say that your “Ecuadorian friend” taught you the recipe. (These are also called pao de queijo in Brazil and are somewhat common in Argentina and Colombia as well, so you can improvise with the nationality of your international friend.)

Let me know if you find tapioca starch, and what you think!