Cauliflower Fried Rice

IMG_2070

More than two weeks ago, my friend “PPQ” was over at our place for mid-Autumn Festival Dinner and she made her simple version of cauliflower fried “rice” which paired surprisingly well with our semi traditional (Chinese steamed fish, roast pork belly, sautéed pea sprouts, sake steamed clams, duck breast lettuce wrap) dinner. She actually has modified the recipe based on the original posted on the award-winning site Nom Nom Paleo!  

We added garlic stems (I’ve seen them at our local Farmer’s market during early Fall season and readily available at most Asian Supermarkets); it adds a very delicate flavour and a nice crunch to the fried “rice”.

I made this again the other day and added shallots to the recipe. “PPQ”, thank you very much for your garlic stem idea! I’ve served the “rice” with Thai Green Curry, we didn’t miss the jasmine rice at all!  Basically anything goes with this excellent low carb option, same as any other recipes, feel free to modify and make it your own, Enjoy (OO)!

Ingredients:

1 small head of organic cauliflower, 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 small yellow onion (finely diced), 2 small shallots (finely diced), bunch of garlic stems – 1/2 to 1 cup (finely chopped), kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Preparation:

– Clean the cauliflower, core and trim the florets off the stems, cut off any blemishes (sometimes you see little brown spots). Place florets in the food processor and process until they resemble the texture and size of rice grains.

– Prepare garlic stems: wash thoroughly in cold water, pat dry, cut off end of stems and chop them finely

– In a large skillet, heat 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat, add onions and cook until they become soft and translucent, add shallots and garlic stems; mix ingredients well and cook for another 3-4 minutes to bring out the flavours and aroma. Remove mixture from skillet and set aside.

– Adjust to medium low heat, using the same pan heat remaining olive oil, add cauliflower, season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring gently for approximately 5 to 10 minutes until the oil is evenly distributed and each “grain” is coated.

– Put the lid on the skillet, adjust to low heat (to avoid burning) and cook the cauliflower “covered” for another 5 minutes (to 10 minutes) until they become tender.

– Remove the lid, readjust to medium high heat, return onion/garlic stem/shallot mixture to skillet, using a spatula, gently stir fry all ingredients until mixture is slightly browned.

IMG_2050

– Taste and season with salt and pepper as required.

 

 

RECIPE: Tuna Avocado Salad on Ciabatta

IMG_9384

Whenever I purchase my favourite ciabatta from Pure Bread (http://www.purebread.ca/) at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market, I’ll be more inclined to make sandwiches for weekend or weekday lunches.  This is a light and easy recipe, loosely based on Michael Smith’s from Chef at Home; you can always personalize it with your own flavours (and I did); Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Fresh ciabatta bread (from your local bakery/market), 1 canned tuna (drained), 1 avocado (pitted and peeled), 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel, 1 green scallion (sliced), handful of chopped italian flat leaf parsley (optional), kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper (or red chilli pepper flakes) to taste.  

Preparation:

– Sliced Ciabatta in middle, lightly brush bread on one side with olive oil (optional), toast both sides on pan over medium heat

– Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, salt and pepper to make vinaigrette; set aside

– Chop avocado, mix with tuna, scallion and parsley, toss well in vinaigrette; salt and pepper season to taste. Serve on toasted ciabatta as open faced sandwich.

IMG_9378
Ciabatta from Pure Bread!

RECIPE: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pears, Bacon and Stilton

IMG_0037

Butternut Squash is in season! By roasting the butternut squash, the flavour is concentrated and turns it into a delicious ingredient to be used in salads or soups.

The recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/roasted-butternut-squash-salad.aspx) with some changes: watercress and romaine lettuce hearts were used instead of escarole (due to availability); fresh thyme was added, the plating and serving style is also different.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as appetizer)

1 Large butternut squash (approximately 3 lbs), 5 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 6 slices of thick sliced double smoked bacon (cut into 1/2 inch pieces), 2 medium firm ripe pears (Bartlett or Anjou – cleaned, peeled, cored, sliced 1/8 inch thick), 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (use the nicest one you can get), 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, two romaine lettuce hearts and handful of fresh watercress, 6 oz of Stilton cheese (crumbled).

Preparation:

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 450°F.

Cut off the narrow top portion of the squash close to where it widens (reserve the base for other use); peel and slice it into 12 thin (about 1/4-inch) rounds.

Brush both sides of the squash with olive oil (1 Tablespoon) and spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with rosemary and thyme on both sides.IMG_0032

Roast, turning once only, until softened and browned, approximately 25 minutes (Keep an eye on them!)

Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to paper towel to drain the fat. (The bacon bits can be prepared earlier; I prefer the “splatter free” method: bacon slices bake in the oven, transfer to plate lined with paper towel to absorb extra fat, after they cool, chop into small pieces) 

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.  Slowly whisk in the remaining 4 Tablespoons oil; season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

In a large bowl, toss the watercress and romaine lettuce with enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly, season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the pears and tossed salad greens on 4 large dinner plates, top with butternut squash, add drizzle of vinaigrette, then sprinkle with the bacon and Stilton cheese to serve.  Be creative!

Notes:

Escarole is a variety of endive family, the leaves are broader, paler and less bitter than other members of endive family.

Stilton is an English cheese, Neal’s Yard Stilton was used in this recipe (Purchased from Whole Foods. Stilton cheese is not readily available at any regular supermarket, it’s usually available at specialty cheese/food stores only). Watercress has a peppery taste, very little were used in this recipe.

Bacon from Gelderman Farm (http://www.geldermanfarms.ca/, purchased at the Trout Lake Vancouver Farmer’s Market)

RECIPE: Braised Pacific Wild Cod with Leeks and Shimeji Mushrooms

IMG_0137

This was a recent weekend experiment based on an older #Fine Cooking’s recipe (http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/braised-pacific-halibut-leeks-mushrooms-clams.aspx); pacific wild cod was used instead of halibut, clams were omitted and shimeji mushrooms were used.  The cod is very delicate, be sure not to overcook and handle with the fish with extra care while serving.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, 4 packages of shimeji mushrooms (can be found in Asian supermarkets), 3 large leeks (white and light green parts only, thinly sliced, about 4 cups), kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 cups low sodium organic chicken broth (or homemade , 4 pieces Pacific wild cod (medium size, 6 ounces), 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (for garnish, parsley infused oil will be a good option), black truffle salt**optional 

Preparation:

Melt the butter over medium heat in Dutch Oven.

Add leeks to pan, cook for 2 minutes, then add mushrooms; season lightly with kosher salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned,  approximately 7 to 8 minutes.

Add broth, raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

Pat dry the cod with paper towel; portion the fish (same size to cook evenly) then season both sides with salt and pepper. Gently place (nestle) the fish among the vegetables in the Dutch Oven.

Bring the broth back to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently until the fish is just cooked through (approximately 8 minutes, I used a knife to “peek” and check for doneness, colour changes from translucent to opaque).

Serve the fish in shallow soup bowls (preferably warmed), topped with leeks and mushrooms, ladle the broth. For finishing touches, sprinkle a hint of black truffle salt (optional, do not overuse as it’s overpowering) and garnish with chopped parsley*.

*Additional notes:

The black truffle salt is optional – My friend Haruko brought me a jar from Italy as a present (Thank you so much!). We used very little to finish the dish and it was stunning!  Since we didn’t use the clams, the truffle salt added more depth and flavour to the broth. Perhaps a few drops of parsley infused oil will round off the dish nicely than the chopped parsley.  If you have time and the ingredients (do not throw away the roast chicken caucus), it is worthwhile to make your own chicken stock and have it ready for use in the freezer anytime.  We had a salad as a first course and I will post the recipe later (OO).

You can use olive oil instead of butter (1/2 cup butter = 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil), or combine together to enhance the flavour.

#Fine Cooking offers many excellent basic cooking tips, other than Rouxbe, I use the website and cookbooks/magazines as reference all the time.