(Awesome!) Cauliflower Pizza Crust

IMG_3224

With ample cauliflower “rice” left over from this week’s grain-free fried rice, I decided to continue with my cruciferous kick and make a cauliflower pizza for supper. This is a delicious and nutritious gluten-free, low(er) carb alternative to traditional pizza crust. To balance the carbohydrates with protein and fats, I topped it with plenty of organic mild Italian sausage (which I cooked up before adding to the pie) as well as fresh pizza sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted garlic and added fresh basil after it came out of the oven.

You could, of course, skip the meat to go for a vegetarian meal. Also, I have not tried alternatives to the cheese and egg in the crust to make it vegan, but you could try a flax egg and a soft vegan cheese if you like. I appreciate goat’s dairy because the proteins are smaller and closer to human milk, which makes it easier for us to digest. The crust does stay together well, but I do often use a fork when I load it up with delicious toppings.

This recipe was modified from a post on Detoxinista.com. Injoy!

IMG_3207IMG_3215

Ingredients

4 cups raw cauliflower rice (about one medium head)

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup soft goat cheese (chevre)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. To make the cauliflower rice, pulse batches of raw cauliflower florets in a food processor until a rice-like texture is achieved.
  3. Fill a large pot with about an inch of water, and bring it to a boil. Add the “rice” and cover; let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. Drain into a fine-mesh strainer.
  4. Once you’ve strained the rice and it’s cooled a bit, transfer it to a clean, thin dishtowel or a nut milk bag. Twist it up and SQUEEZE all the excess moisture out!
  5. A lot of extra liquid will be released, make sure to thoroughly squeeze. This will leave you with a nice and dry pizza crust.
  6. In a large bowl, mix up your strained rice, beaten egg, goat cheese, and spices. Don’t be afraid to use your hands! You want it very well mixed. It will be crumbly and unlike any pizza dough you’ve ever worked with, but don’t worry– it’ll hold together.
  7. Press the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (It’s important that it’s lined with parchment paper, or it will stick.) Keep the dough about ⅓” thick, and make the edges a little higher for a “crust” effect. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400F. The crust should be firm, and golden brown when finished.
  8. Now’s the time to add all your favorites– sauce, cheese, and any other toppings you like. Return the pizza to the 400F oven, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, just until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
  9. Slice and serve immediately.

 

Cauliflower Fried Rice

IMG_3153

This recipe is so incredibly delicious, and got such rave reviews, I had to promise to incorporate it into my biweekly rotation of meals and lunches. I haven’t heard those resounding “yummmmms” about a new dish in quite awhile, so I am happy to oblige! Also, I haven’t had Chinese food in years, but the flavors and preparation of this dish brought me right back to traveling through SE Asia and watching movies with chicken fried rice in my early 20’s. One of my favorite things about food is the memories and nostalgia it can trigger. The tastes, smells and textures can deliver you right into another time and place.

Also, avoiding grains and increasing a variety of vegetables for the last several weeks has inspired creativity in meal planning. This all-in-one supper provides a balanced nutritional profile and a tasty think-outside-the-box style of cooking. Cauliflower is a wonderful cruciferous vegetable to incorporate into your diet. It has lots of B vitamins, Vitamin C (though that does get depleted with cooking), fiber, potassium and protein. Injoy!!

 IMG_3157 IMG_3168

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower

2 chicken breasts (optional for vegetarians)

2 Tbsp. + 2 more Tbsp Coconut oil

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. garlic, chopped

1 cup green peas

4 eggs, whisked

6 Tbsp. wheat-free tamari

1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1/2 tsp. fish sauce (optional)

Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Chop vegetables and whisk eggs. Grate the cauliflower on the larger side of a cheese grater, or pulse pieces in a food processor (recommended) until they are rice sized.

2. Squeeze the cauliflower through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to remove any excess moisture, which helps make sure you get the crispier fried rice texture. (You’ll be surprised how much moisture will be squeezed out!)

3. Heat your skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. coconut oil to the pan and allow it to melt. Add your onions and sauté until translucent. Then add garlic and carrots and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add peas and cook 1 additional minute. Remove from pan and set aside in a large bowl.

4. Next add your whisked eggs to the pan and scramble them until they are lightly browned. Add a little sea salt and pepper, remove from pan and add them to the large bowl with the vegetables.

5. Chop chicken breasts into small chunks and saute them in the pan as well. Then add to the bowl with eggs and vegetables.

6. Next add the remaining 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil to the pan and allow it to get very hot. Add the riced cauliflower to the pan and toss it in the oil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, only stirring every couple minutes so that it allows some pieces on the bottom to fry and get brown and crispy.

7. Add the vegetable and rice mixture back to the pan and stir to combine. Add the sesame oil, tamari, fish sauce and some additional sea salt and pepper to taste.

Split Pea and Ham Soup from Scratch

IMG_2581

I Love Autumn! It is by far my favorite season. So much so that I like to think the 3+ weeks I held out on being born was in order to celebrate the big day on Autumnal equinox. Yup, September 22nd was a splendid day to come into the world! (And ya gotta love the early 80’s. They would never let you choose your birthday nearly a month past your due date these days!)

I love the changing colors of fall, the rusty oranges, bright golds and fiery reds. I love the fashion of the cooler sunny months, too. Tall boots and tights, layers of sweaters and scarves. And boy do I love the autumn foods! The warming quality of root vegetables, hearty greens and savory baked goods fresh from the oven.

This particular Sunday I was aching to try out a split pea and ham soup from scratch. One of the special treats of my childhood in northern California was when my family would drive the 6 or so hours down to LA to visit my oldest brother, Steve. Just my dad and I on a couple of occasions, my two sisters and I a few times. As I got older, I visited with my high school boyfriend once or twice as well. The highlight of every single drive down was our tradition of stopping at Pea Soup Anderson’s in Santa Nella. The best split pea soup around! It is perfectly seasoned, delicate and hearty, creamy and layered with rich flavors. And it is served with the most delicious warm pumpernickel bread and onion rolls, plus a small plate of all sorts of toppings… minced onion, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese. Perfect!

The unfortunate part of growing up with an exquisite memory of a certain food is that it is nearly impossible to recreate such perfection. Particularly when it comes to something as simple yet easily underwhelming as pea soup. You know what I’m talking about if you have ever ordered a bowl of the green pasty stuff served in pretty much any chain restaurant anywhere.

So there I was, a lovely autumn Sunday at the Boyz Haus, ready to dedicate the better part of my afternoon to manifesting divinity in a bowl. Or at least something tasty I could dish up for lunch during the football game.

Success!! It barely seems right to call this a soup, however. The rustic blend of potatoes, carrots, celery and roughly shredded ham serves more like a stew. And you could use a knife to ration the refrigerated leftovers.

Also, just a side note, this is the perfect project for a chilly, rainy autumn day when all you want to do is be inside anyway. This hearty and wholesome kitchen creation truly does take about 4 hours, so get into it! I don’t recommend shortcuts on this one. The layers of flavor and the way they develop really does take time. Enjoy!

IMG_2513

Serves 6

Use a small 2 1/2-pound smoked picnic portion ham if you can find one. (I went to Bill the Butcher for mine.) Otherwise, buy a half-picnic ham and remove some meat, which you can save for use in sandwiches, salads, or omelets. The finished soup will continue to thicken as it stands but can be thinned with some water when reheated. To cut 45 minutes off the cooking time of the soup, simmer the ham 1 1/2 hours, then add the split peas to the pot. When the ham is tender, after about 45 minutes more of simmering, remove it and shred.

 

INGREDIENTS

            1
 smoked bone-in picnic ham (about 2 1/2 pounds)

4-6 
bay leaves

1 
pound split peas (2 1/2 cups), rinsed and picked through

1 
teaspoon dried thyme

2
 tablespoons olive oil

2 
medium onions, chopped

2
 medium carrots, chopped

2
 medium stalks celery, chopped

1 
tablespoon unsalted butter

2
 medium cloves garlic, minced

5
 small new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into medium dice

Ground black pepper

Minced red onion (optional)

Balsamic vinegar (recommended)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring 3 quarts water, ham, and bay leaves to boil, covered, over medium-high heat in large soup kettle. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is tender and pulls away from bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove ham meat and bone from broth; add split peas and thyme and simmer until peas are tender but not dissolved, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, when ham is cool enough to handle, shred meat into bite-sized pieces (see illustration below) and set aside. Discard rind and bone.

2. While ham is simmering, heat oil in large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add onions, carrots, and celery; sauté, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid evaporates and vegetables begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low; add butter and garlic. Cook vegetables, stirring frequently, until deeply browned, 30 to 35 minutes; set aside.

3. Add sautéed vegetables, potatoes, and shredded ham to soup; simmer until potatoes are tender and peas dissolve and thicken soup to the consistency of light cream, about 20 minutes more. Season with ground black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle with red onion, if using, and serve, passing balsamic vinegar separately.

Love and Marinara Sauce

DSC07924

Taking the last swig of wine from my glass, I sit motionless at the kitchen table completely blissed out by the marinara sauce I just made from scratch. The aroma of basil and garlic linger heavy in the air. I strait up rocked those heirloom tomatoes and I’m feeling pretty accomplished!

It struck me some time ago, while having dinner with my good friend Mandy that I had never attempted to make tomato sauce from fresh whole tomatoes. We were standing at the stove of her new apartment catching up after a long stint away. Too long. Until recently she would spend months at a time travelling with her British beau. Three months here, three months in London, Six months in Thailand… chasing visas and loving love. Now they were newlyweds and settling in on American soil. I was thrilled. And I love calling them newlyweds, by the way! Mostly because not too long before the globetrotting, Mandy and I lived just a few blocks away from each other and spent many a single girl nights being silly 20-somethings. Pulling all-nighters to finish various deadlines, drinking French press coffee through the night, painting our nails black, laughing uncontrollably, and talking about boys. Mostly about how we would have gay boyfriends to take us out on the town and be super clean roommates and never marry. Well, times change, and we get swept up in the beauty and joy that comes into our lives. And when you’re living on a tropical island in the gulf of Thailand and fall in love with a truly wonderful yoga teacher with a sexy accent, you marry that boy!

So there we were, neighbors once again, a little more grown up and getting ready to sit down to a meal. I was extra impressed by the homemade tomato sauce she had just whipped up and trying to remember if I had ever seen anything come from her kitchen in the past besides granola and yogurt. I loved the domestic edge she had going on and I was truly inspired! This was the first thing Mandy had learned to make from her beloved and swore it was so easy, there would never be reason to purchase the jarred stuff ever again. And she was right. It was so much better than the store bought variety and from what I could tell, really just involved chopping a simmering. The wheels began to turn.

Back in my kitchen, I sit appreciating how many amazing people come into my life and inspire me to try all kinds of new things. And in this moment, I feel big gratitude for learning to love openly and blissfully, and to make marinara sauce from scratch.

IMG_1986

For this recipe I had a basket of gnarly, colorful, beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market. I also made this a veggie version (dedicated to Mandy and Harry, my vegetarian loves), but you can add any sort of meat and other varieties of vegetables also. The recipe below is how I made it but create your own, play with the flavors and seasonings. And lastly, I don’t eat pasta much. I will attempt zucchini pasta next time, but this go ‘round I used Trader Joe’s gluten-free, organic brown rice and quinoa pasta. It turned out really well! If you’re looking for a gluten free pasta, I’d give it a try. It kept its shape without getting mushy and had a really nice flavor.

IMG_1982

Fresh Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups brown rice/ quinoa pasta

1 Tbls. coarse salt

1 Tbls. olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

About 12 ounces tomatoes, chopped

2 medium zucchini

8 oz fresh crimini mushrooms

1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Pinch or 2 of hot chili flakes

1/2 cup chopped basil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Prepare pasta according to package, adding at least 1 Tbls. of salt. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water after cooking.

2. Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, then garlic one minute later.

3. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini, or any other vegetables being used. Cook until softened. 5-8 minutes.

4. Add the reserved pasta water and cook until the sauce is reduced slightly and the veggies begin to break down. Another 3-5 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat, add the cheese (optional), red chili flakes, basil and black pepper. Add salt if needed.

Consider adding the following:

Splash of cream at the end for a creamier version

Asparagus, artichokes, olives, leeks, summer squash etc.

Cooked shrimp, chicken, lamp or beef

Thyme, bay leaf, extra garlic or other Italian seasonings to taste

IMG_2004

Stellar Supper: Fish en Papillote

IMG_1923

Living in the Pacific Northwest, my kitchen is fortunate enough to see the freshest and most delicious seafood of all kinds. And I do love all kinds of seafood. The snap of a plump shrimp being readied to grill. Fresh wild caught Copper River salmon with a simple lemon garlic sauté. The briny flavor of what my guy affectionately refers to as the bottom feeders… muscles, clams, oysters. It is all in regular rotation through my meal plans.

Tonight’s supper idea came from a local food writer Kathleen Flinn, and is a modified version from her memoir Kitchen Counter Cooking School. En Papillote is a French technique and simply means baked in paper. The preparation of this delicious and nutrient-packed meal is unbelievably quick and easy (It is more assembly than cooking, really.), involves very little clean up and the results are super fresh and flavorful. It really is a stellar way to enjoy fish.

And though I do recommend fish as an awesome source of nutrition, mainly packed full of Omega 3s, there is much controversy about the very real issue of overfishing, as well as the unfortunate health risks due to our ocean’s toxicity levels. I certainly do not want to be a buzz kill here, or detour you from eating fish, but I feel it is important to add a word on these challenges. It has been upheld by many health professionals that wild caught fish is the best overall for our consumption. These fish intake all of their natural nutrients, passing that awesome nutrition onto us, get adequate exercise doing what they do best, swimming, and live out their days in their natural state, being part of an interconnected ecosystem. Farmed fish on the other hand are often sectioned off in a coastal part of the ocean called offshore Aquaculture, which is detrimental to the oceans in those areas. Farmed fish, just like other livestock, live in overcrowded conditions and are fed antibiotics to combat the risk of infection. These drugs go into our oceans as well as our bodies when we consume them. In addition, the nutritional value is diminished greatly in farmed fish.

There has been a lot of research about farmed fishing, also known as Aquaculture, and is supported by many experts in the field including NOAA the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a way to ease the pressure of overfishing on our oceans. This is a concern since we are rapidly overfishing to the point of extinction in certain species. Though this argument doesn’t quite hold up since it requires at least 5 lbs. of wild caught fish to raise 1 lb. of farm fish. Meaning we are still catching 5 times more wild fish to feed to our farmed fish. Not very sustainable. And since there is a real danger of mercury in our oceans, not to mention the 300 tons of radioactive water that is still being leaked into the Pacific daily from the crippled Fukushima Plant in Japan, it is best to moderate the amount of fish consumed. My recommendation is twice a week. Also, consult the Seafood Watch guide and select varieties that are the best choices for your region. Finally, if you enjoy catching your own fish in alpine lakes, all the better!

Alright, back to the yummy stuff. Aside from all the controversy surrounding fish, let me say again that it is an excellent source of nutrients and should be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet.

Following is the recipe for the Fish en Papillote. Enjoy!!

IMG_1934

Ingredients:

(Serves 2 individual packets)

1 ½ Tbls. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Two 4 to 6 ounce cuts of fish (I used salmon)

Few springs of fresh herbs (dill, basil, thyme, rosemary) I used thyme and rosemary

3 thin slices of fresh lemon

¼ cup water or stock

½ to ¾ cup fresh vegetables (zucchini, shallots, onion, broccoli, leeks fennel, mushrooms, carrots)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400

2. Start with 2 pieces of parchment paper, 10×12 inches each, fold in half

3. On one side of the middle crease of each piece drizzle the olive oil and a dash of the alt and pepper. Add fish and turn over to coat.

4. Place the rest of the ingredients on top and around the fish

5. Fold the paper like a book and crimp the edges securely to avoid allowing any liquid or steam to escape. Here is a quick video tutorial.

6. Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to sit at least 2 minutes after removing it from the oven.

7. Open carefully and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Stellar Supper: Pork Tenderloin with a Fresh Fig Glaze

IMG_0741

Walking through the isles of Central Market, the senses come alive with the sights, smell and sounds of the huge, bustling international grocery store. A fresh shipment of live Dungeness crabs crawl all over one another in a water filled tank near the entrance. The lobsters are still and stoic, following movements with their watchful eye, as if they know something big is about to happen. The aroma of coriander, ancho chili powder and bourbon vanilla beans waft from the wall of exotic spices in the expansive bulk section, drawing you in. Fresh vegetables and fruits, a colorful rainbow of options in the produce section. And then there’s my favorite part, the live demo and sample station. Two men in white chefs coats stand behind sizzling cast iron skillets serving up the most delicious looking little plates. Pork tenderloin with fresh mission figs in a honey and white wine glaze. I am immediately inspired. I grab a pound of fresh pork tenderloin from the butcher, and gather the other ingredients making a few adjustments to the recipe. I leave out the honey since the figs are super sweet and will create a lovely sauce all on their own. I also add roasted hazelnuts to balance out the texture and add a bit more healthy fats and protein. Add a handful of spinach or some a portion of steamed kale and you’ve got a yourself a scrumptious supper! Enjoy!

IMG_0744

Ingredients

I lb. pork tenderloin

2 Tbls olive oil

½ pint fresh mission figs

1 cup dry white wine

½ cup roasted hazelnuts

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Add olive oil to a heavy bottomed skillet, heat to medium
  2. Cut pork tenderloin into medallions, add to skillet
  3. Season liberally with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes each side
  4. Remove from pan. Set aside on plate loosely covered with foil.
  5. Add a touch more oil to the pan and add figs, halved
  6. Sautee for 3-5 minutes, add white wine and scrape up the drippings
  7. Return pork to the pan, along with the juices collected
  8. Add hazelnuts at the very end

Serve with a salad, a portion of steamed greens or over quinoa brown rice!