Chicken with Fermented Black Beans

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In the post Growing up Foodie, I write about how my mother became extremely enamored and proficient with Chinese cuisine, thanks to meeting a Chinese cook, author, and shop owner in Seattle, Washington, namely Mrs. Esther Chin. This is her cookbook from the 60’s.

Quickly, with cooking lessons in exchange for sea cucumbers my mother collected scuba diving in the Puget Sound, my Mom learned and cooked and our house smelled like an Asian grocery store. There were cleavers and steamers and sieves and woks and chopsticks and porcelain spoons. She never sat with us to eat because she was always cooking everything at the last minute. You just heard a lot of clanging and banging, and endless French swear words.

And then lo and behold, a myriad of dishes would appear on the table – winter melon soup, dumplings, shrimp balls, steamed duck, five willow fish, salads, and an occasional stir fry. And, surprisingly, I loved chicken cooked with fermented bean sauce.

My mother recently gave me Mrs. Chin’s cookbook she had treasured for so many years, and there was the recipe. There are also recipes for bird’s nests and shark’s fins…

Chicken  with  Black  Bean  Sauce
Mrs. Chin

2 pounds trimmed chicken thighs
2 tablespoons cornstarch, or more if necessary
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup fermented black beans
6 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 large green pepper, chopped
1/2 pound cauliflower florets
1 cup stock
1 tablespoon sherry
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces. Place in a bowl and toss with the cornstarch. I use a sieve for the cornstarch, but forgot the photo.

Pound garlic and black beans together and cook with 1/4 cup of stock in a small pot until the beans are soft. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil and sauté the green pepper and cauliflower florets for a few minutes. Add 1/4 cup stock, cover, and simmer for about 2 minutes.
Remove and set aside.

Add another 3 tablespoons of oil and fry the chicken pieces for a couple of minutes. Add 1/4 cup stock and cook until all the pieces turn white. Place in a separate bowl and set aside.

Fry the black bean sauce with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil for one minute. Add the chicken and 1/4 cup stock. Cover and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the vegetables, sherry, and salt.

Mix well.

Heat through and serve with rice.

I also like to serve extra fermented beans, because they’re so good!

Kedgeree

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A while back on someone’s blog I commented on their kedgeree post that I’d never seen it with salmon, only chicken. She responded that she’d never seen it with anything but salmon! Well that’s when I realized I was mixing up the words kedgeree and biriyani. Yes, nothing in common at all. I’ll blame it on being old.

Both Indian dishes are rice-based, and both are served with hard=boiled eggs… but yet, not really similar. How I could confuse the names is beyond me!

Kedgeree can be as simple as a curried rice topped with prepared salmon, but I wanted something a little more fun, so I reached for Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking for Friends, published in 2009.

His recipe includes salmon and shrimp, but also quail eggs, which I couldn’t get my hands on.

Gordon Ramsay’s Posh Kedgeree

2 3/4 cups chicken or fish stock (I used both)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Pinch of saffron strands
9 ounces skinless, lightly smoked salmon fillet
7 ounces large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
1 teaspoon mild curry powder
2 cups basmati rice
12 quail eggs, at room temperature ( used 4 eggs)
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
Lemon wedges for garnish

Put the stock, thyme, saffron, and a little salt and pepper into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then gently lower the salmon fillet into the stock and poach for 4 minutes. Lift the fish out with a slotted spatula onto a warm plate. Add the shrimp to the stock and poach just until they turn firm and opaque, about 2 minutes.

I had lightly smoked the salmon using my stove-top smoker before starting this recipe.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to the plate of salmon. Cover with foil and keep warm.

Strain the stock and discard the thyme; set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the olive oil, shallots, and some seasoning. Fry, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft but not browned, 4–6 minutes. Add the butter and curry powder. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then tip in the rice. Stir and cook for 2 minutes longer, to toast the rice lightly.

Add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and pour in the stock. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes. Without lifting the lid, remove the pan from the heat and let the rice stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the quail eggs in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Crack and peel off the skins, then cut each egg in half. I obviously used un-posh, medium-sized chicken eggs.

Fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more butter if you wish. Break the salmon fillet into large flakes and add to the rice, along with the shrimp and most of the chopped parsley. Gently mix the ingredients through the rice. Pile onto warm plates and garnish with the quail eggs, remaining parsley, and lemon wedges.

Serve at once.

The salmon is so tender I might cook it this way in the future. And the slight smokiness is wonderful. Altogether a delightful set of flavors and textures.

Mine was not quite as posh as Chef Ramsay’s, without the quail eggs, but I don’t think I could have peeled a dozen quail eggs, either.

I’m happy with how this dish came out!

Spicy Pork

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I’ve never routinely watched cooking shows, and never thought I would. Well, never say never! During the pandemic, I happily discovered a few entertaining shows that I enjoyed bingeing. One is Amy Schumer Learns to Cook, and another is Somebody Feed Phil. Both are fun and funny as well as educational. Then, I discovered The Chef Show on Netflix, and once more I was hooked. It’s hosted by Chef Roy Choi and Jon Favreau.

I’ve mentioned Roy Choi on my blog before when I made a spectacular sauce from his cookbook, L.A. Son, which is a great read. It tells the story of Chef’s rise to fame from a Korean-American kid in Los Angeles to highly regarded chef status. Along the way he attended the C.I.A. and lucked into an externship with none other than Eric Ripert!

What I didn’t know when I watched the movie Chef back in 2014, is that the main actor, Jon Favreau, who plays a disgruntled chef who starts his own food truck, actually trained for his role with Chef Roy Choi!

Chef Choi, well known for his famous food truck Kogi in Los Angeles, was a perfect fit for Favreau. Choi sent Favreau to a week of intensive French culinary schooling. His knife skills are super impressive.

The pair got along so well that well after the movie they decided to visit chefs and celebrities and cook with them, and called it The Chef Show. In one episode, Gwyneth Paltrow asks the two what the point of the show is, and they both start laughing, cause there really wasn’t, as it turns out. They just have fun cooking together, cooking with others, mentoring, and eating.

So far, I’ve watched the pair cook with Wolfgang Puck, David Chang, Wes Avila, the duo of Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, some foodies and non-chefs as well. The chefs are my favorite cause you get to watch them at work, and they put both Jon and Roy to work as well. It’s all fascinating.

When Chef Roy cooks on the show, it’s like watching a magician. His sweet and spicy sauce that I made had about 800 ingredients in it, and many measurements like 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon. Seriously, that seemed crazy to me, that adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds would make a difference. But when you watch him, you get it. It looks random, but it’s madman precision.

In every episode, I’m scribbling like crazy to write down the recipes, pausing occasionally to write, sometimes pausing to google. Chile de valle? Couldn’t find it.

But then, I found the darn recipes online. And one that I really enjoyed is called BBQ spicy pork. It’s a menu item at Chef Choy’s Best Friend restaurant in Las Vegas at the Park MGM, which reopened in March of 2021 after closing during the pandemic.

To make the spicy pork, you first make a marinade called Galbi, the name of a Korean rib barbecue sauce, then you use some of it to make the spicy pork marinade.

BBQ Spicy Pork

Galbi Marinade:
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 medium onion, quartered
1 scallion
1/3 cup whole garlic cloves
1/2 kiwi, peeled
1/2 Asian pear

Purée these ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Spicy Pork Marinade:
1 cup Galbi marinade
1 cup gochujang
1/4 cup gochujaru
2 jalapenos
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup whole garlic cloves

Purée these ingredients until smooth.

1 1/2 pounds pork butt, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 1/2 pounds pork belly, sliced 1/2″ thick
Salt
1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 cup spicy pork marinade
Cooked white rice
Sliced green onions
Sesame seeds

Place the meats in a large bowl and coat with the spicy pork marinade evenly and heavily. Allow to sit at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours in marinade.

Remove the pork from the marinade. Season lightly with salt. Grill on a flat griddle.

Add the onion slices and cup of marinade, and continue cooking until meat is nicely charred and cooked through, slightly chopping the meat as it cooks.

Serve over white rice.

Sprinkle generously with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

And the remaining Galbi marinade? I poured it over abou5 2.5 pounds of cut up pork shoulder, marinated it for 24 hours, then cooked it in a slow cooker. Wow! What fabulous flavors.

Saltado with Shrimp

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Where I live, in a town of 50,000, there is no “fine” dining. There are three restaurants my husband and I go to (I can’t even say frequent) when I want a break from cooking. Sadly, we maintain low expectations. Otherwise, we’d be terribly disappointed, instead of just able to laugh things off.

It’s not only the lack of quality and consistency of the food, but the terrible menus (this problem is not limited to my town) and the crazy bad service.

The only exception is Mexican restaurants. Thank god for these. There are quite a few, and we have our favorites, but it took years for them to reach the quality they are today. I can’t count how many times we experienced rancid chips or stale chips, overcooked chicken, bad salsa, etc. And why serve queso that’s “free” but tastes like dish water?

Anyway, we are now enjoying happier times when it comes to local Mexican restaurants. My favorite is one with a salsa bar. My husband’s favorite serves decent tasting salsa, but it’s served ice cold, and I’m constantly removing tomato peels from my mouth, which drives me crazy. But my husband loves their quesadillas.

We were at this restaurant recently when I spotted a menu item called Saltado, which could be chicken, beef, or shrimp. I was served this lovely plate of food, after choosing shrimp version.

What I loved about this dish was that the shrimp were perfectly cooked, and it was fresh and light. This isn’t typical with Mexican food in Oklahoma, being that we’re so close to Texas. But this Saltado could have been served at a Mexican restaurant in Malibu.

It turns out that Saltado originates from Peru, but when I read about it, it was really nothing like what I was served, so I’m not going to get into it. Like the fact that’s it’s more of a Chinese stir fry with beef, vegetables, and French fries. What? Maybe I shouldn’t google.

So here is my rendition of Saltado.

Saltado with Shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 poblano chile peppers, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of oil
1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, cleaned, peeled
Tajin seasoning or your favorite seasoning salt
Chopped cilantro

For serving:
Street-sized flour tortillas
Guacamole
Sour cream
Refried beans

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and peppers and toss them around until there’s a bit of caramelization, then turn down the heat and sauté for 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes and seasoning, and cook gently until there’s no liquid in the skillet.

Once the vegetables are “dry” place them on a serving platter. Cover lightly with foil to keep warm and set aside.

Heat the same skillet, dried out with paper towels if necessary, with the oil. Over medium heat, sauté the shrimp just until they’re pink and opaque. Season them generously with Tajin Seasoning. Place the shrimp over the vegetables.

Sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the top, if desired, and serve immediately.

Offer warm tortillas and bowls of guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gaillo or salsa. If you have (crazy) people eating who don’t like cilantro, serve it separately in a bowl as well.

If you prefer, roast the poblano peppers first, then peel, remove seeds, and chop. You won’t need to sauté them with the onions.

I also served refried beans heated with some cheese. At the restaurant they serve both beans and rice.


And, this mixture works really well for making shrimp tacos!

Fruit Caponata

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A while back I wrote a post on a young man who is a spice expert. His name is Lior Lev Sercarz, and he opened a spice store called La Boîte in New York City in 2007. I titled the blog post The Spice Companion, because that is the name of his first book, published in 2016. It’s a fascinating and hefty encyclopedia of spices.

La Boîte, the store, sells spices, but also has classes, dinners, and wonderful gift offerings.

If you can’t get to New York City, La Boîte has a beautiful website where one can purchase unique spices and spice blends. It’s like Penzey’s on crack.

Read my blog post if you want to be impressed by a young man on a world-wide mission to study spices. His journey from a kibbutz in Israel to New York City via France, working with notable chefs, is a great read.

I receive the monthly La Boîte newsletter, and it was in a recent issue where I discovered this fruit caponata recipe, created by Christian Leue.

In the newsletter, Mr. Leue describes his fondness of Sicily, and how in the town of Rosolini he was once served a caponata made of fruit, alongside a grilled veal ribeye. Traditional caponata is not made with fruit, but is instead a savory Sicilian eggplant dish.

Based on his dining experience, he created his own version of fruit caponata. From the newsletter: “It’s a supremely versatile condiment, bright and freshly acidic, with a deep but forgiving sweetness.”

He served his caponata with “a simply seared salmon and fluffy basmati rice topped with toasted almonds.” A sprinkle of Izak N37, a La Boîte spice blend, ties all the flavors together.” This is a photo of that meal from the newsletter.

Here is the spice blend Izak N37. It contains sweet chilies, garlic, cumin, salt, and spices.

Previously on the blog I’ve made a fruit compote As well as roasted fruit in parchment, and chutney, but this recipe is like none of those. See what you think.

Fruit Caponata
printable recipe below

1 cup whole red cherries, stems removed if you like (you can also leave them on as a reminder not to eat the pits)
2 firm nectarines, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 Vidalia onion, peeled, 1-inch dice
2 cups mixed whole grapes
2-3 Tbsp wine vinegar (either white or red is fine, amount will depend on acidity, some wine vinegars are above the standard 5%)
1 Tbsp olive oil
sweetener, to taste (I prefer chestnut honey)
salt, to taste

For the caponata, combine all ingredients except salt and sweetener in a sauce pot with a lid and cook, covered, over medium heat until everything has softened, about 25 minutes.

Adjust to taste with salt and sweetener of your choice, and additional vinegar, if desired. Instead of honey, I used maple syrup.

Leaving the fruit whole or in large chunks keeps it from getting mushy, and you’ll get a lovely red color from the cherry skins.

Depending on the season you can also try adding/substituting: strawberries, small plums, quince, figs, apple, or pear.

The only way I veered from the original recipe was to somewhat reduce the liquid remaining in the pot after cooking the caponata.

According to Mr. Leue, “The caponata goes really well with most anything you want to throw at it. Try it with brined pork chops, pan fried and served with spätzle. Or alongside farro pilaf and braised chicken thighs. I followed his suggestion and gently seared a salmon filet, but didn’t make rice.

And I used Izak N37 on the salmon.

This fruit caponata is definitely unique. If I have to compare it to a condiment, I guess it would mostly closely mimic a chutney, because of the sweet and savory components.

The caponata is pretty because the fruit isn’t chopped, but I found it more challenging to eat. But all in all it was an interesting and delicious condiment to prepare, and so many different fruit options are possible, much like a chutney.

And the Izak N37? Fabulous!

The 2nd book already published by Serarz is The Art of Blending: Stories and Recipes from La Boîte’s Spice Journey. His third book is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

 

 

 

 

Colombian Coconut Rice

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When my husband and I were visiting our daughter a while back, she told us she was going to be vacationing in Colombia. My first reaction was, “Oh, Columbia in South Carolina?”

I should have known better. This is the kid who’s already been to Argentina, Hungary, Croatia, Guatemala, New Zealand, and Australia – 6 countries we hadn’t been to yet at that time.

Our immediate thoughts were of course of drug cartels and kidnappers, but she assured us that the old part of Cartagena, where she’d be staying, was safe.

Well, she went, and she came back alive. But not without first texting me a recipe while in Cartagena for coconut rice that she fell in love with there. And she sent me a coconut rice recipe that she found online.

The recipe is from Serious Eats, and it’s actually called Colombian Coconut Rice, although the author, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, claims that this rice is popular throughout a significant area in South America.

As Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats and James Beard award winner, he definitely knows his stuff. Full bio below.

He writes, “At its core, arroz con coco is a pilaf—rice grains toasted in oil before being steamed, but in this case the oil comes directly from coconut milk. You start by dumping a can of coconut milk in a pot, and slowly boiling it off until all of the water content is removed, the coconut oil breaks out, and the solids begin to brown. From there, it’s a slow process of stirring and toasting until they are a deep, crunchy golden brown before finally adding sugar, salt, and rice.”

The only issue is if the coconut milk used in the recipe has stabilizers like crystalline cellulose or xanthan gum, you’ll have a hard time getting your solids to separate properly from your fat, making the rice to brown.

So I set out to find coconut milk without stabilizers and preservatives. Not an easy task. Finally, I found coconut milk at Trader Joe’s, with only coconut milk and water as ingredients. After many stores and Amazon. Hallelujah!

Colombian Coconut Rice
printable recipe below

1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (see note above)
2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup sugar (or brown sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups water

Heat coconut milk in a 2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat until simmering. Reduce to medium low and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until reduced to a couple of tablespoons.

Continue to cook, stirring and scraping constantly until coconut oil breaks out and coconut solids cook down to a deep, dark brown, about 20 minutes total.

Add rice, sugar (more or less to taste), and salt. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly until rice grains begin to turn translucent and golden, about 2 minutes.

Add water and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over high heat, reduce to lowest possible setting, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let rest 15 minutes longer. Fluff with a fork, and serve.

Coconut rice is delicious, not too sweet, and actually works well as a side dish to meats and vegetables. In Colombia, my daughter ate it for breakfast with eggs.

And, at this point, this daughter has only been to 4 countries we’ve not been to yet, since we finally visited New Zealand and Australia in fall of 2017.


We’re catching up!

Note: When the solids separate from the oil and begin to brown, they look like crumbs. But have no fear. Once the water is added and the rice cooks, they will dissolve.

J. Kenji López-Alt is the managing culinary director of Serious Eats and author of the James Beard Award–nominated column The Food Lab, in which he unravels the science of home cooking. A restaurant-trained chef and former editor at Cook’s Illustrated magazine, Kenji released his first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, in 2015, which went on to become a New York Times best-seller and the recipient of a James Beard Award, and The Food Lab was named Cookbook of the Year in 2015 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

 

 

Pork Amarillo

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“IF THERE WERE A CHILE TO TASTE LIKE SUNSHINE, THIS WOULD BE IT.”

How can you pass up a description like that?!!

Back when I discovered the chile pepper paste Gochujang, I spied another international paste called Aji Amarillo. It’s a bright yellow paste, from Peru, made from aji amarillo chile peppers.

From Serious Eats, “Aji amarillo is a bright-orange, thick-fleshed chile with a medium to hot heat level. It’s ubiquitous in Peruvian cuisine, working its way into soups and sauces, which are used in pretty much everything.”

Below are fresh aji amarillo chile peppers on the left, and the dried peppers on the right.

I wanted to use and taste this paste in its purest form, so I did what I often do with pastes and pestos, and that was to slather it on meat – in this case, pork tenderloin.

This is what it looks like – sunshine!

The options for using this paste, similar to paprika creme or an ancho chile paste, are endless. Rice or risottos, soups and stews, salad dressings, and so forth.

Pork with Aji Amarillo

2 pork tenderloins, trimmed, at room temperature
Salt
Pepper (I used Mignonette)
1 jar Aji Amarillo, about 7.5 ounces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Typically I roast pork tenderloin, but I didn’t want the chile pepper paste too browned.

Place the tenderloins in an oiled baking dish and coat all sides with the oil. Tuck under the thin ends. Sprinkle lightly with salt and generously with pepper.

I discovered Mignonette pepper a while back, sold at Penzey’s. It’s a French-Canadian mixture of white and black pepper.

After the pork tenderloins are seasoned, slather them with the Aji Amarillo.

Place in the oven and bake, using an oven thermometer preferably. I take pork out when the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.

Let the pork rest in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove them to a cutting board.

Slice the pork in 3/8″ slices; it gets a bit messy with the paste.

Serve immediately. I had some roasted zucchini that I served with the pork.

Isn’t that color spectacular?!!

And don’t let the description of its fruitiness fool you. This is a chile pepper paste after all!

Green Rice with Corn

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For Cinco de Mayo 2017, I made a Mexican-inspired meal, not surprisingly. Mexican and Southwestern foods are some of our favorites, and any excuse to cook a bunch of delicious food and include friends work for us!

For the main course, I served buffalo fajitas along with sautéed vegetables, plus I made refried black beans and what I called “green rice”.

The rice is green from green chiles and an abundance of cilantro. (Don’t read on if you dislike cilantro!)

Okay, so what’s the big deal? Rice with cilantro? I don’t know, but it was everybody’s favorite dish. I mean, over the queso, the guacamole, and the chipotle shrimp, the green rice was the bomb.

The next morning I heated some up and plopped a fried egg on top. It was just that delicious.

This rice is more of a pilaf, with all of the goodies I included. The green chiles, cilantro, and seasoning turn it into one that’s Mexican-inspired and delicious.

Green Rice with Corn

2 cobs of corn
Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
1 onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Rice of choice, about 1 1/3 cups
Chicken broth, about 3 cups
2 – 4.5 ounce cans chopped green chiles
Lots of chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, optional

Cook the corn cobs in boiling water until they’re done, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and rice, and stir for about 30 seconds, then add the broth.

Bring the rice to a boil, cover, then turn down the heat. Cooking time depends on the kind of rice you use.

Once the rice is about cooked, remove the lid and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cut the corn from the cobs. Break the corn up into neat pieces and stir into the rice gently.

I like to put the lid on and without heat, let the pot sit at the end of the cooking time. This step encourages more liquid absorption.

You can sprinkle on some cilantro leaves if you wish.

Fancy? Not at all. And just the same amount of time to make any pilaf.

And don’t forget to have the green rice with an egg the next morning!

Note: When I cook at home I always use brown rice, because it’s not processed. It takes a little more cooking time and a little more liquid, typically. White rice can certainly be substituted, and would actually look prettier. It’s just a personal call.

Golden Cauliflower and Carrot Rice

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I’m pretty sure you all know that I’m not fond of food trends. I’ve probably mentioned this numerous times. So if something becomes popular and trendy, I completely ignore it.

Sure, I’m old(er) and old-fashioned, but it’s just my personality. I never wore white metallic lipstick in the 60’s, either.

The dumb thing is, sometimes when you’re too stubborn, you can really miss out. Like the bowl trend. Is there one on my blog? No! But they do look lovely.

And in the 80’s, when I really started cooking, I looked down my nose at both sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto because they were everywhere. I have no idea how many years I lost not indulging in those two fabulous foods. I’ll never forgive myself for that.

Which leads me to… cauliflower rice. Nope.

Then, thanks to the lovely Serena from her blog, Domesticate Me, I saw a recipe that I couldn’t ignore. It was a cauliflower and carrot rice with almonds and golden raisins.

If you don’t know Serena, you must check her blog out and her just-published cookbook, The Dude Diet.

She’s a doll, she’s funny, and she swears. Oh, and she’s a professionally-trained chef. What’s not to love?!! But also, and this is important to me, if I comment, she responds to my comment.

Now this may seem a bit silly, but I will stop following blogs if the authors have no time for me. It’s not that I’m so great, it’s because the best thing about blogging in my four-plus years of doing so, is the interaction. It’s like this virtual, giant group of foodie friends that you get to know around the world.

Plus, on some of those fancy blogs, you can tell that the author responds to nobody’s comment. They’re just too important and busy. I just don’t get that.

Serena has been on her book tour around the U.S., but she is still responding to comments. And I know how much time it takes, because I follow many blogs. It’s just part of the dedication one should have to one’s blog. And Serena’s blog is also one of those fancy ones!

I promised Serena that I would make her “rice” dish because it really sounded lovely. She assured me it would not disappoint.

Golden Cauliflower and Carrot Rice
Adapted slightly from Domesticate Me!

1 medium head cauliflower, florets only, about 1 lb. 6 ounces
Baby carrots, 8 ounces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt
Juice of 1 lemon
¾ cup chopped parsley leaves
½ cup golden raisins (I used figs)
½ cup chopped raw almonds (I used hazelnuts)
Lemon wedges for serving (optional)

Add about half of the cauliflower florets to a food processor and pulse until a “rice” forms. Place in a large bowl, then process the remaining cauliflower.

Process the carrots the same way, and add the riced carrots to the cauliflower.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and carrot rice, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, and a good pinch of salt.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until the rice is just tender.

Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Fold in the parsley, dried fruits, and toasted nuts. Taste, and add salt if necessary.

I served this “rice” with some grilled chicken that was marinated in a garlic-parsley marinade.

What’s really fun is changing up the dried fruits and nuts according to your taste and the season. Imagine this dish with dried cranberries and pistachios in December!

Dried figs and hazelnuts are really more autumnal, but I had them on hand and I love them.

Okay, so am I glad I finally tried cauliflower rice? Of course! But I really liked what Serena did with the dish, adding carrots, seasoning, and the fruits and nuts. I can also see this as a salad with a vinaigrette, maybe with some orzo, or barley, or just like it is.

Serena’s actual name for this dish is Cauliflower and Carrot Golden “Rice,” and she serves it in a bowl, but it’s okay, cause I like her. I put mine on a plate. Maybe I can start a plate trend?!!

Salad and Giving Thanks

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This year I didn’t get the opportunity to cook Thanksgiving dinner, which is fine. The typical American Thanksgiving meal is quite involved, especially if you’re trying to make everybody happy and satisfy their requests. You can spend days in the kitchen.

But what one misses out on is Thanksgiving leftovers. And I really missed them this year. Fabulous, hearty and delicious food that reheats well, and is perfect for winter weather.

So I was inspired to create a salad inspired by Thanksgiving dishes, even though I had no leftovers. No problem. Grilled turkey, sausage, rice, wild rice, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and more.

So the following recipe is more of a guide for a Thanksgiving-inspired salad using your favorite Thanksgiving ingredients. Not all of them – that could get quite messy!

Use rice, barley, wild rice, or even quinoa. And then just have fun with the ingredients. Serve at room temperature with your choice of vinaigrette or citrus-based dressing. Here goes.

Salad for Giving Thanks

Combination of brown and wild rice, cooked
Mini Italian sausage balls, cooked
Cooked Brussels sprouts
Turkey tenderloin
Sliced celery
Toasted pecans
Dried cranberries
Vinaigrette of choice

Have a serving platter large enough for the number of eaters. Plan on large servings, because this salad is delicious and addicting!

Have your rice cooked, and make a layer with it on the platter.
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Add the sausage balls, followed by the Brussels sprouts.


I cooked a piece of turkey tenderloin in a skillet, seasoned only with garlic pepper. Many Americans use poultry seasoning. I browned the turkey on both sides, then put on a lid and cooked it until it was 155 in the thickest part.

Place the turkey on a cutting board and let it rest. I sliced the tenderloin, but you could cut it up as well.
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Add the turkey to the salad. Then add the celery, pecans, and dried cranberries.

Serve the salad warm or at room temperature, topped with the vinaigrette.
an equal amount of sherry vinegar. I poured the mixture in a blender jar, added one clove of garlic, some salt, and about 2/3 cup of olive oil. Blend and go!

vin

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note: I wouldn’t recommend using 100% wild rice, which is actually a grass and not legally rice. And because of that fact, too much of it creates a texture similar to alfalfa, which I can only imagine eating.