Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

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The lowly cauliflower strikes again into the hallowed territory of binge TV snack food…I’ve been unable to source the original recipe and there are lots of variations on this theme out there in the culinary googleverse…

Two hours before starting this, I put a chunk of venison steak into the sous vide.

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower chopped into florets

1/2 cup of milk (any unsweetened kind or a not-milk will do)

1/2 cup of water

3/4 cup of flour

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

2 teaspoons of onion powder

1 teaspoon of paprika

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper

Directions 

Preheat your oven to 230 Celcius.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, water, milk, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Add the cauliflower florets and mix until well-coated – make sure you get the mix well into the florets themselves .

Spread evenly onto the cookie sheets so the florets are not touching .

Bake for 15- 20 minutes , flipping once.

Remove from the oven and set aside.

 Wing sauce

2 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of vinegar

1 tablespoons of water

A pinch of salt

1/2 cup of your favourite hot sauce (I used some old chili sauce that had been in the fridge a long time)

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, hot sauce, vinegar, water, and salt.

Add the baked cauliflower and toss to coat with the sauce, again making sauce the mix gets rights into the florets.

Spread the florets evenly onto the cookie sheets and pop back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes until crispy (flipping once).

Don’t get some engrossed in The Punisher that you forget about them and they come out slightly scorched.

Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

I took the venison out of the sous vide and sliced it into chunks. If I had thought about it at the time, I could have crumbed them and give them a quick sizzle in a hot skillet…of even foregone the crumbs and gone straight to the skillet. This would have added a nice golden tinge to the meat…

I served them together as finger food on the same plate – see fuzzy pic above – very filling and very spicy in a good way…one head of cauli would make a decent snack serving for two people…

Another way of tricking your kids into veges…

 

Slow Cooked Red Wine Mushroom Soup

Another Jen Rice creation…I saw this one in my feed a few weeks and read enough to include the makings in my next supermarket shop. Since, it’s just been a case of waiting for a day off as I get dinner supplied at work now – I have a decent breakfast and don’t usually make a bid deal about lunch so other opportunities are a little lacking…

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The soup I made following the recipe…it’s very simple and would be tough to get wrong. I’m kinda over having bread as my only side for soup meals so cast the Google net to see what alternatives I could find.

I found mention of using vege burgers as a side to soups and that reminded me of  this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie . The only change I made was to sub kidney beans for the pinto beans and to dribble my last remnants of block cheese over the top – wasn’t very much so it looks a littler snotty…sorry… I also referred to this site for some tips on cooking quinoa

The recipe make about a dozen of the ‘biscuits’. I though that I would dip them as I would with bread but this soup isn’t thick enough for decent dipping. I ate them as a side: quite tasty and very filling…worked well with the soup which is very rich, tasty and filling.

A simple, tasty dinner with the only time-consuming aspect being the slow cooker phase of the soup…add in a few chunks of beef and this would be an even chunkier soup or the makings of an equally fine stew…

 

Another bucket, vicar..?

When I interviewed for my first job with the RNZAF in 2010, I was on my way to Wellington to deliver a lecture at Victoria University and the nice folk at Ohakea offered to put me up for the night on the Officers Mess. There, I was introduced to ‘the bucket’, a glass container resembling a wine glass filled with red wine…I could never tell a merlot from a shiraz but ever since I have had a love/hate relationship with reds…I love to drink them but often hate the mornings after…

Fuller than these..!

I don’t drink that much now – to be honest, I normally drank more when away from home, overnighting in transit accommodation, – some of which was enough to drive anyone to drink –  but often because of the company of other similar limbo’d transients…I  still love a red and so cast favourable eyes over recipes with a red content…

This is a recipe I tried 4-5 years ago but didn’t quite get it to realise its full potential. My experimentation with sous vice has rekindled my interest in slow cooking  and this was one in the archive that screams for a long slow flavour-kindling simmer…

Unfortunately, this record dates back many years, before I made a habit of noting the original source material, according to the file metadata I first recorded it in 2007 but I;m not able to attribute it back to a sure source.

Preparation is simple: take all this stuff and drop it in the slow cooker before work, come home, put on some rice and that’s it:

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

1 cup of Plum Sauce

1 cup of Red Wine

500g of shoulder pork steaks, diced

1 apple, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

The end product has a delicious medley of flavours and textures that is a real winner: the plum sauce and apple are quite tart but offset by the sweet cinnamon and brown sugar. The flavour is very strong and the abundance of sauce means that a little goes a long way: the sauce-saturated rice if very filling and obviates the need for lots of the solid casserole itself…

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Plated up with rice was so yummy, I forgot to take a pic – three times!!

Very keen to do this again…I don’t think that the type of meat will matter much so my next go-round will be steak-based in the sous vide…and draw me a couple more cups closer to the last of the white rice…

Cranberries and broccoli

P70317-194038Not a meal that I had planned or even remotely considered but the combination flavours looked too good to ignore when it popped up in my daily Sugar Soil feed. I already had a roll of corned beef in the sous vide for a 72 hour session and this salad looked like it would provide a tidy offset to the natural saltiness of the beef…

P70317-194027I made it as per the recipe – too simple for words – and fished the beef roll out of the sous vide as soon as the salad came out of the oven. Three days in hot water had broken down any chewy gristley bits in the beef and render it super soft and tender. As expected the sweetness of the cranberries, the bite of the balsamic broccoli worked really well with the salty beef – the salty flavour may have been accentuated by the sous vide ‘cook in a bad’ process: further experimentation will see…

Three days in the hot water was too much for the ziploc bag and it split along the seems as I lifted it out. Subsequent cooks I’ve sealed the meat in a proper vacuumed sealed bag. The heavier plastic and total seal really do make a big different to the richness and depth of the final flavour and I think this is how we’ll do future extended duration sous vides.

The salad lasted three big dinners but the corned beef was just too more-ish and disappeared quickly on toast with fresh sliced tomatoes for breakfast and as inter-meal snacks…there’s another in the freezer already and it’ll be making an appearance soon…

 

 

 

A four power tool weekend

It wasn’t that restful but it was a good weekend. An early start for an ambulance shift in Taumarunui saw an extension into the afternoon after two jobs in the morning…no more eventuated but the afternoon was a good opportunity to get some hands-on with the on-board monitors. I got home with the best intentions of starting on the lawns but my pre-mow poo patrol took us into twilight.

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“Never repeat”? I wish but unlikely…

That, with a 4AM alarm, saw an easy dinner of sous vide corn beef with another crack at Jen Rice’s broccoli and cranberry salad.

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Sous vide brings out the colour in red meat…

The original recipe on the Anova website recommended cooking for 48-72 hours (gives a whole new meaning to slow cooking!) but the follow-on comments suggested that this was over-cook and likely to result in a mushy mess. As the uncooked beef felt a little mushy, I let it run in the sous vide for ‘only’ about ten hours. I’ve mastered by sous vide technique and use clothes pegs to secure a shopping bag around the top of the cooking pot to prevent the water evaporating and then stack a few tea towels on top to keep in the heat. Comfortable that running low on water during an untended sous vide won’t be an issue, I could have left this on much longer – just would have needed to have a Plan B for dinner on Saturday night…

While nice, the corned beef was still a little gristley…I expect that a 3-4 times increase in the cook time would address this…Unlike the normal cooking method for corned beef i.e. in a pot of water, sous vide traps all the fluids and flavours in the bag. With corn beef this means that the salt taste is much more defined…not so much stronger as sharper…definitely onto something with this dish! The salty beef works so well with the sweetness of the cranberries and the bitter effect of the balsamic broccoli.

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Dessert was a nibble on these coconut almond cookies – sweeter than the ones I made last year – than leaven the coconut almond meal (which is quite heavy) with homeground flour and coconut flour. It also has more sugar so are a tad sweeter. These are really filling and it only takes a couple to fill any post-main gaps…They’re based on this recipe from Celebrating Sweets but modified to lighten the heavier meal left-over from my nut milk production…

I’m not sure what scales exist for measuring the satisfaction of an outdoor working day but the number of power tools used must surely be one of them. Sunday was a glorious bluebird day that boded well for getting on top of lawns and clearing the scrubby self-seeds from the lounge windows outlook. Four power tools this day…I fired up the cheap Chinese chainsaw and diced up the logs that had been sitting opposite the garage for months, then laid into the scrub in front of the lounge.

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The plan is to eventually open access into all the punga groves in front of the lounge…

Powertool #2 was the dropsaw mounted on an old school desk that we use for dicing up wood for the chippy, anything less than about five inches in thickness. It makes reducing logs to chippy-sized chunks a breeze and the saw dust goes into the compost bin as a dry mix to offset the wet mass waste from the kitchen.

The old reliable mulcher was #3 into the mix, converting leaves and smaller branches into four bags of mulch to fill out hollows in the ground for later landscaping. The mulcher has had a long hard life but keeps on keeping on. It’s more than paid for itself in unpaid dumping fees at the transfer station and the associated fuel costs for the round trip with the each trailer load of green waste…

It’s been a very wet not-summer – the recent break of ten days or so of sunny weather were the longest such break we have had for the better part of a year – and I have resorted to using the big ride-on to just keep on top of the lawns and prevent them totally running away. Even they were quite long and it felt good to finally be able to power up the mower and knock them down to a respectable level. Even more satisfying to be able to mow around the area when the now diced logs had been residing for so long. The many loads of grass went with the mulch to smooth out hollows in the ground for later compacting and shaping….

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So nice to finally clear this area…the baths will go up on blocks next…

It’s been a long time since I had such a satisfying day in the garden: I crashed with a V (a now rare sweet treat!) to start on the next series of JAG (so shoot me!) as my reward…

Literal green pizza

Playing with toys again…had to wait weeks before the Todo pizza makers showed up again at NZSale…only a third of the price they go for at Mighty Ape…Yes, I know I can make pizzas in the oven but I was interested in something that might offer a more portable pizza-ing experience and a new toy (plus it IS in Deadpool colours)

p70101-192150I made a few conventional dough-based pizzas but I’d been hearing for a while about vegetable bases for pizzas. Being gifted a full head of broccoli seemed like a perfect opportunity to try this (plus a head of broccoli goes a loooong way in conventional meals).

I found this recipe at Gothamist. It was easy, easy, easy…I put some baking paper down case it stuck but I need not have worried: the base pan is super-non-stick.

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The topping was just whatever was in the fridge: tomato, pineapple, yellow capsicum and some mozzarella…

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Forgot to add the tomato sauce base (store-bought pasta sauce) so applied over the top of the other toppings…

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Came out OK…cooked for about 20 minutes…even though the base is a full head of broccoli, the taste is quite subtle and not as overpowering as you might expect – probably a good way to sneak soem veges into unwilling younger diets…

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I use the pizza make quite often with a variety of bases, including store-bought ones which are good to rush meals and also wraps, although these need some care so that the more liquid toppings don’t flow off the edge…

Beetroot and prunes in breadless burgers

While not in the market for another burger mix, the bright colours that accompanied the recipe on Sugar Soil hooked me: any healthy benefits aside, most beetroot recipes have striking colours and this one was no exception…

I made the mix i n accordance with the recipe on line but next time I thin l’ll aim for a mix with more even proportions of the beans, beetroot and prunes: I foud that the sweetness of the prunes rather underwhelming even though I did add more than the recipe quantities.

On a whim, I also decided to have a play with breadless burgers…Empowered Sustenace had some good ideas...it wasn’t difficult and I’m keen to try some of the other ideas as well. The most successful in this go-round was the mushroom evolution: fried just enough to bring out the flavour, and then stacked with the usual fillings burger-style…

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Mushroom ‘buns’

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Open burger on an eggplant ‘bun’

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Open burgers on pepper ring bases

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Mushroom and eggplant ‘buns’

Very tasty, with crisp clear flavours and surprisingly filling…no dairy, no nuts, no meat, no bread, no sugars, no hassle…

‘Cado, pineapple and ‘mato salad

Last night, I mentioned that, I was still searching for a suitable side to go with my Kumara curry and salmon hash browns…after five years, can you believe it? I’ve been getting by with rocket salads but I kinda hate rocket…if I’m absolutely honest about it…

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So, on Wednesday afternoon, I sat down with a lot of coffee and considered the problem. What textures and flavours would complement but not compete with the textures and flavours of the hash browns and salmon. There is just a hint of curry in the hashes, mixed with the salt of the salmon and smooth cheesiness of the sour cream that holds the stack together. Overall it’s quite sweet and smooth.

It all came together quickly after I thought of an avocado base….smooth and sweet…with pineapple, sweet with a fibrous texture…with diced tomato…more tart and something else to bite into. Originally I was going to warm this mix in the microwave – it is winter after all – but opted for a natural heat from a sauce derived from the fried avocado tacos at The Guardian by blending all these together:

1 cup of sour cream

2 small chillies

2 gloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of lime juice

1 bunch of coriander

a smidgen of salt and pepper

The black rice was an afterthought left over from the previous night’s beets, feta and rice…I wasn’t really sure what to do with it otherwise but it worked well in our salad.

The first night I only used a teaspoon-sized dollop of the sauce on the salad – wasn’t enough to appreciate all the flavours. I had one hash stack left over plus about a cup and a half of the salad and other stuff in the fridge from a  week of cooking that I needed to consume to free up fridge space.

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So this is Take Two: one curry kumara salmon stack reheated in the microwave (it was already cooked: normally, I would keep the hash mix uncooked), with a goodly amount of greek yogurt on top, with the salad accompanied by a decent-sized dollop of the coriander and chili sauce, topped with feta from the beets and rice dinner…

Mmmm…primo!!!! A great blend of flavours and textures, with bonus points for good use of left-overs…less points for unused salmon which I just remembered is still sitting in the fridge…

…so tomorrow’s challenge may involve smoked salmon, streaky bacon, feta, sour cream, greek yoghurt, a tomato and an avocado. The rest of the pineapple – all fresh here no canned stuff – is destined for smoothies with banana, chia seed, coconut milk and tumeric…

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Good for the Soul

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So far this winter has been more wet than cold…three winter’s ago, we had already had some serious snow by now…
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This is a time when root vegetables, carrots, potatoes, parsnip, kumara, etc, are seasonal and thus cheap at the moment. I’ve been investing heavily in freezable storage containers to store the vegetable largesse as soup…

I scored half a large bag of potatoes that survived the ‘Kune Carrot Carnival a couple of weeks ago and scored the net for a variety of tasty light things to do with potato. There are surprisingly few variations on the theme of potatoes, less than consume large quantities of the target vegetable….

Although not a big consumer, this recipe combined potato with chicken and cheese. Like most soups, it is simple and quick to make.

Ingredients

100 grams of butter (probably should have used coconut oil but didn’t think of that at the time)
1 onion diced
3 carrots diced
3 spring onions (the recipe calls for celery but I’ve gone off that for now)
1/3 cup of flour
2 potatoes diced
2 cups of coconut milk (the recipe calls for cow but I don’t have that in the fridge anymore apart from occasional small quantities for guest brews)
1 teaspoon of black sea salt (yes, you could be boring and just use normal salt but I’m trying to stay away from processed foods: if it’s white, it’s bad)
3 cups of chicken stock
1 decent size organic chicken breast (after the Hot Doc’s warning about the growth additives that go into commercial chicken, I avoid it now) diced
1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar/Colby/tasty cheese
Fresh parsley and or coriander, finely chopped

Directions

Melt the butter in the pan
Add the onions, carrots and spring online and cook for 3-4 minutes
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir it in.
Add the coconut milk, chicken stock, potatoes and chicken.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes.
Slowly add and stir in the cheese until it has all blended into the soup.

Sprinkle with the parsley and coriander. Serve with stick bread sliced longways, or toasted jalapeño cornbread

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I’ll be making this again, for sure, not only is it tasty as and filling. I’ve already had a few requests for it and one can’t ignore one’s fan base. Changes I would make apart from those listed above? Probably only to add a diced parsnip: I forgot I have a bag of them in the pantry: it’s sweetness will go well with the chicken and cheese flavours…