Cauliflower & Feta Fritters

O M G – the salty creamy bits of feta combined with the still slightly tender but firm cauliflower bits are enough to make me want these on a regular repeat!!  I often find cauliflower a bit of a hard sell amongst the family members, but this will win over anybody sitting on the cauliflower fence.

Cauliflower 5

These make a great appetizer or side dish.  Serve for lunch with a green salad, any way you try it, they are a winner.

1 small head cauliflower (1 pound florets, i.e. stems and leaves removed), cut into generous 1 to 2 inch chunks
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
Few gratings of fresh lemon zest
3 ounces crumbled feta (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup slivered green onions (optional but I loved the colour and brightness)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes; less if using regular red pepper flakes, which are hotter
3/4 teaspoon table salt or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cook cauliflower in simmering salted water, uncovered, until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes, until firm but tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain well. Spread on towels to dry as much as possible.

Cauliflower 2

Ice water is key to making sure your cauliflower doesn’t get overcooked and retains a bit of texture. Plunge it in right from the cooking liquid.

Cauliflower 3

Let the cauliflower drain so they don’t get mushy. 

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together egg, garlic and lemon zest. Add cauliflower florets and mash with a potato masher until they’re crushed into an average of pea-sized pieces (i.e. some will be bigger, some smaller, but most will be little nubs).

Cauliflower 4

Sprinkle in feta and stir to combine egg mixture, cauliflower and feta. In a small dish, whisk flour, salt, pepper and baking powder until evenly combined. Sprinkle over cauliflower batter and stir just until combined.

Heat oven to 200 degrees F and place a tray inside. On the stove, heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil, about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then the tray in the oven to keep them warm until needed. Once all fritters are cooked, mix yogurt with cumin, salt and pepper. Spread fritters on serving platter. Dollop each with cumin yogurt and sprinkle with pomegranate arils.

Do ahead: Fritters both freeze and reheat well. To warm and recrisp them, lay them on a tray and toast them at 400 degrees in the oven until crisp again.
Olive oil for frying

To serve

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 1 tsp crushed pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • squeeze fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, and season to taste with the salt and pepper

Full credit for this goes to Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, I only made a few changes, and created my own dipping cream.   She is fritter obsessed, and I am quickly becoming just as obsessed with fritters.  Any vegetable seems to work as a fritter!  I think what sold these as being a bit different is the feta cheese.  Once you fry them up, that feta gets crispy and the flavour just intensifies.

Pork Chili Verde

or as Stella calls it, Mexican Green Chili!

Chili Verde 4

The most fun comes when you get to dress up your chili bowl just the way you like it.  Stella said it was so good she couldn’t stop eating.  Magic words for Nana’s ears!!

Serves 6

  • 2-3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-2″ pieces
  • lard for browning the meat
  • flour for dredging
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 jars tomatillo salsa
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups chopped sweet peppers
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 tin white kidney beans
  • 1 small tin diced green chilis (use mild or spicy depending on who’s coming for dinner!)

Preheat oven to 325.

Heat the lard in a large heavy bottom saucepan.  (Yes, you can use a neutral oil, but lard does add a certain level of flavour that you won’t get with neutral oil)

Season pork with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.

Fry the pork pieces a few at a time, until you have a golden crust.  If you overcrowd the pan they will steam rather than get a nice carmelized crust.

Chili Verde 1

Once all the pork has been browned, saute the onions and peppers, seasoning with salt and pepper while you do that, then deglaze the pan with the chicken stock.  Stir in the tomatillo salsa and then return all the pork to the saucepan.  Stir to combine, and then bake in the slow oven for about 3 hours, until the pork is tender and falling apart with just a touch.  Stir in the beans, green chilis and corn, allow to heat through.

Chili Verde 2

Bring the whole saucepan to the table and surround with toppings for everybody to help themselves.

Suggested toppings:

  • sliced radish
  • cubes of avocado
  • sliced jalapeno
  • grated cheese
  • crumbled taco chips
  • cilantro
  • green onions
  • Sour cream

 

  • Serve with a loaf of crusty bread ….. try my recipe, (No Knead bread) its quick and easy, and completes this meal perfectly.

Chili Verde 3

 

Perfect Medium Rare Steak

Oh … winter… not a season we are ever going to taste a perfect grill marked steak.  I’ve been working on achieving the perfect steak during the “off” season.  Nailed it!

Perfect steak 5

PERFECT.  Pink inside, crusty outside, and drizzled with Cafe de Paris Beurre.  I’m in heaven.

First step is to make your dry rub:

1 lemon – zested, and zest set aside to dry

Perfect steak 1

Zest your lemon, and allow it to sit a bit, just to dry it out so it helps create the perfect crust.  Do you buy lemon pepper dry rub?  Stop!  Just try this instead …

Combine:

  • freshly cracked pepper
  • sea salt
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • mustard powder
  • paprika
  • raw sugar

I use all equal amounts of all these ingredients.  You can certainly adjust to your own preference!

Stir to bring it all together, and once the lemon zest has dried out a bit, add it in there too.

Perfect steak 2

We are lucky.  I’d be the first to admit that.  We dry our garlic and onion in the fall, and create our own powder.  Yep, we even do paprika, this one is grilled poblano peppers.  No, sorry, we didn’t create either the mustard powder or the salt and pepper.  (But, does it give us extra points because we bring the sea salt home from a favourite region in Mexico??)

Pat the steaks dry – VERY important.  Drizzle over a little neutral oil, and then press in the seasoning.  Make sure to get the seasoning rubbed into the sides as well as top and bottom.

Perfect steak 3

Got everything ready??  Just look at that marbling on the steak … that is what you are hoping for.

While the steak is coming to room temperature, heat up a pan that can handle the heat of a 400 degree oven.  (this would be a great time to preheat your oven!)

Sear the steak on all sides – get it good and crusty!  Pop it into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. . . . check it carefully, you want to pull it out of the oven once the steak hits 120 degrees.  Tent it with tin foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

I couldn’t help myself, needed to top the steak with my Cafe de Paris Beurre ….. it makes everything better.  I’ve eaten …. but want to eat it again.  I think that says it all.

perfect steak 4

Served with baked potato and a simple iceberg wedge salad and I’m totally satisfied.  You will be too! Give it a try.  If you are able to grill all year ….. well good for you!  Maybe you want to try it anyway, and see what you think??

 

Thai Salmon

It doesn’t happen often, but every so often Grant isn’t home for dinner …. and he doesn’t like salmon, so that is the first thing I think of making.  Loved this spicy, tasty salmon with a bit of sauce to drizzle over rice or vegetables.

Thai Salmon 4

Not only was this tasty, spicy, and packed with flavour, it was super easy and didn’t require any cleanup!  How fantastic is that?

  • 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, optional
  • 2 pounds salmon
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS:

    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
    • To make the sauce, whisk together chili sauce, soy sauce, garlic, fish sauce, ginger, lime juice and Sriracha in a small bowl; set aside.
    • Place salmon onto prepared baking sheet and fold up all 4 sides of the foil. Spoon the chili sauce mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the salmon, covering completely and sealing the packet closed.
Thai Salmon 1

Just a few items needed, wrap this little salmon up in flavour and bake!

Thai Salmon 2

Preheat your oven to 375 and prep the salmon.

Thai Salmon 3

Drizzle with the seasoning, wrap and bake.  (I lined my foil with parchment)

Pull it out of the oven and sprinkle with cilantro, green onions, peanuts and sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Thai Salmon

 

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls

Looking for a quick dinner?  When the grandkids are here, I sure am!  This was perfect, and the girls loved it.  They built their own bowls and tucked right in.

Teriyaki 2

Here was my surprise for the night – Sloan put this together, and then handed it to me.  “Here you go Nana, take a photo now …… it looks pretty good”.  Then she handed me her cilantro before adding her vegetables and digging in.  The cilantro, apparently, was only for the photo!  Yes, it is the only photo I got tonight.  I will have to do it again soon.

Do you know how easy it is to make your own teriyaki sauce?  This recipe is so quick and simple to do you will want to keep a jar of it in the fridge all the time.

TERIYAKI SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 4  tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Allow to boil gently just until sauce has thickened.  Thin with a bit of water if necessary to have it sauce like, and not jelly like!

Teriyaki 3

This jar might not look like much, but this teriyaki sauce is the bomb!  

Cook rice according to instructions.

Cut about 1 pound of chicken breast into bite size pieces, and marinate with a few tablespoons of the teriyaki sauce, while you prep the rest:

Slice a variety of vegetables, whatever you like!

Teriyaki 1

This could so easily be a vegetarian meal – just serve with the stir fried vegetables, or use tofu in place of the chicken.

Prep some toppings:

  • rough chop on cilantro
  • slivered green onions
  • toast sesame seeds

Okay, now things come together quickly!

In a hot wok or skillet, heat a neutral oil and quickly fry the chicken just until cooked through.  Set aside.

Wipe out wok/skillet and heat a bit more oil.  Stir fry vegetables until just crisp tender.

Set everything out and allow everybody to build their own bowls.  Remember to set out your teriyaki sauce to drizzle over.