KFC – Korean Fried Cauliflower

KFC

Slightly spicy, slightly sticky and a world of deliciousness.  Welcome to KFC.

I can tell you right now, this is worthy of the time investment.  Hayley had mentioned this dish to me years ago, when she and Andrea had it in Vancouver.  I was intrigued at that point, and tried it in a few restaurants, without feeling the love.  (at least not the love Andrea and Hayley expressed)   We finally did experience that, in Mexico City of all places!  Fat Boy Moves is the name of a Korean restaurant there, and it had such amazing reviews we had to try it out.  We went twice.  This cauliflower is the one item that makes Grant say he could be vegetarian … me too.  Once we got home I went on the search.  There are lots of recipes out there, but none of them had the steps or the ingredients I thought it would take to get that taste experience you just can’t get enough of.  Finally, with a recipe sourced out of “Carbon Bar” (restaurant in Toronto) I think I’ve nailed it.  The sauce makes more than you will need, so just enjoy that, and use it on whatever you feel like.

(sidebar here …. I have no idea if this is authentically Korean, but we had it in a Korean restaurant, so I’m calling it Korean!)

1 head cauliflower

green onions (for garnish)

Cauliflower

BUTTERMILK MIXTURE

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

FLOUR MIXTURE

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder

KFC SAUCE

  • 1 cup gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it and add cauliflower florets.  Cook for only 1 minute, then shock in ice water bath and allow to drain completely.

To make the KFC sauce, combine all ingredients in heavy bottom saucepan and stir until it comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and continue to stir occasionally until it reduces slightly and becomes somewhat like a syrup.  (Should take about 15 min) Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  This keeps well in the fridge for 10-14 days in a covered container.

KFC Sauce

Whisk buttermilk with cayenne pepper, nutmeg and thyme.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 4 days to allow seasonings to permeate buttermilk.

Whisk flour and dry ingredients together.

If you have a deep fryer, set it to 350, if not use a heavy bottom, deep saucepan and about 8 cups of vegetable oil for frying.  If you don’t have a thermometer, stick a chopstick into the oil … if little bubbles form around the chopstick you are ready to go!

Put your buttermilk mixture, and your flour mixture into separate large bowls.

Toss handfuls of florets into flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Using a slotted spoon, dip cauliflower into buttermilk and again, let excess drip off.  Roll wet cauliflower back in flour mixture again, to coat.  Place on plate.  Repeat until all florets have been coated.

In small batches, carefully place florets in hot oil.  Do not overcrowd your pot or the temperature will drop and the florets will stick together.  You don’t want either to happen!  Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel line plate.

In large bowl toss fried cauliflower with about 3/4 cup of the KFC sauce until each is covered lightly and evenly.  Garnish with the green onions and serve immediately.

Prepare to be licking your fingers, looking for more, and already planning the next time you’ll make it.

Messy kitchen

Sadly, this is what my kitchen looked like by the time I finished. Was it worth it?  You bet, a thousand times yes, and I’ll be doing it again soon.  (and, I have no idea why the reflection out the window looks more like an apartment building and not like the tomato field it is …..)

Pretzel Bark

 

You might want to call this pretzel crack, because it is totally addictive!!  We make it for a Christmas treat to share with family and friends, but I’d advise you to make enough to keep for yourself too …

Pretzel bark

INGREDIENTS:

  • About 8 ounces (half of a 1-pound bag) mini pretzels, broken into smaller pieces, more or less to cover the pan
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups (one 12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 11X17-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cover the bottom of the pan in a layer of broken mini pretzels. Set aside.
  2. In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and brown sugar. When the mixture starts to gently simmer and bubble, let it cook for 3 minutes without stirring. Immediately pour the hot caramel mixture over the pretzels in a back and forth motion to cover most of the pretzels (a few empty/dry spots are ok as the caramel will fuse together during baking).
  3. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the hot caramel and pretzels. Let the chocolate chips sit for 2-3 minutes until they melt. Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to gently spread the melted chocolate over the toffee. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Let the toffee cool completely at room temperature then refrigerate if needed to help the chocolate set up. Break the toffee into pieces and try not to eat the whole batch.

(I found this recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Grilled Shrimp and Cauliflower with Romesco Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romescu
The first thing you need to know is that this sauce is A M A Z I N G.  Put it on your sandwich, toss hot pasta with it, fresh veggie dip or meat skewer dip …. it wins every time.  Today’s appetizer included these grilled cauliflower florets, lightly marinated shrimp and green onions.

Ingredients for Romesco

1 1/2 CUPS SERVINGS

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Pulse first 8 ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Romesco can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

romescu

To use as a dipping sauce, heat through until easy to stir and warm.

 

Shrimp and Vegetables

  • 1 head of cauliflower – cut into florets
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp – tails and shells on
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 bunch green onions

Lightly steam cauliflower until just tender crisp – be careful not too overcook it.

Season with salt.

In a large bowl, toss shrimp with vegetable oil and lime juice.  Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Grill cauliflower, shrimp and green onions just until heated through (and shrimp is fully cooked) – try to get some pretty grill marks on there!

Arrange on a serving platter with the Romesco and dip merrily away.

 

 

Pickled Mexican Vegetables

Pickled Veg

I don’t know if any dinner featuring the tastes of Mexico would be complete without this dish … in Mexico it is often found sitting on tables just waiting for you to nibble.

This keeps for weeks in your fridge and is a great accompaniment to sandwiches or burgers and always perfect for tacos.

Like many pickled recipes, this is just a guide.  Use whatever vegetables are fresh and ready at hand.  Today’s version included garden fresh cauliflower, zucchini, green & yellow beans, carrots and sweet Walla Walla onions.  Prepare vegetables in bite size portions, i.e., cauliflower florets, wedges of zucchini, carrots sliced on diagonal … you get the idea.  I like to prepare everything ahead of time, and have them ready on the cutting board so I can see the colours and shapes together to make sure it is a pretty picture.  (yep, I’m that weirdo)  If you like a bit of spicy kick, slice up a jalapeño or two as well.

Start by heating up some good olive oil, (a generous portion – more than you would normally use to sauce) sauté onions until soft.  Add garlic, carrot, and any veg you think might take a while to soften.  You are only looking for crisp tender as your finished product, not soft and overcooked veg.

Add:

2 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp peppercorns

1 tbsp dried mexican oregano

4 bay leaves

Simmer just until heated through and remove from heat.  Store in glass jar (or non reactive container) in the fridge for weeks!

 

 

 

 

Basil Chive Vinaigrette

Nothing smells like fresh basil – definitely my favourite herb.  Summer is the only time of year I make this vinaigrette, when the basil is plentiful and salads grace every meal.

Basil Vinaigrette 1

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients, except for the olive oil.  Give it a good whiz, until all the herbs are bright flecks of green, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.

Basil Vinaigrette 2

I really think this needs either an immersion blender or food processor to get the consistency.  If you don’t have either, chop herbs very fine and whisk it all up.

This will yield about 1 pint jar, and I’d suggest trying it in a variety of ways …

Basil Vinaigrette 3

salad dressing   ~   vegetable dip   ~   blend with cream cheese for a spreadable bread topping   ~   toss with zucchini ribbons   ~   brush over grilled chicken or seafood

 

Baked Sticky Spicy Chicken Wings

 

chicken wings 2

I don’t think I can have enough chicken wing recipes.  These are perfect if you are looking for a sticky, slightly spicy, chicken wing.  Make sure you have plenty of napkins handy, you will need them.  If you like them extra spicy, just use more of the chile paste.

CHICKEN MARINADE

  • 2 pounds chicken drumettes
  • 1 TBSP toasted sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 TBSP chile garlic paste (sambal oelek, or Korean chili paste)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger

Using a ziplock bag, mix all ingredients except chicken wings.  When all ingredients are blended add the chicken and give it a good massage.  Put entire bag in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

SAUCE

  • 3 TBSP honey
  • 1 tbsp of the same chile paste you used in the marinade
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP toasted sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

GARNISH (if desired)

  • sesame seeds
  • slivered green onions

Preheat oven to 425.

Spread wings out on a parchment lined baking sheet.  You will thank me later for reminding you to use parchment …

Bake for 20 minutes.

While chicken is baking, whisk to combine all sauce ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and allow to thicken.

Brush over chicken (or toss in a bowl to evenly coat) and return chicken to oven for another 5-10 minutes until crispy and browned in spots.

Garnish with sesame seeds and slivered onions.

Gazpacho, Morelia style

The gazpacho we encountered in Morelia was unlike anything we had tried before.  Certainly not cold tomato soup.  We loved that each bite hit all the notes we were looking for; sweet, sour, spicy, salty and refreshing.  Versatility is key here, and in my opinion, so is hand chopping the fruit and vegetables.  Sure, a food processor would make short work of it all, but you might not get such great flavour in every spoonful.

mercado-frutas

We first tasted this in Morelia, Mexico – where everything is fresh and delicious!  Even at home though, we have loved the refreshing dish.  Try serving it in small dishes as a palate cleanser for a Mexican fiesta ….

Everything finely diced:

2 cups jicama

2 cups cucumber

1 cup watermelon

1 cup mango

1/2 – 2/3 cup red or white onion

I say 1/2 – 2/3 cup of onion because it will depend on how pungent your onion is, and how much you love onion flavour, play with it.

1 tsp chile flakes

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 1 lime

juice of 1 orange

Stir this all together, and taste!!!  Every little bit of fruit and vegetable should be in each bite and you should love the way it all comes together.  If not – adjust!

gazpacho-morelia-style

As you can tell, this is no small bite!  – Small version in the market in Morelia.