Grilled Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romesco Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romescu

Grilling the shrimp in the shell protects them from the searing heat of the barbecue, and is definitely worth doing.  Serve this as an appetizer and nobody minds getting in with their hands!

 

romescu

Go ahead and make a big batch of this, it goes really well with any cooked fish or chicken dish.

Romesco Sauce:

  • 1 jar (300 mL) roasted red peppers , including juices
  • 1/4 cup prepared tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter or 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Romesco Sauce: In blender, purée together red peppers including juices, tomato sauce, almond butter, vinegar, paprika and cayenne pepper until smooth. Season to taste with salt, if needed.  Transfer to small saucepan, and set aside.

  • 1 head cauliflower , cut in large florets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 450 g unpeeled jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch green onions

Shrimp and Vegetables: Plunge cauliflower pieces into boiling salted water for just about 2-3 minutes, and then immediately drop into ice water bath.

This can easily be turned into a vegetarian dish by omitting the shrimp, just use an assortment of vegetables.

In bowl, toss together shrimp, oil and remaining salt.

Thread shrimp onto metal or soaked wooden skewers. Place shrimp and cauliflower on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until shrimp are pink and cauliflower is charred, about 8 minutes. Add green onions during last 3 minutes of grilling.

Heat Romesco Sauce, stirring frequently until warm, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve cauliflower, shrimp and green onions on large platter with sauce on the side for dipping.  Add some crusty fresh French bread and you’ve got a great appetizer!

Fajita Seasoning

Fajita Seasoning 1

Having this seasoning mix on hand makes dinner easy breezy!  (lemon squeezy??) Make a double batch and you can keep it for months in a cool, dry spot.  Use it on vegetables, fish or meat alike, these flavours go so well together and make dinner quick and simple.

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

How easy is this? just toss it all into a bowl and thoroughly mix.  Do yourself a favour and make lots.

Fajita Seasoning

Just looking at this, you can tell it’s tasty, right??

This works with anything your imagination can come up with …. salad dressing or vegetable dip or seafood bake …. you let me know if you come up with more!

 

For fajitas:

  • protein (or not to make it vegetarian)
  • onions
  • peppers

 

To make fajitas, simply generously sprinkle slivered chicken (or any meat, seafood of your choice) and toss in fry pan until just cooked through.

Cook sliced peppers and onions separately so they don’t overcook.

Serve with:

  • lime crema (sounds fancy, but it’s just a squeeze of lime juice with sour cream and a bit of salt)
  • salsa
  • avocado
  • lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro
  • toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • tortillas

You can so easily turn this into what is crazy popular right now,  power bowls!  Just serve with cooked quinoa or grain of your choice.

Turn it into a sheet pan dinner, also featured everywhere right now, just generously sprinkle everything with the seasoning and toss it into a hot oven (?400?).

Yes, you are welcome, you didn’t know dinner could be so quick, easy, healthy and delicious, did you???

 

Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco Seasoning 1

How pretty is this colourful group of seasoning?

Ever noticed how many ingredients you can’t spell or pronounce on those premade taco seasoning packs??  Stop the madness with this mixture.  A little bit of flour makes the ground meat have a wee bit of a saucy texture.  Don’t stop at ground meat for goodness sake (pun? word play?)..  Sprinkle this over vegetables and roast them up – drizzle with a little lime crema and you’ve got an amazingly tasty dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (use less if you aren’t keen on the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix all this up in a small bowl, and then have it on hand to season meat or vegetables.  You’ll be so glad you took a few minutes to get this ready.

Taco Seasoning 2

To use this for ground meat tacos, brown your meat in a fry pan, then add 2 tbsp mixture for each pound of ground meat and add about 2 tbsp water, stir and cook just until meat is cooked through.

If you want to leave the flour out altogether that is just great, that makes it even more versatile:

Salad Vinaigrette:  1 tbsp mix to 2 tbsp lime juice and 7 tbsp olive oil.

Vegetable (or chip!) Dip: 1 tbsp (or to taste) with 1/4 cup each plain yogurt and good mayonnaise.

Grilled Shrimp:   Sprinkle a generous amount over shrimp before grilling.

Taco Seasoning 3

I like to mix up 3 x this recipe and just keep it on hand.  Try it, you’ll do the same thing!

Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancake 9

Crispy, flaky and little crunches of salt – perfection.

We fell in love with Scallion Pancakes at Mad Mango Cafe in Kelowna, served with an amazing laksa.  That’s a little bite of heaven.  Ever since, I’ve looked up a few recipes, and never quite had the courage to try making them.  Tonight’s menu included a chicken laksa, and just on a whim, decided to give these scallion pancakes a go.  I found this recipe on the “Serious Eats” website, and I didn’t change a thing.  They were far quicker and easier to make than I thought, and FAR exceeded our expectations.  If you have fun playing with dough, make sure to give this a try.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Up to 1/4 cup toasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced scallion greens

Oil for frying

Salt for garnish

Directions

Place flour in bowl of food processor. With processor running, slowly drizzle in about 3/4  cup of boiling water. Process for 15 seconds. If dough does not come together and ride around the blade, drizzle in more water a tablespoon at a time until it just comes together. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to overnight in the fridge.  (If you don’t have a food processor, just mix the dough together by hand and knead until smooth and soft)

Divide dough into four even pieces and roll each into a smooth ball. Working one ball at a time, roll out into a disk roughly 8-inches in diameter on a lightly floured surface.

Scallion Pancake 1

Okay, so my dough ball isn’t exactly a perfect circle, but that’s okay, it will get there.

Using a pastry brush, paint a very thin layer of sesame oil over the top of the disk. Roll disk up like a jelly roll, then twist roll into a tight spiral, tucking the end underneath. Flatten gently with your hand, then re-roll into an 8-inch disk.

Scallion Pancake 2

See?  What did I tell you, looks like a circle now!  Gently flatten with your hand, then start to roll.

Paint with another layer or sesame oil, sprinkle with 1/2 cup scallions, and roll up like a jelly roll again. Twist into a spiral, flatten gently, and re-roll into a 7-inch disk. Repeat steps two and three with remaining pancakes.

Scallion Pancake 3

Scallion Pancake 4

Scallion Pancake 5

Make sure to brush on just a very delicate layer of sesame oil – if you get too much on there the oil will start to pop out when you roll the dough.  

Heat oil in an 8-inch nonstick or cast-iron over medium-high heat until shimmering and carefully slip pancake into the hot oil. Cook, shaking the pan gently until first side is an even golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Scallion Pancake 6

Scallion Pancake 7

Just look at that flaky crust!

Scallion Pancake 8

As soon as you remove the pancake from the oil, immediately sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Carefully flip with a spatula or tongs (be careful not to splash the oil), and continue to cook, shaking pan gently, until second side is even golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt, cut into 6 wedges. Serve immediately with sauce for dipping.  Repeat with remaining 3 pancakes.

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinkiang or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced scallion greens
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Combine all ingredients, and set aside at room temperature.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie 2

See the sauce bubbling out the side?  That’s what you are looking for.  Crust is golden, now just try and wait while it sets up a bit …. no judgement if you can’t!  I promise it is delicious.

Fall ….. it just makes me want to bake, and roast, and toast.  This chicken pot pie recipe is a staple around here.  You can make it as easy as “pie” by purchasing pre-made pastry shells or make your own – either way, this pie is flaky, tender and bursting with bites of chicken and vegetable goodness.  Serve with a tossed salad and dinner is ready.

Preheat oven to 400

  • 2 pastry shells
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (use leftovers or a rotisserie chicken for simplicity)
  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • diced vegetables – your choice and about 2 cups worth of:
  • sweet peppers
  • celery
  • carrots
  • peas (not in my house, neither of us like cooked peas)
  • zucchini
  • corn
  • green beans
  • a generous handful of herbs, I like thyme, basil, oregano and parsley
  • salt and pepper

Brush one pie shell with beaten egg white, sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes, just until starting to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

pie shell

I find if you pre-bake the bottom crust, brushed with beaten egg white, the pastry stays flaky.  Sprinkle a little sea salt on for that extra bit of crunch.  I think you can see here that my bottom crust was in the freezer, thank you Tenderflake pastry!

In saucepan heat olive oil, then stir in onion.  Stir until just translucent and add in the garlic clove.  If celery is one of your chosen vegetables, add it now too.  Allow to saute for a few minutes until just starting to become tender.  Add the flour and create a thick paste, letting the flour cook for a minute in order to remove that “floury” taste.  Gradually stir in the chicken stock, just a bit at a time until it is all incorporated and your sauce is starting to thicken.  Stir in the rest of your vegetables, taste and season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Pour the chicken & vegetable mixture into the prebaked pie shell, and cover with the 2nd pastry shell.  If you’ve purchased pre made pastry, just squish and squiggle it around a bit and play with the edges, nobody will ever know you didn’t make it!

chicken pot pie

The top crust was a pastry shell I had in the freezer, probably leftover from an apple pie day!

TIP:  If you are vegetarian, or just feel like a vegetarian meal, this is so easy to do!  Just omit the chicken and use a LOT more veg.  Instead of chicken stock use a vegetable stock.  Your results will be ever so delicious …. you’re welcome!

Sprinkle the top with a bit more salt and pepper, some Italian herbs and either paprika or a bit of dried roasted red pepper.  (yes, we do our own dried seasonings with the surplus of vegetables in the field)

Put the whole pie in the oven (I’ve learned to have a foil dripping sheet below it…..) and cook for 15 minutes at 400, then lower the oven to 350 and cook for about 40-50 minutes, until you see the sauce bubbling out the side and the pie looks golden brown.

If your pie is looking golden brown, but not yet bubbling out the sides, loosely lay a sheet of tin foil over the pie until you see that bubbling action.

Make sure you let it sit for 15-20 minutes after it comes out of the oven, that allows it to set a bit.  Not that it tastes any less wonderful if it is running all over your plate ……..

chicken pot pie 3

See what I mean?  We couldn’t wait the 15 minutes, but it was delicious.  By the time we came back for seconds it had set up and made nice even slices.  Amazing either way!

Butternut Squash Salad

Roasted squash, crunchy pepitas, salty feta, and tart pickled red onions.  This salad has it all, and can be served warm or cold.  Make a big batch it keeps so well.

Butternut Squash Salad

 

1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)

5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup cooked barley

Barley

1 cup chopped fresh kale, massaged well until it is bright green

Kale, massaged

Look how much brighter the massaged kale is, compared to the kale at the bottom of the photo.  Massaged kale is more tender and easy to digest also.

1/3 cup toasted salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

preheat oven to 375

Peel squash and cut into bite size pieces.  Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, and roast until tender, about 30-40 minutes.

To cook barley put 1/2 cup dry barley into saucepan with 2 cups water (or chicken stock for extra flavour).  Boil for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to sit for 1 hour.  Drain well.  You can easily do this a day ahead.

Dice red onion finely, and set aside in small bowl or jar.  Combine the sherry vinegar, water, salt and sugar and stir until well dissolved.  Pour over onions and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.  You can also do this ahead of time, in fact I often have a jar of these in my fridge as they are amazing on salads, sandwiches and of course tacos!

Pickled red onion

Just love the bright colour pickled red onions get, with a gorgeous pink vinaigrette.  Yum.

The pumpkin seeds I have on hand all the time aren’t salted, so I toasted them in a little bit of olive oil, with a sprinkle of fresh sea salt.  They were so delicious I kept nibbling at them, good thing I ended up with enough for the salad.

When squash is ready, toss in a large bowl with all the other ingredients and about 3 tbsp  olive oil.

Butternut squash salad prep

Get everything ready ahead of time, and once the squash is roasted toss it all together.

Credit for this amazing salad goes to Smitten Kitchen, Deb used faro and I used barley but you can use any grain you like.  The kale was my idea too, had some in the fridge and thought it would add a nice pop of colour and texture, it did!

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon Tahini Drizzle

Roasted broccoli gets some really nice crackly bits, which just means more flavour.  This recipe stands on it’s own for a vegetarian dish, by treating the stalks with my pulled pork dry rub before roasting.

Roasted Broccoli with Tahini Drizzle

I forgot this time, but the broccoli looks even better with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

 

Tahini Drizzle

  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1½ tsp honey
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

 

Dry Rub (I usually like to keep a jar of this ready made, for all sorts of uses)

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar

Wash broccoli and separate into stems.  Give broccoli a generous shake of the dry rub.

Roast at 400 degrees just until you see little crispy bits appearing, turn and roast a bit more.  At 400 this should take about 20 minutes, but you can adjust with any temperature you need your oven at.  If you are like me, with only one oven, sometimes it is working extra hard to produce dinner!

Arrange broccoli on serving platter and drizzle with tahini sauce.