Friday, June 20, 2014

Sourdough Batter Fried Cauliflower with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I was so looking forward to making this month's Sourdough Surprise because it gave me the push I needed to do a recipe I've been wanting to do since forever- my mom's batter fried cauliflower.  They were succulent, crispy and all together irresistible! I remember thinking the first time I tried them that vegetables weren't so bad after all. 

I decided to look in the cherished, little recipe box that I inherited from her to see if maybe there wasn't something I could go by to re-create her fried cauliflower awesomeness.  I knew it was a long shot. 

The first time I looked in the box, shortly after it came into my possession, I was a little surprised, confused and flattered.  Surprised, because while there were some of her recipes in there, by far the bulk of the index cards, handwritten papers and newspaper clippings were for other people's recipes.  Confused, because now were was I going to find her recipes?  And flattered, because some of the recipes in the box were mine!

I went looking again just recently, really hoping against hope that the fried cauliflower recipe was in there, but to no avail.  I did find three different recipes for Impossible Pumpkin Pie, something I never remember her making, but not one recipe for cauliflower anything! Although Uncle Danny's Cheesecake Pie, Antoinette's Zucchini Fritters, Mary's Coconut Pie, Rosie's Bean Soup and Mildred's Magic Cookie Bars all sound like things you might be seeing in this spot soon!

In conclusion, I humbly offer you this tempura-style recipe which is equal parts nostalgia, experience and every other on-line recipe for batter fried cauliflower, with a healthy dose of that good, old fashioned sourdough tang.  I must say the addition of the starter really puts this fried cauliflower ahead of the pack.  I had fully intended to have a sensible  salad for lunch but once these bad boys left the fry pot they went right in my mouth with a short detour through the dipping sauce. I can honestly say Mom would have loved the results, and I'm sure this recipe is one for the box!

sourdough batter fried cauliflower

1/2 head of cauliflower
1 cup sourdough starter
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg white
1/2 cup AP flour 
3 cups oil for frying
spicy peanut dipping sauce (make first, recipe follows)

Cut cauliflower into 25-30 two-bite sized pieces.  Blanch in boiling water for 1 minute, then rinse in cold water until cool.  Blot dry on paper towels.

Heat oil to 370 degrees.  Dredge cauliflower pieces in flour and shake off excess. In a large bowl combine starter, salt, pepper and paprika.  Whip egg white to stiff peaks.  Whisk baking soda into starter and fold in egg white.   

Working in batches, drop a few pieces of cauliflower at a time into batter and lower carefully into oil.  Fry until golden, remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and transfer to paper towels.  Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, if desired.  Repeat with the rest of the cauliflower.  Serve immediately with a side of spicy peanut dipping sauce.

spicy peanut dipping sauce

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon low sodium soy salt
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a small pot and whisk together over low heat until creamy.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Millet Pudding

You know that old saying "life is short, eat dessert first"?  I've gone that one better, "life is short, just eat dessert".  With this vegan millet pudding that should be no problem.  As a dessert I bet you it's way more nutritious than anything off the 'dollar menu' pretending to be a meal. 
As you may be aware I love millet, and I champion it's benefits every chance I get.  How happy was I to find like minded folks over at  Golden Prairie.  They actually grow the stuff!  If you need more convincing evidence of millet's awesomeness, please check them out.  When they sing about amber waves of grain I'm pretty sure they have Golden Prairie's fields of millet in mind.
I based this recipe off the one I found on the GP site with a few variations to make it my own.  It works as a kick-ass breakfast, quick lunch, afternoon snack and of course a delectable dessert. But if you want to go ahead and eat it for dinner that's fine by me too, because if I had my way I would just eat dessert.  
millet pudding
1/2 cup millet, rinsed and drained
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons flaked coconut
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cardamom
sliced almonds for garnish
Bring almond milk and salt to a boil in a small, heavy-bottomed pot.  Stir in millet, bring back to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the almond milk is absorbed and the millet is tender. (Millet may vary by brand so keep an eye as it cooks and add more liquid if needed and reduce or add more cooking time is necessary.)
Stir in honey, raisins, coconut and spices.  Cool and serve topped with sliced almonds.  Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hot Mess Quinoa Salad

This Hot Mess Quinoa Salad was quite the beggars banquet.  Sometimes I'm too lazy or too cheap to go to the market and I just like to see what's on hand in the kitchen and let that dictate the dinner outcome.  I really need time to just sit on the deck and admire the pond...

Quinoa, raisins, carrots and onions are staples, that's a given. The English cucumber and avocado were gifts from my sister.  And the sweet potato had been hanging around since I don't know when but luckily it was still sound and rounded out the dish nicely.  Topped with wheat germ, salty sunflower seeds and chia seeds this salad might have looked like a hot mess but it went down like a big deal meal.
hot mess quinoa salad

1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup finely chopped Spanish onion
1/2 cup English cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1 sweet potato, peeled cubed and boiled until tender but not mushy
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (split, 1 teaspoon for sauteing onions)
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary, sage and zesty orange thyme from my garden)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 avocado, halved and peeled
for garnish:
sunflower seeds
wheat germ
chia seeds

Cook quinoa according to package instructions; cool until ready to use.

Saute onions in olive oil until tender; cool.

In a large bowl combine carrots, cucumber, raisins, onion, sweet potato and quinoa.  In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, herbs salt and pepper.  Pour over quinoa mixture and toss to coat.

Cut avocado in half, remove the seed and peel.  Plate each half and fill to overflowing with salad.  Top with your choice of seeds, nuts, wheat germ or whatever.  Makes two healthy, vegan servings.