Red Quick Pickled Cauliflower and Radishes

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What to do with leftover farmer’s market vegetable bounty that’s about to go bad? Pickle them, of course! I learned my basic quick pickle recipe from Thomas Keller and his book Ad Hoc At Home (otherwise known as the Cooking Bible, as written by the God of Cooking – in Selim’s opinion). The basic recipe for quick pickles is as follows. You may want to sit down and mentally prepare yourself because it’s so difficult.

2 parts vinegar, to 1 part water, to 1 part sugar

Simmer. Cool. Pour over vegetables. Refrigerate.

Complex huh? So taking that basic recipe, you can modify it to your tastes a million ways. Which vegetables are in season? (Or if you’re like me and buy too many pretty vegetables at the farmer’s market, which vegetables are about to go bad?) Try a different vinegar… balsamic, rice wine, champagne…?! All would give you unique types of pickles. Try brown sugar instead of white. Scale up or down depending on how many vegetables you want to pickle. And of course, doctor it up with different herbs and spices!

We’ve done this a quick a few different ways in the past, but here’s what I went with today:

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Red Quick Pickled Cauliflower & Radishes

Ingredients:
  • 5 small radishes
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
Instructions: 
  1. Slice radishes and cut cauliflower into small, bite-sized pieces.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes and then shock in ice water. Set vegetables aside.
  3. Combine all ingredients except for the radishes and cauliflower in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is absorbed.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Place vegetables in a large mason jar. Pour liquid over-top. Place in the refrigerator.
  7. Leave in the fridge for 3 days before enjoying. (They’re edible/won’t kill you immediately, but they’ll taste better if you let them pickle for awhile.)

Note: These aren’t “real” pickles of the canned, like Grandma did it, Little House on the Prairie, feed you during the zombie apocalypse variety. They are not safe to be left in pantry or cellar for eternity. They must stay refrigerated. Hence they’re called “quick pickles” or “refrigerator pickles.” We skipped the step of sterilizing the jar and lid that keeps you from getting botulism when canned goods are left on a shelf for months on end. On a related note, the CDC says that the majority of US cases of botulism are from improper home canning techniques. Tidbit of knowledge for the day.

Roasted Garlic & Cucumber Raita

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For those who don’t know, raita is a very versatile Indian yogurt dip/sauce. A dollop on top of spicy hot dishes cools them right off. Naan dipped in raita makes delicious naan even better. I say versatile because raita basically is a blank canvas that can be modified in a million different ways. You start with plain yogurt and go from there. Herbs and spices, vegetables, even fruits, can be used to make unique raita! For those looking for a maybe more familiar comparison, cucumber-based raita is popular and very similar to Greek tzatziki. That’s what I was going for today for this recipe and then was inspired by this delicious-looking recipe too!

Roasted Garlic & Cucumber Raita

Ingredients: RoastedGarlic
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 large pickling cucumbers
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt – divided
  • 10 turns of pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the top off of the head of garlic (so tips of individual cloves are exposed).
  2. Drizzle the oil over the exposed parts of the garlic head. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and place in the oven on a middle rack. Enjoy the amazing smell of roasting garlic.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the cucumbers. I spiralized about half of the cucumbers and grated the other half, because I like different textures.
  5. Set the cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt. This will draw water out of the cucumbers. Allow them to sit there for at least 20 minutes. You can squeeze them too to get even more of the water out.
  6. Remove the garlic from the oven when it’s done and allow the garlic to cool until you can handle it.
  7. Pull apart the individual cloves and squeeze the garlic out of its skin into a small bowl. After you’ve squeezed all of the cloves out, then use the back of a fork to mash the more intact cloves up.
  8. Add the garlic, cucumbers, the rest of the salt, and pepper to the yogurt. Mix everything together.
  9. Serve with Indian food, on a wrap, as a dip for crudites or pita chips, or whatever you want!

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Slow Cooker Chicken & Cauliflower Tikka Masala

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The slow cooker seems to fall out of popularity in the summer, I guess because most of the recipes you think of as traditionally going in a slow cooker are more “fall” or “winter” recipes. But it’s really perfect for summer! Just think, you don’t have to turn on the oven and heat up your house – your cool haven from the heat. I decided last night that I want to make something in the slow cooker for that reason and because I had some things to do today and wanted us to be able to eat whenever Selim was home and ready.

As you may have noticed, we like to share recipes from all different parts of the world. As I’ve said before, I’m not swearing to the authenticity of any of these, as my family has been in the US for a few hundred years and long ago lost whatever culture we may have had. But we love to try anything with a lot of flavor. Selim has a special attachment to Indian flavors, as he grew up eating real Indian food, homemade by a real Indian grandma. I had no illusions of making food that even slightly compares, but decided to give it a whirl.

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Selim’s Take: My wife isn’t good at surprises. She tries, but either she’s not good at them or I’m good at ruining them. (Ally: He’s good at ruining them.) I was in the OR all day with a couple challenging cases, from an anesthesia stand-point, but I knew that Ally would be trying to make something new for dinner tonight.  While grabbing a quick lunch break, I saw a snapchat from her with some onions and garlic in a pan.  Not exactly a divulging picture, as most great meals start with those classic ingredients.  We both really like Indian food and we often dabble with the spices, sauces, and flavors that are characteristic of the diverse food from that country.  The house smelled delicious when I got home, but I couldn’t quite put me finger on what exactly we were having for dinner.  To tell the truth, I didn’t figure out what was in the slow-cooker until I saw the naan onTM2 top of the refrigerator. I really wanted to take a peek/taste, but I resisted. I know it’s tempting, but you should never (or rarely, maybe, possibly only once to turn/stir) because it will add ~20 minutes to the cooking time every time you lift that lid off. Luckily, it was worth the wait. There are a lot of amazing flavors and spices in this dish, although it is really not spicy at all. We might need a little more heat next time.

PS: You should also make raita to go with this!

Slow Cooker Chicken & Cauliflower Tikka Masala

(Adapted from this recipe from Wanderlust Kitchen)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 large (~10-12oz) chicken breasts
  • 1/2 of a large head of cauliflower
  • 1 can (13.5oz) light coconut milk
  • 1 can (13.5oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
Instructions:
  1. Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Saute for ~8 minutes, until the onions are soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and saute another 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, add these to the slow cooker.
  3. Cut your chicken and cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Add these and all of the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Stir everything up so well combined.
  4. Set your slow cooker to low and cook for 5 hours. At this time, remove the lid and stir a few times. Leave the lid off and turn slow cooker up to high. Cook like this for another hour to thicken the sauce some.
  5. Serve over rice and/or with warm naan.

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Makes 4-6 servings. 

Pollo Arvejado

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We’re fairly busy during the week, so we like to attempt new recipes, or ones that are sure to be longer or more elaborate on the weekends. I’m sure that was already fairly obvious by the days we post new recipes… Actually, last year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to try a new recipe, preferably from one of our cookbooks, every week. That basically defaulted from once a week to every weekend. We may not have actually kept up the resolution for every single week/weekend, but we do a pretty good job.

That means though, that when the weekend rolls around, frequently we don’t have anything planned other than “make a new recipe.” Hence, our decision-making process from last night. I was browsing through one of my favorite sites, Global Table Adventure. [PS: you should check it out. The site chronicles one woman’s efforts to cook dishes from every country around the world. It’s pretty awesome!] The conversation proceeded like this…

Ally: “Hey, pick a country. Like any one in the world.”

Selim: “Finland. Or… Chile.”

I browsed the dishes that Sasha, of Global Table Adventure, tried from both of those countries, and while they looked delicious, they just weren’t speaking to me as what I wanted to have for dinner tonight. I was inspired though and just ended up browsing the internet looking for recipes from either country that would pique my interest and appetite. (And match ingredients I already have in the fridge/pantry!) I came across several references to Pollo Arvejado as a common dish in Chile. I literally could not find two recipes that were the same. So I read through several (here, here, here, & here!) and mentally combined what was most consistent among them, plus what appealed to me personally! The result is the recipe below.

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Pollo Arvejado

Ingredients: 
  • 4 bone-in chicken portions
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced*
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups of peas
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp cumin*
  • 2 tsp paprika*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt & pepper
(* See comments below.)
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Instructions: 
  1. Trim excess fat off your chicken and pat it dry. Season lightly with salt & pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, place a Dutch oven with the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces. Brown them lightly on both sides, ~3-4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to the side.
  3. Add the garlic and onion to the pot. Saute until fragrant and softening, ~8 minutes.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Make sure to get all of the delicious bits scraped up!
  5. Return the chicken to the pot. Now add the chicken stock (enough so the chicken is at least mostly covered with liquid), carrots, green pepper, and spices. Briefly bring to the boil.
  6. Lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Now add the peas and re-cover, cooking for another 15 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as needed. (I added a fair amount of both at this point.) Serve over rice.

 

Soooo… This recipe turned out decent, but not amazing. We both felt it was little bit on the bland side. At its core, this is a hearty, filling, and easy dish to make… All positive things. It grew on us as we were eating, but there just wasn’t any big punch of flavor. It’d probably be perfect for kids (or picky adults)! The recipe above is how we made it, but next time we’d double the garlic, cumin, and paprika. Also, on the plus side, when you cook with wine, you have the leftovers to drink! We decided to stick with the Chilean theme, and got a Chilean white from Trader Joe’s. As wines that cost less $5 go, this Chardonnay-Viognier blend is pretty good (from Panilonco Winery, Colchagua Valley, Chile).

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Makes 4 servings. 

Hot Smashed Potatoes

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When I was in college, my younger sister found this ridiculous t-shirt with a cow and a pig dancing on the front that says, “I love carbs!” Which was made slightly less ridiculous, because I really, really do. I wore that shirt proudly 😉 I need to resurrect it to wear while whipping up these potatoes! I’ve seen recipes for smashed potatoes here and there and always thought they looked delicious. I mean, they’re basically a cross between a french fry and mashed potatoes. I think we can all objectively agree that those are two of the best foods in existence. Therefore, these potatoes must be the pinnacle of carb-y deliciousness.

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Turns out, they were. We devoured them in about 2 minutes. They were just as I’d hoped they’d be… The outside crisped up under the high heat in the oven, but the inside remained soft. They really are an amazing cross between fries and mashed potatoes! These are quite versatile… We had them as a side dish tonight with some fish and broccoli. But they’d be perfect as an appetizer. I can definitely see them as a sit-in-front-of-the-football-game-on-tv munchie. And let’s be for real… I’d definitely eat a bunch of them as a full meal.

We’re already planning on new versions of this. Both Selim and I have several ideas each for new variations. I loved this version… the hot sauce isn’t enough that I’d qualify the dish as “spicy,” but is enough to have a great flavor. We’ll definitely be smashing potatoes again soon!

Hot Smashed Potatoes

(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman )
Ingredients:
  • 10 petite potatoes
  • 4tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cooking spray

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Instructions: 
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the potatoes and 1tbsp of salt to the pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook for ~20 minutes. You want the potatoes to be tender and mash-able, but not falling apart.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with a thin layer of cooking spray.
  3. Place your potatoes on the cookie sheet, leaving a fair amount of room between each potatoes. Using a potato masher, large serving fork, bottom of a jar/cup, or the palm of your hand (if you’re feeling tough & brave – they’re still pretty hot!), smash the potato flat. Don’t over-smash… you want them to stay in one piece.
  4. Melt your butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in the hot sauce, garlic, and 2 turns of fresh ground black pepper.
  5. Brush a healthy layer of this mixture over top of the potatoes. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, flip the potatoes with a spatula, and re-brush the rest of the mixture over the other side of the potatoes. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with a little more Kosher as desired prior to serving.

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Northern African Braised Chicken

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This recipe is another prime example of why we created this blog. We first made this recipe a few years ago for Selim’s father and sister. We all loved it then! I was thinking about how delicious it was the other day, but could not for the life of me remember where I got the recipe from! I was convinced it was from Jerusalem, an excellent cookbook of Middle Eastern recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I paged through it over and over trying to find the recipe to no avail. (Literally I did this for a good 45 minutes.) I followed this up by googling “chicken recipe braised harissa olives.” Google isn’t perfect after all… Turns out, I had the entirely wrong cookbook in mind.

This recipe is in fact from Best Ever Slow Cooking, another favorite of mine. This recipe brings the flavors of the Mediterranean and Northern Africa into a delicious braised one-pot dish. We made a fair amount of changes to the original recipes, but stayed pretty true to the flavors I think.

The aromas coming out of our Le Creuset evolved as this recipe progressed.  Initially, you’re hit with the crackling of the chicken searing on the stove that fills the air with a warmth that only cooking fat brings.  Once you toss in the onions and garlic, there is that familiar aroma of things to come.  After adding all the ingredients to the pot, you’ll be flooded with African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean scents as the cumin, harissa, cinnamon, citrus, and saffron meld together with the chicken fat, onions, and garlic.  The little saffron threads will dominate as this recipe cooks for an hour or longer.  Trust me, even as I write this well after dinner is done and we’re a few glasses into our lovely bottle of Virginia chardonnay from DelFosse, the whole house smells like saffron and we couldn’t be happier about that.  We hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as we have.

Northern African Braised Chicken

Adapted from Best Ever Slow Cooking
Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs (we prefer skinless)
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 2/3 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 1 lemon [1/4 tsp of lemon zest, 2 slices, & the juice of the rest of the lemon]
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 cup of sliced kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

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Instructions: 
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, sear the chicken thighs on both sides. Remove from pot after seared and set aside.
  2. Saute the onion and garlic in the same pot, also over medium heat, for ~10 minutes. They should be browning and quite fragrant by this time.
  3. Sprinkle the cumin over the onions and garlic. Stir and saute for another minute.
  4. Pour the stock and lemon juice into the pot and deglaze the pot. (Scrape the bottom of the pot to get all of the delicious bits loose and back into the liquid.)
  5. Add the cinnamon stick, harissa, saffron, and lemon zest. Bring the liquid to a boil.
  6. Now lower heat to a low simmer. Add the chicken back into the pot, plus the lemon slices and olives. Arrange so the chicken is covered with the liquid, as much as possible.
  7. Cover and cook over low heat for ~1 hour. Stir once halfway through cooking.
  8. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Top with the chopped cilantro.
  9. Serve over rice, couscous, lentils, or whatever grain you would like.

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Makes 6 servings.

Balsamic Roasted Carrots

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Have you ever seen/eaten purple carrots? Aren’t they just the most beautiful vegetables you’ve ever seen? Especially once you slice them open 🙂

We decided to roast them with some balsamic vinegar for a easy side dish. Carrots are so lovely and sweet when roasted, and the balsamic vinegar balances them out beautifully.  This side dish takes a little while to cook, but the active/hands-on time is minimal. People will think you worked a lot harder on them than you did! Furthermore, you’ll likely have all of the ingredients at home, making it easy to throw this together anytime.

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Balsamic Roasted Carrots

Ingredients: 
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place your carrots on the pan.
  2. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and 4 turns of pepper from a grinder in a small bowl. Whisk together vigorously until well combined.
  3. Drizzle the mixture over top of the carrots. Roast in the oven for ~30 minutes.
  4. Add a smidge of salt before serving if desired. (Ally says yes. Selim says no. Decide for yourselves.)

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Makes 2 servings.