Cauliflower Cheese Dinner Pie

If you have a nice head of cauliflower, you can put it to good use in this vegetarian entrée. I love the cheesy cauliflower flavor of it, pretty substantial served with a yam and a beet salad; a great meal. It isn’t that difficult to construct; the crust is shredded raw potatoes mixed with an egg and some salt and pressed into the pie pan. You bake it for about 45 minutes and then gently lay in some shredded cheese, then the cooked veggie filling, top it with more cheese, pour on the egg custard and sprinkle it with paprika before baking it to a crispy tender pie that should serve 6 unless you are piggish; then 5 large slices!

The no traditional pie crust makes this easy to create. Nothing tricky at all in this recipe. Just a few steps to put it together. It is pretty much naturally gluten free, just a bit of rice flour to dust the pan with; I dusted the excess right into the shredded potatoes. Just a bit of flour in the pie pan and in the crust.

Sauteed onions, herbs and garlic

Cauliflower Cheese Pie

Mixed together cauliflower filling

Ingredients:

Ready to bake; yes, that is a chunk of cheese on top! The end of the block; don’t want to grate my fingers; it will melt nicely into the pie.

POTATO CRUST: 1 tsp. sea salt

1 lg egg, beaten

1 -3 tsp. gf flour, divided

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees.  4 large potatoes; washed. I left them unpeeled but you can peel if you prefer to do that. Grate each whole potato on coarse side of a box grater. I did it right into a large mixing bowl. I like to press a couple paper towels on top to soak up any excess liquid. Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Press into a pie tin sprayed with cooking spray and then dusted with rice flour. I used a big spoon to lay it around the pan and then a fork to press it into the shape of the pie tin. I left a bit above the glass/metal rim to form a nice rim of the crust. Spray the potatoes all over with the cooking spray.  Bake 40-45 minutes. Make the filling while it bakes.

CAULIFLOWER FILLING:

About 3 cups cut up flowerets of raw cauliflower

1-2 Tbsp. mild olive oil or sunflower oil

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ tsp dried thyme

¼ tsp. dried basil

Directions: Cut up the cauliflower; it was about ¾ of the head. Heat a ½ inch of water in a large sauté pan. Add the cauliflower, put a lid on and cook 5-6 minutes until just tender. Gently pour the pan into a large colander to drain well. Then heat the oil in the same pan. Add the chopped onion; sauté on low 5-6 minutes, I like to add a couple Tbsp of water to let it steam; then add the garlic, and then the dried herbs. Stir and let cook another minute. The onion should be soft, cook longer if needed.  When done, turn heat off; gently add the drained cauliflower and a quarter to a half tsp sea salt. Mix gently. While the crust is still baking make the custard.

CUSTARD:

3 large eggs

½ cup whole or 2% milk

1 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese: I used mostly sharp cheddar with a bit of Monterey Jack cheese too.

Directions: beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl until fairly blended, add the milk.

When the crust comes out turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Pour half the grated cheese into the hot crust, distributing it evenly. Gently spoon the cauliflower filling on top. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Pour the custard in all over the top. Sprinkle well with paprika and bake 40 minutes; until the custard looks done. Let set 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

A slice straight from the fridge; just need to warm it up in my trusty microwave! Lunch is served.

It keeps 4-6 days in the fridge; well wrapped. I heat a slice at a time in the microwave. A lovely lunch indeed!

Turkey Posole Stew; Different yet Delish!

I am betting you have some roast turkey in the freezer, maybe a pint of gravy too?  Well, I have just the recipe for you, courtesy of Rachel Ray and foodnetwork.com.  It is nothing like most traditional turkey leftover recipes.  It is a slightly spicy Mexican stew; posole stew can easily be gluten free. Just use care choosing your chicken broth and your tortilla chips that accompany this savory soup. One of these years I will remember to buy an extra carton of gf turkey broth and use in instead of chicken broth; turkey broth disappears immediately after thanksgiving; a bit of a bummer….

I have been making it every fall after Thanksgiving and always look forward to a few bowls of it.  Spicy, crunchy, tangy; unlike any other soup I make.  Posole stew can be made with roasted pork and I have done so but I like it far better created with leftover roast turkey, especially the dark meat.  I have served this stew to many people, and it is always well received and enjoyed, even by my elderly mother.  I made a batch yesterday and it was so delish! You can cut this recipe in half easily which I did this time; didn’t have enough turkey for a whole recipe and my fridge is pretty full anyway; my posole turned out great and I am thrilled to be enjoying it again. 

Ingredients

2 tbsp mild olive oil or canola oil

2 medium onions chopped

4 cloves garlic chopped fine

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped fine –use two if you like it spicy, I use one!

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 GF beer (can use 1 cup water if you want but it gives more flavor)

Coarse salt and pepper

12-16 tomatillos; about 2 lbs, take off the paper cover, rinse and chop up.  Can coarsely chop in food processor

5-6 sprigs fresh thyme; chop it up off the stems.

2   15 ounce cans hominy

1.5 qt chicken stock (can be part gravy)

1 ½ to 2 lbs chopped turkey meat; can be mixture of light and dark

1 lime juiced

Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish (optional)

Tortilla chips; the ones with lime go particularly well with this.

tomatillos

Cook first six ingredients about 5 min in a large stock pot.  Add beer or water, cook one minute.  Add chopped tomatillos and cook 5-6 minutes until softened.  Add hominy, thyme and stock and cook 15 minutes.  Add chopped turkey and limb juice, stir. Taste and add salt and pepper, stir well.  I never use cilantro; something I just don’t like, but feel free to add it as the original recipe uses a bunch of it.turkey posole soup

Then ladle the posole into bowls and serve lots of white tortilla chips to crunch over the top of the hot soup.  As the soup disappears from my bowl I like to add more chips to keep the crunch going.

Notes:  I halved the garlic and tomatillos this time. Used most of a good sized jalapeno pepper and one 20 ounce can of hominy. I used a cup and a quarter of water for the beer and a carton of gf chicken broth. About a tablespoon of homemade turkey gravy this time: ate the rest on hot sandwiches. Anyway, it was delish!

tomatillos

The more jalapeno pepper you add the hotter it will be. I have tried canned tomatillos and they are not really a good substitute.  You can get them fresh (found near the fresh tomatoes) in many stores including Giant.  They are used in Hispanic and Mexican cooking and add a lot of flavor and tartness to the soup. I have heard that some folks use salsa verde instead of tomatillos but it really isn’t hard to chop them up so I recommend the real deal.

Hominy is a corn product; whole kernels soaked in lye to swell and soften.  The kernels have a mild corn flavor plus they soak up other flavors quickly and add a certain texture and body to the stew.

The wild turkey is native to North America and one turkey species is originally from Mexico.  So turkey is a natural component in this stew.  The Aztecs revered corn and liked to cook it with meat.  Tomatillos are native to Mexico, related to cape gooseberries.  They are used in salsa verde and other Mexican dishes. So this compilation of turkey, corn, tomatillos and lime is a natural combination that will be easy to make and fun to eat. Go on, be adventurous and enjoy a steaming hot bowl of delicious posole and use up that turkey in a totally different way!

Cool as a Cucumber Soup!

Summer, time of Italian ice, ice cream, Popsicles, tomato sandwiches, salads full of fresh cold veggies and cucumber soup!  Really, cucumber soup on a hot summer day is cool on your palate and fairly healthy. And we have had a lot of hot days of late; so you are due for a refreshing cool soup. It is also a perfect use for three cukes straight from your overburdened cucumber vines.  Or three cucumbers from a produce stand.  The fresher the cuke the better your soup will be.

This recipe came out of a magazine a couple of decades ago, one of my sisters served it once and I got the recipe from her and have been so pleased with its flavor and texture every time I make it.  I have made raw cucumber soups and they are enjoyable, but this is hands down my favorite cucumber soup.  If you don’t like dill leave it out. I have done that; it is more delicate, and you can then really taste the hint of lemon in the soup.  Once I made it with vegetable broth for a vegetarian and it was excellent that way too.

 

cucumber soup

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Ingredients:

3 medium cucumbers

1 small onion

2 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp mild olive oil

3 scallions

zest of half a lemon

1/2 cup decent white wine

2.5-3 cups good quality chicken broth

1 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

Directions: Take 3 medium cukes, peel them, cut in half at the middle point and then in half again from the stem to end so they are like short cucumber canoes. Then scoop out most or all of the seeds.  Shred the cuke canoes into a big bowl using the biggest hole size on your shredder.  Drain in a strainer but save the juice to add to the soup along the way.

Cut up one small onion: 1/3 cup or so.

Cut up 3 scallions

Melt 2 tbsp of butter and a tbsp olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add the onion, cook 1-2 minutes and then add the shredded cuke.  Cook 5 min, add the scallions, stir, then add chicken broth to cover; 2.5 to 3 cups.

Add ½ cup dry white wine, the reserved cuke juice and the zest of ½ a lemon (1 tsp).  Sometimes if I don’t have an open bottle of white wine, I use vermouth; it works well in a pinch.

Heat until nearly boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 20-25 minutes.  Let cool at least 30 minutes and puree.  You can use an immersion blender, a regular blender or a food processor.  The boat motor blender (immersion) is much more fun and easier.  I like to leave a bit of it unblended, so it isn’t really smooth like a true cream soup.  Add 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp sea salt, whisk well.  I use light sour cream; Daisy is my favorite brand.   Add 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh dill.  Stir well.  Chill 4 to 6 hours.

I often chill the bowls if it is a hot day and so ice-cold soup goes into equally cold bowls.  You can garnish with a dill frond or not. Or a small dollop of sour cream can be pleasant.

The photo above is from a past family dinner party.  It makes quite a bit; enough to serve 6-8 people.

Chilled cucumber soup; it’s a great starter to a meal on a hot summer evening or for a light lunch pair it with a salad or some grilled fish.  Yummy!

Originally published July 2014.

Cooked but not pureed or enriched with sour cream…gotta cool a while!
Time to hit the fridge!

Refreshing…Cool as a Cucumber Soup!

Summer, time of Italian ice, ice cream, Popsicles, tomato sandwiches, salads full of fresh cold veggies and cucumber soup!  Really, cucumber soup on a hot summer day is cool on your palate and fairly healthy. And we have had a lot of hot days of late; so you are due for a refreshing cool soup. It is also a perfect use for three cukes straight from your overburdened cucumber vines.  Or three cucumbers from a produce stand.  The fresher the cuke the better your soup will be.

This recipe came out of a magazine a decade or two ago, one of my sisters made it once for me and I got the recipe then and have been so pleased with it’s flavor and texture.  I have made raw cucumber soups and they are enjoyable but this is hands down my favorite cucumber soup.  If you don’t like dill leave it out. I have done that; it is more delicate and you can then really taste the hint of lemon in the soup.  Once I made it with vegetable broth for a vegetarian and it was excellent that way too.

cucumber soup

Cucumber Soup

Take 3 medium cukes, peel them, cut in half at the middle point and then in half again from the stem to end so they are like short cucumber canoes. Then scoop out most or all of the seeds.  Shred the cuke canoes into a big bowl using the biggest hole size on your shredder.  Drain in a strainer but save the juice to add to the soup along the way.

Cut up one small onion: 1/3 cup or so.

Cut up 3 scallions

Melt 2 tbsp of butter and a tbsp olive oil in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Add the onion, cook 1-2 minutes and then add the shredded cuke.  Cook 5 min, add the scallions, stir, then add chicken broth to cover; 2.5 to 3 cups.

Add ½ cup dry white wine, the reserved cuke juice and the zest of ½ a lemon (1 tsp).  Sometimes if I don’t have an open bottle of white wine I use vermouth; it works well in a pinch.

Heat until nearly boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 20-25 minutes.  Let cool at least 30 minutes and puree.  You can use an immersion blender, a regular blender or a food processor.  The boat motor blender (immersion) is much more fun and easier.  I like to leave a bit of it unblended so it isn’t really smooth like a true cream soup.  Add 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp sea salt, whisk well.  I use light sour cream; Daisy is my favorite brand.   Add 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh dill.  Stir well.  Chill 4 to 6 hours.

I often chill the bowls if it is a hot day and so ice cold soup goes into equally cold bowls.  You can garnish with a dill frond or not. Or a small dollop of sour cream can be pleasant.

The photo above is from a past family dinner party.  It makes a big jar; enough to serve 6-8 people.

Chilled cucumber soup; it’s a great starter to a meal on a hot summer evening or for a light lunch pair it with a salad or some grilled fish.  Yumm!

Originally published July 2014.

Lemony and Refreshing Quinoa Salad; Perfect on a Hot Summer Evening

I made some lemony quinoa salad the other day, the same one I posted a few years stuffed in tomatoes.  This time I went easy and just mixed in chunks of ripe homegrown tomatoes and it was very tasty as a side dish to a meal.  Kept well in my fridge for the 2 more days it took me to finish it. So easy to make too.  You could even make it the day before; just add the tomatoes before serving. So I am posting it here so you can try it; one caveat; only use local tomatoes.  Do NOT make this with those pale imitation supermarket tomatoes. It is not possible to create something tasty if you start with poor quality ingredients and those plastic flavored “tomatoes” just will not work in this salad.

quinoa salad 8-14

gazpacho and pork steak 014

Lemony Quinoa Salad

Makes four servings.

Ingredients:

½ cup regular quinoa, (not red or black)

1 cup water

½ a veggie bullion cube

2/3-3/4 cup small dice burpless cucumber

½ cup small dice zucchini

1/3 cup small dice red onion

2 tbsp. fresh mint or parsley, diced finely

1 lemon

3 tbsp.  EVOL (extra virgin olive oil)

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

2 large ripe tomatoes cut in chunks

Directions

Put the quinoa in the water.  If it doesn’t say rinsed, you should put it in a strainer and rinse it for a minute to get off any coating – which can be bitter.  Add the half bouillon cube, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before continuing.

Place the cooled quinoa in a mixing bowl.  Add in the finely chopped veggies and stir.  Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top; even fresh chives chopped pretty fine or julienned basil will work great.   Use a zester or a very fine grater and get as much zest off the lemon (wash the lemon first); you can zest right into the quinoa mixing bowl.  In a small mixing bowl put the juice of that same lemon, the EVOL and red wine vinegar.  If you have more than 3 tbsp of lemon juice add a bit more EVOL and whisk to combine; add in up to ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp freshly grated black pepper.  Pour ¾ of it over the quinoa and veggies and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning and add the rest of the dressing if it is needed.  Chill at least 30 minutes. Add the chunked tomato and serve.

gazpacho and pork steak 008

This is a great side dish or, if you have a vegetarian visiting, it is a substantial main dish choice as quinoa has a lot of complete protein in it.

So simple but the combination of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar and EVOL makes a great salad dressing.  Do not cook the zucchini – if it is fresh and tender it is fantastic raw in a salad.  If you can’t get one of those European cucumbers use a small regular one and peel the skin off it before dicing. If the seeds are large do not use the center with the seeds.  Your salad will not be as pretty if there are sloppy cucumber seeds in it.

Quinoa salad will keep a few days in the fridge, if it lasts that long! Try it with different fresh herbs: it just won’t taste the same without the fresh summer veggies.  I try to eat seasonally and this is definitely a summer treat!