Monday, January 28, 2013

Insanely Good Cauliflower Cheesy Garlic "Breadsticks"

My Insanely Good Cauliflower Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks

No bread.  Low Fat.  Baked cheesy garlicky cauliflower goodness.  Seriously?
I think I could get dangerously used to this. 

The first bite left me wanting more...and wondering why I had ever eaten a carb in my life.
Just the mere fact that crust can be made from cauliflower is so incredible it puts carb-filled thin-crust pizza to shame.  
And then before I could savor another bite, there were only crumbs left on the plate.

In my day, I've cooked up & tasted some pretty good dishes with cauliflower.  
Roasted Cauliflower Mash was surprisingly one of the greatest alternatives I've made to buttery creamy mashed pototoes.  
And then there's my Cauliflower Cous-Cous w/ Dried Cranberries & Pine nuts (yum!).  
And of course my Mom's eponymous Cauliflower Breadcrumb Gratin...a Lublin family staple.

But cheesy pizza-esque flat crust made of cauliflower is heaven on earth.
I can promise, you will never look at another cauliflower the same way ever again.
Here's the start to a total love affair.

Baking to Perfection is in progress

Original recipe adapted from  "An Edible Mosaic" blog's "Cauliflower Crust Garlic 'Breadsticks'" 
Thank you Edible Mosaic for my now even bigger obsession with this veggie!

Cheesy, crispy, garlicky, savory crust dipped in my very own Homemade Marinara.  Healthy and delicious in every bite~

Cauliflower Cheesy Garlic Crusts

Recipe serves  2-4.


1/2 of a large head of cauliflower, grated
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz low flat mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
Freshly ground salt & black pepper, to taste
Non-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs (optional for added crispness but not necessary!)
Marinara Sauce, for serving (optional)      

Preparation & Cooking instructions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 x 11 inch baking pan with parchment paper so that the excess paper hangs over the sides; lightly spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
2. To "rice" the cauliflower, grate it on a cheese grater until about 3 cups (lightly packed) of riced cauliflower.
3. In a microwavable bowl, heat the cauliflower uncovered on hight about 6 to 8 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally (do not add water).  Cool slightly.
4.  While the cauliflower cooks, heat the oil in a small skillet over low to medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute stirring constantly; cool slightly.
5.  To the bowl with the softened cauliflower, add the garlic, egg, 3/4 of the cheese (reserving 1/4 for topping later), 1/4 teaspoon of herb seasoning (reserving 1/4 tsp for gardish), bread crumbs (optional) and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.
6.  Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan in an even flat layer.  Bake until the cauliflower mixture is set and starting to turn golden, about 30 mintues.    
7.  Line an additional baking sheet with a piece of parchment.  Remove the cauliflower baking pan from the oven  and use the parchment paper to lift the crust out of the panel and carefully flip it over onto the lined baking sheet (so the bottom facing up).  Bake until golden, approx 10 min.
8. Preheat the broiler.  Cut the crust cross-wise into 8 piecs.  Slightly separate the pieces and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top along with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon dried herbs seasoning.  Broil a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted and golden in spots (watch carefully so that it does not burn).
9.  Serve hot or warm (tip: If you allow it to cool for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven, the crust will harden a bit so that it becomes easier to hold and the crust should stay intact).  

Enjoy! xoxo,


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Parchment Steamed Salmon, Grapefruit & Vegetable Mélange

To make up for partying a little too hard on Saturday night and as a result missing my weekend blog post (although I have no regrets!),  I am back to detox mode.

I have also organized an extra special, delicious yet simple, 
easy-to-make meal I promise you will love.

The recipe I'm sharing with you involves one amazing cooking tool I love: Parchment.
The greatest thing about baking with Parchment paper is that it does all the work.
No clean-up, no fuss.  Just pure, simple, steamed ingredients all baked to perfection.
It is literally effortless every time.  Guaranteed!  

Whether you are counting a few calories, a clutz in the the kitchen, want to impress a very special someone over a quick & delicious dinner 
(they will think you hired a private chef!), 
or just need an easy go-to healthy weeknight recipe idea, this dish is for you!

I used a 5 ounce center cut single portion of Wild Salmon for this dish.
With a sharp knife, I carefully removed the skin from the fillet 
(yes, there were a few tears shed..sigh.) 
In a small bowl, marinate & season the salmon with 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, salt and ground pepper. 

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
 Prepare small potatoes (boiled until *just* fork tender) quartered into bite-size pieces,
and a handful of each: baby carrots, whole sugar snap peas, sliced fennel leeks, and sliced wedges of Grapefruit with skin intact.

On a 15" x 20" sheet of Parchment paper, place 2 slices of unsalted butter (1/4 tbsp each) in the center of the parchment.
Then place the vegetable & 1/2 of the grapefruit slices on top of the butter.  Add salt & pepper if desired.
Place the salmon fillet on top along with the remaining grapefruit wedges.  Garnish with chives & parsley (optional)
**In Addition (also optional), add a splash of white wine if available. This will add wonderful dimension and flavor. 
I always keep a bottle of inexpensive Chardonnay in my fridge weekly just for cooking! 

Fold up each top and bottom edge (the wider edges) until they are overlapping at the top of the Fish/Veggies.  Bend back the edges and crinkle/twist the paper to fully seal, working from the top center and outwards to the sides.  
At the sides, twist the paper to create a "candy wrapper roll" look.
Make sure there are no holes in the parchment wrapping.
The ingredients will steam inside perfectly if no heat is allowed to escape.   

Place pouch on a baking sheet and bake @ 400 degrees for 15-25 minutes (depending on how you prefer your Salmon, I like mine medium rare which usually takes 18 min.)
Carefully open parchment (steam is hot!) and voila, ready to serve.  
A truly healthy (and seriously GOOD!) beautiful dish that will impress even yourself.


I once made a similar recipe for a small dinner party I had.
I can't begin to describe the looks on everyone's faces when I served the main course.
All perfectly baked portions right out of the individual parchment pouches customized to their liking.  And I magically managed to entertain and enjoy a Champagne toast, all while dinner was preparing itself simultaneously.  Good stuff.

Enjoy, xoxo

Parchment Steamed Salmon, Grapefruit & Vegetable Mélange
Recipe serves 1.  Duplicate recipe to increase portions.


-1 fresh 5 ounce center-cut Wild Salmon filet

-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

-Kosher Salt & fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
-1/2 cup cooked potato medley (quartered into bite size pieces)
-1/2 cup uncooked whole sugar snap peas
-1/2 cup uncooked baby carrots
-1/2 cup uncooked sliced fennel leeks
-1/4 grapefruit, sliced into wedges with skin intact (plus 1 tbsp for marinade)
- (1) 15"x20" sheet of Parchment paper
-Optional: splash of white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
-Optional: chopped chives and parsley for garnish inside parchment pouch

Preparation & Cooking instructions: 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  In a small saucepan, bring to a boil whole potatoes with just enough water to cover.  Boil uncovered for 5-8 minutes (or until just fork tender).
3.  With a sharp knife, carefully remove the skin from the Salmon filet.
4.  In a small bowl, marinate the salmon with 1 tbsp of grapefruit juice and season with salt and ground pepper.
5.  On a sheet of 15" x 20" parchment paper, place 2 slices of unsalted butter (1/4 tbsp each) in the center of the parchment.  Then place the vegetable mixture & 1/2 of the grapefuit slices  on top of the butter.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.  Place the salmon filet and remaining grapefruit wedges on top of the vegetables.
Garnish with chives and parsley if desired.  Also add a splash of white wine if desired.
6.  Fold up each top and bottom edges (the wider edges) until they are overlapping at the top of the Fish/Veggies.  Bend back the edges and crinkle/twist the paper to fully seal, working from the top center and outwards to the sides.  At the sides, twist the paper to create a "candy wrapper roll" look, making sure there are no holes in the parchment wrapping.
7.  Place pouch on a baking sheet and bake @ 400 degrees for 15-25 minutes (depending on how you prefer your Salmon).  Medium rare = 18 min. approx.  
8. Carefully open parchment (steam is hot!) and voila!  Serve immediately

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shrimp Jalapeño Cream Risotto

During my days living as a student in Paris, 
I remember a dish that I absolutely fell head over heels in love with at first bite. 

**Shrimp Jalapeño Cream Risotto in White Wine Butter Sauce**
I loved this dish so much that I would frequent the same bistro over and over again, just to savor one last bite (in case it were actually going to be my last).

The bistro was Le Comptoir du Relais
which I previously featured on In Love At First Bite back in November, when I gushed about my love for their perfectly Parisian Moules Frites.

But the dish I am about to share with you was one of their absolute best in my opinion.  
Savory shrimp enveloped in a creamy risotto with notes of delicious white wine, butter and kicks of Jalapeño to rattle your taste buds!

Just the mere combination of the spicy Jalapeño and the buttery risotto is enough to send me on a mission to book a ticket to Paris and visit Le Comptoir once again in hopes of a repeat experience. 

And because the shrimp surprisingly pairs perfectly with the Jalapeño and the risotto, it makes me wonder how such a clever combination was discovered to begin with.

 For a Paris bistro, this is truly an unconventional dish.   But that's why I loved it and kept coming back for more.   The addition of the Jalapeño seems to be more Brazilian or Nicaraguan derived, but for me...these are the tastes of Paris!
And what I love even more is easily bringing the same flavors
 to my kitchen a decade passport required.

To me, making risotto is somewhat like an art all in itself.  
I rarely measure out the ingredients.  Instead, I just go by instinct, texture & taste. 
For those of you who have made risotto know it is a bit labor intensive.  
But mainly due to the stirring, observing the risotto meticulously as it takes it's form.

And then there is the feeding of the broth.   
I tend to nurse my risotto in stages until it is deliciously tender 
Beginning with the butter, then the wine, then the stock, then the cream,....and sometimes I repeat all of the above if I'm feeling in the mood 
**My risotto is not for the faint of heart! But the end result is superb!**

I hope you enjoy this wonderfully decadent & simple dish that brings a little piece of Paris from my kitchen to yours.

Shrimp Jalapeño Cream Risotto
Recipe serves 2 (generously).


-1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
-2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Grapeseed Oil (1 tbsp for shrimp; 1 tbsp for risotto)
-3 tbsp unsalted butter (1 tbsp for the shrimp; 2 tbsp for the risotto)

-Kosher Salt & fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
-1 cup short-grain Arborio risotto rice
-1/2 cup finely chopped onions (shallots or white onion)
-2 to 3 small Jalapeño chilies, finely chopped (most of the seeds removed) **for a more mild spicyness
-3/4 cup dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
-1/4 cup unsalted (or low sodium) chicken stock  
-1/2 cup heavy cream 
-1/4 cup Creme Fraiche (or reduced fat sour cream) 

*the sauce tends to be a bit spicy, so the shrimp needs to be seasoned with a light hand
Preparation & Cooking instructions: 

1. Pat dry the shrimps and then season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat until butter stops foaming and just begins to turn light brown.  Add the shrimp, toss and saute for about 4 minutes until the shrimp are firm and have turned pink overall.  Remove the shrimp from the heat and the butter, set aside and cover to keep warm.
3.  In the same pan, melt butter and add onion on medium heat, saute the onion until soft but not golden brown, about 3 minutes.  
4.  Add the Arborio rice, stir until fully incorporated in the onions and butter.  Saute on medium, stirring often, about 5 minutes until rice is beginning to turn golden brown and most of the butter is absorbed.  
5.  Slowly add in a few tablespoons of the white wine and bring to a gentle boil.  Boil uncovered, until reduced, about 5 minutes.   Add a small amount of chicken stock & stir.  Continue to boil for additional 4 minutes.
Carefully watch the risotto over the next 10-15 minutes, stirring often and ladle in more wine or stock as needed.
6.  Add in the heavy cream and sliced Jalapeños chilies.  Briskly simmer the mixture, uncovered, until reduced, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the creme fraiche (or sour cream), salt and pepper to taste as needed.
7.  Risotto is done once texture is a bit soft but slightly al dente.  
8.  Turn heat down to low, add shrimp into the risotto mixture in the pan.  Heat through on low (do not simmer) about 2-3 minutes.  
9. Serve immediately. 

**Bonus Side note: This dish can be done in different variations.  Instead of risotto, the Jalapeño cream sauce & shrimp would also be delicious with white rice...or brown rice...or even linguine...or even purely on it's own.  Oh the possibilities!