Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers

I had cauliflower and peppers on hand so I decided to create this dish.  It is vegetarian and gluten free.  It can be served as a side dish or a main dish.

INGREDIENTS:

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 peppers
  • 2 Serrano chilies (optional)
  • 1/2 a bunch of parsley
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce.  Use your favorite.  I have used a homemade mushroom marinara sauce.
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese (preferably grate your own)
  • 6 ounce bag of shaved cheese (mix of Parmesan, Romano and Asiago)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 4 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers Prep

  • Break the cauliflower head into large florets
  • Don’t throw away the stalk and leaves, instead dice up the good parts.  The small bowl on upper right side shows them diced up.
  • Cut the peppers in half.  Remove the seeds, stems and whitish pith.
  • Dice the onion
  • Mince the garlic and Serrano chilies
  • Remove the parsley leaves from their stems.  Set aside a few for garnish.  The rest will go into the food processor along with the cauliflower florets.
  • Place the cauliflower florets and parsley leaves in a food processor.  Pulse to make cauliflower granules.

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COOK:

  • Coat a large, heavy stainless steel skillet with olive oil.  Turn the heat to medium.
  • Add the chopped onions, cauliflower stalks, garlic and Serrano chilies.  Toss in the dried oregano and red chili flakes.
  • Mix all the ingredients and saute until light brown.
  • Add the cauliflower and parsley granules.  Continue to saute until cauliflower is light brown.
  • Turn off the flame and mix in the Parmesan cheese

    STUFFING THE PEPPERS:Oiled Peppers

  • Place the peppers in a oven proof baking dish
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Fill each pepper with a layer of cauliflower mixture, then a Tbsp. of marinara sauce.  Repeat once more so the pepper is full.Stuffed Peppers
  • Place in a 350 F oven and bake until peppers are tender
  • Pull out the cooked peppers and top with shaved cheese and a parsley leaf.

Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers Feature

Serve as a side dish with any protein you like.  If you are eating meatless, serve a larger portion as a vegetarian main dish.

ENJOY!!!  Let me know your feedback by leaving a comment.

Kabocha Launji

This is a winter pumpkin dish my grandmother used to make.  It was one of my favorites.  She used to use a small deep orange pumpkin, I am using a Japanese pumpkin, called Kabocha squash, because that is what I have on hand.  I also like Kabocha because it has a creamy, sweet flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

Launji Ingredients

  • 1 medium Kabocha squash
  • 3 Tbsp of ghee ( if you want to keep it vegan use grape seed oil instead)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Starting at the 6 O’ Clock position, and then going counter clockwise the spices are as follows:

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 20 pods of green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder

PREP:

Launji Prep

  • Chop the Kobocha into large pieces.  Keep the skin on if the squash you are using has an edible skin.  There are lots of nutrients and fiber in the skin.
  • Using a spice grinder, grind the 20 cardamom pods into a fine powder.  The cardamom powder is shown in the small bowl on the lower right.
  • Toast the cumin seeds.  Let them cool to room temp. and grind into a fine powder.  The toasted cumin powder is shown in the small bowl on the lower left.

COOK:

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  • Coat a large stainless steel skillet with grape seed oil or ghee.  Place on medium heat and get the oil hot.
  • Add fennel seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chili flakes.  Toast until seeds are slightly brown and you can smell their fragrant aroma.  Watch the seeds closely and stir frequently so the seeds don’t burn.
  • As soon as the seeds are browned, add the Kabocha.  Toss together and cook until the Kabocha is browned on the edges.  This should take about 7 minutes.

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  • Once the Kabocha is browned add, the toasted cumin powder, cayenne powder and 1/2 of the cardamom powder.  Reserve the other 1/2 of the cardamom powder for later in the recipe.Launji Cook 7
  •  Toss together and let the spices toast for about 2 minutes
  • Add the cinnamon powder and the remaining cardamom powder

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  • Toss together and let cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss together.  Cover with the lid.  Turn the flame to low.  Cook until squash is tender.

Traditionally, this dish is served with plain home made yogurt, lentil soup and rotis.  You can buy the yogurt or make your own using My Mom’s Yogurt recipe.  The lentil soup is called dal, I posted my Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale)  last year.

Today I served it with spicy pan-fried Black Drum that my hubby brought home 2 days ago.Launji with Black Drum

Here is a photo of his catch and how I prepared it.

The Black Drum is the large fish on the far right.  The 4 little fish are trout.  My hubby fileted the fish and I coated the filets with my Indian Spice Mix.

I then pan fried the filets and then de-glazed the pan with our local Texas, Messina Hof Gewurztraminer. I made a pan sauce by adding a pat of butter.  Gewurztraminer pairs well with spicy Indian food.

RECIPE TIP:  Use the wine you are going to drink to make the pan sauce.  This way the dish will match your wine.Launji with Black Drum and Wine

I am so lucky to have a hubby who catches fish for me.  I rarely get a Black Drum catch, so I was so glad to have it.

Hope you like this recipe.  Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Pan Seared Scallops and Squash

I first got the idea to make this dish when I was with my dad at a farmer’s market in Chicago.  I found these beautiful sunburst squash and I just had to use them.  I told dad that I would make scallops and squash for our dinner.  Dad told me that he doesn’t like scallops, but he was excited about the squash because it was so fresh and reminded him of an Indian squash called Tinda.  Tinda is also called “Indian Baby Pumpkin.”  I told him that I would season the scallops with Indian spices and cook them just right so that he would like them.

Dad was willing to try it, so here is the recipe.  He loved it, by the way, and now has become a scallops fan.

INGREDIENTS:

Scallops and Squash Ingredients

  • a dozen large scallops
  • 6 small squash (you can used any small squash that is just a bit bigger than the scallops in diameter.)  Here I have used patty pan squash.
  • 3 Tbsp Indian Spice Mix.  The Ingredients for the spice mix are shown in the small bowls.  For full list of ingredients and how to make the spice mix click on the link provided.
  • Grape seed oil to drizzle over the scallops and squash.
  • 2 pats of butter for cooking the scallops.
  • Freshly ground pink Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste.  My dad likes a lot of black pepper.

PREP:

Scallops and Squash Prep

  • Pat dry the scallops.  If there is a little piece of adductor muscle attachment on the scallop remove it.  It is called the foot of the scallop.  It peels off easily.  It is the tough tendon that attaches the scallop to its shell.  Please remove it because it is not edible.
  • Sprinkle on 1 Tbsp of Indian Spice Mix.  Drizzle on enough grape seed oil to coat.  Toss gently until well coated.  Do not add salt until right before cooking.  Place in the fridge, uncovered, while you prep the squash.
  • Cut the ends off of each squash.  Then cut in half.  You should have pieces of squash that are one inch thick.  Again sprinkle on the Indian Spice Mix.  Also add salt and pepper and coat with grape seed oil.  Let sit for 30 minutes before cooking.

COOK:

Scallops and Squash Cook

  • Start the squash first.  Coat a large skillet with a Tbsp of grape seed oil.  Place on medium-high heat.  When oil is hot place the squash slices in a single layer.  Cook until golden brown on first side and flip.  While the second side is cooking, start the scallops.  The second side should cook for 3 minutes.  At the end of 3 minutes turn off the heat.
  • Place two pats of butter in a non-stick skillet.  Place on medium-high heat.  While the butter comes up to a foam, season the scallops with salt and pepper.  When you see the butter foaming, placed the scallops in the skillet.  It will take two to three minutes to develop a dark crust.  Once the crust has formed, flip the scallops over and take them off the heat.  Wait 2 minutes for the carry over heat to cook the scallops through.

PLATING:

Scallops and Squash Plated

Above is a photo of my plating when I enjoyed this dish with my dad.  He likes red wine, so we served this with a Shiraz.  Shiraz is the original wine grape from the Middle East.  It goes very well with any spicy food.  In my opinion, it goes very well with Indian food.

When I recreated this dish at home, I came up with fancier plating.

Scallops and Squash Feature

I served it as a first course for a dinner party.  Each piece of squash is topped with a scallop and then garnished with a dot of home made mint chutney and a mint leaf.  I will post the recipe for the mint chutney in the future.

Hope you like it.  My dad loved it 😊💕

Please write your thoughts in the comments section.  I always appreciate your support and feedback. 😃

 

Butter Lettuce Salad with Pear and Gorgonzola

Fall is upon us and here, in Central Texas, it is pear season.  My neighbor brought me some beautiful Kieffer pears from his tree.  They inspired me to make this salad.

INGREDIENTS:Butter Lettuce Salad PearsButter Lettuce Salad Ingredients

  • 3 hard pears (Kieffer pears are hard and sweet)
  • 2 heads of butter lettuce
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 8 ounces of gorgonzola cheese
  • 3 sprigs each of oregano and thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of agave nectar
  • red vine vinegar (3 tablespoons for soaking the onion + 1/4 cup for the dressing)
  • Gravenstein apple balsamic vinegar (3 tablespoons for coating the pears + 1/4 cup for the dressing.)  The vinegar I used is from CONOLIOS.COM.  It is really delicious.  You can substitute white balsamic.
  • Pecan oil–1/4 cup for the dressing
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PREP:Butter Lettuce Salad Prep

  • Peel the onion and slice it thinly.  Place in a bowl.  Add 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Toss together and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  This will allow the sharpness of the onion to mellow out.
  • Peel and core the pears.  Cut into thin strips.  Place in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the Gravenstein apple cider vinegar.  Set aside until you are ready to assemble the salad.
  • Crumble the blue cheese.  Place in the frig until you are ready to assemble the salad.
  • Toast the pecans.  Let them cool. SET ASIDE 6 WHOLE PECANS FOR GARNISH. Rough chop the rest.
  • Pull the herb leaves off their stems.  You should have 1/2 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
  • Clean the lettuce as needed.  I used a living hydroponic lettuce so there was not much cleaning to do.  Tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces.

RECIPE TIP–notice that I have seasoned each component of the salad separately.  I always do this because it makes the salad taste better.  Each component has its own flavor so nothing is bland.  The individual flavors play off of each other to create harmony.

Next, I will make the salad dressing and use it to coat just the lettuce leaves before assembling the salad.

PREPARING THE DRESSING:

Butter Lettuce Salad Dressing

  • In a ball jar, add the 1/4 cup of each of the vinegars and 1/4 cup of pecan oil.  Grind in a bit of salt and pepper.  Add the herbs and the Agave nectar.  Shake vigorously.
  • Taste the dressing, add more red wine vinegar if you need more acid.  Adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

ASSEMBLING THE SALAD:

Butter Lettuce Salad Feature

  • In a large bowl, add the lettuce leaves and sprinkle on half the dressing.  Toss and taste.  Add more dressing if you need it.  Put the rest of the dressing in a gravy boat for the table.  This way your guests can add more dressing if they need it.
  • Next add the onions, pears and 1/3 of the chopped pecans.  Toss gently.  Place the mixture on your serving platter.
  • Sprinkle the salad with 1/2 the cheese crumbles.  Put the rest of the crumbles in a bowl for the table.  This way if anyone wants extra gorgonzola cheese they can have it.
  • Lastly sprinkle on the rest of the chopped pecans and use the whole ones to make a little flower in the center of the salad platter.

This salad is almost a cheese and fruit course.  I like to serve it at the end of a meal with a glass of French Sauterne or Canadian Ice Wine.

Enjoy and please leave your feedback in the comment section.  I love hearing from you!!!

 

MIKADO Sushi and Japanese Tapas (Best Happy Hour in Austin, TX)

MIKADO is my favorite place for both sushi and happy hour in Austin, Texas.  Their happy hour menu has a large variety of sushi and unique Japanese tapas along with great cocktails, sake, wine and beer.  Their regular menu is also great.  Happy hour is Mon-Fri from 3-6 and all day Sunday.  They also have reverse happy hour on Fri & Sat from 9 pm to 10:15 pm.  The happy hour is fun and a real bargain.

My husband and I ate there for the past two Sundays.  I am going to take you through the dishes we devoured.  My husband loves Saba (marinated mackerel) so much that he judges a sushi restaurant by the quality of their Saba.  My hubby thinks that this is the best Saba he has ever had.  He ordered 12 pieces of Saba.  He is a big eater.

I have three favorites, Ono (also called escolar or white tuna), red snapper, and yellowtail.  So this is what I ordered to test the quality of the sushi.  All three were fresh and melt in your mouth delicious.  Below is the photo if our test dishes.

Mikado Feature

Six pieces of  Saba are in the front row.  Behind the Saba, the red snapper is on the left and the yellowtail is on the right.  In the very back are two pieces of Ono.  They were served with smooth hot sake.

Now that MIKADO passed our test with flying colors, we moved on to the rest of the meal.  The next course we ordered was from their main menu.  It is the most fantastic Miso Mushroom Soup.  The variety of mushrooms will change with the seasons.  The broth has a deep umami flavor.  This is Japan’s answer to comforting and nourishing chicken soup.

Mikado Mushroom Miso Soup

My hubby and I each had our own bowl.  We followed this with Spicy Garlic Edamame.

I had a glass of lychee sake and my hubby has a beer.

These edamame are very flavorful because of the chili and the garlic.  I like them better than plain boiled edamame.

Next we ordered three fried tapas accompanied by a refreshing and yummy lychee martini. The lychee martini is posted on my Instagram feed.

I will describe these tapas one at a time.  The first one was the most unique and delicious tofu I have ever come across.  YES I said TOFU.  Even my meatatarian husband loved it.

 

Mikado Agedashi Tofu

The dish is called Agedashi Tofu.  It is cubes of tofu, lightly coated with rice flour and then flash fried.  They are served with bonito flakes and a deeply flavorful dashi broth for dipping.  The tofu just melts in you mouth.  It is not at all greasy.

The second fried item was Fried Oysters.

Mikado Fried Oysters

These oysters have a crispy panko coating and are juicy inside.  Perfectly cooked and served with a savory soy based sauce.

The third fried item was Peppered Calamari.  It was absolutely delicious.

Mikado Peppered Calamari

Slightly peppery, not greasy at all and served with a tart but spicy sauce.

Next my hubby ordered Uni with Quail Egg as a palate cleanser.  I am not a big uni fan, so I ordered Peppered Tuna Tataki.  Both were fresh and yum.  They are shown below.

The last thing we ordered was the Hamachi Chili.

Mikado Hamachi Chili

The Hamachi was melt in your mouth fresh.  It was topped with a slightly spicy Ponzu sauce, a thin slice of Thai chili and a single pearl of red caviar.  So pretty.  I love pretty food that also tastes divine.

They also have a large selection of sushi rolls.  My hubby ordered two rolls, but he ate them before I had a chance to take photos.  I guess he got impatient with me photographing everything or he was really hungry.  He let me know that both rolls were great.  Obviously he loved them because they were gone before I had any.  Oh well.  Next time I will order a roll for myself.

If you are in Austin, Texas please go and dine at Mikado.  You won’t be disappointed.

Yogurt Fig Parfait

This past July my neighbor brought me fresh figs from his tree.  I glazed these figs and I use them in many recipes.   The first recipe I posted was my Fig Fillo Bites

Fig Fillo Bites 3

I had some glazed figs leftover so I used them to make this parfait.  I also used them to make frozen fig cubes for a cocktail my husband created, called Texan Raspberry 75

INGREDIENTS:  (Serves two.  Double or quadruple the recipe as needed.)

Yogurt Fig Parfait Ingredients

  • 8 glazed figs with their glazing liquid (see my recipe, Fig Fillo Bites for step by step instructions on how to glaze the figs.)  NOTE:  There are 4 figs per serving.
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt.  You can buy it or make your own.  I have made my own by using My Mom’s Yogurt recipe.  NOTE:  There is 1/2 cup of yogurt per serving.
  • 1 tablespoon of raw shelled pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar (you can also use honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground fennel seed powder (you can make the powder by grinding up fennel seeds in a spice grinder)

ASSEMBLING THE PARFAIT: in your favorite parfait or martini glass

  • Place a teaspoon of glazing liquid and one fig in the bottom of the glass.
  • Next place a dollop of Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with pistachios and a pinch of fennel powder.  Drizzle on a bit of agave nectar.
  • Next place two glazed figs with a bit of the glazing liquid.  Add more pistachios, fennel powder and agave nectar.
  • Add more yogurt.  Sprinkle with more pistachios, fennel powder and agave nectar.
  • Place the fourth fig in the center of the parfait and top off with a single pistachio for a pretty presentation.

Yogurt Fig Parfait Feature

Fruit parfaits like this are simple, delicious and impressive looking.  They are also very versatile.  Choose any seasonal fruit you like and any spice you prefer.  I have served yogurt/fruit parfaits for breakfast, brunch, a snack and even dessert.  As an added bonus, they happen to be nutritious and figure-friendly.

Please try this recipe and let me know your feedback in the comments.

 

Green Beans & Shiitake Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS:

Green Beans & Shiitake Mushrooms Ingredients

  • 2 large bunches of green beans
  • 2 cups of fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro leaves
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chilies (serrano or Thai Bird)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons Sambal Oelek (Indonesian hot chili paste available in most U. S. markets)
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (this ups the umami flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon of black bean garlic sauce
  • white pepper and sea salt to taste

PREP:

Green Beans & Shiitake Mushrooms Prep

  • Trim the ends of each bean and cut it into thirds.  You will end up with 4 cups of prepped beans.
  • Mince the chilies, ginger and garlic
  • Thinly slice the onion and mushrooms
  • Tear the cilantro leaves from the stems
  • Cut the lime so that we have it ready to squeeze later in the recipe

COOK:

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  • Coat a large stainless steel skillet with 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • Add the onions, chilies, ginger, garlic, yellow mustard seeds and half the coriander leaves.  Reserve the other half of the coriander leaves for garnish.
  • Turn the flame to medium and sauté till golden brown

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  • Add the shiitake mushrooms
  • Continue sautéing till the mushrooms are brown and caramelized
  • Deglaze the pan with the fish sauce and the soy sauce

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  • Add the green beans along with the Sambal Oelek, the black bean/garlic sauce and the oyster sauce.   Toss everything together
  • Cover with a lid.  Cook for 5 minutes.  The beans will stay green and crunchy.
  • Turn the flame off and leave the lid on till you are ready till serve
  • Just before serving adjust the salt and pepper to taste and toss in the reserved cilantro leaves for a pop of freshness.

Serve on a platter and top off with a fresh squeeze of lime juice.  Here I have served it with Asian Brown Rice Pilaf and Sesame Crusted Black Fin Tuna.

Green Beans & Shiitake Mushrooms Feature

HOPE YOU LIKE IT.  LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS.

 

Sesame Crusted Black Fin Tuna

I am very lucky to have a husband who catches fish for me.  He is very good at cleaning and fileting the fish.  Once he preps the fish, I cook some right away and the rest I freeze in food saver bags.  Whenever the freezer starts looking empty, he goes fishing again.  On his last fishing trip, he had his first ever catch of Black Fin Tuna.

Black Fin Tuna

He cleaned the fish and carved out four loins.  I used two loins for this recipe and froze the other two.  In retrospect, I should have made Poke from the two I froze.  This fish was so good, that I shouldn’t have frozen it.  Next time I will make Poke and post it.

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INGREDIENTS:  serves four

Sesame Crusted Black Fin Tuna Ingredients

  • four, 6oz to 8oz pieces, of tuna (if you don’t have Black Fin Tuna, then you can substitute Ahi Tuna which is more readily available.)
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut oil to coat the pan and 1 tablespoon to coat the fish
  • 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds
  • lime to squeeze on top
  • I made an Asian Spice Mix by combining the following:
    • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
    • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
    • 1 teaspoon crushed Szechuan peppercorns
    • 1 teaspoon crushed white peppercorns
    • 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

PREPPING THE TUNA:

Sesame Crusted Black Fin Tuna Prep

  • Coat the tuna with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil
  • Sprinkle all sides with an even coating of the Asian Spice Mix
  • Combine the black and white sesame seeds
  • Roll the oiled and spiced fish pieces in the sesame seeds to coat evenly

Sesame Crusted Black Fin Tuna Feature

COOKING THE FISH:

Sesame Crusted Black Fin Tuna Cook

  • Coat a large nonstick skillet with 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and 1/2 a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • Turn the flame to medium-high and get the oil hot.  Not smoking hot, just hot.
  • Add the fish and toast the sesame seeds 30 seconds on the large sides and 15 seconds each on the thinner sides.  The seeds will toast and the fish will remain rare in the center.

Squeeze some lime on top just before serving.  The lime brightens up the flavor.

This can be served with a veggie, a grain or a salad.  I have served it here on a bed of Asian Brown Rice Pilaf and a side of Green Beans and Shiitake Mushrooms.

Green Beans & Shiitake Mushrooms Feature

I will post the Asian Brown Rice Pilaf in the future.  For now please go to my Buckwheat Pilaf recipe.  Use Brown rice instead of buckwheat.  The cooking time will be longer, about 45 minutes on low heat.  Use peanut oil instead of grapeseed oil.  Use yellow mustard seeds instead of the black ones.  Leave out the cumin seeds and peas.  Instead of black pepper use white pepper.  This changes the Indian flavor profile to an Asian flavor profile.

ENJOY AND PLEASE LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENT SECTION.  I love to hear your feedback.