Snacks

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

I eat lots of flour products. I bake bread on a weekly basis and pasta is often the center of a meal. But I also eat (and love!) veggies. Once upon a time, I probably would have scoffed at someone trying to pass off cauliflower as a classic pizza crust substitute. But A. the times and general population eating habits have changed. B. Just because this is called pizza doesn’t mean other pizza doesn’t exist (Oh. Wait. Be right back…need to confirm the truth of that last statement) …

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Yup. It’s true. {Wipes crumbs off mouth}
And C. There is no better name for this, that I can think of, than Pizza.

One of the many cool things about cauliflower is that it is a bit of a chameleon. Cauliflower’s texture is easily manipulated and it is a fantastic canvas for all sorts of flavors.

Take for instance the photo below:

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

You can stop after you toss the cauliflower into a food processor and make this into a “couscous” or “rice”. You can quickly steam the cauliflower in a pan to release some moisture and then sauté it with other veggies and herbs or nuts and dried fruit to make a delicious (and unique!) side dish.

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

If you’re going the full pizza route, you need to get as much moisture out as you can. I’ve made the crust before and even though it’s still delicious when you make it without squeezing it within an inch of its life, it won’t hold its shape as well after baking. Plus this is a great de-stress activity (or a fun activity for little hands!).

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Once the cauliflower is prepped it’s smooth sailing to the finish line.

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Go all out on toppings. These guys can stand up to them. In honor of fall, I roasted some butternut squash and added goat cheese, pepitas, and little strips of kale for one pizza and went classic mushroom and mozzarella with a tomato sauce for the other.

Let me know what other amazing flavor combos you come up with that make this pizza shine!

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Ingredients
  • 1 small cauliflower (about 1 pound)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ⅛-1/4 tsp cayenne (depending on how much heat you like)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Chop cauliflower into florets. Remove all core pieces and the largest stem pieces.
  2. Place the florets into a food processor in small batches so that you won't end up with large untouched chunks. Quickly process until the cauliflower resembles couscous or rice (about 10 seconds). Place the cauliflower into a large bowl once it's been processed.
  3. Pour the ¼ cup of water over the cauliflower and tightly cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap.
  4. Using your microwave (you can also quickly boil the pieces or steam then in a pan with a little water) microwave for 4 minutes. Let it stand, still covered for another 2 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove from microwave and let it cool (enough that you can work with it, but you need it to still be warm) about 10 minutes.
  6. While waiting, preheat oven to 400°F
  7. Remove the cauliflower from the bowl onto a clean kitchen towel, wrap tightly, and squeeze out all the water you can. This will help ensure crispy and strong crust later.
  8. Place the cauliflower into a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  9. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. With a 1lb cauliflower, you can make 4 individual size pizzas or create larger shapes (they will be a little more difficult to flip, but can be done!) Using your hands portion out the cauliflower onto the baking sheet into the shape you want - it will hold together! Make sure it maintains a consistent thickness all the way around.
  11. Bake 10 minutes on one side and then flip. Bake another 10 minutes, or until golden, on the other side.
  12. Remove and add toppings. Bake again until your cheese is melted and/or you can't wait any longer to eat it.

 

Vegetarian Bao

Whether you call them Bao, Baozi, or Bau, these doughy buns can be filled with any delicious combination of ingredients that strikes your fancy. Meats slathered in sauce are traditional but I’ve made these with roasted vegetables, mushrooms, and today, some more traditional Chinese flavors in honor of Lunar New Year.

Truthfully, I made these on the New Year but spent last week completely immersed in some work stuffs and an amazing EatWith dinner we hosted last Friday night. Gathered at our table was probably the most varied group of people we’ve had to date. Our guests were incredibly interesting folks who represented different generations and countries. I was so thrilled to be sharing our table with them.

Even though we’re about a week late (on the blog) to celebrate Chinese New Year, bao are an anytime food. I’m even working on crafting some breakfast bao – which is how they’re usually eaten! For breakfast that is, not necessarily with the egg yolk I’m trying to engineer to stay inside the bao. The dough is pillowy, sweet, and takes on the flavors of what you choose to fill it with.
They also take very little time to make and would serve as a great snack or as hors d’oeuvres at your next party since they fit so nicely in a hand and, depending what you put inside, aren’t terribly messy.
It’s also a good to make them when other people are around because they’re best when eaten right away and, trust me, you’ll feel pretty terrible after  eating a (nearly) full batch of them.

You don’t need any special equipment to make these happen. I use a metal steamer basket in a stock pot to steam them. Every time I walk down the Bowery I’m eying the bamboo steamer boxes but I have limited enough space already and the same piece of equipment that steams my broccoli does a find job of steaming my buns…er, bao!

Next time you have a couple of hours free, give these a shot. It takes a little practice filling and sealing the buns and the day that I made these I was a bit out of practice. Here’s a video that beautifully demonstrates how to create the petal-like seal. I might be making some more of these soon to work on my form. Keep an eye on my Instagram account (@SaritWish) for more bao soon! Did you do or eat anything special to celebrate the Lunar New Year?

Vegetarian Bao

Serves: 8 Buns

Ingredients
  • 2 cups white all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (or you can use another oil if you don't have sesame!)
  • ½ cup warm (not hot!) water
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle in the sesame oil and mix lightly. Add the water and mix together. As the dough begins to come together, take it out of the bowl and onto a surface to knead. Knead until smooth (a few minutes).
  3. Place the dough ball into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in a larger bowl that has a couple inches of hot water at the bottom and place the bowls in the oven (I like to warm it to 170°F or the lowest temp and shut it off) or in a warm, draft-free place for a half an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
  4. Meanwhile, make your filling. I don't have an exact recipe to share here but I used a combination of steamed boy choy, shitake mushrooms, and scallions all chopped up and tossed with some chile pepper, minced ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hoisin sauce and threw some crushed peanuts on top before sealing up the bao. Throw in some roasted veggies is or sauté some eggplant or tofu! Mix up whatever ingredients you have on hand and let the bao be your delicious blank canvas.
  5. Once the dough has risen, take it out and lightly press the air out of it. Divide into 8 equal pieces, and with a little oil on your palms, roll into balls and place them under a wet kitchen towel to rest for about 10-15 min.
  6. While the dough is resting again get your steaming vessel ready. I used a stockpot with a few inches of boiling water and my metal steamer basket. You can also use a bamboo basket or rice cooker. Also, cut out 8 squares of parchment or wax paper. You'll place your buns on the paper to keep them from sticking during steaming.
  7. After 10-15 min, once the buns are well rested and have puffed up a little more, you're ready to fill! Roll out each ball in a circle to about 4/4.5 inches in diameter. Try to leave the center of the circle a little thicker to help hold your filling. Place a small ball of your filling in the middle and begin to seal the bao by pleating along the edges.
  8. Unless you have a very large steamer you'll need to work in batches. If you're using a steamer basket like a did, place the buns with their paper bottoms in the basket. Drape a towel over the top and then cover the pot with the lid. The towel will help keep the steam inside! Let them steam for about 15 min-18 min.
  9. Take them out carefully, wait a couple minutes so they cool a little, and enjoy!

Cherry Rhubarb Chutney and Whipped Goat Cheese Crostini

This past week while walking through the produce section in the Whole Foods on the Upper West Side I was feeling particularly celebratory as I had just passed the Food Handlers Certificate exam. It’s a little piece of paper saying that I have an understanding of how to work cleanly and safely in a kitchen in New York (which was necessary for one of my many jobs..more on this at a later time).While browsing for something new and exciting to cook with I saw some rhubarb and that moment happened where you hear the angels voices up above and a divine light warms the room and highlights this amazing red vegetable. And then of course everyone is watching because now you’re the crazy person in the room staring at the rhubarb like it’s talking to you. But there it was! I hadn’t seen any for months and it didn’t look half bad. This, of course, made me suspicious. So after a quick google search, and learning about a late Pacific-Northwest rhubarb harvest, I gleefully bagged up a pound (or 2).

Up until recently in my adult life rhubarb had been used for mostly sweet dishes. My associations were either with it being used in a strawberry rhubarb sauce (one of my mom’s most amazing recipes) or in a pie with similar ingredients to the sauce. Both perfectly delicious ways to go from stalk form to in my mouth form. But maybe it’s because I’m ready for cold weather and can’t wait for the fall or maybe it’s because I don’t have such a sweet tooth but I wanted to try to use rhubarb in a different way. After a quick walk around the produce section again I settled on a chutney. Because of some other ingredients sitting at home I knew just how I wanted to eat it.I love chutneys. Loosely, a chutney is a condiment that’s traditionally a blend of spices, fruits, and vegetables – but often it’s really anything goes. It can be pickled or not. Spicy or not. Thick and jam-like or not. It’s lasts for days and is delicious on everything. We love it on and with meats and breads – something a little sweet and spicy to complement savory flavors.

Ever since I bought a cherry pitter a couple months back I’ve found it infinitely easier to cook with cherries. I know, I know, it’s one of those silly “one use” products that just end up taking precious space in your drawers and cabinets. But it’s really not! Well it’s actually a two-use product since you can use it to whack the pits out of olives as well. The reason I finally broke down and bought “the silly kitchen product” it is for the amount of time and mess it saves you as well as keeping your cherries intact for things like this rocking (and pretty) cherry herb and walnut salad I made recently. But seriously, the mess…no more cherry juice stains on everything as you pull apart the cherries with your fingers and grab for the pit before it all slips out and stains your butcher block and clothing red. Yeah, that’s happened a lot.Truth is you don’t really need a pitter for this recipe (ha!) because it won’t matter how pretty and whole the cherry looks while it’s cooking down but it does save you from a ridiculous amount of scrubbing later.

Once the chutney was made and cooled slightly I started prepping the rest of what would make the crostini (Italian for “little toasts”) a complete and perfect bite.

To make a whole bite is a fun challenge. You want to layer flavor and texture so when someone picks up your masterpiece and they bite in they get a little bit of everything and it all comes together seamlessly. Having the bread be toasted is important since nothing else has that element. A satisfying crunch can be everything.Next was the layer between the chutney and the bread. To carry the thick spiced and fruity mixture, and for a good summer bite, I decided on a goat cheese mixed with honey and lightened up with a little (unsweetened) whipped cream.

Sure you can make this, serve it to yourself, and be completely satisfied because it’s so awesome. But you can also keep the chutney and the cheese in the fridge a few days and when people come over grill or toast some bread and assemble it all in under 5 minutes! I guarantee this will impress the pants off your friends (you know, if that’s what you’re going for).
Cherry Rhubarb Chutney and Whipped Goat Cheese Crostini

Serves: Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients
Cherry Rhubarb Chutney
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion (sweet) chopped
  • ½ tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • ¼ of a leek - halved the long way (and then use half of that) thinly sliced, white and pale green parts only
  • 1 small stalk of celery in thin slices
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ lb. rhubarb, chopped
  • 1.5 cup cherries, pitted
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup cherry juice*
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar
Whipped Goat Cheese
  • 4 oz of goat cheese (one of the small plastic wrapped logs)
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream
  • 1-2 tbsp of honey
Instructions
Cherry Rhubarb Chutney
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onions and ginger together for 3-5 minutes until the onion starts to get translucent. Add the red pepper flakes, celery, and leeks and mix together. Let the leeks and celery soften for about another 5 minutes. Stir every few minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring together to a boil. Allow to boil for a couple minutes and then lower the heat to simmer, stir, cover, and cook for another 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally. When the rhubarb and cherries have broken down and the sauce thickened it's close to being done.
  3. If there is still liquid in the pot take the cover off to let it evaporate while on a low heat. Keep stirring! Salt to taste at the end.
  4. When it's done take it off the heat and allow it cool a bit before either putting it away or using it.
Whipped Goat Cheese
  1. With a hand mixer (or a stand mixer but this seemed to small a batch to break out the big guns) whip the goat cheese and honey together until soft and creamy - to the consistency of a whipped cream cheese. Put aside.
  2. In a separate bowl whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese using a silicone spatula (the cheese can get pretty sticky!).
Assemble the Crostini
  1. I quickly infused some olive oil with tarragon, mint, and a pinch of kosher salt. After letting it sit for at least an hour I brushed it onto the bread and grilled it till crispy. You can also use regular olive oil and toast the bread in a pan or oven. Let the bread cool.
  2. Spread a layer of the whipped goat cheese on the bread and then a layer of the chutney on top.
  3. Finish it off with a little mint.
  4. (Apologize to your friends for causing them to lose their pants.)
Notes
*You don't need to use cherry juice -you can substitute pomegranate juice or even water - the juice adds a little more color and an extra layer of tartness but it's main purpose is the liquid.

Cheddar and Scallion Sweet Potato Tots

There are so many times I read a recipe, can’t cook it in that moment, and then mentally shelve the idea for later. If I don’t totally forget about it, I’ll eventually come back around to try to make it..like a normal person would. But, once in awhile, there are recipes that get seriously stuck and bounce around my brain until I can execute them.After reading a Food Lab article by J. Kenji López-Alt on Serious Eats about the science behind making tater tots, it was almost all I could think about every time I walked into my kitchen. At any point over these past two weeks if you had asked me what I was making next in my kitchen, (or had even just said “what’s new with you?”) we might have had an awkward moment when I got giddy and shouted: “SWEET POTATO TOTS!”.If you think I’m exaggerating I have a couple of friends to refer you to.
The reason it took so long to actually get to frying up some taters was a jam-packed schedule filled with three amazing EatWith meals we hosted in eight days, family and friend gatherings for Rosh Hashanah, and a kitchen internship I started at Porsena under Chef Sara Jenkins (and for the next few weeks on Mondays under Chef Louisa Shafia at Lakh Lakh her Persian pop-up) So lots of awesome time in kitchens..sadly just no time for tots.
Tater tots always seemed liked one of those foods that “shouldn’t be too hard to make at home” and yet I don’t know many people who’ve attempted to create them in their own kitchens. It’s definitely way easier to buy a bag of frozen taters and then heat them up on demand but there’s something special about doing these homemade (isn’t there always?).On the tots scale these place way above the frozen kind but still slightly below my all time favorite tots -I think those are just unattainable greatness. These are spectacular, taste “real”, are super satisfying, and totally customizable (a good quality in any tot).
The truth is, they aren’t hard to make. The biggest commitment is time because you need to work in small batches but even then it’s not so long before you have a warm, crunchy, savory, salty bowl of tater tots sitting in front of you.
When I was ready to chow down on the tots I took a trip to the refrigerator to see what I could whip up for a dip and stumbled on half a container of sour cream. For one of the EatWith’s we did a make-you-own-taco dinner and there were still leftovers! I kind of forgot about that meal and was so surprised when I found the sour cream. We’re both lactose intolerant and it’s just one of those ingredients that gets used significantly less in our home.These tots were SO GOOD and would make for a perfect fall snack for anyone at anytime. You can add any “flavorings” you want -spices, meats, cheeses, vegetables. Just make sure if it’s a solid food flavor you’re adding that you don’t put too much in or the tots won’t hold together when you fry them. This recipe also works the same if you used white russet potatoes, they just won’t darken as much as these, even if you cook them for the same amount of time. Sweet potatoes just take on the color faster – the ones you see in the photos aren’t burnt.Also, if anyone ends up trying this with butternut squash (on my to-do list) please let me know how they turn out.All these tots needed when I was done with them was a beer and a football game.

Cheddar and Scallion Sweet Potato Tots

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds Sweet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 quarts Canola oil (you can also use peanut or vegetable - anything with a high smoke point)
  • 1½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp Garlic salt (optional..if used, cut kosher salt by ½ tsp)
  • 1 Tbsp Cornstarch or potato starch
  • ½ tsp White sugar
  • 2 ounces Shredded cheddar cheese (plus more if you're like me and need to snack on it...or melt it over the tots!)
  • 2-3 Scallions sliced into thin rings (white and green parts)
  • Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Put the peeled and cubed potatoes in a bowl of cold water and agitate for 10 seconds by sloshing them around with your hands in the water. Remove them from the water and place them in a fine mesh strainer. Let them drain for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over high heat till it reaches 350°F. I use a candy thermometer for this.
  3. Use a paper towel to absorb any excess water on the potatoes. Carefully add the potatoes to the hot oil. Stir them gently using either a wire spider or a spoon (like I did) until they're light golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes. Keep adjusting the flame to maintain oil temperature. You might want to work in two batches for this depending how large your pan is. The more you drop in the oil the more the temperature will drop and it will be much harder to achieve the color and tenderness you want without the potatoes taking on too much oil.
  4. Transfer the lightly fried cubes of potato to a paper towel-lined bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes and make sure to reduce the heat under the oil to low.
  5. Transfer ¼ of the potatoes to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until broken down into rough ¼ to ⅛th inch pieces, about eight 1-second pulses. Transfer to a mixing bowl and repeat with the remaining potatoes, working in three more batches
  6. Add salt, corn/potato starch, sugar, and black pepper to taste. Then mix in the cheese and scallions. Gently mix with your hands to combine - you don't want the little pieces to disappear!
  7. Shape into cylinders, or whatever shape you're feeling, with your hands. Again, go easy here and don't compress the mixture too much.
  8. Bring the oil back up to 350°F and add your shaped tots (you might want to work in batches here too). Allow the tots fry without moving them for 1 minute, then carefully separate and move with your spoon (or metal spider). Fry until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes longer and adjust the temperature of the oil as needed.
  9. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  10. Season immediately with salt.
Notes
Make a dip for your tots (because, why wouldn't you?!): I mixed some lime juice with sour cream and scallions and all was right and well in my kitchen and stomach.

Slightly adapted from this Serious Eats recipe 

Plum Butter

Yo stone fruit, I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish out this season, but the fruit butter version of yourself is just so ridiculously good that I can’t wait. I don’t go back to school anymore and my jobs aren’t seasonal so I’ve found new ways to mark the end of summer… in the kitchen. I’m already daydreaming about roast meats, root vegetables, and hearty breads yet at the same time I’m hoarding all the fresh fruit I can get my hands on. It’s cool, I’m just playing the food field.

Recently a friend asked if I wanted to participate in a canning exchange that she organizes. Everyone who joins in (8-10 people) cans or pickles 8-10 jars of something delicious. They mail it to the canning master and she repackages so we all get one of everything and then she mails them back out. Edible (or drinkable) mail is my favorite kind of mail.I’ve had tons of ideas for this exchange but haven’t yet decided what I’ll make. Also, I’ve never really canned food, the proper stay-on-the-shelf forever kind of way, and I’m totally afraid of poisoning someone. I think I’ve read every “how to not give people botulism” article out there.

While I was thinking long and hard about what to contribute to the exchange, and at the same time buying up way too many nectarines and plums, I decided to test out a method for making fruit butter. This was inspired by not only the pounds of fruit laying around my kitchen but also this article I read awhile back claiming you can make fruit butters in your slow cooker.A no stove time, set it and forget it, easy way to make delicious plum butter?! Amazing.

Not only was it a great time to test a recipe (and method), but plum butter fit my book club’s theme for snacking this month at our meeting* so I got to try out the final product on a group of willing and gracious friends.*We try to theme the snacks at our meet-ups so that they’re somehow tied to the book. This month we read Gone Girl so the theme was “food that isn’t what you think it is”. I have some pretty genius friends, right? So plum butter isn’t really butter! Trust me, when I realized that it was the perfect fit, I was just as excited as you must be right now.

I’m so excited to share this recipe. It’s close to the easiest recipe I now know and the final product is delicious and versatile. It’s also the perfect thing to make right now when you realize there is, indeed, a limit to the amount of fresh fruit an adult can consume in one day even though it’s all sitting in your fridge…or in two months from now when you forget that and start hoarding gorgeous fall apples.
Plum Butter

Serves: Makes about 12oz

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs plums halved and the pit taken out (I read you can leave the pit and just take them out easily when done cooking)
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Place plums in slow cooker and toss them in the sugar (no need to add any extra liquid!). Cover and set your cooker to low for 12-13 hours.
  2. After 12-13 hours take cover off and test the plums with a fork. They will look stewed (much darker) and should fall apart when the fork hits them. If there's a lot of liquid inside keep the cover off and let it cook for another 1-2 hours. Shut the heat.
  3. To blend it up I used an immersion blender right in the slow cooker. You can also transfer the plums to another dish or into a food processor or blender. Blend till smooth. Add in the cinnamon and vanilla to taste and blend one final time.
  4. Let it cool. Eat it straight away or keep it in the fridge for a week or two. You can also can it and enjoy it later (like in the middle of the winter with those roasts and hearty breads).