Crispy Cauliflower + Homemade Ranch


As a vegetarian, I have no appetite for a food like chicken. However, I’m not crazy. I like food, and I enjoy the enticing smell of fried chicken. I get a little hungry when the Publix fried chicken commercial comes on [let’s be honest– it’s borderline food porn, which you can view here].

It’s tough to find a vegetarian alternative that really satisfies that craving for something crispy and salty and fatty. This cauliflower recipe certainly does the trick!

When it comes to frying foods, I have always been a huge fan of what my husband and I call SBP (aka Standard Breading Procedure). Anytime we decide to fry something it has always been SBP- dredge in flour, soak in egg, coat in bread crumbs or panko.

This recipe uses a different breading technique, one that leaves you with a crunchy, flaky, and deliciously crisp snack. It is even easier, requiring only two bowls and NO raw egg!


I am also adding my recipe for homemade ranch. I always keep a large jar of this in my fridge, and it is really easy to make. It’s also MUCH creamier and fresh-flavored than bottled varieties of ranch.

Crispy Cauliflower + Homemade Ranch


for the cauliflower
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder and paprika
1/4 teaspoon each: onion powder and turmeric
1 cup buttermilk
1 head of cauliflower
1 cup flour  (+1/4 teaspoon kosher salt)
vegetable oil

for the ranch
(makes about 1 cup of ranch dressing)
1/4 cup each: milk, sour cream, and mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon each: dried parsley, garlic powder, kosher salt, pepper, and Penzey’s mural of flavor*
1/8 teaspoon each: onion powder and dried dill


To make the ranch dressing, whisk all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. You can store this in a large mason jar in the fridge. Feel free to adjust the ratios to your taste! I enjoy the herbal quality that Penzey’s mural of flavor spice blend adds, but it isn’t necessary if you don’t have it already in your kitchen!


For the cauliflower, begin by mixing all the herbs and spices in a large bowl or gallon plastic bag.* Add the buttermilk in and stir thoroughly.

*I used a plastic bread bowl that my grandmother gave to me. It has a top on it, so it is perfect for battering veggies (and rising bread dough).

Next, wash and chop the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Coat the florets in the buttermilk mixture. I put the lid on the bowl and shook it around, but you can accomplish this with your hands or a spatula. Be sure to generously coat each piece. Then, set this bowl aside, allowing the cauliflower to “marinate”.


Prepare the oil in a small pot, about 2 inches deep, over medium heat.

In a second bowl, combine the flour with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Measure out 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk-spice mixture and blend it into the flour until it has a crumbly texture.

Take each, buttermilk-soaked floret and coat it generously in the crumbly flour mixture.

Test if the oil is ready by dropping a bit of batter into the pot. If it sputters and bubbles, it’s time to fry!

Fry the coated florets in batches, replenishing the oil as needed. Give each batch about five minutes to cook the cauliflower and get golden and crispy! Set them aside to cool and drain on a paper towel.




Serve with ranch as an appetizer, snack, or side. Enjoy!




Dill Pickle Chips and Alabama White Sauce


picklesFried pickles are one of my favorite fried foods, and I love fried things, so that’s sayin’ something! These pickles are Cajun seasoned (though not very spicy) and coated in a very basic buttermilk-flour batter. In my opinion, the dill pickle is the only type of pickle that should be fried. The saltiness of the pickle is an absolutely perfect compliment for the crunch of the batter.

As far as I’m concerned, deep frying things in a home kitchen is quite possibly the grossest and most appalling cooking activity. Normally, I would recommend avoiding it at all costs. So, I am challenging anyone who would like to try this recipe in a skillet with just an inch or two of oil to do so because I would love to hear the results!! I am desperate to find a way of doing this that does not involve deep frying.

As of now, this recipe does involve deep frying, but despite the oiliness and excess of oil that results, I would definitely encourage everyone to try it because these dill pickle chips are ahhhmazing!

White sauce, or as we call it in northern Alabama “whyyyte sauce”, is a very particular kind of BBQ sauce. In northern Alabama, if you order barbecue, the natural way of serving it is with this mayonnaise-vinegar sauce that was developed by Bob Gibson in 1925. (You can find out more about the regionality of BBQ sauces in Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Handbook.) White sauce has an extremely limited geographical reach and just so happens to be very different from its tomato-based counterparts, but it is somewhat similar to a Carolinian pepper-vinegar sauce. This white sauce recipe is courtesy of my dad, who was born and raised in Decatur, AL, the home of Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ!

For the mayo in white sauce I will always and forever recommend Duke’s. I actually get my Duke’s mayo shipped to me via amazon, because I cannot buy it in California and I am NOT kidding it is just that good. (Feel free to read more about the magic of Duke’s here.)

picklesFinally, I know that the last step about baking them after frying them may seem really superfluous, but it will give them the crunch that makes them so very satisfying to eat!

Dill Pickle Chips with Alabama White Sauce


for the Pickles
32 ounces sliced, dill pickles
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cups AP flour
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

for the White Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
5-6 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
4-5 drops Worcestershire sauce

picklesFirst, to make the pickle chips: Make sure you drain the pickles and pat them dry a bit.

picklesWhisk together the egg, buttermilk, 1 tbs flour, and Worcestershire sauce together in a small bowl.

picklesIn a larger bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, cayenne, oregano, and the rest of the flour.

picklesBe sure to bread all of the pickles before frying, they cook very quickly and you really don’t want to be stuck trying to do everything at once with boiling oil in the kitchen! To bread them, first, dip the pickles (one by one) in the buttermilk mixture.

picklesThen, coat them generously in the flour mixture. You can lay them all out on a plate or large platter, they shouldn’t be too sticky.

In a large pot, over medium heat, get the vegetable oil up to 350°F. (Throw a bit of batter in there to test it, if it starts spitting and bubbling, you’re ready to go!) Cooking the pickles 6-10 at a time, let them crisp to a golden brown and then gently lift them out of the oil and onto a draining plate.

picklesWhen you are done frying the pickles, preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange them on a baking sheet and bake them for about 5 minutes.

picklesThey are ready to come out after they have browned a bit and gotten very very crispy.

picklesThen, make the white sauce:

Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, pepper, Lawry’s, and Worcestershire sauce together until it foams. You are welcome to make this sauce as thin or thick as you like (by adjusting the vinegar). I love very thin white sauce, and usually add a larger amount of vinegar.

picklesServe up your pickles and white sauce!







The Best, Buttery, Flaky, Easy-Peasy, Southern Biscuit

biscuitsWhat can I say about biscuits that does justice to how wonderfully delicious they can be? What can I say about biscuits that does justice to how incredibly dry and disgusting they can be? A good biscuit is like nothing else in the world. It’s not dry, it is delicate and flaky, but it won’t fall apart too easily; it’s buttery, it’s salty, and it is just slightly sweet! A good biscuit is so many things and it can be eaten in so many amazing ways.

You can eat a biscuit loaded up with eggs and cheese and meat (or veggie meat in my case!). You can eat a biscuit toasted with butter. Biscuits are great with honey, they are delicious with all kinds of jams and jellies. Biscuits are delicious just by themselves. You can even add a bunch of silly stuff to the recipe to cook into the biscuit!


Okay, okay, I know I sound ridiculous. Seriously, though. I have missed biscuits. For some reason, California restaurants make biscuits that are more like scones. These biscuits are pretty dry and dense, and just not what I’m looking for when I am up super early in the morning interacting with people, “Can I have a biscuit please??” Now, don’t get me wrong, I love scones. It’s just, when I use the word biscuit, I am referring to something completely different.

So, several months ago I set out on a quest to find an amazing biscuit recipe. I read a bunch of sciency articles and thought about what kind of biscuit I was looking to make. This is the result! This recipe is incredibly easy to make, and if you aren’t in the mood to go out and buy cake flour for it, you can even use AP flour if you like. The cake flour just makes the biscuit more flaky, fluffy, and light- all qualities that I love in biscuits, and it keeps them from being too dry! Another flour alternative (for the purist) is White Lily. Personally, I am not always able to use White Lily because I have to special order it (California grocers don’t carry biscuit flour). However, White Lily is the flour of standard use for biscuits in the south. If you’re interested in a true, Southern biscuit experience, White Lily is the way to go. It is specially formulated for biscuit making, as it is lighter (think Italian 00″).


Southern Biscuits
Makes about 8 large biscuits

2 1/4 cups cake flour/White Lily flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup  buttermilk
parchment paper for baking



To start, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.


Next, cut the butter into little chunks and melt it in the microwave on low power. You want to make sure it doesn’t sputter or cook too much, it just needs to be liquified. Pour the melted butter into the flour mixture.

With your hands, mix the butter in until it has a mealy, gritty texture. You want all of the flour to soak up butter so that it all looks wet, but it shouldn’t be smooth.

Finally, pour in the buttermilk and carefully mix everything together until you have formed a semi-smooth dough. It will still have some mealy bits in it, but don’t worry too much about this, they bake out!


Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it in parchment paper and buttering the parchment paper.

Next, prepare a rolling station. Cover a flat surface with flour and roll the dough out into a 1/2″ thick sheet.

Using the rim of a cup or a biscuit cutter, carefully shape your biscuits.

Note: Make sure when you do this that you push the biscuit cutter down into the dough but do not twist it to sever the dough. If you do that twisting motion (as natural as it feels), it will seal the edges of the dough and the biscuits will not rise to perfection!


I prefer to do this in small increments. I take just a handful of dough and flatten it and only make one or two biscuits, then continue until I’ve finished with the dough. You can also re-incorporate scraps into the larger dough mass this way.

Next, take your sharpest knife and slice a shallow nick around the entire circumference of each biscuit. This will aid the rising process for the fluffiest biscuits possible!

Arrange the biscuits on the baking sheet, leaving enough space in between them for rising.

Bake them for 15 minutes, and then remove them. Butter them generously to make for the browned tops. (Alternatively, you can do a basic egg wash in the last five minutes of baking.)

Place them back into the oven for another 2 or 3 minutes just to let them brown.


Biscuits are best when they’re fresh!


Dress them in whatever way you prefer and enjoy!