cauliflower

Crispy Cauliflower + Homemade Ranch

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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!

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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

Ingredients

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

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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!

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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”.

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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.

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

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Cauliflower Tortillas and Breakfast Burritos

cauliflower tortillas

About 8000 years ago someone amazing figured out that if you grind up wheat you can get flour out of it and make delicious things. The original tools used to perform this task were made of stone, and they continued to be made of stone until the 19th century when Europe’s Industrial Revolution instigated the use of metal in mills to grind wheat. Unfortunately, these “modern” processes also take away flour’s greatest, most nutrient-rich components (the germ and bran of the wheat). As usual, I am convinced that the Romans had everything solved perfectly as they used animals or water to power a stone which ground the wheat, leaving the nutrient-dense parts intact… but that is a story for another day!

cauliflower tortilla

Alas, here we are, with a new, cautionary tale every day that demonizes flour and gluten. While I do detest this slander and mourn the loss of my favorite ingredient’s good name, it has lead us to some interesting and exciting discoveries. When we ask the question: what can I use instead of flour, we get many answers (some more disgusting than others). So far, my absolute favorite answer is: cauliflower!

We have made muffins and pizza crusts out of cauliflower with great success. Our most recent use of this oddball veggie is for tortillas. For anyone concerned with calorie or carbohydrate counts, flour tortillas are basically a no-go. They are extremely compact and therefore calorie-dense, it’s just not worth it. However, these cauliflower tortillas make for a darn good substitute. They are only 28 calories per tortilla, with 1.5 grams of fat and carbs, but a whopping 2.3 grams of protein! While they do break apart more easily than traditional flour tortillas, they are much more moist and flavorful. If you’re okay eating your burrito open-faced, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

cauliflower tortillas

As for the process of making them, as far as I can tell they do require a blender. You need to rice the cauliflower, and although I’ve read that you can do that with a grater, it sounds messy and frustrating to me. With the food processor, it doesn’t take but an hour or so to make and bake them, totally worth it!

Cauliflower Tortillas

makes 6-7 tortillas

Ingredients
1 head cauliflower
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

additional items
blender
cheese cloth or tons of paper towels
parchment paper

cauliflower tortillas

Loosely chop the cauliflower, discarding the green stems and leaves.

Place the cauliflower in a blender with one cup of water. Blend it until it looks almost like disintegrated styrofoam floating in the water (that’s a weird simile, but that’s what it will look like). Scoop the cauliflower out and drain it on paper towels or through a cheese cloth. You want to get it as compact as possible. Place it on a plate and microwave it for ten minutes.

When it is done cooking, take it out and carefully drain it again. I took my time with this, as the cauliflower was still very hot from the microwave. I used a combination of paper towels and a cheese cloth to get it (again) as compact and dry as possible.

Measure out two cups of the mixture (this should be essentially all of the riced cauliflower). Combine it with the eggs and spices in a medium-sized bowl.

The mixture should look like thick grits. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully shape six or seven tortillas. We used a heaping 1/4 cup of mixture for each tortilla and pushed it into a circle with the bottom of the measuring cup.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the tortillas for ten minutes. After the first ten minutes, very carefully peel up each tortilla and flip it over. They are fairly fragile, so you want to use the biggest spatula you have! Bake them for ten more minutes or until they are dry and browned! Let them cool thoroughly before enjoying them!

Try not to stack them before they are cooled, as they will stick and break apart. You can treat these like any tortilla, except they don’t wrap up as well because they break apart. If you want to add some extra crispiness and a buttery flavor, you can heat them up in a skillet with some butter! We made breakfast burritos and just enjoyed them open-faced, more like tacos! (Pictured below: open-faced breakfast burrito. Scrambled egg whites with soy sausage, shallots, shredded pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo, and parsley. All on a cauliflower tortilla!)

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Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins

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Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!! I hope that the past week has been full of revelry and sinfully delicious food!! Unfortunately, I have been battling pneumonia over here and haven’t enjoyed this week as much as I’d like! But, with Lent coming up, William and I will be trying out the Daniel Fast. It is a very restrictive diet, and we have been trying to ease ourselves into it slowly. Part of this adventure entails a focus on plant-based foods that are ALL natural. Exploring this ‘new’ world of foods has been an eye-opening journey to say the least.

The preservatives and chemicals we thoughtlessly consume on a daily basis are so omnipresent, sticking to the Daniel Fast feels like an impossibility at times (and we haven’t even started). However, the main goal is to eat healthier and eat things that were meant to be food- REAL food. So… going through the ingredients in my fridge right now this means no high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, thiamin mononitrate, methylcellulose, or disodium guanylate. What? I have been consuming all of those things- and if you asked me something as simple as what color they are- I couldn’t tell you. I don’t even know what some of those words actually mean!

This post is not a leap- it’s a stepping stone. It serves as an example of the incredible things you can do with all natural ingredients. My new absolute favorite miracle veggie is cauliflower! See- these are not ordinary muffins. They are actually gluten and wheat free, low in carbs, and high in protein! They are made of cauliflower. It is one of the coolest things I have ever made, I know I’m going to be using cauliflower a TON on the Daniel Fast. It can replace breads either in muffin form, or as a pizza crust. I am currently working on adapting this for vegan use, but for now it does contain egg and cheese.

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Cheddar-Jalapeño Cauliflower Muffins

makes about 12 muffins

recipe largely inspired by IBreatheImHungry

1 small head of cauliflower (you will only be using 2 cups of it)
1 large jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 large eggs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 small clove garlic
1 heaping tablespoon onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

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First, prep the cauliflower. This is the magical part where cauliflower becomes a versatile ingredient. Rinse it carefully, and cut out the stem and core.

cheddar jalapenoCut it into chunks and place it in a blender with some water.

cheddar jalapenoThis is my cheat to “ricing” cauliflower. Get that blender going and let it work its magic.

cheddar jalapenoI know this looks really strange right now. But once it gets smooth (almost like cottage cheese), you can stop the blending and drain out all the water in a strainer.

cheddar jalapenoWhile you are letting the cauliflower drain, clean and mince the jalapeño. I actually keep a small bowl of olive oil on hand when I mince hot peppers so that the capsaicin does not seep into my skin and cause that burning sensation. Be very careful during this process though, and be sure to keep your hands away from your eyes and face!

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Set it aside to cool, so that it does not cook the eggs.

Whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl and add in the jalapeño.

Now, move back to your cauliflower. You can check to see if it has drained by gently pressing it down with a spoon. Try to get out any left over water. Add two cups of the cauliflower to the egg mixture with the jalapeño. Mix all of this together, and slowly add in the butter. You can save the rest of the cauliflower in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. There will be a ton left, but there are so many things you can use this for (including a delicious, gluten-free pizza dough).

Next, add in all three cheeses!

cheddar jalapenoMince the garlic, and add that into the bowl along with the onion flakes, salt, and pepper.

cheddar jalapenoFinally, mix in the coconut flour and baking powder.

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Butter a regular muffin pan generously- these muffins will stick, so you want to make sure you grease the pan very well. Fill the pan with batter. They will not rise too much, so you can fill them up to 3/4 full!

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Preheat the oven to 375° F and bake for 30-35 minutes. You want them to be a dark, golden brown.

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When I took these out of the oven, I was overeager. I immediately wanted to dig in (they’ll make your kitchen smell amazing). BUT, it is best to wait! The original recipe states that you should wait at least a half hour before trying to take them out of the pan. I think you can get at them a little sooner than that. Use a butter knife to gently separate the muffin from the sides of the pan, and slowly work the muffin out.

cheddar jalapenoEnjoy!