Those of you who know me well, know that I like to be somewhat of a trendsetter, not a follower...but, with that being said, I could not help but get on the 'carb free, cauliflower pizza crust' craze recently, when I decided to try and cut out carbs from my diet. I can't imagine life without pizza so I decided to make my own cauliflower crusted pizza, with a twist! Easy, tasty and pretty too, this crust goes together in minutes. Top with your favorite toppings - I used zucchini and mushrooms that I sautéed first in olive oil, threw on some sliced red onions and added a little bit of tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.
Just heat and eat.
Broccoli-Cauliflower Crusted Pizza
1 head cauliflower, stalk removed
1 small head of broccoli, stalk removed (optional, some people prefer the color and flavor of all cauliflower)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp dried oregano or basil or a pinch of both
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Break the cauliflower and broccoli into florets and pulse in a food processor until fine. Place the broccoli-cauliflower mixture in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Let cool for a minute and then put in a kitchen towel or cheese cloth and wring all of the excess water out, you don't want a soggy crust! Combine the cauliflower and broccoli in a bowl with the mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder and eggs. Mix well. Transfer to a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread out to the edges or put in the center of a large baking sheet and spread into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Bake for 20 minutes.
Add desired toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.
In just a few weeks we will officially start to celebrate summer but the barbecue grill will be fired up long before then as it's never really out of use here in California. Recently, while looking for ideas for a local wine pairing dinner, I came across this recipe for grilled rib eye steak on a Food and Wine magazine web page. I love the addition of chipotle powder in the rub mixture as it lends a mild smokiness to the steak. The lime butter was a bit surprising to me. On chicken maybe, but steak? OMG YES! This is the best flavor combination—unexpected but oh so welcome to my grilled dinner anytime. Pair this with a Malbec or Tempranillo. Let the sun shine in!
Spice Rubbed Rib Eye Steaks
1 1/2 t sweet paprika
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 1/2 t chipotle powder
1 1/2 t kosher salt
Two, 16-ounce, 1-inch thick, boneless rib eye steaks
Combine the salt, paprika, cumin and chipotle powder and rub the mixture all over the steaks. Let sit for a couple of hours out of the refrigerator. Get a bbq ready and grill the steaks over moderately high heat, turning once, until slightly charred and medium-rare, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a platter and slather with the lime butter.
Let the steaks rest for 5-6 minutes before serving.
4 T unsalted butter, softened
1 small garlic clove, minced
finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, lime zest, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Keep at room temp until the steaks are done.
I think I have told you about my book club, we meet for dinner once a month and always cook something inspired by the book. Last week I made this Cremini mushroom crostata. Cremini mushrooms are simply white button mushrooms allowed to grow a bit longer, so they have a bit more texture and flavor. We had just finished reading a book called "Circling the Sun" about a woman living in Kenya around the turn of the last century. In one of the chapters, she threw a party and made a mushroom crostata. A crostata is a rustic, free-form tart, usually filled with fruit but veggies work well too! It was actually easy to make the crust in the food processor and easy to handle so don't be intimidated. I served this as an appetizer but it would also be delicious as a light lunch dish served with a simple green salad.
Cremini Mushroom, Roasted Garlic, Fontina & Thyme Crostata
First, make the dough (it has to chill for an hour or make it a day ahead) and then get the garlic roasting.
3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c (6 oz) cold butter, diced
1/2 t salt
1/4 c ice cold water (you will add 1/8 c first and more as needed)
1 egg (for egg wash)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour and salt in a food processor. Add cold butter and pulse until sandy. Add 1/8 cup cold water. Mix or pulse until dough begins to form. Add more water as needed until dough forms. Gather dough, flatten into a pancake, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for one hour or refrigerate over night. Flour surface and roll out dough to a 1/8 inch thick round (won't be perfect, this is rustic!). It will be thinner than you think necessary, but this makes for a great crust. Roll the edges of the crust inward a few times to form a proper edge. Place dough on cookie sheet. Cover dough with a piece of aluminum foil, add weights or dry beans, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil and weights, poke all over the bottom with a fork and bake for 7 minutes. Beat egg. Coat entire dough in egg wash and bake for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool for 10 minutes.
8 medium sized cloves of garlic, whole & unpeeled
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap garlic cloves in aluminum foil and drizzle with oil. Throw in some fresh thyme stalks and bake for 40 minutes, until soft. Cool. Peel garlic cloves and spread the soft roasted garlic over the bottom of the crust in a light even layer.
1 lb Cremini mushrooms (you could mix in some wild ones too, if you like)
1 T fresh thyme leaves stripped from their stem
4 oz Italian fontina cheese, shredded (any soft, melting cheese with good flavor works)
2 T butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T extra virgin olive oil
After you have prepared the crust with the roasted garlic spread, raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Clean, trim, and chop mushrooms and stems. Put the mushrooms aside in medium size bowl. Drizzle 1 T olive oil over mushrooms, add a large pinch of salt, and toss. Melt butter in large sauté pan until sizzling and then add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with half of the thyme leaves. Cook over medium to medium high heat until all liquid is absorbed, about ten minutes. Toss in the rest of the thyme, a big dash of salt and pepper and cook for a minute. With a slotted spoon remove mushrooms from the pan. Put back into medium sized bowl. Let cool for ten minutes. Add shredded cheese and combine. Spread mushrooms and cheese evenly across the garlic schmeared crust. Return to oven and cook 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes and serve. This is also great at room temperature or the next morning cold from the fridge.
Flageolet beans are a French kidney bean whose color ranges from a lovely pale green to creamy white. They are usually prepared simply in order to showcase their delicate flavor. My friend Tricia gifted me a pound of these delightfully tender beans as a thank you for my donation of some duck breasts to her cassoulet party that she had in January when I was in Mexico. I am sad to have missed the party but I am happy to have benefitted from the gift of the beans! The flavors in this classic French soup perfectly complement each other and possess a depth of flavor that invites one to pique-nique par le feu. Spread out a blanket, find a friend, open a good bottle of Pinot Noir and voilå—a cozy and deliciously satisfying night at home. Add some good, crusty bread, some olives marinated in citrus and some French feta to make the meal perfection.
Flageolet Bean Soup
2 T good olive oil
*3 slices thick sliced bacon, chopped into 1/2 pieces (I like Dailey's brand)
1 onion, chopped to 1/2" dice
2 carrots, chopped to 1/2" dice
1 fennel bulb, quartered and sliced thinly
3 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
1 # flageolet beans (from Corti Brothers or Rancho Gordo) soak the beans overnight in water, drain and rinse or do a quick soak...place beans in a pot and cover with cold water, bring to a boil then turn off and let sit for one hour. Drain, rinse and proceed.
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can chopped tomatoes
6 c chicken stock (substitute veggie stock if you like)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Pour the olive oil into a large soup pot and heat for a few minutes, add the bacon and fry until crispy and browned. Add the onion, carrots, fennel and garlic and cook until soft and golden, stirring often. Add the beans, rosemary, stock and tomatoes. Bring soup to a boil and skim off any foam. Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 2-3 hours until the beans are tender. Taste for salt and pepper. Don't add salt until the end or the beans won't cook. This soup freezes well.
*For a vegetarian version, leave the bacon out and add 1 tsp of smoked paprika.
Out in Annie's garden the asparagus are shooting up quickly, standing up so straight and tall, just waiting to be broken off, cooked and enjoyed. There are so many easy ways to prepare asparagus, roasting, steaming, sautéing...but I have decided to pan sear a salmon filet today so I am going to prepare the asparagus in the same pan for ease. Topped off with an Orange-Pistachio Pesto, (my friend and co-chef, Kathleen is sharing her recipe for this special sauce that is a favorite at Wren Catering) this dish cooks up in just 20 minutes and is fancy enough to serve for a spring dinner party or even an Easter feast!
1 # asparagus spears, broken at the bend point
2 T unsalted butter
salt + pepper
Melt the butter in a large skillet until bubbly. Add the asparagus, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, (depending on the thickness) browning slightly, until you can pierce easily with a sharp knife. Take out and set aside on a sheet pan and let come to room temp or keep warm in a 200 degree oven.
Pan-seared Salmon Filet
4 - 8 oz salmon filet, skin off, about 1" thick at the center
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
salt + pepper
Pull any bones out of the salmon filets and place the salmon on a plate. Sprinkle 1 T olive oil over the filets and massage on all sides to distribute then sprinkle with salt and pepper. In the same large frying pan, set over medium heat add the butter and the rest of the oil and heat until melted and sizzling. Add the filets, top side down and cook for 2 minutes, then turn the heat to low and continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Turn over and cook for
5 minutes more. Remove the salmon from the pan to a platter and allow to rest for a few minutes before (if) plating. Serve atop the asparagus and spoon some of the pesto on top.
1 c toasted pistachios
2 T lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil
grated zest of one orange
1/4 c fresh orange juice
Place pistachios in the food processor, purée. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Feel free to try using other nuts such as almonds or hazelnuts for a different flavor direction. This sauce is equally good on chicken, pork or veggies.
Note: This sauce is vegan so spoil your vegan friends.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"