Ragin’ Cajun for Dinner: Étouffée w/Cauliflower Rice

Ragin’ Cajun for Dinner: Étouffée w/Cauliflower Rice

Creole Menu Tonight — YUM!

A trip to N’awlins is all about the food. Ragin’ Cajun everything from cocktails to seafood. Étouffée is one of my favorite dishes. It begins with a slowly cooked roux that deepens the nutty, rich quality of the sauce. A simple spice mix creates the distinct flavor, and a trinity of finely chopped onion, celery and pepper is the tradition. I like to chop the shrimp so that each piece swims in the sauce. Instead of a scoop of rice, I use my favorite cauliflower rice to further the veggie quotient in the dish. It all comes together in minutes, so it’s perfect for a weekday meal.

Shrimp Étouffée

With a Scoopful of Cauliflower Rice

Serves 4

40 Minute Cuisine

When company comes a callin’, feel free to double the recipe and let it simmer until you’re ready to serve. Just remember to add the shrimp at the last minute.

For Cauliflower:
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ head cauliflower, trimmed and finely chopped into rice-size pieces (you can use a food processor for this)
1 to 2 cups homemade chicken stock or prepared low sodium broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For Étouffée:
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 medium red onion, finely diced
4 celery stalks, finely diced
½ green bell pepper, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
8 ounces diced tomatoes
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of ½ lemon, about 1 tablespoon
4 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce
¾ pounds fresh jumbo shrimp, (21 – 25 shrimp per pound), previously frozen, thawed, tails removed, chopped into ½-inch pieces
3 green onions, finely sliced

Heat two tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Toss the cauliflower in the melted butter to coat. Cook for 2 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken broth. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cauliflower until it is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. As the liquid disappears add more (a little bit at a time) until the cauliflower is as tender as rice.

Stir together the paprika, garlic powder, thyme, oregano and black pepper in a small bowl.

Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the top. Whisk the flour into the butter and cook until the roux becomes caramel colored, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Season with half of the spice mix. Cook until the veggies are soft, about 10 minutes more. Pour in the tomatoes and clam juice. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is thick, about 5 to 8 minutes more. Add the lemon juice and as much hot pepper sauce as you like. Taste and season with salt.

Toss the chopped shrimp with the remaining spice mix. Add the shrimp to the sauce. Cook until the shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes.

Serve shrimp etouffee in a shallow bowl with a scoop of cauliflower rice in the center, and garnish with green onion.

Rise Up Risotto!

Rise Up Risotto!

Risotto

I love creamy, cheesy, richly flavored risotto. I love everything about it. I also love tapioca pudding and rich, runny cream of wheat. It’s a thing……. But, my new favorite craving is cauliflower risotto. The dish gives you all the feel of those creamy dishes, and adds just a bit of “it’s good for you” by substituting starch with veg. I must admit, I make this dish about once a week., and in the coming weeks of Autumn am going to ramp things up by using a wide variety of squash at mealtime.

Now that Fall’s in the air, we can’t get away from it: pumpkins, delicatas, acorn squash, and of course, butternut. My favorite way to elevate a squash’s flavor, is to roast it with chili and cinnamon. Squash is simply the perfect canvas for these spices. Combining the two, cauliflower and roasted, spiced squash creates a company-worthy dish that you can make in minutes, and even freeze for later use.

Yes, you heard me right: FREEZE for later use. I never would have thought of this, but ran across a great article on GroomandStyle.com on 10 Awesome Recipes That Freeze Well.

One of the dishes they claim freezes well, is their bacon risotto. While it’s on my to-do list to try that particular recipe, Groom & Style’s freezing technique worked wonders for my healthy risotto recipe, given below. If you visit GroomandStyle, be sure to look at the recipe for Freezer-Friendly Bagel Bombs, too. I may have to get to that one immediately!

Cauliflower Risotto

With Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Serves 6

30 Minute Cuisine

Roasting butternut squash, with chili and cinnamon, flavors this entire risotto dish. The creamy texture of the cauliflower is developed by slowly simmering the ingredients in a rich chicken stock.  

For squash

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into ½-inch squares (about 3 cups)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper

For risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1 head cauliflower, chopped into coarse crumbs, about 6 cups

3 cups homemade chicken stock or prepared low sodium broth

½ cup half and half

2 tablespoons butter

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the butternut squash chunks onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder, cinnamon, garlic and onion powders, and season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss the squash with the seasonings to coat every piece. Bake until the squash is soft and golden brown, about 20 minutes. You can use a spatula to move the squash pieces around about halfway through baking.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring so that the cauliflower does not burn. Add one cup of chicken stock and stir. When the liquid is absorbed, add another cup. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the cauliflower for 5 minutes. Add the remaining cup of chicken stock, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Scrape the squash into the cauliflower. Stir in the half and half, and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Swirl in the Parmesan cheese.

Cook’s Tip

You can purchase cauliflower that has already been chopped into rice-size pieces. Or, you can use a food processor to chop a whole head of cauliflower. Remove the leaves, stem and core. Cut into large chunks, and place into the bowl of your machine. Pulse until the pieces resemble crumbs.

After Market Leftovers

If you have leftovers (and I really doubt that you will), you can freeze cauliflower risotto. Bring to room temperature before you gently reheat.

All over this Recipe like White on Rice!

All over this Recipe like White on Rice!

I’m feeling pretty good these days. I found a healthy lifestyle diet – the Whole30. It’s a misnomer to say “diet” – it’s just 30 days of eating so well, you hardly notice you’ve cut carbs, sugar, dairy and alcohol from your life. When the 30 days are up, you can (although you might be feeling so great, you don’t want to) gradually add these foods back in, and see how you react after a month of eating clean. I don’t follow the plan religiously, but enough to say I lost several pounds, get compliments on how much younger I look, and left my doctor’s office with A+ blood work. Here’s the Whole30 Program’s official site if you’re interested in ideal health and wellness.

Doing this for myself, made me – as a recipe developer – rethink a lot of dinnertime staples. What’s a stir-fry without rice? I asked myself. It turns out, you can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating white rice, in less time in the kitchen than if you were actually making…WHITE RICE!

I’ve made fried “rice” a lot this summer, using my own go-to CAULIFLOWER FRIED RICE recipe. Though delicious, anyone doing Whole 30 must be advised to delete the soy sauce from the ingredient list. My “rice” stands as a good recipe without it; I simply enjoy the salty kick! NOTE: Whole30 publishes a list of approved substitutes, if you’re looking to replace the soy sauce with something just as good.

Since Whole30 reminds me of the Paleo diet with attitude, I’ve tried all kinds of meats with my “rice”.  This recipe is particularly good with a kabob stick of grilled shrimp on top!

With a single head of cauliflower, you can make enough to have leftovers. A brilliant shortcut in making it, is to use matchstick carrots from the grocery store. Worth noting too: the recipe pasted below is not the Bible on Cauliflower Rice. You can add or subtract the ingredients you see listed. Last night, I made it with just carrots, onion and generous splashes of Sriracha Sauce and curry powder. It was so spicy and delicious, I could swear I was an Indian chef in a past life!

Please know that you don’t have to have a food processor to make this! A garden variety spatula can chop your cauliflower to rice-sized bits just fine. Savagely attack your veggies as they roast in your sauté pan. YUM!!!!!

When the “rice” is ready, trick your brain into thinking you’re having a carb-infused gourmet restaurant experience, by following these 2 simple steps (1) Pack the rice into a small cup or ramekin (2) Turn it upside down, and let sit for a second.  Shake the cup gently loose. VIOLA, it looks like this!

Now, here’s my recipe, with about 80 percent less calories than real rice. Let me know what you think!

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Serves 4 as a side dish

30 Minute Cuisine

Here’s one for those veggie lovers out there. Cauliflower takes the place of rice in this riff on a traditional Asian side dish. Fresh peas, carrots and two types of onion take the veggie quotient to the upper limits!

I large head cauliflower, stem and outer leaves removed

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 medium white onion, peeled and diced

2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed and diced, about 1 cup

¼ pound fresh shelled peas, 1 cup

2 large eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

4 to 5 green onions, thinly sliced, about ½ cup

Chop the cauliflower into pieces and place into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower looks like rice. This will only take a few pulses.

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the cauliflower, white onion and carrots. Cook until soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce. Add the peas to the pan. Cook until the peas are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the eggs are soft and fluffy. Sprinkle green onions on top. Serve as a side dish or top with grilled shrimp or chicken for a whole meal.