Sriracha Sesame Whole Roasted Cauliflower

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Every year when the big holiday events roll around, we inevitably start to plan the Christmas day menu. We don’t eat pork or beef so Christmas hams or garlic pork are both out the question. We tend to stick to our tried and true favourite sides – a potato dish, a pasta dish, stuffing, salad, a fish, steamed veggies, and the occasional wild card – baked beans or an additional stuffing. We usually have it with turkey, salmon, and last year we added cornish game hens. This year we’re saving the hens for New Years and adding lamb to the menu.

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My dad has been a vegetarian for over 20 years and I always admire his restraint around the holidays. I went vegetarian for a month and it was perfectly fine, but I can’t imagine giving up meat on a special occasion. I also always feel bad for him because there’s no big flourish when we take the potatoes from the oven or carving hoopla the way it happens with turkey. There’s a quiet spooning of food into the plate and his not-so-discreet bites while we’re still serving ourselves.

This year, I’ve been seeing roasted cauliflower all over the place. What’s so special about that you ask? Well friends, this cauliflower is an entre roasted head of cauliflower. No cutting into florets or chopping until you have cauliflower rice or couscous. This year I plan to roast a whole cauliflower and set it next to the turkey in all its browned and crispy glory.

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I gave it a test run today and it was pretty great. A note on Sriracha: I’m not going to try to sell you on the merits of sriracha. You either love it or you don’t. I don’t see why you wouldn’t though. It’s a tangy, not so hot pepper sauce that adds a kick to your fried rice, and can actually be used to punch up almost anything – popcorn, meat, chocolate, potatoes, coleslaw, and the list goes on. It’s versatility is sort of like bacon.

Since cauliflower is this blank slate waiting to be flavoured, I am your artist today. Plus I’m feeling a bit temperamental at the moment so double authenticity for the win!

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Sriracha Sesame Whole Roasted Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 33 Minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 whole Medium head Cauliflower
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tbsp Sriracha
1 tsp Soy Sauce
½ -1 tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Black Pepper
¼ tsp Salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut core of cauliflower so that the head can sit flat on a pie plate or tray. Trim outer leaves ensuring that the cauliflower florets stay connected to each other. Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Using a pastry brush or your hands, rub evenly all over cauliflower.

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Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or longer if you prefer your cauliflower to be a bit softer. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Cut into slices and serve.


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I’ll be honest – this blend has a bit of a kick. Feel free to reduce the sriracha or black pepper, but I think the cauliflower can take the heat.

So if you have a vegetarian or vegan in the family or if you’re one yourself, do yourself a favour and try making this. Essentially, you can use any kind of spice paste or a dry spice blend and add some olive oil to it. Roasting a whole cauliflower was so ridiculously easy, there was little cleanup, and very little work. I will definitely be making this again, and I liked it a lot more than roasting individual pieces.

I know my Dad won’t be reading this post due to his technological un-savvy-ness so I’m looking forward to the big reveal on Christmas day. You guys can keep this a secret, right? :)

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Whiskey Buttercream Frosting

This weekend, I finally got my cookie plates prepared and shared to out to friends. After a lot of planning and work, I was happy to put together a plate that consisted of Eggnog Muffins & Whiskey Frosting, Cranberry & Crystallized Ginger Shortbread, Lemon Oat Sugar Cookies, Oreo Truffles, Chocolate Gingerbread People, and Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Cake. To be honest, I had two other things I wanted to add but time got away from me, I was pretty tired and was kind of feeling like a failure. My icing skills are not that great and I wanted things to look good.

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Rabin and my brother Suraj had to suffer through hearing a lot of “are you sure this looks good? Why is my hand so shaky?! I could never be a surgeon! Ugh Icing sucks”. They talked me down from that frosted abyss many times. Special props also go to them for packing the plates and neatly writing out the list of items on the plate…and if you know Rabin’s handwriting you’ll know the effort it took for him to write neatly. I was also blamed for giving him carpal tunnel syndrome. Because hours of swiping at the iPad changing fantasy football players HEALS your wrist! :p

Generally, when I bake, I don’t use frosting or any kind of decorative thing on my cupcakes. I’m lazy and also don’t like that much sweet. It also makes it easier to convince myself that an un-frosted cupcake is a perfectly acceptable breakfast. However, when I do want to present cupcakes to people, I feel the need to frost them. Sort of the way that putting on makeup is an effort for me and is only done on the most special of occasions.

I’ve made these eggnog muffins before and although I really like them, they tend to run a bit dry, so the need for frosting is even more evident. The recipe I used called for icing sugar and white rum, but I didn’t have white rum and didn’t think that plain icing sugar would be that great.

So I decided to make a quick buttercream frosting. I also couldn’t just omit the liquor, so I went with the staple of every bar in Guyana – Johnnie Walker. And come on – doesn’t saying ‘whiskey’ makes you feel more hardcore and dangerous than saying ‘rum’? Anyone can drink rum, but badasses drink whiskey. My drink of choice is vodka by the way, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Whiskey Buttercream Frosting

  • Time: 5 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 stick Butter (1/2 cup), softened
1.5 cups Confectioner’s Sugar
1 tsp dried Vanilla (or regular vanilla extract)
1 tsp Whiskey of choice (I used Johnnie Walker Black Label)
4 tbsp Whipped Cream

Mix butter & sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, whipped cream & whiskey and mix for another minute or so until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add more whipped cream (1 tbsp at a time) if desired.

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You’ll see the hulk-ish colour of my frosting – I added about 1/4 tsp green food colouring to the mix. Of course, tinting the frosting is your choice. To be honest, I cheered when the mixer started flinging the colour all over the place like tie-dye on acid. Needless to say, I was the only one the house that reached that level of excitement…or any level of excitement at all.

I also like adding the dried Tahitian vanilla to the mix because apart from the flavour, you see the dark flecks throughout the icing which gives it a unique look without compromising the taste. You can definitely use regular vanilla though. The frosting tends to melt quickly so just stick it in the fridge for a few minutes if you need it to firm up.

Apart from being super easy, I like the flexibility of this recipe. It can work with lots of flavours of cupcakes / muffins, you can add different extracts (I used almond extract in another recipe and it was freakin’ magical), or add more whiskey. Better yet, add more whiskey and omit the butter, sugar, vanilla and whipped cream. Just a thought.

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Oven Baked Truffle Fries

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The Christmas season is upon us! December 1st brought out the spirit in lots of my friends and not only did I manage to have lunch, afternoon and late night cocktails, I finally saw Mockingjay and wrote out a good set of Christmas cards. Yes, Rabin and I are trying to be respectable adults this year and send out physical Christmas cards. How great is it to receive actual mail?

Anyway so with the Christmas spirit floating around, I know I’ll be inclined to indulge in the other type of spirits. Ok. Fine! I’ve already indulged. Many times. This has led to the inevitable wake up call to my stomach which in turn, starts yelling for the best food ever – french fries.

I love fries. It’s my go-to food, and quite often I choose it when there are perfectly wonderful other options. In fact, I had fries for lunch today. It’s perfect bar food too – Its filling and soaks up the alcohol and the salt in the fries followed by a sip of beer is indescribable.

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While I love fries in their pristine original form (hot and salty and crispy) and don’t need anything else, I also love the associated condiments – ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, pepper, etc. Add garlic powder or cajun seasoning or cumin or cilantro or black pepper or basil and I’m still a happy gal.

Also, oven baked fries have their own merits. Although they take longer to bake than to fry, they tend to crisp up in a way regular fries can’t and it may just be my mind playing tricks on me, but I tend to fill up faster on oven fries. Plus I have a strict “Indi does not deep-fry food” policy at my house.

If you’re not a beer person and prefer wine, then this is the recipe for you. I mean I’m not going to be a jerk and tell you what to drink with your meal, but this meal feels like classy comfort food and I just feel like if you’re going to treat yourself, then go all out. I mean, what screams luxury louder than truffles? I’m not talking about chocolate truffles, but the earthy, mushroom-y truffles that fancy chefs go on about in all the best restaurants.

Truffle oil has an earthy, distinct flavor. It actually did make me think of potatoes when I smelled it first so I kinda think that they’re made for each other. Maybe they were subsurface best friends until potatoes became a widely used food and they broke up because of jealousy, but then truffles found favour with the foodie community and they made up. Now they’re back together in this meal. I’m totally a matchmaker.

Also, I should probably stop sniffing random oils.

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Oven Baked Truffle Fries

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 1hr 20mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

3 Medium Potatoes, scrubbed

1 tbsp + 1 tsp Black Truffle Oil

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Salt (or to taste)

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Parmesan Cheese, for serving (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Cut scrubbed potatoes into 3/4 inch think wedges. Rinse for a minute in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.

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Transfer to a foil-lined baker’s half sheet (13 x 18 inches). Drizzle both oils over the potatoes and sprinkle salt and peppers. Using your hands or a spatula, make sure that the potatoes are coated evenly with the oils & seasoning.

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Transfer to oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, flip the fries to the other side and return to oven. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, depending on how crispy you want your fries.

Remove from oven and serve immediately. You may sprinkle with parmesan cheese or drizzle with more truffle oil if you’d prefer, but I think less is more when it comes to truffle oil.

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Fries, I love you no matter what. Until you get cold. Then you’re just soggy and sad and gross.

Hope that you guys are enjoying the holidays. It’s been a festive month so far and I have a lot of food related projects lined up this month (Cookie plates! A BBQ! A scavenger hunt! An ice cream social!) so check out my Instagram for regular updates. Or just wait and I’ll likely end up talking about it in my next post. I’m chatty that way in case you haven’t noticed.

Whatever you plan to do this weekend, have fun and I’ll see you back here next week!

Greek Week Roundup

You know when you’re small and the standard way to get to know somebody is to ask “what’s your favourite colour?” I’d always have my answer ready and prepared although the colour changed over the years. It was always purple (I think it had to do with the fact that my bedroom in our new house at the time was purple), but progressed to magenta and then it was turquoise for a very long time until it changed to a burnt orange. In recent years, I’ve found myself leaning towards a kelly green and gray. Until I realized that it’s okay to love the rainbow equally.

I was confronted with the food equivalent of this question a while back. A friend introduced me to someone and said that I have my own blog, and the person responded with “oh, what kind of food do you like?” I was kind of taken aback because I haven’t thought about that in a really long time. I can’t eat Indian food on a regular basis because I’m pretty close to my life quota of indian food, and although I love Chinese food, I get tired of it pretty quickly (I once ate 3 Chinese meals in a row (including breakfast) and the thought of it a 4th time in a row made me incredibly cranky and upset. A friend and I even have a running joke about that – me: “Chinese for lunch?” Friend: “$^@&!”).

There are some types of cuisine that I love the idea of, but in reality I am not a fan of the core ingredient. For example, Thai food? Yay! Fish or excessive amounts of coconut milk? Not so much. Italian food? You can’t go wrong with spaghetti or lasagna….unless you have it with tomato sauce more than once in a row because then your senses feel totally clogged. Ditto with Mexican food.

Maybe I’m just overly picky or my selective OCD runs on overdrive when it comes to food. I can’t eat one thing every day for the rest of my life (except maybe cheese and crackers) because there’s too much good food out there. I can however, keep trying new things and adding to my list of favourite meals.

I’ve more or less settled on Mediterranean cuisine as my favourite food type. In a stroke of inspiration (or self destruction?) the other day, I picked up feta at the supermarket. For the record, I don’t like feta or most kinds of stinky cheese. But after the Goat cheese success, I figured what the hell.

I realized I had lots of lemon and garlic, red onions, pita bread, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, yogurt and a variety pack of greek seasoning when I got home so I took it as a sign.

So below you’ll find some recipes I used. I adhered relatively loosely to the recipes but generally I give my stamp of approval to them all.

Greek Chicken Tacos with Whipped Feta – Krafted Koch

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Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken – Rachael Ray

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Whipped Feta – The Kitchn

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Chilled Black Bean & Corn Salad w/ Feta

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My first mason jar salad!

Greek Style Lentil & Eggplant Bake – MediterrAsian

So there you have it – enough recipes to last you through a tub of feta and almost a week of food. You’re welcome!

 

Walnut, Bacon & Mushroom Rice Pilaf

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I know what you’re thinking. Walnuts, Bacon, Mushrooms and Rice? Does this chick even eat bacon? Well, I do. Turkey Bacon that is. A friend of mine (hi Ian!) will get mad at me for even suggesting that the two are remotely similar and I really can’t make an honest distinction because I’ve never had real bacon. But if real bacon is half as good as turkey bacon then I totally get the obsession.

This recipe isn’t original. It’s adapted from the perpetually awesome Mediterrasian cookbook and website. I’ve made Ric and Trudy’s recipe before (you can find it here) and it is the absolute definition of rustic comfort food. I tasted the rusticness (? Rusticity?) the second I took the first bite while visions of log cabins and deer head wall mounts danced in my head. Trust me. TRY THIS RECIPE!

What led to the adaptation? Well, after Diwali, I had what is known as a crapload of basmati rice left over. Two whole trays. But it left me and Rabin (proud semi-abstainers of rice) with a lot of rice and not much to do with it. But then I remembered the flavour profile of this recipe and I don’t wanna say that I ran to the fridge to get the ingredients… But I also don’t wanna say that I didn’t run. Ok… I ran.

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The leftover rice in question…I really need to figure out portion sizes :s

The original recipe is made with arborio rice which is ideal for risottos. My adaptation isn’t creamy or smooth, it has more of a fried rice texture than the sticky creaminess of risotto. I also love that the recipe is one pan. You literally push the rice in the corner of the pan and cook and then cook. I love it because that way, the rice can absorb every single bit of flavour and seasoning and wine and turkey bacon fat. Oh man… just typing this has my stomach growling.

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Walnut, Bacon & Mushroom Pilaf

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
3 slices Turkey Bacon, diced
2 cups cooked Basmati Rice
½ cup Walnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups Mushrooms (I used canned mushrooms, increase to 3-4 cups if using fresh)
1/3 cup White Wine
½ -1 tsp Black Pepper
½ -1 tsp Salt

1/3 – 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Toast walnuts for 8-10 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sautee onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add Mushrooms and cook until water is released. Mix rice & walnuts into onions, garlic & mushrooms and sautee for 1 minute.

Push mixture to side of pan and add turkey bacon to the clean side of pan. Cook until crispy and combine with the rice mixture. Add wine, salt & pepper and cook until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in cheese and serve immediately.

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So try both recipes simply because the combination of ingredients is just so good!

On another note, Rabin and I plan to put up our Christmas tree this Friday – play our favourite hipster Christmas tunes, light some evergreen or cinnamon candles, and drink hot cocoa. We felt so smug, thinking that we’re way ahead of the game because come on, it’s still November…but almost everyone I’ve talked to has their tree up already! Are all of your gifts wrapped already too? Huh? #sarcasm

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My Guest Post at Flour & Spice: White Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms & Spinach

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Last week you all met Sarah from Flour & Spice who hung out in my virtual kitchen and guest posted with her fabulous Chicken Fajita Pizza. This week, I hopped over to her page and shared my recipe for a White Pizza with Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Onions, Spinach & Mushrooms. It’s my twist on a filling, stick to your ribs (but not ‘stick-to-your-ribs-and-never-digest-and-cant-fit-into-your-clothes-cause-youre-so-fricking-bloated’) comfort food. I mean come on! How can you go wrong with roasted garlic, caramelized onions and mushrooms?

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Sarah is one of the coolest bloggers I know. I generally have a life saturation of eating Indian food (once a month or twice a month is more than enough) and I can’t seem to tap into my Indian cooking skills – my curry has gotten compliments about it’s Greek taste. Every time I see one of Sarah’s posts though, I feel hope again – everything always looks so delicious and very doable. The recipes are her twists on the food and I like that her modifications make sense and are simple enough to make. I can’t even tell you how many of her recipes I love like her Baked Samosas, Pakistani Style Okra and so many more.

So enough of the fangirl-ing. Visit Flour & Spice, check out my recipe today as well as her recipe archives. I’m sure you’ll find your new favourite recipe(s)!

Guest Post: Chicken Fajita Pizza from Flour & Spice

Today I’m doing something very cool. My blogging friend Sarah over at Flour & Spice is guest posting for me. Sarah and I became friends a while back and I’m very excited that she’s taking over my page today to share her awesome looking Chicken Fajita Pizza. So let me shut it and let Sarah speak. Sarah, everyone. Everyone, Sarah. *bows and backs away*

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Hello “I’ll Cook You Wash” readers! My name is Sarah and I blog over at Flour & Spice – a place populated by my riffs on classic South Asian foods and buttery sugary goodness. This blog is where I come for Indiras chit chat and an array of recipes so yummy and different from my usual ones. Thanks Indira for adding more deliciousness to all our lives :) I think this is also where I thank you for having me here so consider yourself doubly thanked!

There are two kinds of Pizzas that I like – the classic Italian style thin crust, easy on the toppings, but not on flavour and the over the top thick crust with it’s generous toppings and delicious chew. Today I bring you the second kind. It is Fall you know – and what is more comforting than a warm thick crust Fajita inspired pizza? I love this pizza because it is so familiar yet different enough in it’s flavours that it stands out. It is different than the usual pizza because first of all, there is no pizza sauce. This pizza is where my jars of salsa find their final resting place. Add a smattering of savory firm black beans, sweet niblets of corn, crunchy red peppers, and flavourful chicken and it is an overwhelming win. Feeling a little more adventurous? Throw on some diced jalapenos and whatever else your heart desires. If you aren’t going to have some fun with pizza then what will you have fun with?

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The pizza crust recipe is hardly my own, it slightly adapted from food.com and of all the ones that I have tried it is the easiest and most forgiving. You can also make this pizza with store bought dough, but I doubt it will taste as good as this one.

With regards to the toppings now that I have made this pizza thrice here are the two things that make all the difference – the salsa and the seasoning on the chicken. With the salsa pick something you would like to eat, but if you happen to have one with an unpleasant twang then dilute it with pizza sauce. The chicken is pretty straightforward; just remember to season it well so it gives your pizza that extra zing.

Chicken Fajita Pizza

Pizza Dough Ingredients

Yield: 1 thick crust pizza

2 ¼ tsp yeast

1 cup warm water

2 ½ cups flour

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp garlic powder

Pizza Toppings:

2 – 2 ½ cups shredded cheese – any combination of Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar.

1 ¼ cup salsa of choice – add more for a ‘saucier’ base, if your salsa has a high liqiuid content drain it for a few minutes

1/3 cup diced red pepper

1/3 cup corn niblets

1/3 cup cooked black beans

1 chicken tender or breast portion cut into bite sized pieces to yield ½ cup chicken

Seasoning for chicken: Salt, Red Chilli Powder, Cumin Powder

1 jalapeno (optional)

For the Crust:

Combine yeast and warm water, leave be for 2 minutes. Then add in the rest of your ingredients and knead to form a smooth dough. Mine is usually pretty sticky at this point. You can let it rest in a lightly oiled bowl covered with a kitchen towel or roll out immediately for your pizza pan. My preferred rolling technique is to generously flour the dough and then pat it into a disc shape. Then I hand stretch the dough – for a quick how to look here. Preheat your oven to 450 and bake for 10 minutes on a lightly oiled pizza pan (mine is 14 inches) or a baking sheet.

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For the Pizza:

Drizzle a little oil into a frying pan to heat up. Then sprinkle your cut chicken pieces with salt, red chilli powder, and cumin powder. Don’t be shy with the seasonings – you want a nice kapow of flavour. Stir fry the chicken until cooked through. Check for seasoning.

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Now is the fun part. Spread your salsa in an even layer almost all over the pizza dough – leave the edges salsa free. Then sprinkle on a quarter of the cheese. Scatter your chicken over top, followed by half the original cheese amount. Keeping the chicken beneath the cheese ensures it stays moist. Now add the remaining topping ingredients and then the remaining cheese. Bake at 450 till the top is bubbly and golden. Serve topped with red chilli flakes if you wish.

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(It’s Indi again) So there you have it folks. I hope you give this recipe a try. It’s perfect for me right now – I have almost a full jar of salsa in the fridge and have sworn off tortilla chips for a while – so you’ll see the pics of my attempts soon.

Thanks to Sarah for posting, and take a minute and check out her blog. I’ll be taking it over next Tuesday with a pizza recipe of mine!