Cuisine: American

Everything, Everything!

I remember when Everything Bagels first hit the scene. A New York bagel store employee was sweeping out the oven and instead of tossing the seeds and seasoning crumbs, he through them on top of a plain bagel. He thought he was being cute when he called it the “everything”.  They were amazing! All the bagel flavors you love were now in one bagel. Ahh, bliss! And if you toast them, forget it, HEAVEN! So imagine how excited I was when Trader Joes created Everything but the Bagel Seasoning. I love using this flavor blend and put it on, well, everything.

The blend is made up of sesame seeds, sea salt flakes, dried minced garlic, dried minced onion, black sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Some of the great ways I’ve used this blend are: stir it into cream cheese, salad topping, stirred into scrambled eggs, a small shake on top of sour cream in soup or a baked potato.

My two favorite ways to use this blend are to stir about 1/4 cup into latke (potato pancake) batter right before frying them up. We like our latkes extra crispy and this seasoning brings out all the best flavors of the potato.  If you do this adjust your salt down, or even none. This seasoning has plenty of salt. The other great recipe is to use it as a chicken coating.

Chicken is the great blank canvas of food.  I mean it was just made for sauces and anything that adds flavor. The recipe below is simple and quick.  I make a dredge tray of seasoned flour, egg white and Everything but the Bagel seasoning.  You can use your own recipe for the seasoned flour. Remember to use little or no salt.

One other little tip. Some of you struggle on knowing when chicken is done when you bake it. The best way is to use a meat thermometer to 160°. However, 20 minutes per pound at preheated 325° oven is a great rule of thumb. You can cover the chicken foil half way through if it is getting too brown.

 

Everything Seasoned Chicken
Print Recipe
Juicy, baked chicken with all your favorite tastes of an everything bagel.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Everything Seasoned Chicken
Print Recipe
Juicy, baked chicken with all your favorite tastes of an everything bagel.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Combine flour and all spices, except Everything Bagel, together in a zipped plastic bag. Give it a good mix now and right before you use it. You don't want all the flavors to settle to the bottom.
  2. Set up your dredging station (I use shallow soup bowls). You want the first one to be the seasoned flour. The second should be your egg whites and the third is the Everything seasoning.
  3. I get my chicken good and dry with paper towels and then let it sit out about 20 minutes before starting the dredging process. I also keep one hand for dry and one for wet.
  4. Start with dipping chicken in flour. Give it an even coat and shake off excess so you don't have clumps. Then a quick dip in egg whites and let excess drip off, then right into the everything seasoning and into a butter baking dish.
  5. Into the preheated, hot oven and bake for 20 minutes per pound. You are probably at just about a pound with 4 chicken breasts so check at 20 minutes. It's okay to cut into one breast, if you don't have a thermometer. You want the juices to run clear.
  6. Serve with a green vegetable and rice or potato. Enjoy!
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CAKE!!!

CAKE!!!!

I’ve been making it, decorating it, giving it away and eating it. So much so that I almost forgot to write about it.

Seriously, I have this great calendar that tells me what “DAY” it is each day. Apparently, July 20th was Cake Day. As I have mentioned, a lot, I love cake. So why wouldn’t I bake and write about it? The 10thAnniversary of the Hadassah group I belong to and my daughter’s best friend’s birthday also happened to be around that date, so I baked the fabulous chocolate cake written about in April 2017 and I made a wonderful Carrot Cake.

Let me tell you, Carrot Cake comes with a lot of opinions. Do you used nuts? What kind of nuts? Do you do a cream cheese frosting, and do you put butter in yours? In my house you would NEVER put fruit in something baked. In other homes you might add pineapple chunks to your carrot cake. All this to say that even though I happen to love my recipe, make it your own.

Mine is “original” after years of adapting all the family recipes and magazine recipes I’ve tried. I used to buy the pre-shredded carrots, and they work fine. Now I like to make a really fine shred in my own processor. I like the taste of fresh carrot, but I don’t want a big piece to wander into my bite of cake. I do put a stick of butter in my frosting.  I think it adds a richness. If you want to add nuts, I’d go with pecans.  Walnuts are also a good addition, but almonds might be nice too.

See what I’m doing here? My recipe is a great base. If you make it as is, you will love it. But make it your own and start a new tradition. Most of all ENJOY!!!!


Carrot Cake
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Carrot Cake
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Cake
Cream Cheese Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 3 9" round pans with butter and flour
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Add eggs and canola oil, use a hand mixer and blend until just combined.
  4. Add carrots. This is where you can add nuts or fruit.
  5. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, until tester comes out just clean. Do not over bake.
  6. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Using the paddle attachment of a stand up mixer, blend cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar until combined. be sure to re-mix after scraping down sides.
  2. When cakes are completely cool, frost generously. I made white chocolate curls to decorate, you can also buy them.
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Old Friends (Cookbooks)

I am in a purging mood! We recently did some remodel work on our house. You know how that goes and how much packing and unpacking I was doing, almost, every day. It was a good opportunity to get rid or donate “stuff” we weren’t really using anymore.

A good friend pointed out to me that I have cookbooks, literally, in every room in my house. Some of you might put the old People Magazine in the bathroom, for light reading, I put cookbooks! So, when this same friend suggested I make a library of cookbooks, in my office, I was all in. Of course, that meant hours of deciding which would stay and which would go. It also meant getting reacquainted with some of my older “friends” and saying goodbye to the friends you didn’t really keep in touch with.

My new library!

So, my task began. The first things that went were the cookbooks, put together by my kids elementary or pre-schools. I asked myself were there any recipes in them that I couldn’t just pick up the phone and ask for if I really wanted them. I did go through those books just to make sure. The next group to go were the “souvenir” books. I bought cookbooks at restaurants as I traveled across the country and some were really good. Others, I bought because I loved the meal and really believed I would recreate it at home. Well, not so much. And so, the purging project went.

I finally had whittled it down to one pile of books that I really wanted to go through and spend some time with. I’m so glad I did. There were some great finds. One of the books I saved is “Raising the Salad Bar”, by  Catherine Walthers. I initially bought this book in 2010, after a friend used it more than once, during my week-long visit to her summer home. I admit I was skeptical when I heard it was a salad cookbook, but each salad was more memorable than the last.

Thumbing through this book was like reminiscing with an old friend.  The pictures were beautiful, and the recipes reminded me of a glorious summer on Cape Cod. I love the way Catherine has organized the recipes so that the reader learns to think about salads more openly. Each salad has a dressing attached that brilliantly balances the fat and acid with your fresh greens and grains. Additionally, she has a whole section on dressings.

It has been so hot here in L.A. that I made the Couscous Salad with Lemon-Soaked Grilled Chicken for dinner, last week.  It was perfect! Fresh and lemony with just the right amount of smoky grill flavor. My family loves lemon but with a little sweeter undertone than this recipe originally gave. I added a little brown sugar to the “marinade”. I also added a little bit of chopped mint at the end to add some brightness. And by the way, go for the asiago cheese. It has a similar flavor profile to Parmigiano but with an added smokiness.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and it reminds you to spend some time with old friends and even the new treasures.

Couscous Salad with Lemon-Soaked Grilled Chicken
Print Recipe
Adapted from Catherine Walthers Raising the Salad Bar.
Servings
6 main course
Servings
6 main course
Couscous Salad with Lemon-Soaked Grilled Chicken
Print Recipe
Adapted from Catherine Walthers Raising the Salad Bar.
Servings
6 main course
Servings
6 main course
Ingredients
Chicken
Couscous
Servings: main course
Instructions
Chicken
  1. In a large bowl (I use Ziploc bags) toss chicken with garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, lemon juice and reserved rinds.
  2. Let marinade for at least 2 hours in refrigerator, When ready to use remove from marinade and discard marinade and rinds.
  3. Preheat grill to high heat. Grill chicken for 7 minutes first side. Remember to not move chicken to get a nice caramelized crust. Turn chicken over and cook for 5 more minutes.
Couscous
  1. Cook couscous in chicken broth according to package instructions. Test a little early. You want the couscous to be al dente. Remove from heat and drain. Leave some of the liquid (broth) in the pan and immediately add onions. Cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add spinach to pan and toss, lightly, over heat. Add olive oil and toss together. Occasionally toss couscous to cool.
  2. When couscous is cooler, add garlic, parsley, lemon juice and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add salt if needed.
  3. To serve, plate spinach then couscous and top with chicken. Sprinkle asiago cheese over top and a sprinkling of more fresh parsley. Garnish with sliced lemons or lemon zest.
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Red Velvet Redux

Growth comes in so many forms and even when you are not looking. Recently, I overheard women talking about red velvet cake, at the farmer’s market. Okay let’s be honest, I was totally eavesdropping. Anyway, one of them was looking for beets because she wanted to make an authentic, old-fashioned red velvet cake.  I said that my recipe was the best (with food coloring) and we started laughing. She asked for my recipe and I quickly said, “It’s on my blog.”.

I was inspired to make my red velvet cake too. I was in the grocery store and wanted to just confirm that I had all the ingredients. I pulled up my blog, on my phone. Wait, what? All the ingredients are carefully listed and then no directions. Ugh! This was one of my first posts with a new recipe template, and I was learning how to input everything. How many of you came here and couldn’t figure out what the heck I was thinking?

So, in the interest of accuracy, I am reposting the red-velvet cake recipe. I’ve included, in the side notes, for making it with beets, instead of food coloring. In this day and age, it is super important to make the healthy choices that feel good for you and your family.  I hope you enjoy this recipe!


Red Velvet Redux
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Red Velvet Redux
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Cake
Cream Cheese Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
For Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 2 or 3 cake pans with butter, flour and parchment paper.
  2. Beat shortening, until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, then eggs. Stir in food coloring and vanilla.
  3. Combine flour, salt, and cocoa powder in medium bowl. In another bowl combine buttermilk, vinegar and baking soda. Don't be alarmed, it will bubble.
  4. Alternating with buttermilk mixture, add flour mixture to shortening mixture. Beat Well for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  5. Pour into prepared cake [ans and bake for 25 minutes or until tester comes out, almost, clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Beat all ingredients together until fluffy. It is easier to spread while still soft. Refrigerate before serving
Recipe Notes

Okay stay with me here this can get a little complicated. Using the ingredient changes noted, on the side, prepare as follows.:

1- Combine beet puree, buttermilk, vinegar, lemon juice and vanilla in food processor, until smooth.

2- Beat together, until fluffy, shortening and butter. Then add eggs, one at a time.

3- Sift dry ingredients together.

4- Alternating with beet mixture, fold flour mixture into butter mixture until all ingredients are well blended.

5- Pour into prepared pans, as above, and bake at 350° for 20 minutes, until tester comes out, almost, clean.

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Fourth of July Caprese Salads

I’m baaaaaack! I have been feverishly working on my first cookbook, Cake for Breakfast. It’s great and I know you are going to love it.  I thought maybe writing it was the hard part, but now I’m looking for an agent. This is hard. It’s a leap of faith that someone can really see who you are and hear your voice from a flat piece of paper. Once the right agent and I find each other, I will let you know when the book is coming out.

In the meantime, it’s almost July fourth and you’re probably looking for something “theme like” to serve or take to a party. I’m simply arranging a tray in the shape of an American flag using raspberries, white chocolate covered pretzels and a bowl of blueberries.  It’s super easy. Just cover it with some plastic wrap and it’s totally portable.

I know it’s kitschy, but I like the idea of doing a red, white and blue item. This year my head is in a farm to table place, so I started playing with the idea of a spiralized veggie pasta salad. I stumbled on the blue, so I just kept brainstorming. I think I have come up with a great idea… Red, White, and Blue Caprese Salad.

What I love is that you can do a lot of customization on this yourself. I’m doing burrata, tomatoes and a savory blueberry sauce. You could do strawberries, a vanilla meringue, and a sweet blueberry sauce or mix it up with the strawberries and a slice of mozzarella. You’ve got a lot of options.

For serving or taking, just stack them on a platter.  You can drizzle the sauce and then have some extra on the side. You can serve them on crostini or just as the stacks.

Have a safe and tasty Fourth of July!

Fourth of July Caprese Salads
Print Recipe
Servings
8 individuals
Servings
8 individuals
Fourth of July Caprese Salads
Print Recipe
Servings
8 individuals
Servings
8 individuals
Ingredients
Servings: individuals
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil. Cook the shallot until just transparent.
  2. Add the bluberries, vinegar, sugar and thyme. Stir together and add salt & pepper.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Mash the blueberries a little bit when stirring. Let cool.
  4. While the sauce is cooling slice the tomatoes in 1/8" slices. Take the burrata by 2 Tbs. pinches and stack on tomatoes. Sprinkle with a nice finishing salt like fleur de sel or maldon.
  5. Drizzle cooled sauce over stacks. I like to use a white platter.
  6. Serve as is or with toasted crostini. Enjoy!
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It’s National Chess Day!

Today is National Chess Day. Yes they are talking about the game, but it made me think about a pie I had as a child, when I would go and visit my grandparents, in Georgia. I looked through a few cookbooks and found no less than fourteen recipes for Chess Pie. Five of them are my own family’s recipes.

Folklore of how this pie got it’s name is that a cook on a plantation made up the recipe and when asked what she had made she answered “Just pie”. Because of her thick accent it was misheard as “chess pie”. Of course there are as many versions of how it got its name as there are recipes for the pie.

Another version of the story is that because the recipe has such a high amount of sugar, it is naturally preserved and therefore didn’t need to be stored in an icebox and could be kept in a pie chest. Again chest eventually got slanged down to “chess”. Finally, there is a version that says Chess Pie is really Cheese Pie, an English recipe that is almost identical and is basically a form of cheesecake. I don’t buy this one at all.

If you don’t know what Chess Pie is, it is a custard pie with a minimal amount of cornmeal or sometimes flour in it. This basic pie exists in every region, in some form. Indiana has Sugar Pie and this may even be a precursor to the base of lemon meringue pie. You could even call it a solid pudding in a crust.

This pie hits all the sensory notes. It is at once smooth with a bit of crunch from the cornmeal. The corn meal will rise to the top and form a crust. When I was a kid I loved this pie because it was so sweet and the more sugar the better. Now that I am an adult, I understand the nuances of the flavor and sugar.

Chess Pie, in the south is like Pound Cake and squash soufflé. If you ask a dozen women you will get a dozen recipes for the same item. I even did a spreadsheet to see where the variances are. I really only wanted to make my family recipe but I tried one other, too. They are both very sweet. In our family recipe, the one below, a tablespoon of vinegar is added. It seems to be what cuts the sweetness a bit.

The ingredients of the recipe are basics and you probably have them in your pantry and fridge all the time. Really, sugar, eggs, cornmeal, milk and butter, is all you need. It all comes together fast so, if you do have the ingredients on hand, you can have a fabulous dessert made in about an hour. However, I do recommend that it cool then get refrigerated over night before serving.

You can add different flavors, too. The easiest way is to change out the vanilla for another extract. However, you can add 1 cup of coconut or ¼ cup cocoa powder too. The cocoa powder also cuts down the sweetness.

Just one bite of this pie and I am driving down a red dirt road to my grandparents and catching lightning bugs.

Chess Pie
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Servings
8-10-10
Servings
8-10-10
Chess Pie
Print Recipe
Servings
8-10-10
Servings
8-10-10
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Beat the eggs until frothy.
  2. Stir in sugar, milk, cornmeal, vinegar and vanilla. beat until well blended.
  3. Add butter and blend well.
  4. Pour into an unbaked 9" pie shell and sprinkle with nutmeg.
  5. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes.
  6. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight, before serving.
Recipe Notes

My pie dish is actually a 10" pie dish so, as you can see, the filling didn't come all the way up. Be sure to use a 9" pie dish or make a 1 1/2 times batch.

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Cake for Breakfast!

Cake for breakfast! Yes it’s a thing and it is all over the Internet. It’s actually not a new thing. It started popping up in my feed in every blog I get, recently. So, I decided to do a little research of my own. Before I get to a really good chocolate cake recipe, that you will probably over indulge in, let me give you some of the Kisses and Nibs of it all.

The original study came out in 2011 and was conducted in the UK. It did say that eating cake for breakfast was a good thing and that you might lose some weight. However, it turns out the study was more about eating a big hearty breakfast than it was about eating cake. It also pointed out that if you’re going to eat sugary unrefined carbs, maybe you want to do it earlier in the day, rather than later. Finally, the UK study was a closed study, meaning that the participants were living and eating in a dorm facility. So the facilitators noted that perhaps the social nature of eating together might have had the participants eating less. Be more social when you eat breakfast, if you can. Talk more, eat less.

The second study was done at Tel Aviv University in 2013. This study suggested that the brain works better when it is stimulated immediately in the morning and that chocolate cake was a great conduit for that. The long and short of this is that chocolate has flavonoids and caffeine; both can act as a stimulant. Flavonoids are also a great antioxidant. Both supply energy to the brain and in my honest opinion are a great way to start your day.

I did the MOST official study of all in 2017. It shows that if you make a chocolate cake, somebody will eat it for breakfast!

Okay, enough with the science! Here is a great chocolate cake recipe. I put it together from several different recipes. Make a double batch of the frosting; one is just not quite enough to frost the whole cake.


Really Good Chocolate Cake
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This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
Really Good Chocolate Cake
Print Recipe
This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
Milk Chocolate Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and Flour three 9" round cake pans.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
  3. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. Heat the water and butter in a pot over medium heat until butter is melted but water is simmering not boiling.
  4. Pour hot liquid over chocolate and cocoa mixture and stir to combine and melted and smooth.
  5. Add the sugar and mix to combine. Make sure chocolate mixture has cooled then add the eggs, one at a time and use a hand mixer to just combine. Add vanilla extract.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture alternating with the buttermilk, finish with the flour, being sure to scrape down the sides. Don’t over mix.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert and cool on rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and slowly add the sugar. Be sure to scrape down the sides. Drizzle in melted, cooled chocolate until evenly combined
  2. Frost each layer with about ¾ cup frosting and between each layer. Use remaining frosting to frost whole outer cake.
  3. Melt additional chocolate candy bars and drizzle over the top of frosted cake for decoration.
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Try Something New -Homemade Pasta Edition!

In case you haven’t heard it’s been raining here in California, A LOT! So it was a great weekend to stay home and make all sorts of comfort food. It doesn’t get more comfortable than homemade pasta.

I love that you and I both probably have everything we need to make pasta, already, in our kitchens. Are you ready for the long list; Flour, salt, eggs, water and olive oil. I have a hand cranked pasta roller, but you really don’t need it. Pasta has been made for centuries, certainly long before standing electric mixers were adding attachments and even before my hand-cranked roller. If you have a wooden roller pin and a knife you can make your own pasta.

Keep in mind you can search for basic pasta recipes and find dozens of variations. Start with mine but if it s not a good fit, you can play around. Add more water; use just all-purpose flour, more oil (not too much). I did make mine in a standing mixer, with a dough hook; you can do everything by hand in a large bowl.

I want to say that, even not so great, homemade pasta will taste better than any pasta you will ever buy in a store. Once you get this pasta made, go over to March 1, 2015 and make the Marinara Sauce!

Homemade Pasta Dough
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Homemade Pasta Dough
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine flours and salt. Make a well (indentation) and add eggs. If you are doing this by hand, start to fold your flour over the eggs and mix, adding water and oil, until you have a stiff dough. I used a standing electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. I used a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  2. As you are mixing and adding water & oil, keep pinching the dough. When it starts to stick together easily, its ready. You do not want it too sticky.
  3. I used Durum Semolina, which is traditionally Italian. It has a coarser texture, almost like corn meal, it will need more water and olive oil. The texture smooths out in rolling and cooking. All-purpose flour will NOT need nearly as much liquid.
  4. Once the dough is all mixed. Knead for 3 - 4 minutes on a lightly floured board. Then form a disk and wrap in plastic and let rest, in refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to roll, cut disk into quarters and flatten. If you are using a pasta machine or roller, start on a zero setting and run the dough through once or twice and fold in half and lightly flour each side and run through again. Repeat this process gradually increasing setting to higher numbers and ultimately increasing to desired thinness and length. Or follow the directions provided, with your machine.
  6. If you are hand rolling, lightly flour a board and use a rolling pin to roll dough out to desired thinness and length. I like to roll between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Too much flour can make the pasta too chewy.
  7. At this point you would switch to the cutting shape, you want on the machine. If you are cutting by hand use a knife or pizza cute to cut your dough.
  8. Once your dough is cut, it is IMPORTANT to let it dry/set for a while before storing or cooking. If you don't it might be gummy. If you have something to hang your pasta over, even a towel rack will do, that's ideal. if not just let it lay straight on board or parchment lined pan. Don't let it sit bunched up, like in the picture.
  9. Once it is a little dry you can store it, folded, in an airtight container, with a little semolina or cornmeal, to keep it separated.
  10. To cook, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it, liberally. Add you pasta and cook 5 - 7 minutes. Do not over cook. Serve with your favorite sauce or none at all. It's that good,
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Gateau au Chocolat

Here is the recipe for the greatest mistake I ever made!

Gateau au Chocolat
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Gateau au Chocolat
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease and line with wax paper a 9x5x3 loaf pan.
  2. Melt chocolate and beat in butter with a spoon or spatula.
  3. Beat egg whites with a hand mixer to stiff peaks; set aside. With same beaters beat egg yolks until thick and light in color.
  4. Slowly add the sugar, beating constantly. Add the flour and beat until just combined. Stir egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture, then fold egg whites into this mixture. You will have some egg whites still showing.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Reduce oven heat to 350°F and bake 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely in pan. Cake will settle like a cheesecake. Turn out. Refrigerate for 4 hours until well chilled. Decorate with abandon!
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce

Picada is like a pesto. Made with chocolate and almonds it is lovely on the palate!

Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Charred Cauliflower with Picada Sauce
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven broiler to high
  2. Toss florets with 2 T. olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil, turning once, half way through, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat garlic and remaining oil in skillet an cook, over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch and stir, so garlic doesn't burn. Transfer oil and garlic to a a medium bowl an let cool.
  4. Stir almonds, parsley, chocolate, sherry, salt and pepper into garlic oil. Toss with cauliflower while it is still hot. Garnish and serve immediately.
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