From Peru, the holiday dish that transformed a Jupiter table

Katie Choy’s crash course in Peruvian cuisine came years ago, when her mother-in-law fell and broke her leg during a visit to her Jupiter home.

Until then, the food of her husband’s homeland seemed almost too complex to master. In her newlywed years, Katie, a Pittsburgh-area native raised on meat and potatoes, would jot notes as she watched her mother-in-law cook. Consuelo Aragon de Choy would create classic Peruvian dishes by fusing earthy Latin American flavors with interesting Asian ingredients, spooning out spicy chile pastes of various hues and intensity.

Spicy, creamy stewed chicken: Peruvian-style aji de gallina. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Spicy, creamy stewed chicken: Peruvian-style aji de gallina. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

But it was when Consuelo could not cook that Katie became her surrogate in the kitchen.

“I’ll teach you,” her mother-in-law would say from her chair, directing Katie to grab pots, open spices, raise and lower the flames on the stove.

Ingredient by ingredient, the dishes would come together on Katie’s stove. Today those dishes fill a large cookbook – Katie Choy’s “Family Secrets: Experience the Flavors of Peru” ($29.99, Lydia Inglett Publishing). But well before the book was published months ago, and well before the Choy family came to expect delicious Peruvian feasts at their Jupiter table at holiday time and, later, on random weeknights, there would be a few disasters in Katie’s kitchen.

One incident involved what is perhaps one of Peru’s more iconic dishes. Once Consuelo went back home to Peru, there was a disastrous attempt to make ají de gallina (creamy stewed chicken in Peruvian yellow pepper sauce). Katie recalls she didn’t have the right ingredients on hand and her substitutions didn’t work out as well.

But once she managed to transcribe the recipe in detail from Consuelo and seek out the authentic ingredients at local specialty markets, Katie not only mastered the traditional Peruvian dish, she devised a crockpot shortcut for the stew she likens to chicken chili.

“It became our holiday meal. We’d have it for Christmas. It was that special meal,” says Katie, a former nurse who met her husband, Dr. Rogelio Choy, while on the job at Jupiter Medical Center.

Cookbook author Katie Choy at her Jupiter home. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Cookbook author Katie Choy at her Jupiter home. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

She was cooking that very dish one night when her husband got home from work and stopped by the stove in admiration.

“He just stood there and he smiled at me. And I said, ‘What are you smiling at?’ And he said ‘I think you’re turning into my mother,’” she recalls.

Some might be mystified at such a remark, but Katie knew exactly what he meant – and she took it to be “the biggest compliment ever.”

Her rendition of the dish had conjured a powerful memory of home and childhood for her husband. It was a gift to both the recipient and the cook.

That crockpot shortcut has turned the dish into an anytime meal for the Choys and their younger children, Francesca, 17, and Stefan, 19. (Their son Armand, 20, lives in San Francisco.)

“I’ll make it on a weekday like nothing,” says Katie, who now blends most of the stew ingredients, pours them into the slow-cooker and tops it with chicken breasts. The flavors intensify as the chicken cooks. “The chicken shreds like a dream. It’s just so good.”

Katie Choy displays the herb paste she blends into her Peruvian ocopa sauce. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Katie Choy displays the herb paste she blends into her Peruvian ocopa sauce. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

More than two decades have passed since she had her first taste of the cuisine that transformed her kitchen. It came in the form of aromatic ocopa sauce, the first thing her mother-in-law cooked on the day she arrived at Katie’s Jupiter home.

“She comes in and she’s unpacking and she’s putting things in the freezer. Then she made this wonderful sauce,” recalls Katie. “I can’t say I remember the exact day that I tasted it, but it was one of those things you don’t forget. We put it over potatoes first. Then, whatever we’d have for dinner, we’d pour it over the top, and it was just so delicious.”

It turns out, her mother-in-law had brought the homemade sauce, frozen, all the way from Peru, and braved a U.S. Customs interrogation before warming up the delicacy on the stove in Jupiter. She had brought it from home because she wasn’t sure she could find the sauce’s key ingredient, a Peruvian herb known as huacatay, in Jupiter.

“At the time, I was unfamiliar with the spice and asked her what it was,” Katie Choy writes in her cookbook. “She leaned over and whispered, ‘It’s similar to marijuana!’ I thought to myself, ‘Hmmm. What is she feeding us?’”

She came to find out, the herb belongs to the marigold, not marijuana, family. And it’s sold locally in a jarred paste.

“We still get a laugh over that one,” she says.

RECIPES

Reprinted with permission from Katie Choy’s “Family Secrets” cookbook.

This kicky Peruvian yellow pepper paste is a key ingredient in aji de gallina. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
This kicky Peruvian yellow pepper paste is a key ingredient in aji de gallina. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Ají de Gallina

Chicken Chile

Imagine your taste buds coming alive as they savor tender chicken bathed in a nutty cream sauce, followed by a hint of heat. I find it even more delicious the next day, or as a filling in empanadas.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 whole chicken (3 ½-4 pounds), skin and excess fat removed, and cut into parts

2½ teaspoons salt, divided

1 cup pecans or peanuts (soaked in fresh water for 1 hour or more and drained)

4 slices white bread, crust removed and cubed

1 large yellow onion

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2-4 tablespoons ají amarillo paste, depending on hot you like it (see NOTE below)

3 cloves garlic, pressed

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Prepared white rice, for serving

3 hardboiled eggs, halved, for serving

Peruvian olives (purple-black botija olives)

  1. Place chicken and 1 teaspoon salt in a large pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until no longer pink.
  1. Remove chicken and let cool. Reserve water. Shred or cube chicken and set aside. This step can be done a day ahead and refrigerated.
  1. Blend nuts, bread, and ¾-1 cup reserved chicken water on high until smooth. Remove and set aside. Rinse blender.
  1. Blend onion and ¼-½ cup reserved water until pureed. Remove and set aside.
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add pureed onion and cook 10 minutes, stirring as necessary to keep from sticking.
  1. Add 1 teaspoon salt, ají paste, garlic, nutmeg, and 2/3 cup reserved water, stir and cook another 10 minutes.
  1. Add nut puree and stir and cook about 8-10 minutes.
  1. Stir in evaporated milk, cheese, and chicken. Cook another 5 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over hot white rice on warm plate, garnished with eggs and olives.

NOTE: Find ají amarillo, or Peruvian yellow pepper paste, wherever Latin foods are sold. In Palm Beach County, it’s available at Presidente, El Bodegon supermarkets or other Latin specialty markets.

COOKING TIPS

  • For an easy shortcut, use a store-bought rotisserie chicken and canned broth. Discard skin, remove meat from bones and shred. Follow with recipe beginning at step 3.
  • Crockpot version: Take 1 teaspoon salt, soaked pecans, bread, oil, onion (quartered), aji paste, garlic and nutmeg, and blend with 2 cups chicken broth until smooth and creamy. Pour ½ into slow-cooker. Lay 4 chicken breasts over sauce and pour remaining sauce over chicken. Cook on medium 4 hours or until chicken is very tender and easily pulls apart. Shred chicken, return to slow-cooker, and stir in evaporated milk and Parmesan cheese. Cook another ½ hour on low. Times may vary according to individual slow-cookers.
Potatoes ladled with Peruvian ocopa sauce are served with a purple Peruvian olive. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Potatoes ladled with Peruvian ocopa sauce are served with a purple Peruvian olive. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Ocopa con Papas

Potatoes with Cheese Sauce

This was the first Peruvian sauce I ever tasted and loved it immediately. We serve it over everything.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

4-5 Yukon gold potatoes

3-4 large eggs

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled

¼ cup peanuts or walnuts

1 medium onion, diced small

1-2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste, depending on how hot you like it

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup or more of water

1 pound queso blanco or other fresh cheese

2 tablespoons huacatay paste (sometimes called Peruvian black mint)

3-4 lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Peruvian olives (purple-black botija olives)

Sprinkle of paprika

  1. Place potatoes and eggs in a medium sized pot, cover with cold water, and bring to boil over high heat. Lower heat to maintain simmer and set timer for 9 minutes.
  1. Remove eggs only and plunge into ice water bath. Continue simmering potatoes another 12-15 minutes or until tender. Remove potatoes and set aside to cool.
  1. In medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic cloves 2-3 minutes until golden and fragrant, stirring frequently. Be careful not to let them burn, lowering heat if necessary. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
  1. Add nuts to already hot and oily pan, and roast over medium heat for several minutes until fragrant and golden. Caution, they can burn quickly. Remove with slotted spoon, and let cool with garlic.
  1. Return already hot pan with oil to medium heat, add a little more oil if necessary, and stir in onion, ají amarillo paste, and salt. Cook until onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes stirring often. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  1. Place garlic, nuts, onion mixture, water, queso blanco, and huacatay paste in blender. Puree until smooth and creamy, adding more water, a little at a time as needed. This sauce becomes very thin when heated, and thickens as it cools.
  1. Pour sauce into medium sauce pan. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  1. Peel eggs and potatoes and slice in halves or quarters. Place atop bed of lettuce along with olives, drizzle with sauce, and sprinkle lightly with paprika.

Serve with additional sauce alongside in serving bowl.

To purchase Katie Choy’s cookbook, visit KatieChoy.com.

Day of the Dead: How to honor departed loved ones today

In many ways, Day of the Dead is the opposite of Halloween. It’s not about ghouls and goblins, sexy nurse costumes or Donald Trump masks. It’s about matters of the soul, memory — and delicious sweet bread.

Pan de Muertos, sweet dessert bread, is often served with Mexican hot chocolate. (Credit: Agencia Reforma)
Pan de Muertos, sweet dessert bread, is often served with Mexican hot chocolate. (Photo credit: Agencia Reforma)

In Mexico and Mexican communities, this day arrives the morning after Halloween and its high-fructose-corn-syrup rushes. It’s celebrated with colorful altars, festive Day of the Dead sugar skulls and, most poignantly, with foods to honor the dearly departed.

Whimsy and memory: Day of the Dead altar. (Cox Newspapers)
Whimsy and memory: Day of the Dead altar. (Cox Newspapers photo)

According to ancient indigenous belief, the souls of our departed loved ones come to visit once a year. We honor them by baking sweet, iconic Pan de Muertos dessert bread and by making their favorite dishes.

The two-day holiday, which combines All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, starts Tuesday.

RELATED: DAY OF DEAD AT HARBOURSIDE PLACE

Here is a recipe by Mexico City chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte, whose work on Mexican food and culture is reflected in her epic 2014 book, “Mexico: The Cookbook” (Phaidon).

Day of the Dead Bread is one of 700 recipes contained in the book.

Pan de Muertos

Pan de Muerto by Mexico City chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte. (Photo: Fiamma Piacentini-Huff)
Pan de Muertos by Mexico City chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte. (Photo credit: Fiamma Piacentini-Huff)

RECIPE: Day of the Dead Bread

From “Mexico: The Cookbook,” by Margarita Carrillo Arronte.

Ingredients

1 cup milk

4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry (fast-action) yeast

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 to 2 teaspoons orange blossom water, to taste

3/4 cup melted butter, plus more for greasing and brushing

Day of the Dead inspires festive costumes and dances. (Cox Newspapers photo)
Day of the Dead inspires festive costumes. (Cox Newspapers photo)

Make the bread

For glaze:

1 egg, beaten

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of sugar

To prepare the dough, bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then remove from heat and let cool. Set aside.

Put the flour into a large bowl and make a well. Sprinkle in the sugar and yeast and pour in the milk. Close the well by flicking flour over the milk and let it sit for 1 hour.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the melted butter, and shape into a ball. Transfer to a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Add the butter and knead again for 10 minutes.

Return to the bowl and cover. Let rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Grease two baking sheets with butter. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Take two of those pieces and roll them into tight balls and then press them gently to flatten a bit. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

After the dough has rested for 1 hour, take the remaining piece of dough and divide it into 10 little pieces. Roll two of these pieces into small balls and 8 of these pieces into long, thin logs.

To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and mix well. Brush the loaves gently with the glaze. Take four of the logs and drape them in an X shape over one of the balls. Repeat for the other disk of dough.

Brush these with egg. Take a little ball of dough and place it on the top of one disk of dough, where the X meets. Press down gently so it sticks. Repeat for the other little ball of dough.

Glaze the dough balls and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. While they are still warm, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Makes 3 loaves.

Ziggy Marley’s roasted yam tart will make you want to cook for fall

We found our fall cooking inspiration where we least expected to find it: in Ziggy Marley’s new cookbook.

More specifically, we found it on pages 74 and 75, where Marley’s recipe for a lush, roasted yam tart beckons like a warm fire on a wintry day.

Yammy: This sweet potato tart will fix your fall cravings. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)
Yammy! This sweet potato tart will fix your fall cravings. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)

That is, after all, what pops up in the thought bubble this time of year, even if we live in seasonally challenged South Florida: Ah, fall! Chilly temps and gemstone hues. Cider. Soups. Holiday baking. What shall we cook?

Okay, there are no raging autumn leaves or crackling fire on wintry days here, nothing so dramatic that it sparks cravings for appropriately hearty fare.

But we do have seasonal nuance. And we have imaginations. So we will cook for fall with the same brazen attitude we wield each time we zip up our winter boots and strut into our air-conditioned offices.

Perhaps this was the true appeal of that Ziggy Marley fall recipe – it’s a fall recipe wrapped in a familiar island cloak. The Grammy-winning musician, oldest son of legendary Jamaican singer/songwriter Bob Marley, presents lusciously roasted dishes in his newly published “Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook” (Akashic Books, $24.95).

ziggybookcover
Marley’s book, which dropped Oct. 11, presents dishes that reflect his life and family.

Marley, who also owns a GMO-free product line called Ziggy Marley Organics, did not set out to write a Jamaican cookbook, but one that reflects his life. He took inspiration from the food of his Bull Bay youth, his family’s holistic Rasta culture, his wife Orly’s Israeli and Iranian background as well as his own preference for healthy, natural foods.

Within that diverse mix, we found our fall inspiration. Marley offers wonderfully warming recipes, like a lightly spicy coconut-curry squash soup, a cumin-laced roasted cauliflower dish, a stout gingerbread loaf and, yes, that roasted yam tart.

At a time of the year when it’s hard to think of yams without visions of melted marshmallows, the yams in this tart stand on their own in their natural sweetness. That sweetness finds a buttery backdrop in the baked puff pastry, savory contrast in onions and feta cheese and thyme, plus depth and roundness in coconut oil.

The roasting yams and baking puff pastry will fill your kitchen with those fall baking aromas. And, let’s be real, isn’t that what we crave at this time of the year as we contemplate the sway of palm fronds outside?

ROASTED YAM TART

Yams = fall cooking. (Cox Newspapers photo)
Yams = fall cooking. (Cox Newspapers)

 

THE RECIPE

The sweet yams and creamy-salty feta are a pair made in heaven. Plus, the buttery pastry adds a rich, toasty element.

Recipe adapted from “Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook,” published Oct. 11 by Akashic Books.

1 puff pastry sheet

½ pound yams, sliced

½ cup onion, sliced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon coconut oil

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup feta, crumbled

Hempseeds, as desired

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Par-bake the puff pastry sheet on a sheet pan to 80 percent of the package cooking time.

2. At the same time, combine the yams, onions, thyme, ½ tablespoons coconut oil, salt, pepper and 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil on a sheet pan and roast alongside puff pastry.

3. When pastry sheet is par-baked, remove from oven and brush with ½ tablespoon of each oil.

4. Remove vegetable filling from oven, making sure the yams are soft, and spread evenly over pastry.

5. Top with feta cheese and hempseeds, and bake until the cheese somewhat melts and puff pastry cooking time is complete (meaning the final 20 percent of the package cooking time).

6. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve hot.

Serves 2 to 4

In the test kitchen: We baked the pastry and yams at separate times, then together. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)
In the test kitchen, we baked the pastry and yams at separate times. (Liz Balmaseda/Palm Beach Post)

Test kitchen notes: After making Marley’s recipe recently, we have the following recommendations to maximize the yams’ flavor and the puff pastry’s toasty texture.

  • Using a spray bottle, spritz olive oil on the yam slices and roast them on the sheet pan at 375F till tender (about 35 minutes), flipping them over halfway into the roasting time.
  • For a sweeter touch, caramelize the onions in a skillet before adding to the tart.
  • Bake the puff pastry separately from the yams to eliminate any excess moisture in the oven.

Don’t forget it. Pin it!

ziggy-pinterest-735

 

 

Cauliflower rice has reached craze level — but does it taste like rice?

There’s a Cuban slang term that perfectly describes the latest cauliflower trend.

“It’s like white rice. It’s everywhere,” goes the saying popular among my rice-crazy people.

In this cauliflower trend case, it’s not like white rice – it is white rice. It’s cauliflower rice and, yes, it’s everywhere.

Dueling bowls of cauliflower fried rice: Which did we like best? (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Dueling bowls of cauliflower fried rice: Which did we like best? (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Chefs are stir-frying it. Big box stores are selling chilled packages of it. Paleo devotees and vegans are singing its praises.

But does it taste like rice rice? Short answer: It can. Sort of.

Like rice, cauliflower morsels soak up the flavor of their seasonings. The cruciferous veggie can develop a sulfurous scent if overcooked, but it can be avoided in a quick, well-seasoned skillet.

I first tasted cauliflower rice in a brilliant stir-fry dish by nationally acclaimed Miami chef Giorgio Rapicavoli, a James Beard Award “Rising Star Chef” nominee who is a regular headliner at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival. The almost crunchy cauliflower fried “rice” is sautéed with shishito peppers and carrots at Rapicavoli’s Eating House restaurant.

Inspired, I bought a head of cauliflower days later and riced up the florets in my food processor, reserving the stems for soup. I chopped up aromatics and veggies, then went about my stir-fry, swapping in the riced florets for white rice.

The result was tasty, but rather mushy. Perhaps I left it in the pan, covered, for too long. Or perhaps residual moisture on the florets combined with the heat emanating from the spinning processor blade doomed the rice.

Riced and packaged cauliflower at Trader Joe's. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Riced and packaged. 

Whatever the case, my cauliflower rice enthusiasm was relegated to the back burner of my mind. Then I found a bag of perfectly riced cauliflower at in the produce section of Trader Joe’s.

It was evidence of a trend already well established. A Paleo-following friend mentioned she buys packaged riced cauliflower at Costco. And recently, Green Giant got in the cauliflower rice game, rolling out bags of frozen “Riced Veggies” this month.

Cauliflower rice without the chopping and food processor hassle? I was intrigued enough to grab a bag of it at Trader Joe’s and cancel my white-rice side dish plans for our Sunday night supper.

I kept the preparation simple. I sautéed chopped onion, celery and two or three garlic cloves in olive oil for a couple of minutes over medium heat, then added about a cup and a half of the packaged rice and turned up the heat to medium-high. I seasoned the ingredients with salt and pepper and sautéed the granulized cauliflower in the garlic-infused oil for three to four minutes. I lowered the heat and covered the pan for another minute or two, then tasted for seasoning and texture.

It was not as tender as my food-processor rice had been, but it was not mushy – it was almost there. I covered it for another minute and it was perfect.

I scooped a large spoonful of the rice into a bowl of garbanzo, butternut squash and chorizo stew. The rice soaked up the stew’s flavors without losing its lightly chewy texture.

I topped my homemade garbanzo stew with cauliflower "arroz." (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Garbanzo stew + cauli “arroz.”

The heady bites of that Sunday supper sparked other cauliflower rice ideas and curiosities: Would it work in paella, or arroz con pollo? Could it ever match the creaminess of risotto?

Nina Kauder, a plant-based chef working in Lake Worth and Boynton Beach, can vouch for the success of cauliflower rice in risotto. She sampled a stellar rendition at a five-course, “plant-powered” dinner she presented some days ago at Boynton Beach’s Secret Garden culinary incubator. It was a mushroom Marsala served over truffled cauliflower risotto.

The success of this rice, she says, was built with layer upon layer of flavor, from the dish’s earthy mushrooms to its meaty chickpeas and bright, fresh herbs.

“When you’re creating vegan food, you want to build a lot of layers of flavor. You can’t be one note. It’s not enough,” says Kauder.

Cauliflower rice, an excellent source of vitamins and phytonutrients, has many benefits, she notes. But, flavor wise, it needs some love.

That love starts in the form of aromatic sautés or sofritos and continues with spices and herbs and seasoned broths made of roasted veggies and/or bones.

“It’s all about the seasoning. It’s what focuses the flavor,” says Kauder, who suggests experimenting with nutritional yeast for deeper, rounder flavors. Just sprinkle about ¼ cup of the yeast into your cauliflower rice sauté. “The greatest cheat in vegan dishes is nutritional yeast. It gives you the cheesiness in flavor and texture.”

Mushroom Marsala over cauliflower risotto, as presented at Secret Garden dinner in Boynton Beach. (Contributed by Sivan Fraser)
Mushroom Marsala on cauliflower risotto, as presented at Secret Garden. (Credit: Sivan Fraser)

Some days ago, I asked Tequesta personal chef Lenore Pinello to conduct a flavor and texture experiment in her cook shop, In the Kitchen. (Watch the cook/taste test on video at MyPalmBeachPost.com/rice.) The recipe: her simple fried rice.

Pinello fired up two woks and stir-fried a progression of veggies in them. To one wok, she added cauliflower she riced using a hand grater. To the other, she added the Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower.

In the end, it was a bit of a tie. For flavor, we preferred the hand-grated cauliflower best, as it soaked up more flavor than the other. For texture, we liked the more al dente feel of the packaged rice.

“But I could eat both of them all day long,” Pinello said.

Then, in an apparent flash of inspiration, she reached for one of the cauliflower stems she had set aside. She grated the vegetable’s tougher part into a bowl. The texture of the riced stem was similar to that of the packaged cauliflower rice.

That seemed to explain why the bagged rice was drier than the fresh one – the fresh one was made of more tender florets.

Chef Kauder believes that using the stems is a genius move.

“What do you do with the tough core once you’ve packaged the florets? It’s perfect for the job at hand (ricing). It’s maximizing the retailability and reducing their waste,” she says.

The bigger picture, of course, is that trendy cauliflower rice may be succeeding in places the food pyramid fails.

“The truth is no one eats enough vegetables – even vegetarians,” says Kauder, noting the uncanny resemblance of white rice and cauliflower rice. “We eat with our eyes first and sometimes vegetables that are reminiscent of other foods are not enough – it really has to look like it.”

FRIED CAULIFLOWER RICE

Recipe by Chef Lenore Pinello of In the Kitchen shop in Tequesta.

Serves 4

4 sliced bacon, cut into lardons (cubes)

1/2 cup diced onions

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 cups riced cauliflower, either freshly grated or packaged

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup sliced scallions

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

Preheat a wok or large skillet. Add bacon and stir-fry until golden brown.

Add onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Drizzle sesame oil into pan until fragrant.

Add cauliflower and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes, until tender (but not mushy). Add soy sauce to coat the cauliflower rice.

Toss in peas and carrots and stir-fry until the colors are bright, about 1 minute.

Add the scallions and ginger and cook for 1 minute.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowls and serve immediately.

Loren Cordain, the researcher who dubbed the term "Paleo diet," has written a new cookbook called "Real Paleo Fast & Easy" that features this recipe for crisp spicy pork with cauliflower rice and herbs. Photo by Loren Cordain
Loren Cordain’s ‘Real Paleo Fast & Easy’ cookbook includes the following recipe for this crispy spicy pork with cauliflower rice and herbs. (Credit: Loren Cordain)

CRISPY SPICY PORK WITH HERBS

with cauliflower rice

Recipe from “Real Paleo Fast & Easy,” by Loren Cordain (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Serves 4

1 pound ground pork

3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds, toasted

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley

1/4 cup snipped fresh mint

Lemon wedges or crushed red pepper, for serving (optional)

Form pork into two 1/4-inch-thick patties. In an extra-large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Place patties in skillet; cook 3 minutes or until bottoms are browned and very crisp. Carefully turn patties and cook 3 minutes more or until second sides are browned and crisp. Reduce heat to medium. Break patties into small pieces; add smoked paprika, crushed red pepper, cumin and garlic. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until spices are fragrant and meat is cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a food processor pulse cauliflower (in batches if necessary) until the pieces are the size of rice. In a large skillet cook cauliflower rice in the remaining coconut oil over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender and just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in almonds and lemon zest.

Serve pork over cauliflower rice; sprinkle with parsley, mint and, if desired, additional crushed red pepper and lemon wedges.

Football food: Make tachos, the lovechild of tater tots and nachos

Tachos are the lovechild of tater tots and nachos. (Credit: Oxmoor House)
Tachos are the lovechild of tater tots and nachos. (Credit: Oxmoor House)

Only those who truly love football and food with equal passion can appreciate a heap of Tachos. The guilty pleasure mashup dish is, in effect, the well-accessorized lovechild of tater tots and nachos.

Tachos shares the newly published “The Hungry Fan’s Game Day Cookbook” (Oxmoor House, $22.95) with other decadent, made-for-sports-watching dishes, such as Shepherd’s Pie Quesadilla Bites, an Irish-Mexican mashup.

BEST LOCAL SPORTS BARS FOR WATCHING FOOTBALL

The book’s author, sports mega-fan Daina Falk, who operates HungryFan.com, a site for sports-loving foodies, tapped into the game-day cravings of sports fans.

“There’s nothing better than cheering on your team at deafeningly loud decibels while chowing down on ‘sportsfood’ yummies,” she writes.

Which brings us to Tachos. Here’s the recipe. You’re welcome!

TACHOS

The following recipe and note are reprinted from Daina Falk’s “The Hungry Fan’s Game Day Cookbook” with permission of Oxmoor House.

“You’ve heard of nachos. You’ve heard of tater tots. Combining them creates sheer taste bud amazingness in the form of what I call ‘Tachos.’ The key to this recipe is that the tater tots must be served really crispy and hot. This dish is goopy, so you really want your tots to hold up to the cheesy yumminess like tortilla chips would.”

6 ounces dried chorizo, diced

1⁄2 cup Negra Modelo, or another dark beer

16 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1 serrano pepper, seeds and veins removed, minced

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

3 cups tater tots

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

1⁄4 cup salsa

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

Freshly ground black pepper, optional

GDC full cover 0602acj.indd1. Cook the chorizo over medium in a large saucepan for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp and the fat has rendered. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain, and discard the rendered fat.

2. Heat the beer in the same saucepan over high for about 5 minutes to reduce it a bit. Reduce the heat to low, and add the cheese, stirring often as it melts into the beer. Once fully melted, add the fresh and canned chiles, 1 tablespoon of the green onions, and half the chorizo.

3. Bring to a simmer for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bake the tater tots in a preheated oven according to package directions, making sure to cook them to their crispiest.

5. Place the tater tots on a large tray, and drizzle the cheese sauce on top. Dollop with the yogurt and salsa. Top with the remaining chorizo and green onions and the cilantro. Feel free to sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper, too, and then serve immediately.

Makes 1 large plate