Thai Curry with Cauliflower “Rice” {gluten-free, vegan}

Thai Jungle Curry + Cauliflower

Adam made me this cutting board. There is something so much more intrinsically beautiful in a gift that is made versus bought. He’s a little protective of it, though, re-sanding the surface every now and then. I’ve even been gently reproached for allowing strawberry hulls to sit too long on its surface.

There is symbolism in this cutting board, too. In the early years of our marriage my husband was a full-time carpenter, a surprisingly lucrative job for a twenty-something in a ski-town. “Building America,” he would say with a wink. He loved the work. The life-style. However, with the arrival our first child he felt it was time to move up the ranks, to trade in the hammer and tool belt for collared shirts and client meetings. Management. He had arrived.

Life is full of irony. As it turns out, he quite liked that old hammer and tool belt. So much so that he’s decided its time to take a leap, to set aside the nine-to-five for a while and test out furniture making full-time. I’ll be sure to share more of his work going forward. It’s beautiful stuff.

Thai Jungle Curry + Cauliflower

This change coincides with another, perhaps even more important. In the last year-and-a-half since Cecil was born we have become increasingly aware of the distance that separates us from our kinfolk, the sweet people who love us and our son the most. As we’ve talked, and talked, and talked some more about this decision, it has become abundantly clear that the time is now. Everything all at once.

At the end of July, with quiet enthusiasm and measured certainty, we will move back to the Oklahoma hills where Adam was born.

THAI CURRY WITH CAULIFLOWER “RICE”
Adapted from Whole Living

This is one of my favorite vegetarian/vegan dinners.  It just feels good to get full on a bunch of colorful vegetables. You could easily substitute any number of different veggies: asparagus, green beans, a handful of spinach, etc. If cauliflower “rice” sounds too fringe/new-age-hippie I completely understand, sometimes I’m not feeling it either, so I just substitute brown rice. Or serve both for more bulk and a little grain.

Cauliflower “Rice”
2 cups cauliflower, florets only
1 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil  (olive oil works, too)
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt
1/4 cup vegetable broth

Thai Curry
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (more or less to suit your spice level)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup coconut milk (I prefer full fat, but “lite” would be fine)
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned

Garnish
3 tablespoons shelled and toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or peanuts
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
fresh sprouts (optional)
fresh lime slices for garnish
Sriracha sauce, to serve

  1. Pulse cauliflower florets in food processor until they resemble the texture of rice (see pic above).
  2. Heat coconut oil in a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat, add onion and garlic and saute until softened, approximately 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the cauliflower “rice”, a pinch of salt and veggie broth.  Partially cover the pan and simmer/steam 5 minutes until broth has evaporated and the cauliflower is tender but still toothsome.  Keep warm.
  3. While the “rice” cooks, make the curry.  In a large skillet or wok, heat the remaining coconut oil over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, ginger, curry paste and brown sugar and cook for 1 minute, stirring to incorporate the ingredients.  Add the veggie slices: onion, carrot, broccoli and red bell pepper.  Stir-fry 2-4 minutes until tender-crisp and just beginning to brown on the edges.  Decrease the heat to low and add the coconut milk, stirring to loosen any browned bits.  Allow curry to simmer gently and thicken for 2 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  4. To serve, spoon veggies and sauce over cauliflower “rice”.  Top with pumpkin seeds, cilantro, fresh sprouts, and a lime wedge.

Serves 2

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Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken

The more I cook the more I am convinced that technique is my greatest ally. Quality ingredients like responsibly raised meat and sustainable, organic produce are also critical, but I would argue that a $15 organic chicken is no good if you can’t cook it well. A pie crust doesn’t turn out tender and flaky if your butter isn’t cold, and the freshest, straight-from-the-farm egg whites are superfluous in an Angel Food Cake if they are not properly whipped.

Technique is what we have lost in the last few generations. Our great grandmothers couldn’t just run out and grab a DiGiorno nor could they turn to a Duncan Hines box mix. No, they were taught the basics of technique: how to roast, how to braise, how to bake, ratios.  Technique.  When you know the HOW (like how to roast a chicken), the WHAT (what to season the chicken with) is only limited by your imagination.

Roasting birds has always been hit or miss for me, usually the latter. The technique outlined below is flawless. There is no need for a meat thermometer, no brining or marinating overnight, no trussing. There are three critical items to note: bird size (3 1/2 – 4 lbs.), remove the backbone, follow the temperature/cooking time as directed.

SPATCHCOCKED-ROASTED CHICKEN
Technique adapted from a wonderfull blog Food.People.Want., who adapted it from Jacques Pepin’s More Fast Food My Way

The first strategy behind this approach is akin to pounding meat with a meat mallot.  Don’t worry, you won’t be taking a mallot to the chicken, rather by removing the backbone you create a flatter bird that cooks evenly.

The other clever approach is to begin cooking  the chicken on the stovetop.  Have you ever roasted a turkey and ended up with sandy, dry breast meat and underdone dark meat?  That’s because dark meat takes a little longer to cook through.  By placing the bird in a pan and searing  the dark meat (bottom) on the stovetop via direct heat you give it a head start on cooking.  Then you transfer the chicken to the oven for indirect heat, which allows for the dark meat to finish at the same time as the white meat.  You end up with a perfectly moist roasted chicken.

(1) 3 1/2 – 4 pound chicken, preferably organic
1 tablespoon softened butter, ghee, or 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried herbs, your choice or a handful of fresh herbs, your choice
1 teaspoon coarse salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut the backbone out of the chicken by laying the bird on its breast and cutting just along either side of its spine. Alternatively, if using a knife, set the bird on it’s bottom and slice straight down along each side of the back bone.

The bird should open much like a book at this point. Lay the chicken cut-side down and in one firm press crack the breastbone (you will hear a little crack) to create an even flatter bird.  Cut slits halfway through both sides of the joints connecting the drumstick to the thigh and cut through the joints of the shoulder under the wing, which will also help encourage even cooking.

Season the chicken as you see fit. This time I smothered mine with a tablespoon of clarified butter and rubbed in a generous teaspoon or two of Herbes de Provence along with a little salt and pepper.

Once the meat is seasoned to your liking, heat a large cast iron skillet or metal pan large enough for the bird over medium high heat until a droplet of water sizzles on the surface. Place the chicken cavity (cut) side down in the pan and cook for 5 minutes. This is also when I arranged my medley of cut veggies around the chicken.

Transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking and bake 30-35 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crispy.

Remove pan from the oven and allow the bird to rest 5 minutes before transferring to a cutting board to rest 5 minutes more.  Cut into pieces and serve.