Gobi Pakora, an Indian Cauliflower Fritter

Aromatic spiced bouquets of cauliflowers are drenched in batter and lightly fried. The result is a classic Indian snack called Gobi Pakora.

I still remember very clearly the first time I went to an Indian restaurant. I was probably 16 and my friend, Helen 23, had suggested it. This lunch was probably the first defining exotic meal I had, one of the first bricks of a path I built that lead me down this blog adventure. So thank you Helen! I remember I played it safe and ordered Chicken Tandoori. But I fell in love. I am not sure what else I had that time but the following Indian meals often included today’s recipe, a staple snack or vegetable side dish, Cauliflower fritters known as Gobi Pakora.

gobi-pakora Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

5 Star Makeover: South African Pampoenkoekies and Delicata Rings

This month’s 5 Star Makeover could not be more seasonal: we are cooking or baking with any squash of our choice. My recipe lead me down an unusual path for a squash recipe, it actually took me to South Africa. I bet you would be surprised to learn that pumpkin and other squash are served as a side dish in almost every restaurant. The South Africans love this vegetable and some varieties are indigenous to South Africa.

South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. For me it feels like a whole world away, making it that much more intriguing. Although the country has had its fair share of historical turmoil, South Africa is the most stable country on the African continent, making it a great introduction gateway if you plan to explore Africa some day. The urban cities are quite developed and modern. Chances are any trip to Africa will have flights to Johannesburg in your itinerary so why not stop a bit and explore.

The culture is astoundingly varied. Did you know the country has 11 official languages? The big cities are getting closer and closer to our Western standards of living but it is a reality that the rural population is still considered of the poorest in Africa. Yet the rural inhabitants are also the people who hold on to tradition the strongest, such as the Zulu culture which is still very much alive; we are mostly familiar with their tribal dance and song.

There are so many wonderful sights to explore: the number one main attraction is the wildlife reserves where you can see elephants and rhinos. There are many unique things to see with strong political influences like the prison that held Nelson Mandela. The one attraction I am most curious about is the Cradle of Mankind, a large collection of caves rich in hominid and advanced ape fossils. And no trip here would be complete without a tour of the wonderful vineyards and tasting the local dishes…which brings us back to the Squash theme of the 5 Star Makeover for October.

I wanted to cook with new squashes I had yet to explore. I could not resists these two beauties: the Turban and Delicata squash. The Turban has a unique shape that has earned it its name. The flesh has notes of hazelnut when ripe. If you pick it to soon it could be bitter. The Turban squash has been used more for decorative purposes in the past but it is now making an appearance in the kitchen. It is great for soups and desserts as the flesh is quite moist.

The Delicata squash has an elongated shape marked by yellow and green stripes. This is a heirloom variety. The flesh is an orange-yellow color. Taste wise it is the sweet potato of the squash world and the flesh is creamy while still holding its shape. This one is great for stuffing, in meat dishes or as a side dish.

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Pumpkin Fritters, or Pampoenkoekies, are a traditional South African meal that can be prepared as a savory or sweet dish. Of course you can substitute the pumpkin for another moist flesh squash like the Turban squash. If you want a sweet fritter reduce the salt a bit and add 2 tbsp of sugar, then dust with a cinnamon sugar.

I chose the savory version which pairs beautifully with a spicy mango salsa. And I just so happen to find a South African Mango Salsa recipe. It is kind of unique with some cucumber in there. The recipe asks for a super hot chilli of your choice. I actually changed it with a African Bird pepper powder I have. On the hot scale this pepper kicks ass so better to add a little bit at a time.

The Maple Glazed Delicata Rings have no relation to South Africa but they look cool and are wonderful to snack on in between fritters. It’s like vegetable candy.

Ξ South African Pumpkin Fritters (Pampoenkoekies) Ξ
adapted from Weight Watchers

1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin or squash
2 large eggs, separated
olive oil

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin with egg yolks; mix until well-combined. In another small bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Alternating in batches, add flour mixture and egg whites to pumpkin mixture, stirring after each addition.

Coat a large skillet with oil; heat until oil shimmers. Drop 4 large spoonfuls of batter onto skillet to form four 3-inch fritters; cook until bubbles start to form along sides, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip fritters and cook until lightly browned, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more; remove fritters to a serving plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat process two more times to make twelve fritters total. Yields 1 fritter per serving.

Ξ Maple Glazed Delicata Rings Ξ
adapted from Diana Rattray

1 medium Delicata squash
1tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoons maple syrup
sea salt

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Grease the foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cut the squash in 1/2-inch thick rounds; scoop seeds out of each round. In a bowl, toss the squash with the melted butter and maple syrup. Arrange the squash on the foil-lined pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 400° for 35 to 45 minutes, turning once about halfway through the baking time.

Ξ South African Summer Mango Salsa Ξ
adapted from Ocado

1 mango
1/2 Red Onion
1/4 Cucumber
1/8 tsp African Bird pepper (or 1/2 Hot Chilli)
1/2 good handful Coriander
Dash of sea salt
1 pouring lime Juice

Dice mangoes in 1/2 inch cubes, shop red onion, and dice cucumber. Chop up the hottest chilli you can find  or add chilli powder. Chop coriander and add. Pour in lime juice and add salt. Mix well. Leave in fridge for an hour.

Fish tortilla citrus vanilla gastrique radish salsa

A wonderful new way to enjoy a fish tortilla: top it with a fabulous citrus & vanilla gastrique and a radish salsa! Served with battered radish leaves.

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Ladies and Germs: 5 Star Makeovers is at WAR this month. Yes you read me right. We have created our very own friendly competition based on Restaurant Wars, like the popular part of the Top Chef show. Members of this fabulous gourmet group were divided into teams of 3. We had to come up with a restaurant or menu based on an ingredient or concept. My personal challenge: radishes meet fish tortilla!

Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Who knows but unfortunately we did loose some teams along the way following incidents. Mine survived without any battle. I am so happy to have worked with my 2 particular team members Faith and Shannon. We all got along fabulously, came to decisions rather fast and we were very encouraging of one another.

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa

My team chose radishes and we announced our menu about a month ago here: Raphanus! Celebrating the Radish. Not one of us were particular fans of this vegetable but we all appreciated the challenge of turning this foe into a shinning star for our dishes. And since that was not tough enough we added another aspect: there must be a citrus vanilla component to our dish. All 3 of us were ready to confront our radish dish with our chef’s sleeves rolled up. Who won? In the end the radish won us all over.

After reading my post please go visit the rest of my team so you can see our complete menu. You will find Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links. I can’t wait to go check them out. But first let’s take a look at my dish, the main course:

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa, battered radish leaves.

Say that 3 times fast lol. It’s a mouth full…but a so delicious one. OK so my vanilla component is a vanilla gastrique. I never made one before so this was new. A gastrique is a reduction of a sweet and sour element, usually sugar and vinegar. I added a vanilla bean to mine. This stuff is freaking addictive it’s ridiculous. I used it as part of my Radish salsa vinaigrette.

I more then covered the citrus factor. In total I used satsuma mandarin juice, Yuzu lemon juice, dried orange peel and lime juice. I also wanted to add a little heat to my dish since it has a Tex Mex flair. I chose a Serrano pepper and some habanero infused salt, just a touch.

My radish salsa plays the crowning jewel atop of a fantastic fish tortilla dish. Although I enjoy it I don’t prepare a whole lot of Tex Mex, it’s not part of my culture. And I had never had a fish in a tortilla before, something I had been curious about after seeing such a dish featured on a few blogs. Well it was just fantastic and the sweet tanginess of the radish salsa gave it a perfect flavor kick.

And there is a side dish surprise recipe all the way at the bottom of this post!

 

Vanilla Gastrique

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Zinfandel vinegar (you can use any vinegar)
1/2 vanilla bean, split length wise

Add all ingredients to a pan and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by 1/3 and is syrupy. Allow to cool and discard bean.

Red and Black Radishes, the Stars of the show

 

Radish Salsa adapted from Figareau

12 radishes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 satsuma mandarin (or orange)
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu lemon juice (or lime)
1 tbsp vanilla gastrique
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch habanero infused salt (or plain salt)
Pepper to taste

Washed, trim and dice finely the radishes. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Ξ Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa Ξ

team radish 15

For the fish

1 1/2 lbs firm white fish (I used Tilapia)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Dash of salt and pepper

Heat grill or oven to 400F. Place fish in an aluminum pan, coat with olive oil, lime juice and spices. Cook about 10 minutes (more or less) until fish comes apart with a fork.

team radish 6  team radish 7

team radish 1  team radish 5b

Assembly

tortillas
red bean paste
prepared fish
red onions, thinly sliced
cilantro
sour cream with a touch of lime juice and diced Serrano pepper.
radish salsa

Line plate with tortillas. Spoon a layer of red bean paste. Place fish on top of red beans.
Top fish with red onions, cilantro, sour cream and radish salsa. Makes 4 individual servings or 1 big plate to divide.

WAIT, one more recipe, a SIDE DISH adapted from Kitchen Gossip. Why throw away those lovely radish greens? These fritters are like a cross between hush puppies and an Indian Bahji – unique to say the least.

team radish 4  team radish 11

team radish 12

Ξ Battered radish leaves Ξ

2 cups radish leaves, chopped
3 heaping tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp rice flour
1 Serrano chili, finely chopped
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Paprika
Salt to taste
Oil to Deep Fry
Water

Mix leaves, flours and spices in a bowl. Add a little bit of water at a time and mix until batter is sticky
Shape into small balls and deep fry in oil at 375F until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels before serving. Enjoy hot or cold.

Don’t forget to go visit Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links after leaving a comment. Thank you to our amazing organizer who came up with this brilliant concept: Natasha at 5 Star Foodie &  Laz at Lazaro Cooks!

Southern Shindig for Dad’s 75th Birthday

Even if we had a big sorta surprise birthday party last Saturday, we still had another immediate family dinner the actual day of my dad’s 75th birthday. And for this party I decided to go with a Southern American theme influenced by my trip last summer in North Carolina. I had a list of Must Do recipes from back then I still not attacked…I did a bunch in one shot, most adapted. Enjoy the dinner.

Oh yes, 1 recipe is a Southern impostor, can you guess which one?

Menu

Cajun Lemonade
Zucchini Corn Fritters
Beer Cheese Soup
Evelyne’s Slow Cooker North Carolina Pulled Pork
Corn bread
Swiss Chard
Sweet potato pudding cake
Evelyne’s Homemade Ice tea

Cajun Lemonade

6 ounces rum or vodka
2 ounces limoncello
4 ounces fresh lemon juice
2 ounces Simple Syrup
1/4 tablespoon Tabasco
4 ounces chilled 7-Up

In a large container, combine all of the ingredients except 7-Up. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Poor into a shaker and shake in batches, then pour into an ice-filled pitcher. Strain into ice-filled rocks glasses, stir in the 7-Up.

Zucchini Corn Fritters (12 fritters)

1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/8 cup butter, melted
1 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cups fresh corn, kernels cut from cob
1/2 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
oil for frying

1. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cumin, sugar, salt, and pepper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and butter. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir in zucchini, corn, and cheese; mix well.
3. Warm oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Drop batter by the tablespoonful into hot oil. Fry until crisp and brown, turning once with tongs. Remove to paper towels.

Beer Cheese Soup

½ white onion, diced
¼ cup butter
1 clove minced garlic
1 12 ounce bottle of beer
14 oz broth
1 can cream of celery
1 Cup half-and-half
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and ground pepper, to taste

Saute the diced onions in butter, add the garlic, broth, cream, cream of celery and beer. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted then add Worcestershire, salt and pepper.

 

Slow Cooker Carolina BBQ

3-4 pounds pork roast, Boston butt or pork shoulder
2 tsp black pepper, garlic salt, Paprika each
1 Medium Sweet Onion, Chopped
2 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup of barbecue sauce (homemade or store bought, I used Bone Suckin’ Sauce from NC)

1. Combine garlic salt, pepper and paprika, rub into the pork. Place pork in slow cooker and cover with vinegar, onion and liquid smoke. Cook for 8 to 10 hours under “low” slow cooker setting.
2. After meat is cooked, remove from slow cooker onto plate and break apart with fork. If meat has any bones, please discard at this time. Keep liquid
3. Put the pork in the slow cooker & add BBQ sauce and liquid to tastes. Keep warm. Serve on  plate or burger bun.

OK I am assuming responsibility for my outlandish following statement: this was the BEST pulled pork ever. I have had about 4 different ones in NC and about 3 in the last year in Montreal BBQ restaurants (which all sucked). Mine is the BEST. I am specifically sending out this challenge to Rich, my friend who hosted me while I was visiting him last summer. Rich, get your butt up here for a little holiday and I’ll make you my pull pork…the BEST, period!

 

Swiss Chard

1 bunch of Swiss chard
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper

Trim the stems of the Swiss chard and chop into sections. Wash the leaves well, shake dry. Cook the stems in a large pot of simmering salted water for 5 minutes, then add the leaves and cook for a further 5 minutes, turning them occasionally as they wilt down, until soft.

Drain well in a colander, then toss with the butter, lemon juice , sea salt and pepper.

Cornbread

I used my Mama Dips Cornbread Mix that I bought when I was in North Carolina…but if you want to make you own…

1 c. self-rising cornmeal
½ c. self-rising flour
3-4 T. sugar
3 T. butter
1¼ c. buttermilk
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix cornmeal, flour, and sugar.
2. In separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add buttermilk and melted butter.
3. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Pour into cornbread dish (or 8“x8” baking pan).
5. Bake for 25 minutes. Until golden brown

Sweet potato pudding cake

1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons dark or light rum
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (I used A”P” white flour)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups mashed sweet potato (about 1 large)
3 large eggs
14oz coconut milk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Topping

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray.
2. To prepare cake: Toss raisins and rum in a small bowl and let stand. Whisk flour, nutmeg and salt in another bowl.
3. Boil sweet potato till tender, drain and mash in a large bowl. Add eggs; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add coconut milk, 1 cup brown sugar and butter; beat until combined. Stir in the dry ingredients until evenly moistened. Stir in the raisins and any remaining rum. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
4. To prepare topping: Combine coconut, 1 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle on top of the cake.
5. Bake the cake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 min. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring. Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Evelyne’s Homemade Ice tea

2 liters of water
3 tea bags (any kind)
fresh lemon juice, to taste
honey, to taste

Run your tap water hot and fill the pitcher with about 2 cups of water. Add the 1 tbsp of honey and lemon juice and stir. Add the teat bags and let sit 1 hour on the counter. Fill with 1.5 liters of water and put in the fridge for a few hours. Discard tea bags and adjust lemon and honey to taste.