June 24, 2016

Cauliflower Steak

by Marjan
Crisp sunny days with clear blue skies; summer has arrived! Personally, I like to hibernate during hot summer days vs. winter.  I avoid crowded tourist attractions and traveling, dodging overcrowded airports, roads, and beaches. Just because I'm staying in does not mean I seclude myself away from enjoying the company of close family and friends.  Just the opposite!  This time of the year, I enjoy relaxing pool parties at our ranch in San Diego.  We have plenty of fresh organic fruits and vegetables to serve along with breathtaking views of nearby rolling hills, horses, and lush beautiful vegetation around our neighborhood to share. A gentle breeze grazes our valley to help keep temperatures cool; and if it becomes too hot, a dip in our salt water pool with tantalizing homemade lemonade remedies all!
For my summer parties, I prefer to serve meals which can be prepared in advance and require minimal use of the oven or stove. In many of our past posts, I shared with you easy to make recipes such as guacamole and tomatillo salsas along with easy summer meals for hot summer days.
In this post, I want to share with you a recipe I prepared for my guests which made entertaining with food healthy, beautiful, delicious and most importantly cool and relaxing!
Instead of grilling steaks in the heat of summer, I pan seared golden brown cauliflower steaks and topped them with vegetable from the garden which are filling and bursting with flavor.  A vegetarian delight, served hot or cold, these steaks are low in calorie, nutritious, and helps maintain a healthy weight for summer. Next time you have a pool gathering, prepare these steaks in advance and serve them along with all your summer favorites dishes.
Have a healthy, light, beautiful summer!

Serves 4
Ingredients

1 cauliflower; cut into flat four 3/4" steak size pieces (cutting from the top of flower to the bottom of the stem straight; maintaining the stem to keep flowerets intact)
1 large onion; cut into slivers
handful of heirloom tomatoes
1 each purple, orange, and yellow carrot peeled and chopped into thin bite size pieces
1 large stalk of celery chopped into bite size pieces
1 small zucchini chopped into small bite size pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon curry powder of choice
3 tablespoons of coconut oil

In a large flat nonstick frying pan over medium heat using 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, place two pieces of cauliflower steaks and sear until golden brown. Dash light amount of salt, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder over steaks and flip them over to sear other side. Again sprinkle light amount of salt, pepper and a small pinch of curry on top of steaks. Once golden brown, remove and place on serving dish or platter. Continue and repeat with 2 remaining cauliflower steaks and remove and place onto serving dish or platter.  In the same pan, add remaining coconut oil, onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and zucchini. Sear until vegetables are slightly cooked and golden.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon two heaping spoons of vegetable mix over the steaks. Serve either hot or cold.

June 10, 2016

Baked Apple Blueberry Pancakes

by Marjan
Do you love pancakes? Hot, fluffy, sweet, heavenly bites of cake submersed in maple syrup; as I write, my mouth begins to salivate and my stomach growls. I usually make pancakes for my family on special occasions such as brunches at the ranch, birthdays or Father's day (as it is my father's favorite breakfast item).
I have discovered a new recipe which I enjoy preparing because it saves me from standing next to a hot stove top to pour, flip, flop and serve each pancake hot to others while I long for a bite into my fluffy cakes. Now I bake my pancakes in  the oven, and I must admit it is equally delicious, stays warm longer, and so much easier to make. The best part is it affords me the opportunity to sit down with my family and enjoy breakfast together vs. serving everyone first and then myself after everyone has finished eating.
Granny Smith apples along with blueberries make this easy to prepare breakfast dish even more delicious and healthy. Serve this pancake recipe at your next brunch. Not only will it be easy to make,  I promise your guests will love serving themselves warm spoonfuls of fluffy pancakes bites sure to win them over.

May 27, 2016

What Pops Out Of This Cake Is A Surprise! Oliver's Salad

by Marjan
I saved the best for last! Within the past months, I have featured a three post series to best describe my passion for both food and art. With this post, I'm bringing back a famous classic Russian recipe dressed up in a modern cake design. Using beautiful flowers, herbs and cheese, I present to you a recipe from over a century ago into a modern breath taking dish.
Olivier's Salad is a popular Russian recipe invented in 1860 by a Belgian chef, Lucien Olivier, served at the prestigious Hermitage restaurant in Moscow.  Persian's have also adopted and slightly modified Oliver's original salad recipe. Typically Persians prepare this recipe using broiled potatoes, hard boiled eggs, cooked shredded chicken, and dill pickles all chopped finely and tossed with green peas, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Simply delicious, Oliver's salad is generally enjoyed with bread and served as sandwiches. Of course, there are many variations of this delicious salad which is most similar to the classic potato salad enjoyed here in the States.
Oliver's salad was very popular in the 70's and 80's. Lately it appears as if this tasty salad is being forgotten and not served. As diet trends change, so does the public's appetite. Therefore, I am bringing back another classic dressed in a modern design. This is not a sweet cake; rather, it is layers of bread filled with classic Olivier's Salad.
Of course, you too can change and modify the ingredients to your liking. If you prefer a vegetarian option of this salad, simply omit the chicken. This recipe is perfect for any party or dinner gathering as it can be prepared and decorated in advanced. Filling, delicious, and pleasing to all senses, I guarantee this recipe will be a hit at your next gathering.
Hope you have enjoyed our series of posts reflective of my interpretation of culinary arts: rainbow colored quiche, vegetable napoleon, and Oliver's salad.

Serves 8-10
Ingredients
Oliver's Salad
4 boiled potatoes; boil in pot full of water until just tender to the knife test inserted into potato; chopped into cubes
4 hard boiled eggs; chopped into cubes
3 cups of cooked shredded chicken into small bite size pieces (I usually use my left over roasted chicken; white and dark meat)
1 cup finely chopped dill pickles; good quality, I prefer small Persian pickled cucumbers
1 cup thawed frozen peas (precooked)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper

1 loaf of sour dough bread; remove all crust edges

Cake Decoration
2 cups cream cheese
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
Natural flowers to decorate
Cucumbers, herbs, or any fresh seasonal vegetable of your choice
Spring form cake pan with removable sides

In a large bowl, toss cubed potatoes and eggs, chicken, pickles, peas, mayonnaise, salt and pepper until all ingredients all well combined. Taste to add more salt, pepper and mayonnaise if needed. Place parchment paper over serving platter used to present cake. Place cake pan on top of parchment paper. Using slices of bread, place bread flat on bottom of cake pan. Cut and place pieces of bread to fill in any areas not covered by initial placement of bread to cover any empty areas without bread. This does not have to be exact; just so that an even layer of cake is formed.  Then using half of Oliver's salad, create a even layer of filling. Place another layer of bread on top of filling to create an even layer with out holes; patch holes as necessary with cut out pieces of bread. Then again, use remaining salad. Add final layer of bread without holes and evenly flat surface.  Using palm of hand, press gently on top of bread to make certain cake is flat and even. Place serving platter with cake pan in fridge for one hour until bread and filling bind.
Remove platter from fridge; remove spring side of pan gently to make certain cake stays intact. In a large bowl, whip together cream cheese and yogurt to create a smooth, creamy 'frosting'. Using a cake decorating flat spatula, cover and create an evenly covered layer of frosting on all sides of cake surface.
Then using any flowers or vegetable, decorate your cake. I prefer orchids, roses, dill and cucumbers, but you can use any other vegetables. Cucumbers may be sliced length wise to create side wraps as shown below along with slices to surround flowers. Add dill or any herb of your choice to accent leaves. Be creative! It's art.



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