Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

I am an impatient gardener; I almost never grow the same things year-to-year, and as soon as they’re in the ground I can’t wait for the first harvest. This year, I tried growing cauliflower for the first time, and somehow resisted checking on the heads until mid-June — and by the time I peeked over the leaves, they were somehow, miraculously (??) ready.

I knew exactly what I wanted to use them for: BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER. I’m not vegan, and I do love some classic chicken wings, but I’m also a sucker for veggies and have been wanting to adapt this recipe for what-feels-like-forever. This recipe calls for a rice flour batter that crisps up into a perfectly craggy crust and holds the sauce *just so.*

For the saucing, you can use whichever hot sauce you’d like (-though you know what I’m grabbing), but I will say — these buffalo bites get a good dose of hot sauce per piece, so don’t expect a hot hot sauce to get more tame. In other words — if you like a mild wing, pick a mild sauce. If you like it hot, by all means go wild.

All said, these buffalo bites turned out great, but I also felt like they needed a cooling dip for balance. Woe to me, there was not a ranch or blue cheese dressing to be found, so I worked up a creamy avocado-dill dip that did the trick.

Let me know what you think — and of course, I’d love to hear which hot sauce you used.

CAULIFLOWER BUFFALO BITES
Adapted from https://www.franksredhot.com/en-ca/recipes/buffalo-cauliflower-bites

1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup water
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup hot sauce *of your choice* – I recommend Goodlands’ Ghost Pepper, or Maple Chili Garlic
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or butter), melted

PREHEAT oven to 450°F (230°C). Whisk rice flour, garlic powder and salt in large bowl. Mix in water gradually until you get a thick, smooth slurry. Dip cauliflower pieces in batter to coat, then arrange in single layer on greased baking sheet.

BAKE 20 minutes, turning halfway through, until crispy and lightly browned.
MIX hot sauce and coconut oil in large bowl until well blended. Add cauliflower, tossing gently to coat. Return cauliflower to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes longer or until crispy. Serve with your favorite creamy dipping sauce.

CREAMY AVOCADO-DILL DIP
Adapted from https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/vegan-avocado-ranch-dressing/

1 medium avocado
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dijon or stone-ground mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, basil or dill (pick your favorite)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and process until smooth and creamy, adding more almond milk if the dressing seems too thick. Once the texture is to your liking, taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Pour the dressing in to a container for serving, and dip away. Dressing should keep for 1-2 days in the fridge. Makes 3/4 cup.

Both the buffalo bites and the avocado-dill dip will go fast so, you know, plan ahead.

Cozy Spiced Lentil Soup

Years ago, a friend shared this supremely cozy soup at a potluck. Ever since, I’ve found myself making it every few weeks throughout the winter. I usually have the ingredients on-hand, and it’s easy to shop for 2 batches at once.

This recipe is adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox (who reinterpreted it from Once Upon a Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau). Here, in its third generation, it gets double coconut milk (#sorrynotsorry), extra greens, and a dash of fire cider vinegar for brightness.

Serves: 3-4

1 1/2 cups (275g) green or brown lentils
6 cups (1.5l) vegetable or chicken stock
1 bushy sprig fresh thyme (1 tsp. dried thyme does in a pinch)
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
3 tablespoons butter, vegetable or coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of freshly-ground nutmeg
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk, or to taste
2-4 cups (your preference) fresh spinach, kale, or chard, washed, tough stems discarded and cut into ribbons
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

dash of Fire Cider Vinegar, or apple cider vinegar, to taste

Rinse the lentils and pick out any debris. Combine them in a pot with the stock, thyme and tumeric and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 20 minutes. Fish out the thyme.

While the lentils are cooking, heat the butter or oil in a smallish skillet and sauté the onion over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned and caramelized in places, about 12-15 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and fry just until deeply aromatic, about 30 seconds. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the pot with the lentils, and add the coconut milk and greens. Bring everything back to a gentle boil and cook another 10 minutes, or until the flavors have blended and the greens are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and add a dash of Fire Cider Vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) to taste.

Serve hot.

Ming’s Chili Recipe

Recently my friend Ming invited some friends over for a casual dinner. Winter being what it is, and I being who I am, I could not resist a bowl of deeply flavored, super savory, warm and toasty chili. And please believe me when I say that Ming’s (vegan) chili was damn good. He was gracious enough to share his recipe.

Hot sauce pairings: Carrot Habanero; Serrano Cilantro Lime; Orange Habanero.

Ingredients
2 T olive oil
1 pound Impossible ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced

3 T chili powder
2 T ground cumin
1 T garlic powder
1 T oregano


1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper* -(optional)

2 C vegetable broth
2 (12 oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz.) can pinto beans, drained
2 (12 oz.) can black beans, drained

Instructions
Add 1 T olive oil to a large soup pot and place it over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add the ground beef to the pot. Break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the beef is browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from pot and put aside.

Add 1 T olive oil to large soup pot and place on medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, carrots, and celery. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the ground beef, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne (if using). Stir until well combined.
Add the broth, diced tomatoes (with their juice), and drained beans. Stir well.

Bring the liquid to a low boil. Then, reduce the heat (low to medium-low) to gently simmer the chili, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the pot from the heat. Let the chili rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy with your favorite chili garnishes: cilantro? sour cream? and obviously, plenty of hot sauce.

Adapted from https://www.thewholesomedish.com/the-best-classic-chili/