Roasted Cauliflower Pizza with Calabrian Chiles and Green Olive Tapenade

I’ll get right to the point. The star of this pizza is the tapenade, which teams up with oily fiery Calabrian chiles in a smashing combination. Sprinkled over roasted cauliflower, fresh peppers and creamy mozzarella, this is one fresh and feisty pizza. The tapenade is so good, you might find yourself munching spoonfuls straight from the bowl, smearing it on a piece of bread, or swiping the prepped cauliflower through it before you have a chance to assemble the pizza. So make a double batch – then you can have your nibbles and eat your pizza, too.

Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower, Calabrian Chilies and Green Olive Tapenade

Calabrian chilies may be purchased in the Italian specialty section of your grocery store. When selecting the fresh chile peppers for the pizza topping, try to select a variety of sweet and hot to your taste. Be sure to taste each pepper before using, as the heat will vary from pepper to pepper. I used an Anaheim and a mild Fresno pepper on this pizza. Serves 2 to 4.

For the pizza:
2 cups cauliflower florets cut into 1/2-inch pieces, about 1/2 medium head
1 cup thinly sliced assorted chile peppers, such as Fresno, Hungarian, sweet red
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon  salt, or to taste
1  favorite fresh pizza dough – enough for one large pizza
1  (8- ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, shredded
2 tablespoons chopped Calabrian chiles
1/2 cup Green Olive Tapenade
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 500°F (or prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat) and preheat a pizza stone on the lowest oven rack or on the grill grates.
Toss the cauliflower and sliced peppers with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Thinly roll out or stretch the pizza dough to desired shape on parchment paper. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and lightly season with salt. Scatter the mozzarella over the dough, then spread the cauliflower and peppers over the crust, keeping a 1/2-inch border all around. Scatter the calabrian chilies on top, then evenly sprinkle the pecorino cheese all over the pizza. Slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake until the cauliflower is tinged, the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Drop teaspoons of the tapenade over the pizza. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with lemon zest and black pepper.  Serve immediately.

Cooking for your Health: Mango Smoothie with Chili and Lime

Cooking for your Health: Mango Smoothie with Chili and Lime

Mango Smoothie with Chili, Lime and Ginger

In this month’s installment of Cooking for your Health, it’s time to get serious: Let’s talk bikinis. Summer is nearly here in the northern hemisphere, and while the weather may not yet be blinding hot, it will be soon enough, which means that it’s time to haul out the swimsuits. Don’t panic. Getting in shape for our bikinis and trunks should not sacrifice good nutrition, flavor or enjoyment. That’s where this smoothie comes in as the perfect liquid meal and refreshment for when the days grow warm.

Smoothies are a blend of fruit and/or vegetables, blitzed with ice, juice or yogurt. They may be sweet, savory or a blend of both, such as in this Mango Smoothie. It’s a tropical mix of mango and pineapple balanced with citrus, the prickle of ginger and a kick of heat from chile which lends a pleasant vegetal note. It’s a refreshing, nourishing and low caloric snack in a glass. You might be parked on a chaise lounge under an umbrella, but your tastebuds will be dancing.  Continue reading Mango Smoothie with Chili and Lime

Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower, Calabrian Chilies and Green Olive Tapenade

I’ll get right to the point. The star of this pizza is the tapenade – a smashing combination of briny green olives, toasted almonds, the rich oily heat of Calabrian chili and magical umami-rich anchovies. Sprinkled over roasted cauliflower, fresh peppers and creamy mozzarella, this is one fresh and feisty pizza. The only problem with the tapenade is that it’s so good, you might find yourself gobbling spoonfuls straight from the bowl, smearing it on a piece of bread, or swiping the prepped cauliflower through it before you have a chance to assemble the pizza, so I recommend that you make a double or triple batch. This way, you can have your nibbles and eat your pizza, too.  Continue reading Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower and Green Olive Tapenade

Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Chile and Parsley Gremolata

Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Chile and Parsley Gremolata

~ Spaghetti, Cauliflower, Red Chile, Parsley, Garlic, Lemon, Breadcrumbs ~

It’s a wonder what a bare refrigerator can produce for dinner. I’ll be honest – the contents of my fridge looked bleak the other day. It was 6 pm, dinner hour was fast approaching, and we were 4 hungry people in the mood for good food – something warm, filling and tasty. I know I write and think about food for most of my day, every day, but sometimes all of that writing and thinking doesn’t materialize as a meal on our dinner plate. This happens, and there we were.

Upon urgent inspection of the refrigerator, I found half a head of cauliflower and a forlorn chile pepper in dire need of rejuvenation, amongst the usual staples including a hunk of cheese and fixings for an oh-so-simple green salad. It would be a pasta night, I knew then, and with these ingredients I made a riff on a gremolata topping. Gremolata is a condiment that traditionally includes parsley, garlic and lemon, served over meat and fish. In this case, I took the basic ingredients of a gremolata and tossed them with breadcrumbs and Pecorino cheese before tumbling the whole lot with finely chopped cauliflower, minced chile and garlic. It was a hit – and so were the groceries I purchased the next day to refill our refrigerator.

Spaghetti with Chile Cauliflower Gremolata

Taste the fresh minced chile for heat, and feel free to adjust the amount of chili flakes to your taste. Serves 4.

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 pound spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 head medium cauliflower, chopped in 1/4 inch pieces, about 2 cups
1 red jalapeno or small Fresno chile, stemmed and seeded, finely diced

Heat panko, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a skillet over medium heat until breadcrumbs are golden, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. When cool, stir in cheese, parsley and lemon zest. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl; toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add cauliflower. Saute until cauliflower begins to soften, 3 minutes. Add chile and saute until cauliflower is tender but not mushy, about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and toss with the spaghetti. Add half of the breadcrumbs and toss again. Divide pasta among serving plates. Sprinkle remaining breadcrumbs over the pasta. Serve warm.

Flourless Chile-Chocolate Cake

Add a little spice to your love life, I mean, chocolate, for Valentine’s Day. It’s never a bad idea to shake things up, and this flourless chocolate cake does just that. Laced with chipotle, cayenne and cinnamon, this dense fudgy cake has a naughty kick of smoke and heat cloaked in chocolate. Now that’s an exciting Valentine’s cake. To read more and for the recipe, head over to PhanPhatale where I have been asked by author (and new mother!) Jackie Pham to contribute a guest post. Happy Valentine’s Day!

This month I have the pleasure of guest posting on Jackie’s wonderful blog. When I discovered Phamfatale it immediately resonated with me. It shares a similar love for feeding friends and family, while influenced by our international family and life. Jackie’s Vietnamese parents, Parisian upbringing and vegetarian, sweet-loving husband create a kaleidescope of good eats which keep me coming back for more. And with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I can’t think of a more perfect way to share a little blog (and chocolate) love with her readers than with this guest post.

Flourless Chile-Chocolate Cake
Serves 8 to 10

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in pieces
3/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Powder sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch springform. Line with parchment paper; butter the parchment. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Whisk eggs and sugar together in a large bowl. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and cayenne. Mix to combine. Pour into springform. Bake until cake is set and top begins to crack, about 40 minutes. (The center will still be moist.) Cool completely on a rack. Remove the side of the pan. (Cake may be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve sprinkled with powder sugar.