Category Archives: Gluten Free

Chicken with a Thai Peanut Sauce

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I am really struggling with posts.  I love finding interesting recipes from yesteryear; however, when I post such recipes, my page views go down.  But post something like Pizza Fondue or  Chocolate Chip Waffles and watch my page views skyrocket. Not really shocking, I know.  I want to put mostly healthy fare out in the world, but I’d also like people to actually read my blog.  So, I’ll keep plodding away hoping that for every Chicken Marengo that is a bit of a dud views-wise, but is awesome history wise, there’s a Maryland Fried Chicken that does pretty well.

I have pulled out my trusty pressure cooker again to make this recipe, which was inspired by a recipe I saw at Pressure Cooking Today.  First, I love the simplicity.  Sure, you can brown the chicken thighs, because that is what we are told “adds depth of flavor”, but you could skip it and the 20 minutes it takes to brown the thighs before you pressure cook them. Chicken thighs are just the best. Cheap and they can withstand a bit of overcooking and the rigors of the pressure cooker.  To make this dish low carb, instead of rice, I used finely chopped cauliflower roasted with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce.  My husband loved it.

Chicken with a Thai Peanut Sauce
Serves 4-6

1 – 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (or canola)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (about 8)
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
Fresh chopped cilantro for Garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium high heat. Brown chicken in batches. Place browned chicken aside on plate. Drain liquid or oil, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind.

Add broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, ginger, and Sriracha Sauce to pressure cooker. Whisk together until well combined. Return Chicken to pressure cooker. Cook chicken for 9 minutes at high pressure. It will take about 10 minutes for your pressure cooker to reach high pressure. After 9 minutes at high pressure, remove pressure cooker from heat. After pressure has fallen significantly, use the quick pressure release. Please consult your pressure cooker instructions, if you have any concerns or questions. Each cooker is different.

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Once the pressure is released, open the pressure cooker carefully (lid facing away from you!) and remove chicken to a plate and cover. Whisk cornstarch mixture into the peanut sauce. Bring sauce to a slight boil. Return chicken to pot to coat with sauce and serve over rice or cauliflower “rice”.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can find a slow cooker version of this recipe here.

Sardines

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This post was a really hard one to do.  Look at those pictures.  Sardines are not really “photogenic”.  However, they are incredibly delicious.  And SOOO simple to make.   I was walking through my local Whole Foods and came across fresh sardines.  $5.99 a pound.  For wild caught, fresh fish.   So, I bought a half a pound and figured why not?  They are incredibly heart healthy, they’ll cook quick for a weeknight appetizer splurge, and it’s about $3.00. I’ll take a chance for $3.

Marinated them in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme.  Threw them on a screaming hot grill pan.  At 20 degrees outside, I thought it was a touch cold.  After the thick smoke abated from my “open concept kitchen/dining room/living room”, I decided next time they would cook on the grill.  A scant few minutes later, we had an amazing appetizer.  They were gone in seconds.  To say that tasted amazing would be an understatement.  Again, didn’t look like much, but tasted great.

I was inspired by this recipe and the author’s incredible photos.  While I should have probably left the fish whole for picture purposes, I’m pretty sure the kids wouldn’t have eaten them with the “guts”.

As this is a fish recipe, please be careful to avoid eating the bones. Sardines have bones, and lots of them. Bones can pose a choking hazard.

Grilled Fresh Sardines
Prep Time: 1 hour (marinating)
Cook Time: about 6 minutes

¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ pound sardines, cleaned, tails and heads intact.
finishing salt
lemon wedges to serve

Place the first 5 ingredients in a container and mix together well. Place sardines in container and marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.

Heat grill or grill pan moderately hot. If using grill, these fish are small, use a basket or some other device that won’t allow the fish to go through the grates. Place fish on grill, cooking on each side for about 3 minutes,  until done. Remove from grill, sprinkle with a bit of finishing salt (large crystal salt) and serve with a lemon wedge. Best eaten with hands, picking the fish from the bones. As with any fish, be careful with the bones!

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Lamb Shanks

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At some point during the 1990s, lamb shanks were “it”.  Long simmered with a dark, rich sauce and usually served with white beans.  The dish was everywhere.  Until it wasn’t.  Going through lots of cookbooks from the 1800s and 1900s, I don’t really find this dish until around the 1990s.  Not that it couldn’t have existed, but it wasn’t really wide spread.

The most popular cuts of lamb are “leg” and “chop”.  I am rather partial to the “shoulder” as well, but that’s fairly hard to come by in the regular grocery store.  Chops are crazy expensive, so I usually don’t buy them and truly hate when they are listed on a menu as “lollipop”.  Ugh.  Just no.  The leg is very nice and I cook with this often.  Today, however, I focus on the “shank”.

The shank is part of the animal’s lower leg.    As a result, it does a lot of work making the meat very, very tough.  There are a variety of ways to tackle toughness.  Long, low braising and pressure cooking.  This recipe is adaptable to both.  What I love about this recipe is that there is very little active time.  Most of the time you are hanging out waiting for either heat or pressure to do its thing.  Homework, bill paying and all the rest can be done, which is great for this working mom.  Lamb shanks can be on the table in less than an hour with the pressure cooker, or if I get home early, I can start dinner then set about doing my other mom duties.

As a bonus, lamb shanks also give the impression that someone with extreme culinary skills made the dish, when truly, they are not required.  You can’t really overcook this meat and it’s a very low maintenance recipe.

Lamb Shanks
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ½ hours in conventional oven, 35 minutes, pressure cooker

¼ cup lard, duck fat or bacon drippings (vegetable oil would be fine too)
4 lamb shanks
Salt and Pepper
1 onion, medium dice
3 stalks of celery, medium dice
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons rosemary
4- 5 medium carrots, peeled, large dice.
2 cups chicken broth (brown is preferred)
1 cup red wine (Cabernet -like)

Conventional Oven Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle the lamb shanks liberally with salt and pepper. Place heated oil and brown, about 2 minutes a side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add onions and celery to the dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft.  Scrape up any brown bits left over from the meat browning when the onions start to let off some liquid. Add mushrooms, thyme, rosemary and carrots. Cook until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid. Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out. Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 90-120 minutes, until tender.

Pressure Cooker Instructions:

Please follow your pressure cooker instructions for using your pressure cooker.

As above, heat the cooking fat in the pressure cooker, salt and pepper the shanks and brown them for about 2 minutes on each side.  Add onions and celery to the dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft. Add mushrooms, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid.

Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out. Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Make sure the shanks are at the appropriate height level for your pressure cooker. Add the lid to your pressure cooker and cook the shanks on high pressure for 25 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and allow to cool down. When safe, remove the lid, add the carrots and return to the heat for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to cool down again. When safe, remove the lid and serve.

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New England Clam Chowder

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As a kid I LOVED Campbell’s New England Clam Chowder.   As I began cooking more for myself, there’s no comparison between canned soup and homemade.  Gumbo is the biggest example of this disparity.  Canned gumbo and actual gumbo are two entirely different species.  Would homemade New England Clam Chowder be that much better?  I had to find out.

I also vividly remember the moment when I, as a child,  ordered Clam Chowder at a restaurant and something very much not New England Clam Chowder was put in front of me:  Manhattan clam chowder.    For the longest time, I just thought it was me who found the Manhattan version awful.  When searching for a recipe to try for New England Clam Chowder, I came across James Beard’s opinion on the Manhattan Version.  In his introduction to Miss Farmer’s Recipe for Rhode Island Clam Chowder his American Cookery:

This is the closest bridge I have found to that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder.  It is a sensible recipe and takes away the curse of the other, which resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped in it.

Pretty much sums up my feelings on the non-New England version.

Now, I am usually all about using the traditional old recipes.  But in this case, a slightly more modern version ended up being more simple and easily done.  Traditional clam chowder has the following narrative:

Cook clams, chop clams, reserve cooking liquid.  Render fat from salt pork, sauté onions in salt pork fat.  Parboil potatoes for 5 minutes.  Arrange onions in the bottom of a heavy sauce pan and top with a layer of half of the potatoes.  Add the salt pork pieces, chopped clams, second layer of potatoes and salt and peppers.  Cover with boiling water and cook.  Add scaled milk, bring to a boil, add crackers soaked in milk and the reserved clam liquid.  Lastly, add a bit of flour and butter that have been kneaded together, return to the boiling point and serve.

You can find the above version in Fannie Farmer and other famous New England cookbooks.  I agree with James Beard that it appears this recipe allows the clams to cook for too long.  Plus, I would worry the onions would burn.  I’m sure they wouldn’t, but didn’t see the point of testing it out.

So, I came across a little recipe in Beard’s American Cookery that seemed easy, yet captured the spirit of the New England Clam Chowder.  As a plus, it is cracker (and gluten) free!  As an extra bonus, this recipe is shockingly cheaply made.  At Whole Foods, I grabbed a pound of frozen clam meat for $6.99.   Heavy Cream was an additional $4.99 for a quart (I don’t use it all), add a couple of potatoes, an onion, few stalks of celery, and a few strips of bacon and you are good to go!    The recipe below was inspired by Beard’s “My favorite Clam Chowder” recipe from American Cookery.  The family loved it and I’ll never eat canned chowder again.  It was really, really good!! It also makes a great weeknight dinner!

New England Clam Chowder
Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

3 slices of thick slab bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 cups of water, salted
2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper
1 pound frozen clam meat with frozen clam juice (or cooked clam meat with juice)
3cups heavy cream (may substitute half and half)
Butter
Thyme
Chopped parsley

Cook the bacon in a sauté pan over medium heat, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon and add the onion and celery and sauté until translucent, or just slightly brown and remove from heat. In a 4 quart sauce pan, bring the salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, cooking until just tender. Add the bacon, onion, celery, salt and pepper to taste, and the clams and heavy cream, simmering until the clams are no longer frozen. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Correct the seasoning. According to Mr. Beard, serve with a “dollop of butter, merest pinch of thyme, and a bit of chopped parsley”.

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

Hot Cocoa

Hot Cocoa

Hot Cocoa.  For my chocolate milk loving daughter, this is her favorite drink.  The temperature could be 65 degrees at night in July and that would be cold enough to inspire her to declare that “this would be a perfect night for hot cocoa”.   She needs very little in the way of excuses to ask for the rich, chocolatey drink.

There are two phrases that are used interchangeably:  hot chocolate and hot cocoa.  Technically, hot chocolate is literally chocolate that is melted and added to warmed milk.    Hot cocoa is a warm milk drink made with cocoa powder and sugar.   Both drinks are particularly delicious, but would you consider killing someone for access to such a drink?  In Chiapas, Mexico, during the 1600s, the ladies of Chiapas drank hot chocolate during mass.  According to Thomas Gage, the bishop (rumored to be Bishop Bernardino de Salazar y Frias) threatened to excommunicate the women if they continued to disrupt services with their chocolate drinking.  The ladies found other places to worship, but shortly thereafter, the bishop perished, allegedly from poisoned hot chocolate, but not before uttering:  “Beware the Chocolate of Chiapas!”

Hot chocolate is a very old drink.  Brought over to Europe from Mexico by explorers, it was praised for its medicinal qualities.   It was also a handy medium for poisoning, as show above.  Hot chocolate was rumored to be used to attempt to poison everyone from Napoleon to Frederick the Great.  Chocolate was heavily spiced and frequently considered medicinal, so it wouldn’t taste the same every time it was served.  Very handy quality for a poisoning medium. What an ugly side to such a truly enjoyable drink!!!

Today, when most people make hot cocoa, they use a packet of cocoa mix.   Many years ago,  I used the ubiquitous packet.  I don’t have the original list of ingredients, but here is the modern day list of ingredients for Swiss Miss (source):

Ingredients

Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Whey, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Nonfat Milk, Calcium Carbonate, Less than 2% of: Salt, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Carrageenan Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Artificial Flavor.

I really wouldn’t have expected to see the milk so far down the list.  I also wouldn’t expect to see Splenda in what is packaged as a “regular” packet of hot cocoa.   Overall, another scary rendition of a processed food item.

Also, I’m not really sure I’m getting my money’s worth here.  Sugar, whey, and corn syrup aren’t exactly high dollar items.  The cocoa isn’t likely high quality cocoa, as it needs to be boosted by “artificial flavor”.

But, when you just throw cocoa into milk, you just get a clumpy, powdery mess.  Many of those unpronounceable ingredients are designed to encourage a smoother incorporation of the dry ingredients into the liquid.    If we are going to make our own hot cocoa, we need to overcome this particularly nettlesome issue.

When I mix cornstarch or flour into something liquid, I have to make a paste with water first.  So, I used this particular logic and made a paste by adding water to my homemade cocoa mix.  I then added the paste to warmed milk and miraculously had smooth, hot cocoa.  No chemicals needed to keep the cocoa from lumping!  As a bonus, the paste is amazing on its own.  Sort of like a raw brownie.

Hot Cocoa
Serves 1

6 ounces whole milk
3 tablespoons high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of cinnamon (optional)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of water (may need more)
Marshmallows (optional)

Heat milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium low heat. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.

In a small bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar, cinnamon (if used), and salt. Slowly stir in water until the cocoa mixture is thoroughly moistened. There should be no dry cocoa remaining. Add more water, if needed.  Whisk the cocoa mixture into the warming milk. Heat the milk to the desired drinking temperature. Pour into mug, top with a marshmallow, and enjoy!

Hot Cocoa

Hot Cocoa

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Pass the Prosciutto- Thanksgiving Stuffing Featuring Parma Ham

Pass the Prosciutto

Yes, you can make stuffing with no bread and have it look this awesome!

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There are few holidays that really excite me food-wise as Thanksgiving. First of all, you have the tradition. You can go full bore and serve exactly what the pilgrims ate, or you can do the modern classical Thanksgiving: Turkey, stuffing, various potatoes, token green veg, rolls and pumpkin pie. It’s a virtual carbohydrate bonanza! Over the years, however, various dietary needs have arisen and several beloved family members have been diagnosed with diabetes. The traditional Thanksgiving meal is a disaster for your typical diabetic. Instead of “going without”, I am all about making something equally good from more low carb friendly fare.

My most favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table is stuffing. As a kid, there was nothing better than the box of Stove Top Stuffing, amended with sausage and mushrooms and placed on the table. Nothing. Sure, I can laugh now, but back then, you angled to get a seat by the stuffing.  Stuffing by its very nature, however, is a high carb endeavor.

So, I started looking at all the stuffings from the yesteryear for inspiration.  Stuffings with sage or chestnuts or oysters! Oh my! So much to try. So I stumbled upon the recipe below quite by accident. I wanted a touch of richness, a bit of history, and a whole bunch of easy.  One of my go to ingredients when I’m looking for rich and clearly special is Prosciutto di Parma.  It gives a fantastic, complex, flavor without the excess, and rather random amount of fat and smoke that bacon brings.

Initially, I came up with a stuffing with sausage, chicken livers, oysters, prosciutto di parma, seasonings and bread crumbs. There wasn’t a single drop of stuffing left. Everyone ate every last bit and wanted more.  However, the carb count was likely crazy high.  So, I had to turn my focus to the low carb version.   Then, I got an assignment that asked me to concentrate on gluten free cooking that included the amazing Prosciutto di Parma, or parma ham. Could I adapt the my high carb, gluten riddled recipe recipe? Would it work? These questions kept me up at night.

First, my philosophy for low carb is not to make a thin imitation. While you’ll never convince me that pureed cauliflower is mashed potatoes, the dish is really quite good in its own right.   And, more importantly, I don’t miss the potatoes.   My goal for this dish was: good and you don’t miss the original.  How can you go wrong with Prosciutto di Parma, sausage and oysters.  Right?

Let me caution: this stuffing is full bodied and full fat. It’s a go big or go home type stuffing. Everyone who has tried this stuffing in either high carb or low carb form have raved about it. Some people have declined to try it due to the ingredients.   Chicken livers and oysters can lead some to take a pass. More for me, honestly.

The technique I use is really rather unique. I was making the stuffing and decided to take a short cut. I didn’t want whole oysters or pieces of chicken livers in my stuffing for texture reasons, so I figured I would just chop them for a bit in the processor, because, well, isn’t that what it’s for? I quickly learned there’s no level of “a bit” that doesn’t turn the livers or oysters into liquid. So, instead of minced shellfish or livers, I had a lovely red puree.  However, I wasn’t wasting my money by not using the livers or oysters, so I included them in the stuffing. Because these overtly odd ingredients didn’t appear in the stuffing, people were more inclined to try it. And, by extension, love it! Huzzah!  I just got back from Williamsburg, so that celebratory phrase stays!

So, dear reader, I am giving you my famous stuffing recipe. My kids cried that I was using a recipe from the secret family recipe book.  But I will share this one.  Kick the boxed stuffing habit and make your own stuffing.  It will be miles better than anything from a box.  You can make it ahead too! And, depending on the version below you choose, you can actually label this a vegetable side.  You’ll get the joke when you read the ingredients.

Sausage and Oyster Stuffing
Serves: Thanksgiving Crowd (10 or so, easily doubled if you need more)
Prep Time: 15-25 minutes, depending on version made
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Note: Low carb/Gluten free version requires cooked cauliflower, see Cuban Rice and Beans for full prep instructions.

5 chicken livers
6 oysters, shucked
1/3 cup bacon drippings, lard or other high temperature suitable oil
1/2 pound Prosciutto (parma ham), medium dice
1 pound sage sausage
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sage, rubbed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Low Carb/Gluten Free Version:
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets, roasted at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes until soft and slightly brown, chopped fine

“Regular Version”:
4 cups bread crumbs (gluten free, if needed)

2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place chicken livers and oysters in the container of the food processor and process thoroughly. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Heat fat over medium heat in a large skillet. And prosciutto and sausage and cook until the sausage is cooked through and both are rendered of fat. Add the onions, celery and mushrooms and cook until the onions and celery are translucent and the mushrooms have lost some of their liquid. Add the garlic and saute until soft. Add the sage and liver mixture. Cook until the mixture is no longer reddish. Add the butter, cauliflower or bread crumbs, eggs and salt and pepper. Place in an oven dish, cover and refrigerate. To serve, heat in a 350 degree oven until the top is brown and the stuffing is warmed through.

Follow Parma Ham on Twitter for a chance to win $50 worth of the world’s most famous ham. Click on the banner below to participate. This post is a collaboration between the blogger and Parma Ham. 

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Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Being a fairly low carb person, there are certain foods I desperately miss.   Would I love a plate of French Fries?  Yup.  Pizza?  You bet.  Stuffing?  Yes, a million times.  Crackers with my cheese?  Of course!  Bun with my hamburger?  Oy.

Mashed Potatoes?  Not really.  I’m not a potato fan, unless they are completely fried crisp. Then, ok!  I’m mostly in it for the crispy outside shell.  Steak fries?  Pass.  My husband, on the other hand is part Irish and LOVES potatoes.  He’s having to get extremely serious about being low carb because his lack of seriousness has had some health consequences.  So, he reluctantly joins the low carb bandwagon.

I had heard about fake mashed potatoes.  But honestly, the thought of cauliflower really didn’t appeal to me.  Sure, it’s beautiful when raw.  That’s about where my affinity ends.  I’ve used it as a rice substitute, but it’s pretty swamped with strong flavors and more there for filler.  In this recipe, cauliflower is the star.  The. Star.

I tried a ton of recipes and some lacked the heft or texture of mashed potatoes.  Some were just runny.  Others worked better, but really didn’t take advantage of the blank canvas.  I tried to up the flavor here and add really good texture as well.

Cauliflower is wet.  Very, very wet.  And in this recipe we steam it, adding more water to the process.  So, without something more, you’ll have a very thin mixture with just pureed cauliflower.  I used a combination of cream cheese and butter to really give the dish more substance.  I also could have roasted garlic and added it to the puree, but I liked the convenience of granulated garlic.  It added flavor without any additional moisture.

This recipe comes extremely close to garlic mashed potatoes.  My kids ate it up until I told them it wasn’t mashed potatoes, then it became a pariah on the plate.  But really, it stands on its own as a great dish.  No need to fool anyone, just say it’s pureed cauliflower.  Unless they are minors.  Then it’s mashed potatoes.  As an extra bonus, it’s mashed potatoes that are quicker and easier to make then real mashed potatoes!

Your mileage my vary on this dish.  I used 1 really large head of cauliflower.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4-6, as a side dish
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 large head of cauliflower, heavy stalks removed, cut into florets
3 tablespoons of cream cheese, divided
3 tablespoons of butter, divided (I used European Style, which has more fat content)
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic, divided
Salt and Pepper

Steam cauliflower until soft. I used a steamer insert and placed it over boiling water and it took about 13 minutes.

Place one third of the cauliflower into a food processor (if yours can take more, great, mine couldn’t). Add 1 tablespoon cream cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic to the food processor. Puree until the consistency desired and there are no remaining chunks of cauliflower. Place in a serving bowl and cover. Repeat process until the cauliflower is all pureed. Salt and Pepper to taste and serve.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes