Harissa Portobello Mushroom Wraps

Do you like flavor?

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No, not that Flavor. I mean…you do you, but …

I’m talkin’ flaaaaaaavoooooorrrr. As in harissa, that yummy, delicious and oh-so-versatile North African condiment. I will never understand, no matter how long I live, our very American fascination with ketchup. It’s basically tomatoes, sugar and water. Bleh.

Harissa, on the other hand, is smoky, rich, layered and evocative. You can have it spicy or mild. Green or red. Out of a jar (gasp) … or homemade.

I think you know where I’m going with this.

Yup. Das right. I make my own harissa for this amazing and delicious vegan recipe. Down with preservatives and added sugars! Doing it yourself means healthy. It means control. It means you make it the way YOU want it.

So, before you make these wraps, make harissa paste : )

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 4 ounces dried chilis (use whatever kind you like … anchos, pasillas, chipotles … even Thai chilis if you want it super hot. Or make your own. Like when you go to the convenience store, get a little bit of every soda in one cup and call it a suicide. Make a chili suicide.)
  • 3 dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • A couple garlic cloves (I have trouble counting to two and often use three)
  • 1 tsp salt (get interesting with it. Try new coarse salts. A smoked one would be good here.)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cuman seeds
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

So, don’t get all huffy about this, but you’re going to have to put in some actual work to make this shizz. But it’s worth it. So do it. (Or go buy a jar. Sigh. $6.99. You’ll use it for this and then have to toss it, cuz you never use harissa, right? Whatevs.)

Roast the red bell pepper. It’s going to take 45 minutes to an hour, so watch an episode of Supernatural and turn it every commercial. If you have a Firestick or are streaming, turn it every time Bobby says “Balls.” Cuz no commercials. If it’s an episode with no Bobby, you’re probs going to have to set a timer. Anyhoo, the oven should be at 350° and you should turn it every 15 minutes or so until it is deeply roasted on all sides and totes soft on the inside.

Also, as soon as you put that thing in the oven, set a pot of water on to boil. When it comes to a boil, pause Supernatural. Go turn the red pepper, then put the chilis and sun-dried tomato in a bowl, pour the boiling water over them to cover, and let sit to soften while the red pepper continues roasting. 30 minutes or so.

The next time you go into the kitchen to turn the red bell pepper, put the seeds into a skillet and put them on the stove to toast over a medium-high heat. They won’t take long, and it will smell heavenly. Remove them from the heat, turn the pepper again, and go back to Supernatural.

The final (whew) time you have to go into the kitchen, turn the pepper and drain the chilis. De-seed, peel, and de-stem things (unless you like it hothothot.) Grind the toasted seeds in a spice mill (or Ninja whatsit). Throw all the things in a blender or food processor and blend until it becomes a thick paste. Add olive oil as necessary and/or a bit of water. Any you have left over can be stored in the fridge for up to a month. Pour a layer of olive oil over the top when you store it.

Ohhhhhhhhh-KAYYYYY.

We were making wraps, right? Right.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (I always pronounce that “ulb”) portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup harissa (that stuff you made up there unless you bought it. Which is lame.)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (I always pronounce that “tub ess pee”)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (tesp)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 6 leaves for wrapping (collard, lettuce, napa cabbage, etc.)
  • 2 ripe avocados, chopped
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • cilantro, to taste

Remove the stems (if there are any) from the portobello caps. Rinse and pat dry. Put the harissa, 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, cumin and onion powder in a ziploc bag. Mix it up really well, then toss the mushrooms in there. Push out any extra air, then squish everything around so the mushrooms are good and coated. Set it aside to marinate for a while. Finish Supernatural if you haven’t already.

After the mushrooms have gotten all flavorful, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook until they’re heated through, turning frequently. Turn off the heat and let them just sit there and think about what they’ve done for a few minutes, then slice them sorta thin, but not toooo thin.

Build your wrap: fill with some mushroom, then top with avocado, chopped tomatoes, and cilantro. Throw whatever else you can think of in there. If you’re not trying to be vegan, add some sour cream. Go wild. Enjoy : )


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New Orleans Remoulade

It’s Keto. It’s Louisiana. It’s amazing.

Cooking the cuisine of my beloved home state has been something of a challenge and I’m still in the experimental stages on most of it. Remoulade, though … delicious, creamy, flavorful remoulade … lends itself rather deliciously to a low-carb lifestyle. You just have to do one teeny weeny itsy bitsy thing.

You have to make your own chili sauce.

Dude, it’s so easy. Here’s what you do:

Ingredients:

  • 2 red hot chili peppers, chopped (two chilis, not two band members. Cuz, ew. Although it would definitely leave scar tissue if you chopped up the … yeah. I’ll stop.)
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt.
  • If you’re not on low carb, toss in a couple Tbsps of sugar.

Toss it all in a saucepan , bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Put it in jar or something, cover it, and pop it in the fridge to get cool.

See? That wasn’t so hard. And SO MUCH BETTER FOR YOU!

On to the remoulade!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayo (get the good stuff, fergawdsake.)
  • 1/4 cup of cooled chili sauce. I mean it’s still hot. But spicy hot. Not temperature hot.
  • 2 Tbsp Creole mustard
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green olives
  • 2 Tbsp minced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp capers, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Toss it all in a bowl and mix well. Taste for seasonings and adjust. Cover and  refrigerate.

(See that? You tricked me into giving you two recipes. Naughty.)

Thai Basil Balls of Meat

At some point in my life I stopped saying “meatball” and started saying “balls of meat.” The adolescent boy in me finds anything (especially food) that comes in a ball shape very very funny. This, although I was never actually an adolescent boy.

Still.

This is a keto low-carb meal, and it’s both yummy and delicious. And, bonus … balls.

Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • A handful of radishes (unless you either have unusually tiny or unusually large hands. Go with a standard female adult human sized hand. Like 3 or 4. Ish.)
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh basil

Balls:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (I’m pretty generous with the ginger. Like, I use a lot.)
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 smallish head (heh) green cabbage. (Sorry. Adolescent boy thing again.)
  • 2 Tbsp butter

So, make the sauce first. Throw the radishii (bet you didn’t know that was plural for radish. Mostly because it totally isn’t.) and the basil in the food processor or bullet and make it all minced. Mix it with the mayo and let it hang out in the fridge while you make the balls of meat.

Mix all the meatball ingredients. Shape into balls. Fry them if ya wanna, but I bake them. Less work. Same yum.

Shredify the cabbage. Or buy it already shredded in neat little bags. Whichever. Cook it in butter until it is nicely caramelized, but not burnt. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Plate a spoonful of cabbage, toss a few balls on it, and then top it with the sauce. Nom.

Avocado Hummus

I like to make this when I’m invited to parties where everyone is bringing an appetizer so that I can eat along with everyone else and still be sure I’m sticking to my low-carbiness. My favorite way to eat it is with raw bell pepper strips … the more colorful the better … but you can do it with any of your favorites : ) Sometimes, though, I just make this and portion it out to freeze and pop it in with my workweek lunches. It’s that good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked in water all the whole night long at room temperature, unless your room is an igloo. Or a sauna. (Oh, yeah. Also. Most recipes call for unsalted, but I go with salted.)
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled. Give it a rough chop.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or so) of your favorite coarse salt (I’m currently using Red Hawaiian from Trader Joe’s 7 Salts of the Earth). Ob-vee, if you used salted macadamias, you might need less salt. Or, if you’re a camel, you might need more. You be the judge. I trust you.
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice (I go pretty light on this)
  • Extra virgin olive oil as needed
  • Cilantro … if ya wanna. (I usually wanna)

If you haven’t toasted your sesame seeds yet, do so. Don’t burn them … but get them to a nice golden brown. There’s a basically only a nanosecond between golden and burnt, so don’t go hang out in the living room to catch a few minutes of a Daria rerun while they’re toasting. Not that I’ve ever done that super-specific thing of wrongness. Nope. Not me.

(I totally did.)

Drain the macadamias. Now’s the time to go watch Daria so they drain really well. Or you can let them drain while you toast the sesame seeds. Cuz you know you didn’t do that in advance.

Put everything except the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Give it a good whirl, and then drizzle in the olive oil until it reaches a hummus dipping like consistency. Serve with fresh veggies.

This will keep for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge. But there’s no way it’ll last that long. I’m just saying.

Bhindi Masala with Zoodles

Y’all. This is so good. So simple. So amazing. (Yeah, that’s my desk. I need a 12 step program for colorful writing utensils.)

It’s all about the okra.

My friend Jay taught me that you have to make sure it’s super dry after you clean it. And it honestly made all the difference in the world. I’ve always loved okra, but I only ever ate it fried because of the ewwy sticky gluey gelatinous okra stuffage I never really knew how to handle. Thanks to Jay, consider it handled.

Ingredients:

  • Okra (yeah, I don’t know how much. How hungry are you?)
  • Olive oil
  • Cumin seeds
  • Mustard seeds
  • 1 jalepeno, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 diced roma tomatoes (I mean, that’s what I used. You really can’t go wrong with a tomato, though, so use whatever you like. Or whatever you grow.)

Image result for steel magnolias growing tomatoes

  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • Garam masala spice blend (I make my own) … start with 1/2 tsp then add more to your taste.
  • Sea salt (currently, I’m on pink himalayan, but it changes according to how recently I’ve been to Trader Joe’s.)
  • Zoodles

So here’s the deal. You’ve washed that okra and you’ve let it hang out between some towels for a while drying off, right?

Let it dry a little longer. Go watch an episode of Dexter. Or Chopped. But not Justified. It’s impossible to stop watching after one episode no matter how many times you’ve seen it. That okra won’t cook itself. Anyhoo, chop it up. If the knife gets all gooey, wipe it off and keep chopping.

Heat the oil in a wok or iron skillet (really, a wok is best, but I don’t have one, soo…..). Add all the things that end in seed, the pepper, the garlic and the ginger. When things start poppin’ add the okra, onion and the garam masala. Stir and fry until the okra is good and done and the onions are all carmelized and stuff. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Toss all the rest of the things you haven’t already used in the wok along with a little more of the garam masala. Cook and stir until the tomatoes are all mushified and have made a nice gravy.

Combine the okra mixture with the tomato mixture, pour over a handful of zoodles and enjoy : )