As a kid, my parents would take me on the weekends to this little fruit and vegetable stand that was outside of a gas station for boiled peanuts. The stand closed a few years ago, but their boiled peanuts were addictive. I think they made all of their money on them, because the produce never looked too good. I always looked forward to going to the stand and boiled peanuts are still one of my favorite summertime snacks.
The warm weather reminded me that it was boiled peanut season again and luckily I found fresh green peanuts at the farmers market the other day. I brought home about pound of them to make these cajun boiled peanuts. I filled my largest stockpot with water almost to the very top, then added my peanuts and brought them to a rolling boil. I added a half cup of kosher sea salt, 3 tablespoons each of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, black pepper and Old Bay seasoning, 3 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes, 1 onion and 1 lemon, both cut in half. I let the peanuts boil for 2 1/2 hours and then let them cool completely in the pot. I then put the peanuts into jars with some of the brine and let them soak overnight in the fridge. The next day they were perfectly flavored and I just reheated them before serving. It is very easy to adapt this recipe to suit your own tastes. Instead of Old Bay seasoning, you can use any cajun spice mix or dry crab and crawfish boil mix. You can substitute onion powder for fresh onion and add more spice or leave out spices you don’t want to use. You can also use different peppers to add heat, like jalapeños or chili powder. Boiled peanuts also store well in the freezer for a few months.
I love chilled soups and I created the recipe for this chilled cauliflower soup yesterday. It is refreshing and deceivingly healthy, as I used greek yogurt instead of cream.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
a pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 quart low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt
ground white pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low. Add in the onion and celery and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes until the onions are transparent and a little bit browned. Add in the cauliflower, cover and reduce heat to low. Let the cauliflower cook for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is completely cooked through, stirring occasionally. Mix in the garlic, anchovy paste, bay leaves, oregano, nutmeg and smoked paprika. Let this mixture cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or until the garlic and spices are fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock and stir well. Increase the heat to medium. Let the soup simmer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, turn the heat off and let the soup cool completely with the lid on. Pour the cooled soup into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add the greek yogurt and blend for just a few seconds. Season to taste with white pepper and salt. Place the soup into the refrigerator for a few hours to chill. Serve in bowls garnished with an extra dollop of yogurt, a little white pepper and a few drops of good quality extra virgin olive oil if you would like.
I made this dish with vegetables only, but it would also be delicious with beef, chicken or shrimp. If you are going to add in meat, make sure to cook it separately from the vegetables and the noodles. I used homemade gari (pickled ginger) because I did not have beni-shoga (red pickled ginger) , which is more traditional and a better option. You can omit the beni-shoga and the katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) if you do not want it or cannot be bothered to find it. Beni-shoga, katsuobushi, Bulldog brand worcestershire sauce and frozen udon noodles can easily be found in an asian grocery store.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet on high. When the oil is very hot, add in all of the vegetables and fry, stirring constantly for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly cooked but still crunchy. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in the skillet over medium low. Add in the udon noodles and stir until heated through, about 1 minute. Add in sake, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and sugar. Stir and cook for 3 minutes. Add vegetables to the noodles and combine. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add in scallions and remove from heat. Serve immediately, garnished with katsuobushi and beni-shoga to your taste.