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Cauliflower Pizza Crust (with BBQ Chicken Pizza)

BBQ Chicken Cauliflower Crust Pizza
I have been wanting to try making a pizza with a cauliflower crust ever since I came across the idea on Recipe Girl; I mean what's not to like about a cauliflower crust for a pizza? I actually got a chance to try a cauliflower crust a couple of months ago but I ran into a problem, the crust stuck so badly to the parchment paper that I could't get it off. What bits that I could get off tasted great though so I was determined to get it right! After hours of going through comments on various cauliflower pizza crust recipes the secret seems to be that you need to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible from the cooked cauliflower before baking it. As sometimes happens this project fell through the cracks and I forgot about it until the holidays when I picked up a silicon baking mat and it practically had the cauliflower crusts name written on it. I tried the recipe again, this time squeezing out the excess liquid and using the silicon baking mat, and the crust came out beautifully and just as tasty as expected! This crust is seriously good! I could easily eat the crust all by itself as a snack or maybe with a dipping sauce not to mention all of the tasty pizza topping options!

Dan Dan Mian (Noodles in Spicy Chinese Peanut Pork Sauce)

Dan Dan Mian

The bang bang chicken that I made a few days ago reminded me of another one of my favourite Sichuan dishes, dan dan mian and that is not too surprising given how similar they are. Dan dan mian or dandan noodles is a Chinese Sichuan dish consisting of pork and preserved vegetables in a spicy chili oil based sauce with Sichuan peppercorns that is served over noodles. There are many different variations on dan dan noodles and one common one is to add sesame paste which makes the sauce very similar to the bang bang chicken sauce.

I first came across dan dan noodles on Appetite for China a number of years ago and I had to make it right away! Unfortunately I was never completely satisfied with the photo that I took to go along with the recipe so I seized the impending Chinese New Year as an excuse to update the photos! While I was doing some more research on dan dan mian I came across several photos where it looked like the sauce was much more broth-y almost like more of a soup as opposed to the thicker almost ragu like sauce that I had always encountered. I liked the sound of the more soup like version and so I added a bit more chicken broth to the recipe than I normally do and it turned out great!

Shrimp Etouffee

Shrimp Etouffee

It is hard to talk about cajun and creole cuisine without mentioning etouffee and with good reason given how easy it is to make and how tasty it is! Etouffee is a thick stew that is made with a roux that is cooked until deep brown to ensure that it is full of flavour. The meat in etouffee is typically shellfish with crawfish and shrimp being two good choices and it is generally served over rice. The key to a good etouffee is definitely the roux and you want to cook the butter and flour for a good long time until it turns a deep golden brown before adding the veggies. Once the roux is done the rest of the recipe is nice and easy and absolutely worth the effort to make!

Bang Bang Chicken

Bang Bang Chicken

Among Chinese cuisine Sichuan dishes are my favourite with their use for spicy hot chilies and mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Bang bang chicken is a great way to enjoy those spicy hot chilies and Sichuan peppercorns in a simple chicken salad that is dressed with a super tasty sesame based sauce that includes both! This spicy sesame sauce is just bursting in flavour and really hard to resist eating it by the spoonful! This chicken salad is served on a bed of juicy cucumbers to provide relief from the spicy heat of the dressing which is a perfect combo and keeps you coming back for more!

Vietnamese Style Spicy Caramel Chicken Wings

Vietnamese Style Caramel Chicken Wings

Last year when I visited Portland I got the chance to stop by Pok Pok to try their chicken wings, which were very good, and I remember thinking that I would have to try making them at home. When I made the buffalo wings the other day I recalled this thought and I could not resist making them for snacking on while watching the game. As it turns out there are several versions of the recipe online and they reminded me of a Vietnamese style savoury caramel sauce which I use fairly frequently and spicy caramel chicken wings sounded fantastic! The Vietnamese style savoury caramel sauce weaves a perfect blend of salty, sweet, sour, spicy by making a caramel and instead of adding cream or water it uses salty fish sauce, sour lime juice and spicy chilies or chili sauce along with some garlic for flavour. For the recipe, I decided to go with this simple savoury caramel sauce which I marinated the chicken wings in and then reduced it to thicken to toss the wings in and glaze them after baking. When I think chicken wings, I think spicy so I loaded up on the sriracha and the wings turned out super tasty and perfectly hot and spicy! The only real problem that I had was that the thick caramel sauce was a little sticky and messy but hey, they wouldn't be chicken wings without a little mess! These Vietnamese style spicy caramel chicken wings will make an excellent addition to my lineup of snacks for the big game!

French Onion Soup Dip

French Onion Soup Dip

With the big game coming up I have been going over my parties menu and reviewing my favourite recipes including the hot caramelized onion dip which I wanted to add but I thought I would do something a little different this time. Although I am totally addicted to hot melted cheese dips, I wanted some variety so I decided to do a room temperature version inspired by the flavours of French onion soup. At the base of French onion soup is of course the caramelized onions and that means spending some time caramelizing the onions. To slowly caramelize the onions at a low temperature can take more than 3 hours but you can also do it at a higher temperature but it requires more hands on time as you have to stir the onions every couple of minutes. When you caramelize the onions at a higher temperature brown bits build up on the bottom of you pan and since you do not want them to burn it is a good idea to deglaze the pan frequently. Though I normally just use water to deglaze the pan this time I used wine and beef stock since they form the broth of French onion soup. Up next is a bit of garlic and thyme to finish off the onions. The base of the dip is made with sour cream and mayonnaise with a hit of lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and gruyere for flavour. French onion soup is typically topped with toast, covered in cheese and then baked until the cheese is all melted and good and I incorporated that aspect into the French onion soup dip by serving it with crostini covered in melted gruyere.

Beer Battered Crispy Baked Pickle Fries

Beer Battered Crispy Baked Pickle Fries

Pickle fries are another common bar food that is great to snack on while watching the big game and I have been meaning to try making them at home for a while now. With the success of the onion rings, eggplant fries and portobello mushroom fries it was past time for me to try making the pickle fries at home! Although pickle fries are normally deep fried in oil I decided to bake them instead with a coating of panko bread crumbs to keep them crispy, though I could not pass up on the beer batter to hold the bread crumbs on. Despite pickles being a bit wet to begin with, these baked fries turn out nice and crispy and oh so irresistibly good! Beer battered crispy baked pickle fries are sure to be a star at your party for the big game and they are so easy to make!