Poor Man's "Shrimp" Cocktail


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Do you have a certain dish that, when you think about that dish, it evokes some sort of picture of elegance or sophistication in your mind?  Feel free to laugh, but for my younger version, shrimp cocktail is that dish.  I can't tell you why, but growing up I always saw it as this food associated with lavish meals or parties and people dressed to the nines.  Fast forward from my 15 year old self to now, when "we" don't eat shrimp because Drew has always hated shrimp and now "we" are slightly rag-tag followers of the Maker's Diet and for some reason I have been on a cauliflower kick.  Yes, the above thoughts are related. 

Imagine my intrigue when Bon Appetit published this shrimp cocktail fake out using cauliflower in place of shrimp, par boiled in a poaching liquid to give the cauliflower a taste and texture similar to the shrimp eaten in shrimp cocktail.  I tried the recipe, and, sure enough, it does mimick the taste and texture of shrimp cocktail, but it's vegan, or at the least, vegetarian.  It's a low fat, low calorie snack that should definitely make it into your next elegant gathering for those who don't eat shellfish for whatever reason.  I plan to make this again just because.  I snacked on it for a week. 

Find the original recipe with intro by clicking on the recipe title.  I sort of tampered with it a bit because I didn't want to spend the money for all ingredients and I didn't want cauliflower cocktail overtaking my fridge, so I'll post my changes. 

Poor Man's "Shrimp" Cocktail
from Feb. 2012 Bon Appetit

1 box/packet of crab boil seasoning, such as Zatarain's or Old Bay
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 yellow onions, quartered
6 garlic cloves
1 1/2  lemons, halved crosswise
1 lb of cauliflower, trimmed into 2" florets
Cocktail sauce

Combine crab boil (see notes), salt, onions, garlic, and 6 quarts water in a large pot. Squeeze juice from lemons into pot and add lemon halves. Set pot over high heat and bring liquid to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes to let flavors meld. Using a slotted spoon, remove onions, garlic, and lemons from broth; discard.
Return liquid to a rolling boil.

Add cauliflower; turn off heat, cover pot tightly, and let stand until cauliflower is crisp-tender, 5–10 minutes. Drain; spread out cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool completely. DO AHEAD: Cauliflower can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Arrange room-temperature or chilled cauliflower on a platter with cocktail sauce for dipping.

Crab boil- when I looked for the crab boil seasoning, I found Zatarain's brand that was in a small box that contained maybe 2-4 oz. of seasoning in a boil in bag style pouch.  It was the most affordable option so I chose that.  Feel free to use whatever you prefer or experiment with your own recipes. 

Crab boil seasoning- as I said, mine came in a pouch, but I removed the spices from the pouch and dumped it in the water.  It ended up all over my cauliflower.  Next time I plan to use a tea infuser or cheesecloth bag.   

Meatball Stuffed Peppers With Spinach and Garlic



It's been a little while since I made this but I wanted to share it with you since it's a little cooler today in the piedmont of NC.  A couple months back I was watching the Rachael Ray Show on TV and she made these on her show.  We had some bell peppers we found at Aldi that we needed to use up, so I decided to give these a go.  I'm always up for a new recipe. 

I am so glad we made these; they're delicious!  The filling is decently healthy, with a generous amount of spinach and I used lean ground beef.  Instead of a rice or other grain binder, these rely on the use of a panade of bread and milk, similar to that found in a meatball.  This contributes an almost creamy quality to the filling that blends really well when it meets the tomato sauce. 

I made these peppers pretty much as is.  I will post a link to the printable recipe and video on the Rachael Ray Show site and will post my changes below. 

Meatball Stuffed Peppers With Garlic and Spinach
from the Rachael Ray Show (click on recipe title to see recipe)

  • I had no fresh basil- winter is a lousy season for finding it around here, so I simply omitted it.
  • As I stated before, I used lean ground beef in place of the meatloaf mixture.
  • I used a mixture of colored bell peppers rather than all red; I buy mine at Aldi in a three pack and they're all different colors.  They worked just fine.  You can also use green bell peppers.
  • I did use San Marzano tomatoes.  They are more expensive but are truly worth the additional cost.  Their mellow acidity and light sweetness make all the difference.  You just can't get it from other canned tomatoes.