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Flavorful Mexican-inspired cauliflower rice from 'The World in a Skillet'

Milk Street Kitchen’s J.M. Hirsch shares a healthy recipe from "The World in a Skillet." #newdaynw

Mexican-style cauliflower rice

J.M. Hirsch, editorial director at Milk Street, joins the show to cook the Mexican-style cauliflower rice from Milk Street’s latest book, "The World in a Skillet."

40 minutes, servings 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1½-pound head cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into 1- to 1½-inch chunks

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 small white onion, chopped 

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons ground coriander

¾ teaspoon chipotle chili powder 

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

½ cup frozen peas, thawed and patted dry

⅓ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

Lime wedges, to serve

Instructions:

The best cauliflower rice starts by pulsing chunks of the vegetable to bits in a food processor. It’s quick and easy to do, and the “rice” has fresher flavor and better texture (because the pieces are more even in size) than store-bought fresh or frozen riced cauliflower. 

For this side dish, we took inspiration from Mexican arroz rojo, which cooks rice in a puree of tomatoes and aromatics plus chicken broth, ingredients that supply hearty, satisfying flavor. Since cauliflower rice doesn’t require liquid for cooking, we depend on umami-rich tomato paste plus a few spices to add savoriness and depth. Peas, a common addition in Mexican rice, add sweetness and pops of color. We add cilantro for fresh, herbal notes.

Don’t forget to pat the thawed peas dry so their moisture doesn’t turn the “rice” soft and soggy. Cooking it to the point of crisp-tender, and no further, also helps ensure the “rice” has the best texture.

Add enough cauliflower to fill a food processor about halfway. Pulse until the pieces are smaller than peas but larger than grains of rice, 3 to 5 pulses; do not over-process (it’s fine if the “rice” is somewhat uneven). Transfer to a medium bowl and repeat until all of the cauliflower has been processed; you should have about four cups.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, three to four minutes. Add the tomato paste, garlic, coriander and chipotle powder, then stir to coat the onion with the tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the cauliflower rice and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, stirring to coat the cauliflower in the tomato paste, then cook, stirring often, until the “rice” is tender-crisp, four to five minutes.

Add the peas and cook, stirring, until the peas are warmed through, one to two minutes. 

Off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Sautéed corn with miso, butter and scallions

KING 5 Evening's Jim Dever also cooked the sautéed corn with miso, butter and scallions from cookbook, "The World in a Skillet," on the show. 

30 minutes, servings 4 

Ingredients:

½ cup sake

3 tablespoons white miso

2 tablespoons salted butter cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about five ears corn)

1 bunch scallions, white parts thinly sliced, green parts cut into 1-inch lengths, reserved separately

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

Ground white or black pepper

Furikake or shichimi togarashi to serve (optional)

Instructions:

For this umami-filled, savory-sweet side dish, plump, tender kernels cut from the ears of fresh sweet corn are the first choice, but out of season an equal amount of frozen corn kernels that have been thawed and patted dry will work; they'll just take a few minutes longer to brown. The optional furikake garnish adds even more layers of savory-sweet flavor (furikake is a Japanese condiment often sprinkled onto rice). Alternatively, add a little heat plus notes of sesame and citrus by sprinkling on some shichimi togarashi or Japanese seven-spice blend. 

Don't skip the step of whisking together the miso and sake. If added directly to the corn, the lumps of miso will be difficult to smooth out. Don't use a conventional (i.e. not nonstick) skillet because the miso has a tendency to stick.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sake and miso until no lumps remain. Set aside. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, melt the butter. Add the corn and scallion whites, then cook, stirring often, until the corn begins to brown, about five minutes.

Add the ginger and cook, stirring, just until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then stir in the miso mixture and the scallion greens. Off heat, taste, and season with pepper. 

    

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