Braised Cauliflower in the Instant Pot

I came across a recipe in the “Mediterranean Instant Pot” cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. The recipe looked pretty good, and used a spice blend I hadn’t heard of before called ras el hanout. I changed the recipe a little due to my own preferences and the unavailability of one ingredient.

The result was delicious, and I’ll definitely be making this again!

Braised Cauliflower with North African Spices

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 head Cauliflower trim leaves and stem, keep whole
  • 1 can Whole San Marzano tomatoes drain (keep liquid), and coarsely chop
  • 2 tsp Ras el hanout
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup kalmata olives pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Turn on Instant Pot to Saute, high setting, and add olive oil, garlic, and ras el hanout

  2. Saute for about 2-3 minutes, until spices become really fragrant, then turn Instant Pot off

  3. Add the reserved tomato juice and chopped tomatoes to Instant Pot, stir well, and then reserve 3-4 tablespoons of the mixture

  4. Insert trivet then steaming basket into Instant Pot

  5. Complete preparation of the head of cauliflower by making a deep criss-cross slice into stem, then place head into steaming basket, stem side down.

  6. Pour reserved tomato/spice mixture over top of cauliflower.

  7. Cook in Instant Pot using high pressure, for 3 minutes, doing a quick release when cook time has completed.

  8. Set cauliflower head aside in serving dish, and cover with foil

  9. Set Instant Pot to Saute, add olives and golden raisins to tomato mixture. Cook this down to thicken a bit. You can salt & pepper this if you like (I didn't)

  10. Cut the head of cauliflower into quarters, then eights. Spoon more of the tomato mixture over top, and then sprinkle cilantro over when serving. Provide the rest of the tomato/spice mixture alongside so people can add more as they wish.

Recipe Notes

The original recipe called for green olives, anchovies, and pine nuts (which I couldn’t find at our grocery store).  Omitted the anchovies to make the dish vegan, and I prefer black olives over green 🙂

Making the Best Pumpkin Spice Latte

Well, I had to try it. James Hoffman’s recent video was interesting. I ended up making 2 batches after a visit to the Silk Road Spice Merchant on Whyte Avenue.

The first one I followed his direction and recipe as closely and exact as possible. After measuring everything out, I ground it all up into a Krups Coffee & Spice grinder. One step I added was to heat the spice blend up on the stove prior to adding the water and pumpkin juice. I also used a light brown sugar instead of Demarra.

This initial batch ended up much thicker than what his seemed, so I made a second batch, which I combined with the first one. I made the second batch without pumpkin, and added green cardamom.

The syrup is definitely very flavorful, and makes a delicious latte! The biggest challenge I found was in trying to strain the syrup. I used a couple different sieves and also a muslin filter bag, and it took a long time – must have taken almost an hour! I’ll have to find a better strainer.

Here’s are the ingredients I used for my second batch of pumpkin spice:

Vietnamese Cassia Bark: 14g
Indonesian Cinnamon Quills: 14g
Powdered Ginger: 8g
Whole Cloves: 2g
Allspice: 2g
Whole Nutmeg: 7g
Green Cardamom: 3g

For the syrup, I used a light brown sugar – 350g, and 175g of water, and 25g of the pumpkin spice.

I also made the coffee infused whipping cream to top the latte – it was fantastic, and much easier to make! Will definitely make the whipping cream again, as well as the pumpkin spice. I think that I’ll like skip the syrup.

Dialing in the Espresso

My espresso machine has been working well, but I think I was getting lazy in spending time to properly dial in my beans – but after spending a little time this weekend doing just that – I realized what a difference it really makes!

I was motivated after taking apart the grouphead trying to resolve some excessive water dripping from it – I was going to take the parts into a local shop and basically rebuild and re-gasket the entire grouphead. Once I had all the parts out, and cleaned everything up, I realized it would be a couple days before I could get to the shop – and I didn’t want to be without my morning espresso’s, leaky machine or not!

So back together it went – and shockingly, the leaking went away, and I also found that the shot lever actually moved with little resistance – much like it did when I first got the machine over a decade ago!

Dialing in my shots didn’t take long at all I found – don’t know why I thought it was such a chore. I have the machine dispensing about 2 oz. of espresso in 29 seconds, with the portafilter dosed with 19-20 grams of beans.

The Gecko goes on…

My printer has been idle for a number of months and this past weekend I finally spent a little time fixing up some wiring and actually printed a coffee grinder funnel prototype I started working on. The initial print was great – but after making some changes and starting another print job, I almost immediately ran into issues with blockages in the hotend.

I upgraded the machine with a genuine E3D Titan extruder and V6 hotend, but I’m still not impressed with their performance. Need something better – but what?

Update 🙂 I think I have a plan…

Mosquito hotend by Slice Engineering

Came across a company called Slice Engineering in the U.S.A., that has developed a hotend they are calling the Mosquito. The design is very intriguing, and it looks like it might be 1/2 of the answer I’m searching for.








Bondtech BMG-M Extruder

The other half of the answer is the extruder, and a Swedish company called BondTech has an extruder designed for the Mosquito – the BMG-M. I like the dual gear mechanism they’re using, and from what I’ve read, is a good step up from the Titan.

Updating UConnect software

There was an update for the UConnect software for our 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk, so I downloaded the update to a thumb drive as instructed on the UCconnect site.
What exactly was updated I’m not too sure – it’s too bad they don’t include release notes, so that owners can verify that features behave as expected, and also to learn what new functionality the system has.
Anyway, I also discovered that the instructions on the UConnect site weren’t very accurate.
Tip #1.  Download the update to your desktop, then extract the enclosed files to the thumb drive.  Not within a folder, and there were 2 files for this latest updated.
Tip #2.  The instructions on the UConnect site state to put the vehicle into Run mode, but without the engine running.  This is done be keeping your foot off the brake pedal, and pressing the start button twice.  Problem with this is that the update takes quite a while – and the vehicle shuts off – which messes up the install.  I ended up calling the 1-800 number provided in the UConnect installation guide, and was advised by a support manager to actually start the vehicle, and then proceed with the update.  Sucks to have to idle the vehicle for the 20 or 30 minutes it takes to do the update, but at least it works!
Tip #3.  Lastly, there was a spot where the screen goes blank for quite a while – 5 minutes or so.  I thought something failed, since the vehicle had shut off as well.  When putting the vehicle back to RUN, the screen remained blank, and unresponsive for just over 5 minutes – which prompted me to call support.  A couple minutes into the call, the screen came back to life, and the installation started over.
Kudo’s to UConnect Support, I was surprised to get through right away on a Saturday – no holding – just had to press a couple buttons after the automated answer and listening to the voice menu.