The Denver Metro’s winter isn’t all below zero temperatures and knuckle-numbing wind. Right around now, when the thought of applying two layers of knee highs to defend my calves from the relentless onslaught of high altitude cold has me scrolling through vacation deals to Puerto Rico, along comes a string of warm, sunny days that entices me out of my abominable snow gal gear just long enough to blind a few motorists with my highly reflective bare arms. Thanks, wacky weather patterns?
Over the long weekend, Cameron and I made some time to take our favorite canine, Charlotte, for an afternoon amble out at South Valley Park, a Jefferson County open space about twenty minutes southwest from our neighborhood.
We’d gone on a vigorous (aka “pounding a cup of Irish breakfast tea before hill running is a crap idea”) run last August when the trails were rocky but dry. This time around I counted one runner during our hike, and she was nearly skating as she bustled by us on the iced-over trails. Charlotte, ever the investigator, tugged us along as she sorted the various smells popping up from newly melted snow.
South Valley Park is a gorgeous recreation area year-round, but if you visit in the winter, pull out your thick-soled boots or a pair of yak trax to lower your chance of eating it when you hit an icy patch on the trail.
Despite the relative warmth of the day, Cameron and I were still jonesing for comfort food after the hike, so I broke out my copy of the Thug Kitchen Cookbook to try one of their easy snack recipes. We’re fans of buffalo wing sauce, but not eating chicken puts the brakes on that favorite American get-together snack. Thug Kitchen’s Roasted Sriracha Cauliflower Bites fills the wingless void in this pescaterian’s life. Spicy and chewy with just enough heft from the flour crust, we made our way through a plate of these bites in no time. Buffalo wings usually arrive alongside a handful of celery sticks and ranch dressing, but I prefer Thug Kitchen’s cooling peanut sauce and cucumber sides. I’ll be surprising friends with these colorful cauliflower bites at our next party.
Roasted Sriracha Cauliflower Bites with Peanut Sauce
(adapted from a Thug Kitchen Cookbook recipe)
Serves 2 people
– 1 medium head cauliflower (about 1 lb)
– 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour (If you have a wheat allergy, you can substitute with rice flour.)
– 1⁄4 cup water
– 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
– 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup Sriracha or similar style hot sauce
– 1/8 cup rice vinegar
– 1⁄4 tsp soy sauce or tamari
Peanut Dipping Sauce
– 1⁄4 cup warm water
– 1⁄4 cup plus 2 TBS creamy peanut butter
– 2 TBS rice vinegar
– 2 TBS lime juice
– 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
– 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
– 1 tsp maple syrup or agave syrup
– 1 cucumber, cut into finger-long sticks
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet. (I used a sheet of parchment paper to line the baking sheet instead.)
2. Meanwhile, chop cauliflower into little trees, and set aside. Then, whisk together the flour and water in a big bowl until a batter forms with no chunks. Toss in the cauliflower, and mix until all the pieces look a little coated. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet, and roast for 25 minutes, mixing halfway through to help crisp all sides of the veggies.
3. Now, make the hot sauce. In a small saucepan, mix the oil, Sriracha, vinegar, and soy sauce. Heat over low heat until the sauce is warm but not bubbling. Turn off the heat, and set aside.
4. Now, on to the peanut dipping sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the water and peanut butter until it looks creamy. Add the other sauce ingredients, and stir until everything is incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
5. After 25 minutes in the oven, dump the cauliflower back into the big bowl and toss with the hot sauce mixture from the stovetop. Make sure everything is coated. Return the cauliflower to the baking sheet, leaving the extra sauce in the bowl, and roast for another 5 minutes.
6. Serve hot or at room temperature with the cucumber sticks and peanut dipping sauce on the side. (I prefer munching on the cauliflower when it’s still hot from the oven.)