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A VEGETARIAN DISH EVENA MEAT EATER COULD SAVOR

Z Grille in downtown St. Petersburg made a delicious and interesting vegetarian entree - a grilled cauliflower steak with chipotle butter. I'd love to know the recipe. Thank you.

Peggy MacLeod, St. Petersburg

Chef Zack Gross of Z Grillesays he developed the seasonal dish because he wanted a vegetarian entree that had a meaty feel to it. "It's really hard to make a dish that appeals to nonvegetarians and vegetarians that has different textures, but also has a lot of flavors," he said. "I think this dish hits on all those fronts."

There are a lot of steps, but none is difficult. If the prospect of making all the elements at once is daunting, try making the cauliflower at one meal, the squash at another and the mushrooms at a third. When you feel comfortable with each process, do them all to make the composed dish.

MODERATE

Cauliflower Steak With Acorn Squash Skins, Whole Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms and Chipotle Compound Butter

1 pound butter, softened

1 cup garlic, minced, divided use

1 can chipotle peppers, drained and minced

1 bunch cilantro, minced

Salt and pepper

2 heads cauliflower

1/2 cup fresh herbs, minced (thyme, rosemary, sage; whatever you like or is fresh)

1 cup oil (olive, canola or whatever you use for salad dressing)

3 whole acorn squash, cut in quarters, seeds removed

1/2 cup Manchego, grated

1-1/2 pounds of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Into butter, mix 1/2 cup garlic, chipotle peppers, cilantro, salt and pepper. It will turn a cool red color. Refrigerate.

Trim sides of cauliflower, then cut across head to make "steaks" that are about an inch thick. A head should yield at least two, maybe three steaks.

To make marinade, mince herbs and mix with oil and 1/2 cup garlic. Carefully coat cauliflower with marinade. Allow to sit for at least two hours, but can marinate overnight in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place squash on baking sheet and roast for about an hour. Remove from oven and turn on broiler. Sprinkle squash with cheese, then place under broiler to melt cheese, just 1 or 2 minutes. When finished, it should look like a potato skin.

Place mushrooms in a large skillet with tablespoon of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for about 15 minutes.

Heat grill (gas, charcoal or grill pan), and grill sliced cauliflower, as you would a steak, over very high heat. Flip the slices only once. Don't play with it. They will be fragile and can fall apart. Grill about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

To assemble dish, put cauliflower on plate with two or three pieces of squash and a spoonful of mushrooms. Top the hot cauliflower with the chipotle butter and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 steaks.

Notes: Puree the cauliflower trimmings and add to mashed potatoes.

This recipe will make more butter than necessary for the finished dish. Leftovers will last about a week in the refrigerator and would be good on other vegetables, meat or fish.

Source: Zack Gross, Z Grille, St. Petersburg

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Recipe request

A hummus recipe is requested by Kim Odom of Odessa. She enjoys store-bought and would like to be able to make it at home. Linda Marie of Tampa would like the recipe for the sauce for the amazing beef at Jasmine Thai on N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. She suspects it includes tamarind. She has tried to duplicate it to no avail.

Send requests to You Asked For It, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail youaskedforit@tampabay.rr.com. Include your name, city and phone number.

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