October 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
This is going to be quick; no convincing, no nutrition information or wordy phrases (sorry Paul) and it’s mainly because every second spent doing something other than studying alpha helices, beta-pleated sheets and amino acids seems kind of, I don’t know, unproductive. BUT we all have to eat so I might as well share one of my recent favorites.
I know, why didn’t we think of this before? Anyways, this can be used as a dip, a spread, a body mousse or a dressing and, can be made with other fleshy winter squash, nut/seed butters and spices. With that said, this lightly spiced pumpkin-tahina combo has been my favorite thus far.
I do have to mention that a creamy tahina (also know as tahini but I have had trouble calling it that since hearing Israelis throatily proclaim it tah-hina as if it’s a goddness of some sort) and pungent garlic are necessary here (since they are really the only ingredients). Cumin, sumac, nutmeg, black pepper, paprika or a touch of cayenne would certainly lend some character, but here is the base, you do the rest. Also, I will give the recipe for homemade tahina, which is by far the strongest and most satisfying, but you can certainly fine some decent tahina around.
Oh by the way, I was joking about the body mousse thing…
Sugar Pumpkin “Hummus”
Hummus: 2 cups of sugar pumpkin puree*, 1/3 cup tahina, 2 cloves raw garlic, about 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and fine grain sea salt to taste.
*Roast a large, gutted pumpkin at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until soft then scape out the flesh. In a food processor, or blender pulse the pumpkin until sooth. 15oz of organic canned pumpkin works as well.
Tahina: 2 cups hulled sesame seeds, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or sesame seed oil and 1/4 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)
In a skillet, toast the sesame seeds one cup at a time until light brown and fragrant. In a food processor pulse the toasted seeds until they form a fine meal. Add the salt. While running the food processor, add olive oil in a stream, processing for about 15 seconds. Pour the tahina into a bowl and mix with a fork until there are no dry lumps. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.
Note: Freshly milled tahina can be stored in a mason/bell jar in the refrigerator for approximately 2 weeks.
In a bowl combine the pumpkin puree, tahina and olive oil. Mix until fully combine. Press (with a garlic press) or chop the garlic then add it to the pumpkin mixture. Mix well, and season with salt or desired spices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
This recipe makes about 4 servings. It can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 days, but I guarantee it won’t last that long.
September 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
What do you do with a tomato beaten by the sun, scorched fiery red, with flesh so plump and juicy that it has folded over upon itself?
I found it cloaked with purslane beneath a mound of weeds while picking kale at my secret kale picking spot. I got lucky, had it been there much longer it probably would have turned to mush, but its scarlet skin caught my eye. Tomatoes are delicious, but I only eat them in the summer because, well you know; they suck in the winter. First off, they are gassed red with ethylene gas made from petroleum. Secondly who wants to eat a cold, watery tomato when it’s snowing – I’ll take a warm, sweet buttercup squash over a mealy tomato any winter day. Anyways, a lot of the tomatoes we grow end up getting cooked down and jarred, so they can be used when the days are short and there is snow on the ground, but big ones like these require eating now.
Brandywine, Amish paste, Aunt Rudy’s paste, Pineapple Bicolor (my personal favorite), Sungold, Cherokee Purple, Black Prince, Cosmonaut Volkov, Green Zebra, Big Boy, Verde Puebla, Tomatillos, Jubilee, Rutger’s, Early Girl, Grandma Mary’s paste and Black Krim tomatoes made up this summer’s collection. I will miss going into the backyard before every meal, but I am relishing in it, using every bit of fresh food that I can.
So, while tomatoes are everywhere you should be throwing them into everything (unless of course you’re allergic to them, in which case I’m very sorry but you’ll have to sit this one out)! Here I’ve combine bright tomatoes with organic black quinoa, pignoli (aka pine nuts but pignoli sounds so much better), basil and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This recipe is fast and delicious, it’s vegan, gluten-free and because it’s quinoa based, it is a good source of complete protein. Oh, and it makes a convenient salad topper; keep it in your refrigerator and scoop some onto a bowl of hearty spinach or spicy arugula.
Black Quinoa, Pignoli & Tomato Toss
2 3/4 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup black quinoa, 1/2 cup pignoli nuts, 4 large tomatoes, any variety, diced, 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped, juice from 1/2 of a lemon, 1/2 tbsp dried mint, 1 tsp dried tarragon, black pepper and sea salt to taste and extra virgin olive oil
In a medium sauce pan over high heat bring 2 cups of vegetable broth and quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, cover and turn the heat down to medium. Stir every couple of minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid.
If the quinoa doesn’t fluff up, but remains chewy add the remaining 3/4 cup of broth and continue to cook over medium heat until the liquid is gone and the quinoa is fluffy. When finished quinoa has tiny white strands that separate from the black part of the grain (see above).
When the quinoa is completely finished toss it with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, transfer it to a serving bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cool.
While the quinoa is cooling, dry roast the pignoli nuts in a cast iron skillet or saute pan. This takes less than 5 minutes. Once the pan is hot the nuts will brown and become fragrant; this means they are finished.
Chop the tomatoes, discarding the water and seeds in the center; this prevents the dish from being watery. Julienne the basil and combine it with dried mint, tarragon, lemon juice and a teaspoon of olive oil.
When the quinoa has cooled toss in the basil dressing and the pignoli nuts. Season with salt and black pepper before serving.
June 24, 2012 § 1 Comment
Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
Rice is something I’ve always struggled with. I enjoy it when other people labor through the simmering and stirring for me, but every time I concoct a rice based dish I’m sorely disappointed. Repetitive disappointment in the rice department bruised my ego a bit. I mean over half of the world’s population probably eats rice every day, multiple times. If they can cook it so well what was I missing? The answer – the right type of rice. This recipe uses short grain rice, which is, in my opinion more palatable than long grain which tends to be a harder and more dry (in my very humble experience). This earthy combination is one not to miss out on. The recipe comes from a Middle Eastern cookbook, Artichoke to Za’atar by Greg and Lucy Malouf. Shann gave me for my birthday last summer and I must say I appreciate it exponentially more after experiencing the cuisine of Israel. However, it doesn’t take a trip to the Middle East to realize this rice is exceptional.
In the book, Greg and Lucy suggest stuffing a baby lamb with the Lebanese nut rice. I didn’t have that kind of time and am sure that finding someone to sell me an entire baby lamb would be a lengthy project within itself. That being said, I think this rice would be tasty stuffed in anything be it the cavity of a chicken or between the fleshy walls of a cored tomato (or any type of winter squash when they are in season). So instead of stuffing I did a bit of modifying through out the recipe. In place of the ground lamb, I substituted bones from the shoulder of a lamb I saved after making lamb confit. I preferred using the bones because they provide depth without adding ground meat, but I’m sure the meat would add a pleasant texture, especially if you decided to use this for stuffing. Also, I used about a cup of each of the nuts instead of 2/3 of a cup. This is not necessary but definitely added more flavor, texture and richness.
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 large white onion, finely diced, 5 ounces of ground lamb*, 3 cups organic short grain brown rice, 1 quart vegetable stock**, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp crushed black pepper, sea salt to taste
*Ground beef or lamb bones can be used instead of ground lamb. **Chicken stock or beef stock can be substituted depending on what meat or bones you use to flavor the rice. Also, you may need 2 quarts (8 cups or 1/2 gallon) depending on the rice you use.
2/3 cup pine nuts, 2/3 cup slivered almonds, 2/3 cup unsalted shelled pistachio nuts, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 small garlic cloves, juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Lebanese Nut Rice
In a large cast iron skillet or heavy bottom pan heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Saute the onion and ground lamb or lamb bones until the onion is soft and translucent and the meat is browned. Add the rice and the vegetable stock and bring to a boil within four minutes. When boiling add the cinnamon stick, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook without stirring until the rice has soaked up a majority of the stock. If the rice is still hard add 2-4 more cups of stock and continue to simmer until the rice softens and becomes chewy.
Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, almonds and pistachios until fragrant and golden brown. With a slotted spoon remove the nuts and add them to the rice when it is finished cooking. Save the nut infused oil.
Chop and smash the garlic into a paste. Heat 3 tablespoons of the nut-infused olive oil with the garlic and lemon juice until boiling. Pour over the rice when ready to serve
Enjoy with a hearty serving of tzatziki and some sliced cucumber with a indulgent drizzling of olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Bon appetite.
May 2, 2012 § 2 Comments
With the bright flavor of lemony pistachio pesto and a bold fish one can not go wrong.
Salmon. The go to fish of the USA: Eat more salmon, eat more fish! You’ve heard it over and over and chances are, you’ve bought some salmon and cooked it – possibly rather unsuccessfully? Salmon is tough, especially if you don’t usually eat fish, because it does taste like fish. Now in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with fish – which I eat often, but if you like pesto (Come on, who doesn’t like pesto?!), this is a good way to tame the bold taste of salmon without squandering it.
Pesto, taken literally, actually means anything that has been pounded or crushed, as the word pesto has roots in the Italian word pesta and the English word pestle. With that being said, abandon your typical ideas about pesto and be daring. Pesto originated in Genoa, Italy (when I visited this region I was inspired by their seemingly competitive gardens laced with row upon row on perky basil plants) as a mosaic of basil, pine nuts and olive oil, yet today there are thousands of hybrids. Here we’ll use some pungent roasted garlic, basil, spinach, pistachios and lemon juice to make a bright pesto, far from overbearing. Give it a shot and don’t hesitate to tweak it to meet the needs of your taste buds.
1 cup fresh Genovese basil leaves, 1 cup organic baby spinach, 1 cup shelled pistachios, salted 3/4 cup pecorino romano, freshly grated, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 large clove garlic*, roasted, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, black pepper to taste
Use any species of fresh caught (NOT farmed**) salmon. One person can usually eat a 4-8oz filet. To be safe, make one 6-8oz (about half pound) filet per person. Left overs are delicious topping a salad the next day.
Lemon-stachio Pesto Crusted Salmon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit on roast. Cover a baking dish or pan with parchment paper and coat with oil. Put fish in/on the baking dish and refrigerate until ready to use. Meanwhile, combine basil, spinach, pistachios, and pecorino romano in a food processor. Process until completely mixed. Add olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse until pistachios are completely ground into the pesto. Pulse in crushed black pepper if desired.
Top the salmon with the pesto and bake for 15 minutes. Cut a filet open to check the middle, it should be opaque and flaky with an internal temperature of 140 degrees. If it is slightly pink, it’s finished. Let the salmon sit (out of the oven) for 2-5 minutes so it can finish cooking. Serve immediately.
**Note: Farmed salmon may help feed the global population, but it’s not the best for anyone. Due to it’s unnatural diet that consists of a conglomeration of grains and soybeans, it’s higher in omega-6 fatty acids, which you are most likely getting in abundance from your daily diet. Stick with wild caught to get the most authentic salmon flavor, an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids and a healthy dose of astaxanthin (With no added color – Yes, farmed salmon does have added color).
April 18, 2012 § 3 Comments
Hear the word dandelion & almost instantaneously feelings of annoyance pulse through your body. In our world of green grass, Scott’s lawn care & petroleum based fertilizers we have been trained to loath the petite flower-mimicking “weeds” .
On that note, I decided to take advantage of the fact that none of my neighbors would mind if I yanked a few from their front yards (first I made sure no chemicals had been applied). Weeding with a reward, what could be better?
These little fritters cook up best right after you pick the flowers so fry them as soon as possible otherwise the flowers wilt & brown quite fast.
This recipe is so simple & will surprise even the toughest critic (14 year-old Dorito-fiending boys). The mixture of flint corn meal & light brown sugar quickly fried creates a crispy coating for these somewhat tangy flowers. Oh, and a dollop of soft chevre on the side never hurts.
Serve the fritters with their greens & you’ll end up with a plate full of vitamin a, fiber & potassium. In fact, dandelion greens (& roots) are used medicinally to clean the blood as well as for their diuretic-like properties.
Yes, I know they aren’t exactly the most attractive dish you’ve ever made, but I guarantee that after you try these fritters once, they will find their way back into your kitchen every spring.
2 cups of dandelion flowers, with stems, 1/2 cup flint corn meal, 2 Tbsp organic brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup organic half & half, large egg*, organic canola oil for frying
*I used a duck egg from the farmer’s market, but chicken eggs will work just as well.
Cover a plate with several layers of paper towels or napkins. Set the plate aside for later.
In a medium size wok or cast iron skillet heat 1 inch of canola oil over medium-high heat until ready to fry ( when ready, the temperature oil the oil will be 320-350 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine cornmeal, brown sugar, baking soda & salt. Mix well pressing out all of the clumps then add the half & half & the egg. Mix until smooth.
When the batter is smooth, dip the flower end of the dandelion into the batter until it’s fully covered. Carefully place the battered flower into the hot oil. Watch the flowers closely as they will brown very quickly. As soon as the fritter turns golden brown flip it over to fry the other side, remove it (with a slotted spoon) & place on the paper towels to soak off some of the excess oil.
December 8, 2011 § 2 Comments
Simmering sencha: earthy, grass-toned, mellow & slightly astringent. Browned Garlic: bold, pungent, spicy & sweet. Preserved Lemon: bright, acidic & a bit adventurous.
These flavors from common kitchen foods meld together to create something worth repeating; again and again and again.
Anyone who has been sorely disappointed by the flavor, or lack there of, in quinoa can join the millions. I’m sure many people who are on the quest toward healthier eating lug home a bag of this protein-packed grain in hopes it will solve all of their problems. They get home, cook the grain in water, add some salt, pepper & olive oil & never touch it again. To those of you who have experienced that, this will certainly change your minds. Plus, who doesn’t love butternut squash & some savory mushrooms?
Not to mention the fact the this is a perfect whole grain option for people who have to eat gluten-free. Whole grains (wheat berries, oats, barley, rye, millet, amaranth, etc) were not meant be consumed in the ugly form of “whole wheat” pre-sliced bread, “whole wheat” Pillsbury Frudals, “whole grain” pre-made packaged pancakes or any of the like (I’m not kidding, this is what our government, according to MyPlate, considers a serving of whole grains). Whole grains are meant to nourish our bodies – stop falling for the health claims on the sides of corporate packaged foods & get adventurous.
People complain that it is too expensive to eat healthfully, but buying bulk whole grains is probably one of the cheapest things you can get. Things get expensive when you start buying the “healthy” packaged stuff. Oh, and forget the MyPlate recommendations – let’s make all of our grains whole.
But getting back to the bliss; if you don’t have preserved lemons this really won’t be the same. I’m sure you could try peeling lemons, then letting the peels hang out in sea salt for a couple days & you would probably get something similar, but if you want to preserve your own lemons the link is here: Preserved Lemons. Or you can always buy them online (if you’re in a rush): Buy Preserved Lemons
Tea Simmered Winter Squash Quinoa
5 cups of water, 5 heaping Tbsp Sencha tea (5 green tea bags works too), 2 cups white quinoa, 2 whole butternut squash, 1 cup mushrooms, assorted, chopped, 7 cloves of garlic, 1 preserved lemon, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp, 3 Tbsp dried oregano, feta cheese to garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit on roast. Slice the squash into 1 inch thick pieces & roast for 35 minutes until the skin has lifted & the flesh can easily be pierced with a fork. Fill a medium sauce pan with 5 cups of water – cover & bring to a boil. Add the tea & steep for 10 minutes. Strain the water to remove the loose tea leaves or remove the tea bags. Add the quinoa & bring to a rapid boil while covered, then reduce the heat & stir constantly (keeping it uncovered) until the quinoa has absorbed all the water (it will be light, fluffy & will expand to about four times the original amount).
Meanwhile, peel garlic & gently smash it under the side of a large knife. This can be done by putting the garlic on a cutting board, holding your knife so the blade is parallel to the bored & banging the side of the blade with the heel of your hand to squish the garlic. Slice the lemon vertically into eighths, then chop the slices into 1/4 of an inch pieces.
In a skillet add olive oil & heat for 2 minutes. When oil is warmed, add garlic & the chopped lemons. After 5 minutes add the oregano. Continue cooking over medium heat until the garlic is browned. When the garlic is golden brown, pour the oil mixture over the quinoa.
In the same skillet used to brown the garlic, saute the chopped mushrooms in 1 Tbsp of olive oil until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Chop the squash into cubes & toss into the quinoa. Add the sauteed mushrooms, taste & season as desired. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil & throw in a handful of feta for added creaminess.
This is a good recipe to make at the beginning of the week & refrigerate. It tastes great on top of kale or spinach or can be reheated for a quick dinner.
November 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
Toasted fennel seeds, chewy roasted raisins, slightly charred red onion & of course the indispensable winter green, kale.
Now don’t go turning up your nose saying I’ve tried kale, I hate it & everything about it, or the infamous I’d cook that but my husband & kids will kick me out, because there is a secret to eating kale – actually, it’s a secret to harvesting kale. Kale harvested after a frost is much sweeter & more palatable than summertime kale. All it takes is a little chill & kale is transformed almost as much as a scrawny young girl after puberty – I’m not kidding. It’s probably best if I leave out the fact that it’s high in calcium, beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin K, sulforaphane, a molecule in all cruciferous & brassicas vegetables that is known for it’s anti-cancer properties & a plethora of various other carotinoids, at the risk that you’ll think I’m just trying to convince you to eat it. I’m not though, I promise. Skip the kale & their will be more for me.
This recipe may seem like it has some tediously skip-able steps, like toasting the fennel or baking the raisins, but I assure you that they are there for a reason. Toasting the fennel seeds allows for a multi-sense experience. As the volatile oils are released, we are able to not only enjoy the flavor of the seeds, but also enjoy the aroma. The raisins are heated to further concentrate the sugar simple sugars, glucose & fructose, as heating is just a way of drawing out more water.
Kale & Roasted Raisin Jumble
- 8 large leaves of kale, stemmed & chopped
- 2 red onions, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings
- 1 cup of any grain, or pasta*
- 1/2 cup of walnuts
- 1/3 cup of raisins, roasted
- 4 Tbsp fennel seed, toasted
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp garlic powder (garlic salt)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper & salt to taste
*Here I used sprouted bulgur wheat, but quinoa, amaranth, barley, linguini, orecchiette, etc will do. Sprouted bulgur is cooked in the microwave with 1 cup of bulgur to 2 cups of water, covered well, for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to roast (or bake) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add onions to a skillet over medium heat & saute for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil, cover the onions for 2-3 minutes & allow them to brown without burning. Meanwhile, prepare what ever grain or pasta you’ve chosen to use. In a small baking dish mix the raisins & black pepper. Roast for 7 minutes, until the raisins swell slightly, then set them aside to cool.
Add chopped kale and 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the slightly charred onions and toss in the saute pan until the kale has wilted, but is still a vibrant green. Add the coriander & garlic powder. Continue to saute over low heat. Add the bulgur (or other grain) & walnuts, then salt to taste. Last, add the raisins & toss one more time.
Serve hot or refrigerate immediately. This will last refrigerated for about 5 days.