Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grilled Chicken Sandwich on Walnut Cranberry Bread

Ever since I had this packaged sandwich at a Wholefoods Market south of Boston I was hooked: a delicious sweet, tart and crunchy bread popping with dried cranberries and walnuts that could stand on its own feet for a meal, and a slice of grilled chicken breast in the middle with a dollop of mango chutney. A perfect sandwich! While I enjoyed the sandwich the wheels in my mind already started spinning: I need to make a cranberry walnut bread! The rest would be simple. 
I still had a few Bob's Red Mill low-carb bread mixes in my pantry, so this is where I started (any simple bread mix will do, just avoid sourdough or other flavors). I added plenty of cranberries and walnuts (it might be good to actually soak the cranberries ahead of time), and maple syrup for the extra flavor.

1 package Bob's Red Mill low-carb bread mix (for a 2 pound loaf)
1/2 cup King Arthur all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 TB Baker's milk powder
1 TB yeast
2 TB maple syrup
1 TB organic canola oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins

Pour lukewarm water into kitchenaid standmixer. Add the bread mix, the flour, the yeast and baker's milk powder. Start mixing the dry ingredients on slow speed. Add egg, and canola oil as well the cranberries, walnuts,  trail mix and the maple syrup. Use dough setting to mix the dough, first on slow and then on higher until dough forms a ball. Let the dough rest for 60min.

Knead the dough one more time, and take dough out of stand mixer, and shape dough into a loaf, and add to a floured bread basket. Let rise for 1-2 hours until dough doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350F, and bake for 50-60min. 

P.s. if you have a large enough breadmaker you can also make it in the machine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Home-made spicy refrigerator pickles with a twist

Home-made pickles are a much better option compared to store-bought ones: significantly less sodium, fresh ingredients and the refrigerator ones are in a zinch to make. I tried this Cooking Light recipe last year, and loved it. This year I gave it a spin of my own: two decorative hot peppers which will likely not be only decorative after a few days.... but make pickles with a kick that will be great on a burger or in a tuna salad sandwich.

* about 1 1/2 pounds of thinly sliced pickling cucumbers
* 1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced into half moons
* 2 cups white vinegar (I used a mix of 2/3 white winegar,  1/6 sherry vinegar and 1/6 TJ white balsamic vinegar)
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*  5-6 juniper berries (optional)
* 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
* 2 long thin spicy chili peppers

Place the sliced garlic on the bottom of a sterilized large pickling jar. Slice the cucumbers thinly. Cut the onion in half and also cut into thin half moons. Layer both in the pickling jar, switching between cucumbers and onions (2/3 cucumber, 1/3 onion. Once the jar is half full, position the chili peppers on the side of the jar.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Pour over cucumber mixture; close the lid of the jar, and let cool. Chill at least 4 days in the fridge.

Note: Pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. Use tongs or a fork (not fingers!) to take some, and they will last longer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Miso Cod and Vegetables

My current favorite mix of sauteed vegetables is zucchini, cut into thin strips, diced red bell pepper or tomatoes, and thinly sliced lacinato kale, sauteed with small diced some onion, salt and pepper, and when it is all done and still has a light crunch I add red miso. A half table spoon of red miso, dissolved in a 1/3 cup of hot water, and mixed into the vegetables, and slightly cooked down for 1 min. Sometimes,  I add farro soaked over night, and 1 TB of harrisa or Trader joe's red pepper spread for serving. A wonderful earthy seasonal flavorful combination.

A few days ago I came across the famous "Miso black cod" served at Nobu. Although google search told me that black cod and regular cod have not much in common, besides both being fish, I tried the recipe with the delicious fresh cod fillet that I had bought on the farmers market the other day. And, I admit, this recipe is a winner.

Miso Cod
1 cod fillet, cut into serving size pieces

3 TB red miso (I guess, white miso works, too)
dissolved in 1 cup of boiling hot water 
2 TB sake
1 TB rice wine vinegar
2 TB sugar

Immediately add the sake, rice wine vinegar and sugar to the hot miso mix so that the sugar can dissolve. Mix well, and let cool down to room temperature. Pour mixture in a glass dish with a lid, place cod fillets inside, and marinate at least overnight in the fridge. The chef's version of the original recipe calls for 2-3 days of marinading. I tried it after 1 day and it was delicious.

To prepare: Heat pan with cooking spray, and saute fillets on both sides for about 2-3 min each. Serve!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Still in love with Mache

Mache,  it is growing in my garden and plentiful in the produce section of WholeFoods. One of my favorite salads, next to radicchio, arugula, waterkress, and endive (looks like I love salads with character...).  This is almost an entirely WholeFoods salad: Epic Roots's mache, WholeFoods brand "chipotle ranch" dressing and spicy caramelized walnuts (*). Optional addition: blue cheese or goat cheese. And fresh ground black pepper.

(*) Spiced candied walnuts:
1 TB butter
1-2 TB brown sugar
some cayenne pepper
1 cup of chopped walnuts
Toast walnuts in a hot skillet, until fragrant. Add butter, brown sugar, mix and melt both and toss with walnuts. Be careful, it happens fast in a hot skillet and you don't want to burn the butter. Once melted, turn off heat and add cayenne pepper.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back to Basics

Simple things are still the best, with a new twist: Greek yogurt, fresh peach and a handful of trailmix on top of it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Refreshing Zucchini Salad

Zucchini are plentiful this time of the year. They likely grow in your own garden, are available at roadside farm stands and are 3 for 1$ at the farmers market. With the long and hot summer this year, not only are they plentiful but also huge. Truly, a zucchini deluge by this time. This is a wonderful simple salad with few ingredients and very refreshing for the hot summer days.

1 large zucchini
salt, pepper to taste
white grapefruit balsamic vinegar  (or just white balsamic vinegar or lemon) 
olive oil
fresh herbs (e.g. mint, cilantro, or fresh oregano)
feta crumbles  (best also from the farmer market)

special equipment: mandolin.

Slice the zucchini really thinly using a mandolin. Arrange on a plate, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Cover with wrap and marinate for 15 min in the fridge. To serve, sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs and feta crumbles.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Balsamic Roasted Beets

It is the time of the year again: beets are abundant at the farmers market, and Mark sells them in huge bags for $5 a bag. After hauling one home today, I made my favorite recipe, beets roasted/steamed in a mix of vegetable broth and balsamic vinegar. The beets are tender with a wonderful balsamic flavor. To serve? With pine nuts and goat cheese.

preheat oven to 375F.
4-5 beets, cut off ends, and cut in thick slices
arrange in a baking dish until the dish is full
mix 1 cup of vegetable broth or beef broth and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
add a few cloves, a bay leaf, and fresh ground pepper
cover with foil, and bake for 45 min (turn off oven at 35min).