Friday, December 30, 2011

Ice Beach

The days between Christmas and New Year are spent by many people at either one of 2 locations: the cold mountains, skiing, snowboarding, Aspen and the like, or at a warm beach, like St Barts or Miami. Yesterday, I took my last trip of 2011 to the ocean at Mount Desert Island, and I did not have to choose, I had both, the ocean, the beach and the snow and the ice. A beautiful atmosphere. 

Vacation includes fine dining. Mine was tapas at the ever beautiful Cleonice in Ellsworth.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Cat

Chanelle told me he has blog envy, with all the other cats being featured on the blog. So, here you go, darling, no need to be jealous (in my best Lisa Vanderpumps voice).


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lentil patties

I mentioned them the other day, the baked lentil patties. They are great as sides, salad ingredients, for sandwiches and just as snacks. I made several versions since then, and they are all very tasty, hot as well as cold. One version is vegan using a flax egg, and the other uses eggwhites, which seems to hold the patties  together better. I also baked them in the oven and fried them (with very little oil). Fried was better because the baked ones stuck to the foil.
The fabulous ingredients about these patties is still the chopped medjool dates, which makes them surprisingly sweet with the smokey-ness of cumin and mexican oregano in the background. I like vegan dishes spicy, so I added some Sriracha to the mixture. Herbs like thyme would be great, too.
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils (red, green or beluga, or all of them)
  • 1/4 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 cups water (as soaking liquid)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 flax eggs or 2 eggwhites (flax egg: 1 TB ground linseeds, 2 TB water, mixing and waiting for 5 min for them to gel)
  • 1 ts cumin
  • 1/2 ts sweet paprika
  • 1 ts mexican oregano
  • 4 TB Trader Joes red pepper spread
  • 1 TB hot sauce (Sriracha, optional)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 5 medjool dates, chopped
Fill the lentils and chickpeas into a jar with sufficient space, and fill up with water. Let stand for about 10h until the lentils and the chickpeas soaked up the water and doubled in volume. Now, pour the lentils and chickpeas with the soaking liquid in a pot, add more water so that the lentil are covered, add a peeled, sliced garlic clove and 1 bay leaf, bring to a boil and let simmer on medium-low for 40 min until the lentils and chickpeas are tender. 

Drain the lentils and chickpeas, remove the bay leaf, keep the garlic clove, and pulse the mixture coarsely in a food processor. The mixture should keep a lot of texture and not be too smooth.
In a mixing bowl, mix the chopped lentils and chickpeas with the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Heat a pan with some olive oil so that the patties won’t stick. Form little patties (I got about 25 small patties from the mixture) and fry on medium heat, about 10min on the first side, and 4 min on the second side. You want to leave them in the pan (or griddle) longer at first so that they stay intact when you turn them over. Serve!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hidden Treasures

Today I did something that I normally don’t allow myself doing. Visit the Humane Society. Because one of these wonderful animals always tugs at my heart strings and I end up with a new cat (I have 4). But how can you walk away? So, instead I would like to ask you to visit your local Humane Society and see if you find a wonderful animal who you adopt into your family. Or just go and play with the cats and dogs for a bit, bring them a toy, a treat, make their day. 


Here is the first inmate I entertained today. A wonderful 2-year old long-haired gray-white girl. Very smart, very loving. And while I played someone stuck a sticker on her kennel. “I’ve been adopted !”. I am not surprised. 


I almost adopted her myself. 


And then there was the nursery. With 4 little, 3-months old brothers, 3 orange tabbies and one gray kitten, scared to death. The only place to hide was the litterbox.

Or behind the cushions.


Maybe, the litterbox is better after all. 


So, go, and explore and maybe you have room for one more kitten or cat or dog.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winter Vegetables

It is colder outside, milder than usual this time of the year in Maine, but a mix of rain and snow and a gray sky makes for warm comfort food. Salads are typically a combination of chopped raw vegetables, but a winter version is a combination of precooked or prebaked winter vegetables ---- in my case today it was a freshly sauteed portalla mushroom with olive oil thyme baked butternut squash cubes, chickpeas and french string beans baked with red onion slivers, all heated in a skillet and served with feta crumbles. My kind of winter salad. Looks the ground outside, mostly green with a few snow flakes.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Adventures in Nut Butters

This morning, I saw several home-made almond butters as gifts for the holidays. They looked so luxurious and with a texture just like the Justin’s maple almond butter I am out of, so I decided to give nut butter my first try. A cup of raw almonds, mixed with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, a tablespoon of chia seeds and a tablespoon of dark flax seed as well as 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. I mixed it all up, and distributed the almonds on a baking sheet, and roasted them at 300F for about 20min. Now, the food processor got to work. And to work,  it did get.

I poured all the almonds in the food processor, added a 1/2 TB of honey and pulsed the nuts. I scraped down the walls a  few times, and then let it run. And let it run. And let it run. According to the recipe it should be buttery after 10min. But after 10 min it still looked like coarse dark almond meal (center picture). So, I let the processor run for another 5 min, and another 5 min, and another 5 min….. For a while there I suspected that the only thing that would get to a liquid consistency would be the food processor’s motor. But I put faith in those recipes telling me “Be patient!” After about 30min, I gave it a rest (and the food processor a cool down). It looked like the picture in the bottom right, a thick fudge like consistency. After another 1/2 hour I added a tablespoon of sunflower seed oil, and let the food processor do its thing a while longer. 

Overall, it took about 1 hour until the almond butter had the required consistency (top right picture). Phew! Tastes good, though. And the food processor survived, too. 


Friday, December 9, 2011

Mini Apple Pie, just for me!

Williams Sonoma sells these adorable (and practical!) ruffled mini pie pans from Henry Emile. I own the big one in white, but I don’t bake large pies that often, but the small one came in handy for those spontaneous mini pies. Crust or not, I tried it out today with some of the last apples from the farmers market that had lost their crisp, and would be perfect for as baked apples. I peeled 2 large apples, cored and diced them, and mixed them with 2 TB of multigrain flakes (or rolled oats), a teaspoon of lemon, a tablespoon of maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of ground cloves. They were so sweet that sugar was not necessary. Once everything was mixed I poured the apples in the mini pie pan and baked them at 400F for 40min. A dollop of sweetened Greek yogurt with fresh orange zest rounded out the apple pie. Which was eaten at once.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cinnamon-Spiced Candied Nuts

I love some crunch on my lunch time salads --- not just simple crunch with healthy nuts, but luxurious crunch with nuts candied in a tad of butter, brown sugar and sometimes a pinch of cayenne pepper. But it is the holidays, and time to change things up: time for vanilla and cinnamon. Delicious (and not just as a salad topping)! 

Cinnamon spiced candied nuts
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves, chopped into medium sized pieces (or chopped pecans)
  • 1/2 TB butter
  • 1 ts vanilla extract
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 ts ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves (cautious, this is a strong flavor, add very little).
In a large skillet melt the butter on medium heat and add the vanilla extract. Turn down the heat to low, and add the nuts, the brown sugar and the spices and salt  (it might be good to premix the spices and the sugar before adding them to the pan). Stir the mixture until all nuts are well coated. Slowly turn the heat higher to medium heat and constantly gently stir the mix. It will take about 2-3 min until you see the sugar melting and becoming candy-like, stir for 1 more minute, turn of the heat and take the pan off the stove. Gently stir the mixture for about 1 min until it is slightly cooled off, and then distributed in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Wait about 15 min until the candied nuts are cooled and can be stored in an airtight container.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baked sugar rush

One of my favorite salad and meal ingredients in the fall/winter is baked squash from my winter squash collection. With a big serrated bread knife I cautiously forcefully cut the red kuri/kabocha squash into sections, remove the seeds, and line the slices on a foil-linned baking sheet. Same with a delicata squash. Some salt and pepper, and baking for 35min at 425F. Baked squash is sweet…. like sugar.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving palooza

On days like this, when you have deadlines but all you want to do is take a break, relax and spend endless time cooking an elaborate lavish pumpkin pie or infuse the house with the aroma of a perfectly roasted turkey, it is harder to stick to work. When the calls for sales and endless coupon emails start ending up in your inbox already well before Thanksgiving and both Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to be lumped into one big holiday season, it is difficult to not be scooped up in the holiday cheer. But then, why not? The bright lights of candles, silvery china and big shiny Christmas trees light up the world when nature is at its darkest. But, it is still back to work, a few more days.

happy thanksgiving break!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Farro Risotto with Red Kuri Squash and Lemon

This a flavorful variation on the butternut squash lemon risotto I cooked the other day. Instead of arborio rice, I used farro. Farro is a similar to wheatberries. Instead of butternut squash I used unpeeled red kuri squash, which has a firm orange colored flesh and rich flavor. “Farrotto” is similarly prepared as risotto but has a more nutty flavor.
Farro Risotto with Red Kuri Squash and Lemon (makes 2 serving)
  • 1/2 pound peeled red kuri squash, deseeded
  • about 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, microplaned
  • 1/2 cup farro
  • 1 Tb dried or fresh lemon thyme
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • goat cheese crumbles
Cut the red kuri squash into small dice (1/3 of an inch). 

In a small pot, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer. Heat the olive oil in larger pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute it, stirring them occasionally, until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook it until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the farro, red kuri squash, and lemon thyme. Stir  for about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan and let it cook off for about 2 minutes. Add about a 1/2 cup of stock and cook, stirring it constantly and making sure to scrape around the sides, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue adding stock, a 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring almost constantly, until the farro grains are tender with a bit of bite, about 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice if needed. Stir in some Parmesan cheese before serving.

red_kuri farrotto

Treasures from the last summer farmers market

We were lucky this year, the weather was mild up until a few days ago but now it is how it normally is nearing Thanksgiving: a chilly cold making everyone bundle up at the farmers market. Last opportunity to stock up on the essentials: sheep’s milk feta, beautiful lacinato kale, kuri squash, macoun apples and celeriac.

Lucky for us, the first winter farmers market is in 3 weeks….


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lemon Butternut Squash Risotto

The other day I made this wonderfully flavorful and light risotto, very seasonable with butternut squash but lightened up with lemon zest and juice (find recipe here). Today’s lunch was spring lettuce, waterkress with balsamic vinaigrette, a quarter of a small baked butternut squash, lemon risotto and a sprinkle of dried cranberries, goat cheese and lemon thyme.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Roasted Red Kuri Squash

My stash of winter squash decorating my long dining room table was overflowing so it was time for a delicious, yet simple lunch: roasted red kuri squash, simply dressed with salt, pepper, Trader Joes crumbled goat cheese and fresh lemon thyme.

To roast red kuri squash, preheat the oven at 400F. Cut the kuri squash in half with a serrated bread knife. Spoon out the pumpkin seeds, and sprinkle salt, pepper and olive oil over the squash halves. Roast the squash for about 30min. Serve with goat cheese, more fresh crushed black pepper and herbs.

roasted red kuri

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables? Sounds somehow….. devilish?! Oh, wait, that was lucifer…. crucifix is a cross. Anyway, the name relates to the shape of the vegetable flowers (cross-like) and not to any health endangerments, despite the name. On the contrary, according to a recent SHAPE article they are actually really helpful for shedding the last 5 pounds. And, for once, I could not agree more, from my own experience.  You have seen a lot of brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and bok choy on this blog.

Shape article excerpt: “When you're actively trying to lose fat, focus on the type of carbohydrates you're eating—aim for more green, fibrous carbohydrates such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, asparagus, bok choy, and collard greens. These are all cruciferous vegetables and are in the running for the healthiest foods in the world.
It's important to remember that hormones play a big role in weight loss, especially the last 5 or so pounds that are so hard to lose. Cruciferous vegetables like those mentioned above contain two compounds—indole-3-carbinol and Calcium D-glucarate—that may help optimize estrogen levels, giving you an edge in revealing your abs faster. In addition to these two powerhouses, cruciferous vegetables are low calorie, high fiber, and have a low energy density. This means that you can eat a large quantity of vegetables and feel full and satisfied without consuming a lot of calories--another key for peeling away that final layer of abdominal fat.”


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vegan Kale and Frozen Grapes Smoothie

It was time for a smoothie again. Lots of kale, as usual, almond milk, a piece of frozen banana, but there were those gorgeous frozen grapes in the freezer, and so, why not? Surprisingly delicious!

Kale and Frozen Grapes Smoothie (1 serving)
  • 2 handfuls of raw kale (stems, leaves, everything)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 of frozen banana
  • about 10 frozen grapes
  • 1 scoop of Vega protein powder, Berry flavor
  • liquid stevia, to taste
All in the blender (best: vitamix) and done!
grape kale smoothie

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Insanely good Turkey Gravy

Not too many more weeks before Thanksgiving, and inspiring recipes are abundant. This one deserves clipping: it is involved but  will be really worth it.

Gourmet 2005

Insanely-Involved-But-Totally-Worth-It Gravy (origin)

  • Turkey neck and giblets from your bird
  • 3 additional turkey necks
  • 2 whole chickens (or 8 leg quarters)
  • Aromatics like carrot, onion, leek, etc., to taste (optional)
  • Kombu and/or dried shitake mushroom, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon flour, or as needed
  1. A couple of days in advance, make stock using the turkey neck, extra necks and whole chickens. Start by preheating the oven to 425°F. Roughly remove all of the skin and cut off the breast meat. It’s okay to do a quick and shoddy job of both—you're just making gravy.
  2. Salt the breasts liberally and refrigerate for later. Separate the chickens into their parts and cut the necks into 3-inch segments. Place everything in a large roasting pan along with the giblets and skin off to one side.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes or until a little past golden brown. Deglaze the roasting pan, fastidiously scraping all browned bits with a wooden spatula and add the precious liquid to a stock pot along with all the bones, meat and vegetables (if you’re using them) and enough water to cover. Bundle the skins in a cheesecloth and add to the pot. (Feel free to add dried shitake or kombu to the pot if you want extra umami.)
  4. Heat your stock on high until it reaches a simmer, then turn down to low and allow to just barely simmer for about 3 hours.
  5. Strain the stock carefully into a pot with a heavy bottom and a tight fitting lid—this is your gravy pot. Discard the remaining solids, but reserve your bundle of skin, placing in back in the gravy pot as well. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. The next day, skim off the fat that has congealed on top of your stock and reserve it to make a roux a bit later on. Reduce the remaining stock to the approximate desired quantity of gravy (probably down to 3 quarts, 2 for pouring and 1 for stuffing). Once the stock has come to a boil, add your chicken breasts, turn off heat and allow breasts to poach for 10 minutes. Remove the breasts and wrap them tightly in saran wrap. Resume reduction of stock—the chicken can be used later or as a backup in case you run out of turkey.
  7. Presumably, your turkey is in the gentle roasting process by now. Interrupt your turkey roasting just long enough to obtain the drippings, ideally in something sturdy like a tempered glass measuring cup. Put the drippings in the freezer to separate; you want to keep the fat and trash the water. Fastidiously deglaze the roasting pan, adding the contents to your gravy pot.
  8. Remove the skin bundle and blend with as much stock as needed to get the blender going, probably about a cup. Reserve the resulting skin puree.
  9. In a nonstick pan, warm about 2 ounces of turkey fat (or the skimmed chicken fat) with turkey drippings and once the fat is hot, add 1 tablespoon of flour per ounce of fat. Stir over low heat until golden brown then remove from heat.
  10. Adjust the gravy to your desired consistency using a combination of turkey fat roux and skin puree. The roux will thicken but may take a moment to materialize. The skin will add unctuousness.
  11. If desired, you can puree the giblets into the gravy, or reserve to add to your stuffing. Adjust gravy to desired flavor with salt, pepper and any other accent, like a splash of vermouth.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunny November

After last week sneak peek of winter we are fortunately back to sunny, warm weather that everyone enjoys. This includes Tigger, the neighbors’ cat, who enjoyed a sunbath in the kale bed. BTW, Tigger says, tell your mommies that pigs might fly but cats don’t. 

We are both sad that Jack the Cat passed away.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hearty Vegan Chili

 This is my new favorite vegan chili due to its heartiness, being full of flavors and depth, thanks to the pureed dried chilies that are added to the base ingredients: kidney beans, corn, red bell pepper and, quite seasonally, diced butternut squash. For a non-vegan version add some ground turkey. Delicious!
  • 2 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut or torn into pieces
  • 1 large dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeded and cut or torn into pieces
  • 1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 1 ts taco seasoning (I use Old El Paseo taco seasoning}
  • 1 small can of no salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup small diced butternut squash
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, and diced
  • 1 hot chili pepper
  • 1 Tb organic brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee
  • One 15 to 16-ounce can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Garnishes, such as vegan sour cream, or goat cheese crumbles and chopped cilantro
Bring the New Mexico chiles and ancho chiles to a simmer in 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chiles are just tender, ca. 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender, and add the hot chili. Holding the top on firmly with a dish towel, blend until the chile puree is smooth.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red onions to the pot. Saute until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Mix in the cumin, oregano, chili powder and taco seasoning. Add the tomato sauce, corn, kidney beans, butternut squash and red  bell  pepper. Also, add the chile puree from the blender, brown sugar, and espresso; stir to blend all ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 30 min.
Season the chili with salt and pepper to taste (if necessary). Serve with sour cream, chopped cilantro and tortilla chips.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baby Bok Choy with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate

Today on the menu: baby bok choy and baby spinach sauted in chicken broth with goat cheese crumbles and pomegranate seeds.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Turkey Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili

It is fall time, the pumpkin and squashes are prominent on many house steps and inexpensive in the grocery store. A bowl of light spicy chili helps keeping warm in the increasingly chillier (no pun intended) days. There are so many varieties on making chilis, but this is a tasty one!
Turkey Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili (makes 4 servings);
  • 8 oz ground lean turkey
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 hot chili pepper, minced
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/2 TB ground cumin
  • 1 TB oregano
  • 1 1/2 TB chili powder
  • 1/4 ts ground cinnamon
  • 1 ts taco seasoning
  • 1 fresh (or dried) bay leaf
  • 1/2 TB brown organic sugar
  • 1/2 can no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 chipotles in adobe sauce, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen (or fresh) corn
  • 1/2 cup cubed butternut squash (I always have some frozen for the feta spinach muffins)
  • 1/2 regular sized can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 handful fresh baby spinach
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 ts chicken bouillon
heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet and fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned. Add the ground turkey and break up with a spatula to brown all sides lightly. Add all the spices and herbs, hot chili, the tomatoes, chipotle, corn, butternut squash and water and bouillon. Stir, combin and bring to a simmer. Add the cannellini beans, and simmer the chili on low for 30min. Add the spinach, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, and serve with some sour creme or creme fraiche and crusty bread.
turkey chili

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kale with crocodile

Curly kale sauteed in olive oil, anchovy paste, garlic and white wine. With bbq sauce and feta cheese. Crocodile: Patti Sandberg


Monday, October 17, 2011

Easy Italian plum tart

Italian plums are less common in US than in Europe. However, they make for a great, simple,  juicy tart in the fall. Using store-bought pie crust, this tart takes about 10 min to make (+ 30 min baking). Delicious!
Plum tart:
  • 9 1/2 inch tart pan (best with removable bottom)
  • store-bought (or home-made) bake-ready pie crust
  • 1 pound Italian plums, washed, stone removed, quartered
  • 3-4 tablespoon of ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml millk
  • 1/4 cup fine sugar
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
Preheat the oven for 375 F degrees. Lay the tart pan with a layer of pie crust and press it into the corners and rim of the tart pan. Cut off excess dough. Sprinkle the base slightly with ground hazelnuts or almond meal. Cover it with quartered plums. Sprinkle a 1 TB of sugar over the plums. Mix the eggs with the milk, the sugar and vanilla. Pour the mix over the plum tart and bake for 30 minutes. Let it set for about 30 min for the custard to set and firm before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Berbere-Spiced Red Lentils with Chickpeas

Berbere is an Ethopian spice with the aromas of spicy chili and warm cinnamon and nutmeg. It is spicy, aromatic and warming, a perfect spice for the fall. This recipes is simple, red lentils, chickpeas and tomato sauce, cooked in the slow cooker.

Berbere-Spiced Red Lentils: (makes 2 servings)
  • 1/4 cup dried red lentils (available at Indian grocery stores or online)
  • 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (or half can, drain and rinsed)
  • 1 small (8oz) can no-salt added can tomato sauce
  • 1 TB berbere
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 TB brown sugar
  • 1 ts vegetable bouillon
Soak the chickpeas for 6h or overnight (or used canned ones).
In a saute pan, heat the oil and sweat the chopped onion until it is translucent. Add the minced garlic and fry for about 1 min (make sure to not burn them). Add the dried red lentil, and the rinsed chickpeas, and stir until all the ingredients are mixed. Turn off stove, and pour the mix in a small slowcooker. Add the tomato sauce, the berbere, refill the empty tomato sauce can with water and add, add the bouillon and the brown sugar. Stir, cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours until the chickpeas are cooked. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vegan Chili Verde with Hominy

It is chili weather, chilly + chili. The Food Network knows this and Giada di Laurentiis was also prepared with a special cooking different chilis, which all looked delicious and off the beaten path. I made the vegan chili verde which is light and quite different from meaty, heavy and beany chilis, but it does not lack the punch and stewy consistency. Tomatillos add a tart and lemony dimension and it works well with the potatoes, hominy and pureed poblanos. 

Vegan Chili Verde with Hominy, skinny-jeans-fied (original source): (makes 4 large servings)

  • 1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 chopped white onion
  • medium sized Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • medium sized yam (red-skinned sweet potato), peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 3 large cloves garlic, flattened, peeled and microplaned
  • 4 large tomatillos (8 to 9 ounces), husked, rinsed, cored and chopped
  • 2 large poblano chiles (8 to 9 ounces), stemmed, seeded; 1 diced, 1 cut into 4 strips
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 15-ounce can hominy with juices (preferably golden)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • One 7-ounce can diced mild green chiles
  • Garnishes, such as crumbled feta cheese, greek yogurt, chopped green onions, sliced avocados, lime wedges and chopped serrano chiles

  • Open the can of mild green chiles  and pour then in a processor. Coarsely chop the raw poblano peppers and add them to the food processor, and puree until smooth. This makes for a nice deep green color of the chili. 

    Heat the oil in a heavy, large pot over low to medium heat. Add the chopped onions, diced potatoes, yams, garlic, and tomatillos. Cover and sweat until the onions are tender. Mix in the oregano, flour, and cumin. Add the hominy with the juices and the broth as well as the chile sauce from the food processor. Bring the chili to a low simmer.
    Cover and simmer the chili 20 minutes, but stir regularly because it tends to stick to the  pot bottom because of the tomatillos. After the first 20min, uncover and simmer until the potatoes and yams are tender and the chili is reduced to desired consistency, stirring often again, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

    Serve with your favorite toppings. I added greek yogurt and avocado slices.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Roasted Figs with Red Wine, Honey and Greek Yogurt

    The last few of the Trader Joes’ mission figs were more than ripe and baking them in red wine with spices and serving them with Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and cinnamon was the last fig recipe for the season. A luxurious, simple ending to the fig season!

    Roasted Figs   (makes 2 servings):
    • ca 10 fresh Mission figs, halved
    • 1/4 cup cabernet sauvignon
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 TB super-fine sugar
    • 3 whole star anise
    • 1 small cup Greek yogurt (like Fage)
    • 1 TB + 1 ts honey
    • 1/4 ts cinnamon
    Preheat oven to 400F.

    Arrange the figs in an oven-safe baking dish. In a small bowl, mix the cabernet, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and star anise. Pour over the mission figs, and bake for about 20 min.
    Mix a small cup of Greek yogurt with honey and cinnamon. Serve 10 half mission figs, still warm, on a plate for each portion, and top with a 1/2 cup of the sweetened Greek yogurt, and a drizzle of honey. 


    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Vegan Eats

    Despite a surge of summery temperatures it is undeniably fall. The leaves have turned their color, and it is much chillier on a regular day. That also means I like my vegetables warm again. I am going into my second fall/winter of almost vegan eats, and these are some of my recent lunches, inspired by baby bok choy from Trader Joes, fresh baby spinach, frozen peas, frozen artichoke hearts (also in stock at TJs again) and my favorite, petite brussels sprouts (Wholefoods). For added protein, I made a batch of the tofu spinach mix from my vegan lasagna. The perfect addition.

    VE3 VE2 VE1g

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Fig pizza

    Fresh California mission figs have not much of a shelf life to speak of. I was in a hurry to try out what I actually bought them for: fig pizza. The real deal  of this pizza is with pizza dough made from scratch, proscuitto, gorgonzola, walnuts, sliced figs, baked and then topped with arugula salad with a balsamic reduction drizzle. Since I had made an apple tart from scratch I was in no mood for all the fuzz. So, shortcut to the rescue. I used a frozen small Trader Joes pizza, removed much of the toppings, and added gorgonzola and goat cheese crumbles instead and topped it with fresh figs before baking. 15 min later, warm, baked and smelling heavenly I added thinly sliced radicchio, pecans and balsamic vinaigrette. Elegance with a shortcut.

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Radicchio with goat cheese, mission figs and balsamic vinaigrette

    My fig tree did only produce one fig that never matured, but there is always Trader Joes to the rescue. A whole box of California mission figs! This is a simple salad, with chopped local radicchio from the farmers market, some chinese cabbage, goat cheese crumbles and quartered mission figs with a home-made balsamic vinaigrette.


    Another dose of summer

    There was a 5 day stretch of winter foreboding last week: dark skies, cold temperatures and continuous rain. My body responded as necessary: putting me into a state of winter-ready hibernation. But the sun and even summer temperature came back this weekend. 80s? My body was more than ready to jerk me back into high energy and bright mood, and so I headed to the coast.

    Belfast, ME, is a good coastal destination, nice old red brick houses town center with amazing stores, and one of my favorite restaurant in Maine, Chase’s Daily. The restaurant is housed in basically one large tall room, with tables and chairs in the front, a cordoned area which separates the restaurant kitchen area, a large old-fashioned counter with the tastiest looking tarts and croissants and a lavish cheese counter. The back area of the restaurants is an empty, hardwood floor lined art gallery space in the winter, but in the summer and fall it is an indoor farmers market. Since Chase’s Daily grows most of their produce on their own farm, and the surplus is sold in the back part of the restaurant. So, you can get bread, cheese and veggies, and before you get ready to labor in the kitchen yourself, you can relax with a cappucino and a plum tart, or a Tuscan bean soup and some Geary’s ale as in my case.






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