Saturday, April 30, 2011

Kale Broccoli Soup

The spring is starting like a sputtering motor, one day it is warm, the next day it is cold again, then a bit warmer, then it is cold again.….. Today is one of those sunny, but windy and cold days and I felt like a hot soup for lunch. I had bought some fresh broccoli and still had a bunch of curly kale in the fridge. So, kale broccoli soup with fresh goat cheese from the FM  it was.
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, lower parts of stems cut out, rest torn into large pieces
  • 2 cups of broccoli
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 3 cups of vegan bouillon
  • some grate nutmeg
  • 1/2 ts ground garlic
Heat the olive oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add the kale and broccoli, the bouillon  and sweet potato, cover and simmer for about 20min until the broccoli is cooked and the sweet potato soft. Add the nutmeg and garlic. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup into a smooth consistency. Serve with some goat cheese (I am using the local goat cheese from Olde Oak Farm).
kale broccoli soup

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kale planting time

The sun is still rare but the temperatures are up and no frost in sight so I decided today to plant my kale seedlings in the raised bed. I hope the combination of light, warmth and rain will make them happy (and grow!). Some of the mache I planted last summer had actually survived the harsh Maine winter and 2 feet of snow, and is ready to go into a second season. The curly parsley is also saying hello to the new season.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Almost …free lunch

After I packed my lunch box and headed to work I realize it is “Maine Day” at the University of Maine. In the old days Maine Day meant no classes for a day and everyone rides around on a broomstick to clean the campus from the signs of the almost finished school year and winter. Nowadays it seems to involve actually getting dirty instead of cleaning anything.
mud volleyball
Besides a tournament of mud volleyball, it involved loud house music blasting from the fraternity houses, many people shaving their heads for a kids with cancer fundraiser and yes, free lunch – hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw and something that looked very much like beer (but very likely was no beer). I missed the free lunch by about 3 mins. Dang!

Vegan lunch box

Today’s lunchbox was a result of me experimenting with a new kitchen tool yesterday (more about that later), and having perfectly steamed potatoes on hand. The lunch box’s first layer was romaine salad, the second baby spinach leaves, surrounded by bright red local (!) tomatoes, and the star is the potato salad with fresh chives, pickled jalapenos, and a sherry vinaigrette. I am looking forward to lunch!
lunch box

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fast Vegan Tomato Soup

The fastest tomato soup is likely opening a can, but canned tomato soup that is not a pop culture item but clean eating organic natural can be expensive compared to a home-made version. This one here still breaks speed records in the food preparation department and tastes great.
  • 2 cans no-salt added diced tomatoes (I prefer the Trader Joes brand, but any other would work, too)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cube organic vegan Rapunzel no-salt vegetable bouillon
  • handful fresh basil (or 2 frozen cubes)
  • 1 TB dry or fresh rosemary
  • 1 hot pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned
  • splash white or red wine
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TB organic brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Garnish: daiya mozzarella and pepitas
For the non-vegan version add:
Open the cans of tomatoes and puree to smooth consistency in a food processor (best: Vitamix). Pour into a pot and start heating it. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and let simmer for about 10 min (or longer on very low heat, up to 30min). Serve with daiya mozzarella and pepitas.
tomato soup

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Seared Local Tuna with Roasted Poblano Corn Salsa

I am trying to be exclusively vegan again, but with the sight of fresh, not previously frozen, dark tuna at the Farmers Market this was nearly impossible. Tuna like this seared correctly is heaven. At the grocery store I had picked up fresh poblanos and ears of corn. Today, I got my inner Bobby Flay out, and made and plated lunch: seared tuna on roasted poblano corn salsa
Roasted poblano corn salsa: (makes 3-4 small servings)
  • 2 ears of corn (with husk)
  • 2 poblano pepper, washed
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 TB champagne or sherry vinegar
  • 1 TB chili olive oil
  • 1/2 ts organic brown sugar
Roast the poblanos and corn on the grill until the corn husk are charred and the poblanos’ skin is blistered and black. Remove the poblanos, peel the burnt skin off, and chop finely. Add to the chopped onion. Grill the corn for 15-20 min with husk on medium-high and turn several times. Then, remove the husks and grill for another 5 min. Remove from grill and use a fancy kitchen toy tool to cut the roasted corn of the cob (or a simple knife but beware of splattered corn). Add the corn to the salsa and season with salt and pepper. Mix the vinegar, oil and sugar, and whisk well. Add to the salsa and mix. It will be a warm salsa.
Heat a pan on really high heat with sufficient oil so that the tuna will sear right away. Sear seasoned tuna on both sides for about 1 min (depending on you raw you like it). Plate with salsa. Enjoy!
poblanos  grilled corn

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Black Bean Stir Fry

Quite often  I throw together varies frozen vegetables for a fast stir fry. A handful of this, a handful of that, heated with a 1/4 cup of water and a dash of shoyu, until the vegetables are cooked but still slightly on the crunchy side. Finished off with a dash of BBQ sauce. Delicious! Yesterday I found  a new tasty combination: handful of petite Brussels sprouts (Whole Foods Market), haricot vert (Trader Joes), and edamame, with some water and a 1/4 cup of canned, no-salt added black navy beans, heated through for 10 min with some salt and pepper until the water is cooked off. Vegan fast food….
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It is Earth Day today!

Earth day, Good Friday, the Easter weekend upon us and it is also a sunny and maybe not too frigid day so that I can celebrate Earth Day with leaving the car in the garage and bike around. Also, the annual group of greenish painted nakid students biking around on campus won’t freeze their nakid butts off (I am not one of them, but let me tell you it’s quite a surprise running in 10 nakid students on campus). So, I leave you with a Vanity Fair cover of Leonardo Di Caprio and a baby picture of Knut, the polar bear, who sadly passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 4 years. RIP, Knut and hopefully something will done to rescue the wild life polar bears with keeping a lid on global warming.
And don’t forget to pick up your free coffee or tea bringing your own reusable cup to Starbucks today!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hands on Super Natural Food

Yesterday, on a spring outing admiring blooming flowers at Lowes and petting baby goats in a local garden store I finally held it in my hands, the long awaited new book by Heidi Swanson, Super Natural Food Everyday. Just beautifully photographed with inspiring recipes, as expected.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunny side salad

It is finally warm (at least for today), the lawn looks decidedly green instead of gray, and the salad also takes advantages of the spring buys: radicchio, apple, strawberries, gorgonzola crumbles, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.

spring salad

Monday, April 18, 2011

It will never end

Thanks for making me the Epic Roots Mache salad supporter of the month! ;-) (I also love your European mix). It is always the first thing I peer at when I make it to Whole Foods in Portland, ME.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

First grilled corn of 2011


It is still more than chilly in Maine despite the abundant sunshine. Some patio furniture and the first plants are already outside. I am more than looking forward to a summer of vegan eats, so different from mostly frozen vegetables and salads in the winter, fresh seasonal produce will be available. When I saw cobs of corn at the supermarket, I was plotting my first vegan meal on the BBQ.

I cleared out some of the corn husk, and put the cobs on the grill on medium heat, and let the inside steam and perfectly cook protected by its own leaves.


After about 20 min, the hulls were charred and the corn perfectly steamed. I pulled back the husk to add some grill marks to the corn. The BBQ helped with the final removing the husk by them just burning it off.

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At the same time, I put 2 big sweet potatoes on the bbq, poking its skin to let the steam escape. After 30min they were soft cooked and caramel sweet. Adding some garlicky kale salad, the first BBQ lunch was ready.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lobster, revisited

Lobster is one of my favorite dishes, lucky me living in Maine. I love eating freshly steamed lobster at the road side lobster shacks on the way to Acadia National park. Only recently, however, I discovered there is more to lobster than the delicious lobster meat – the shells! After watching old Julia Child episodes I had started to make my own stock last year, mostly with Maine shrimp shells. Especially seafood stock is incredible when home-made and used for risotto.
After I enjoyed my birthday lobster, it was time to make stock. Slow cooked, with cognac, sweet onions, herbs, and tomatoes. It is waiting now in my freezer for my next seafood risotto. 

Lobster Stock (based on Julia Child’s stock for bouillabaisse):
  • 1 sliced sweet onion
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • A heavy 8-quart kettle or casserole
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 3 cloves mashed garlic
  • swig of cognac
Cook the onions slowly in the olive oil for 5 minutes without browning. Take pot from flame, add in the cognac, stir, put back on heat and cook cognac off (or flambe it!). Stir in the tomato paste and garlic, and cook 5 minutes more.
  • 2½ quarts water
  • 2 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • a few juniper berries
  • a pinch of saffron 
  • a few springs of parseley and fennel (summer version)
  • A 2-inch piece or ½ tsp dried orange peel
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • shells of 2 lobsters (not the body, just tail and claws)
Add the water, herbs, seasoning, and lobster shells to the pot. Bring to boil, and cook, uncovered, at the very slow boil for 2h. Strain, correct seasoning. Set aside, uncovered, until cool. If you are not using immediately, refrigerate or freeze.
FOOD (1 of 1) lobster_broth

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A little piece of heaven

Yesterday, I was in heaven for about 10 min eating a small serving of zabaglione gelato from Gorgeous Gelato on Fore Street in Portland. It was my birthday weekend trip to Portland, and K. had mentioned that a pretty good gelato place had opened, if I had tried it out already. Gelato? Can that be trusted if the gelato place is not located in Italy? Well, this one can be trusted.
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The gelato is freshly made everyday in small batches with authentic Italian recipes. Chocolate, berries, cinnamon, tiramisu and other wonderful flavors. It really puts you in heaven for 10 mins.
Gorgeous Gelato, 434 Fore Street, Portland, ME   (website)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garlicky Kale

Last time I perused the salad bar at   the Whole Foods Market, I tried the ‘garlicky kale’. I must admit I was not a big fan of raw kale before since its texture felt too coarse, but the very garlicky dressing made me forget all about it. Grabbing a large bunch of curly kale last time at the grocery store, it was time to recreate the recipe, and it came out amazingly well

  • 1/2 bunch curly kale, washed and padded dry
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 TB Trader Joes' Champagne Pear Dressing
  • 1 TB fat reduced feta crumbles
  • pepper to taste

In a bowl, whisk all the marinade/sauce ingredients, and then rip the kale leaves into ‘chips’, discard the steams. Using your hands, mix in the marinade. Cover bowl with a lid, and let sit for about 1h in the fridge. Serve!

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting an early start with lacinato kale

The lacinato kale seedlings are getting ready for the summer to come but likely have to stay inside until the middle of May.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Fiery Volcano Risotto

The temperatures outside need a little bit of help. A fiery hot risotto might do so, especially if it is made with home-made stock from Maine shrimp, hot fresh chilies, and scallops, mussels and shrimp.

  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice, washed and rinsed
  • 1 ts ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/2 sweet white onion, finely minced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • good splash of dry white wine
  • 1 fresh hot chili, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cup of home-made shrimp stock (see below)
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 6 large scallops
  • handful of frozen or fresh shrimp
  • 10 mussels
  • 2 TB fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the clarified butter in a heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and sweat until translucent. Then add the washed rice, the garlic and the chili, stir and toast for 30 seconds on medium heat.Add the white wine, stir gentle and wait until it is evaporated. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and start laddling in 1/4-1/2 cup of heated shrimp stock to the risotto. Cook the risotto gently on low heat until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Once the stock is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup of shrimp stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 20 min). Now, add the seafood and cook another 3-4 minutes until the seafood is just cooked. Add the parmesan cheese and gently stir in. Serve!

(makes 2 servings)


Shrimp stock:

One advantage of buying fresh shrimp is that peeling them makes for a good amount of shrimp shells and a perfect basis for home-made shrimp stock.

  • shells of 1 pound of (Maine)  shrimp (lobster shells would work well, too)
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1 TB juniper berries
  • 1 TB pepper corns
  • 2-3 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 fresh bay leaf

Bring to a boil, and cook on ultralow heat (a bare simmer) for 2-3 hours. Discard shells, and sieve the stock. Freeze or keep in the fridge until use. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Winter wonderland, once again

This week, we went from this
to this on April 1 (no joke!)….
to waking up this this…… I guess I will be going skiing again!