Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
I am seriously in love with this pesto. Yesterday, I ransacked my few basil plants and the mache bed to make another batch. This time I added the juice of a 1/2 lemon; it adds to the taste and the pesto does not get brown. I also added some Trader Joes’ sheep milk feta – not much but it also makes the pesto rich in flavor. Today for lunch I cooked up a batch of ratatouille, well, a very basic version with summer squash, haricot vert and garlic scapes and a few chickpeas and added a heap of pesto. Great!
Sunday, July 24, 2011
A pink mini donut at Starbucks and an iced Americano to wipe away the last sleepy cowebs in my head. I headed out of town with no clear plan of what do to. Something coastal/South. I had been to Acadia National Park quite a few times already, Portland was too long of a drive, so something else. Once I left town I knew where to head: Camden.
On the way on Highway 1 South, a few picturesque outdoor flea markets line the roadside.
Naturally, a Maine flea market along a busy coastal highway must have Maine-ish things for the tourista. Like stuffed deer, or black bears or a cute moose. Or lobster buoys and cages. Seeing a moose close up like this typically happens only at a fleamarkt. Bears, too. If you are lucky. Because otherwise, they land on your windshield. Or eat your cats for snacks.
Lots of very old books (like law books from 1830) or antique cameras or vinyl records. Rather than enticing me to buy anything a flea market just reminds be of the passing of time. And sometimes we just want a trinket of times long gone. As if we can hold on to it.
Highway No 1 finally took me to Camden, the scenic (and very touristy) coastal town with a harbor full of windjammers, which offer 1/2 day tours, all kind of beautiful private sailboats, and the occasional super-yacht. Good food, nice views, and somehow just too much traffic.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Before I heard of the sad news I was surprised this morning that we had had some rain overnight, unexpected and unpredicted and so necessary. It had not rained in almost 4 weeks. It was overcast, much cooler, and I headed off the farmers market. Single-mindedly I bought yellow zucchini (10 for $3) and a large bag of mixed greens with some edible flowers in them. Then I found yellow cucumbers. Yellow cucumbers? They remind be of summer squash and melons, so I had to try them.
The first dish I made was a yellow cucumber salad with Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic vinegar, salt and dill. Chilled! The second dish is a yellow cucumber tzatzki, the Greek summer dish, with Greek yogurt, grate cucumber, dill, salt, pepper and garlic.
The summer heat is back, but cooling food is waiting. Eating, still humming, they tried to make me go to rehab and ……
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I missed the show on Foodtv, but I still was enthralled by the interesting twist Melissa D’Arabian added to the classic tabouli: make it Israeli couscous. I put my own twist on her inspiration: instead of plain Israeli couscous use the Trader Joes harvest grains, and added sweet gherkins which give the tabouli a nice crunch and light sweetness.
Israeli Couscous Tabouli made with Harvest Grains:
- 1/2 cup Trader Joes harvest grains (or plain Israeli couscous)
- 3/4 cup water or vegetable broth
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
- 10 cherry tomatoes ripe tomatoes, diced
- 8 mini sweet gherkins, diced
Chop the mint, parsley and cilantro. In a glass storage/serving container, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and add the cooled harvest grains, the chopped herbs, the tomatoes and gherkins, and gently stir. Chill for about 1h and serve.
I first had this hummus at the farmers market. They also offer a great hummus with garlic scapes, which I love (the next recreation!). My own version of the curried hummus turned out great. It is a basic hummus recipe but with curry powder and a touch of sweetness with some maple syrup.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked for 45min with a bay leaf and 3 small garlic cloves (instr see below)
- 1 TB garlic flavored (or plain) extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 ts salt and some fresh ground pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and microplaned
- 1 1/2 TB tahini (sesame butter)
- 1/2 TB curry powder
- 1 TB maple syrup
- ca 1/4 of chickpea cooking liquid (or water if using canned chickpeas)
Cooking dried chickpeas:
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 2-3 cups of water
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves garlic
Cook in 1 1/2 cups of water and add a fresh or dried bay leaf and 2 peeled garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low for about 45min (or until soft). Preserve cooking liquid.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Last weekend it was the first time I found beets at the farmers market; this week I even found golden beets. Today, I steamed both the red and golden beets to add them to salads throughout the week. I cleaned them again under some cold water, cut off the leaves (to be sauted later..) and the tips (to be composted) and cut the bigger red beets into 1/2 inch thick slices. The golden beets were too small so I kept them whole. I placed all the beets in a steamer inset, and added about 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pot. Once the water was boiling the steam basically gently cooked the beets; in 20 min they are soften to eat.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
I’ve always loved pasta…. spaghetti, penne, farfalle, rigatoni…. you name it and shape it. However, pasta has quite a bit of calories for not a lot of pasta. If you are not running marathons or stuck in the gym for an hour a day but more or less have a desk job and have came to believe that eventually no one can defy the laws of thermodynamics (energy in vs energy out and it does not matter if the calories come in form of whole foods or twinkies), pasta is often a tricky choice: yes, lovely, luxurious and tastes great, but you have to eat like Giada Di Laurentiis (“I always just take 2 bites…”) to look like Giada Di Laurentiis.
A few years ago I found Fiber Gourmet pasta. Let me tell you, my pasta dilemma now is solved (Besides, that it would be great if they’d make farfalle and rigatoni shapes!).
Fiber Gourmet adds a resistant starch to the pasta, which cannot be digested but adds the effect of fiber. The same amount of pasta has 40% less calories, and the fiber is significantly increased. All their pasta just tasted like regular pasta and has the same texture. I’ve served it to people who do not know about FG, and no one noticed. So, you basically can eat almost twice the amount for the same calories. A healthy serving!
Fiber Gourmet pasta comes in short fettucini, elbows, penne, rotini, spaghetti (!!!) and also as lasagna sheets. There are also plenty of flavored fettucini available, which taste great, but I typically put the taste in the sauce and prefer plain pasta.
As for clean eating and avoiding processed foods, the pasta contains only durum semolina flour and the resistant starch. I am not quite happy with engineered starch, but the overall concept makes me as a pasta lover really happy, and brings pasta to the table almost every other day.
Currently, I have not seen Fiber Gourmet pasta in stores, but I order them online (netrition.com has a good deal, 2.99 per packages or at FG directly).
Some pasta recipes made with fiber gourmet pasta:
- Fettuccine Carbonara with Porcini
- Four Cheese Pasta
- Lobster Saffron Pasta
- Pasta with Broccoli Rabe
- Pasta della Isola d'Elba
Note: I have not been reimbursed by Fiber Gourmet; any opinions expressed here are my own.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
- 2 oz gin
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 TB caster or any kind of sugar
- ice cubes
- soda water (or regular water if soda water requires another grocery trip).
Yesterday at the farmers market, suddenly zucchini appeared for the season, 2 for $1, or 5 for $2. I got five, and believe me, I picked the largest of the bunch. Today, improvising for lunch I looked at the bounty of zucchini in my fridge, and grilling came to mind. Sweet, charred, succulent zucchini slices…… but then I changed my mind and made the first ratatouille of the season. This is a recipe I truly came up with myself and love more than words can say: plenty of coarse chopped summer vegetables, steamed in their own juices with a hint of olive oil and anchovy filets to get them started and plenty of fresh rosemary, basil and thyme, a tad of fresh garlic and parmesan cheese added before serving! A splash of white wine does not hurt. It is the rustic version of ratatouille, but so flavorful!
Nevertheless, of course I bought it because I want figs!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- 1 cup packed mache (or any other ‘filler’ leaves like baby spinach)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 T white miso (I use sodium reduced white mellow miso)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- fresh ground pepper
- 1/8 cup water (more or less depending on desired consistency)
- juice of 1/2 lemon (prevents that the pesto turns brown)
- optionally (for non-vegan version): 1 oz of sheep's milk feta
Monday, July 11, 2011
S.: “I now grow fresh mint in my garden. When you come visit next time, you can make these killer mojitos again!” (A. makes the best mojitos known to mankind)
A. “Hmmm, I am kind of mojitos-ed out….” (Instead of a grad student, A. is now a hard working professional.) “…. but you know what? Fresh mint is great in stuffed grape leaves!!!!”
I kind of scratched my head; I had had an attempt at stuffed grape leaves a few years ago but somehow did not prepare the leaves quite right and they were too tough to eat. But, I decided to give it another try, with focus on getting the leaves prepared correctly. And, with the help of google search and online tutorials, success was granted this time!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Finally, a really, really hot day with blue skies that asks for a bikini, a relentlessly lazy tanning day and filling the make-shift home pool. Also the fridge is full with fruit, and a cool fruit salad seems just the fare for today. It reminds me of the time when my mom packed up a big cooler with sandwiches and fruit salad, and we would head out to the public pool first thing in the morning, and stay all day, splash in the water, run around, eat, play, meet friends, until the cooler was empty and it was 5pm and time to go home, tired and with manageable temperatures. But I am getting ahead of myself it is only noon!
There are many things to do today, and when you wait for 7month for summer to arrive it feels like not missing out on hikes, the ocean, the beach, but for today I am staying put, at home and maybe at the river. Heat and crowds, not a good combination.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
This is a great potato salad to for a potluck BBQ (or your own!) since it is a bit different with sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives and feta cheese. Fresh oregano gives it the extra Greek edge.
- 1 pound small waxy red potatoes
- 1/2 red onion, small diced
- 2 garlic scapes, small dice
- 150g sheep’s feta cheese
- 10 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
- 2 TB fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 TB fresh mint, chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- some extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Peel the potatoes, cut them in large chunks and place them on a steamer inset in a pot with a lid. Fill the pot with water below the steamer inset; bring water to a boil, place the lid on the pot, and steam the potatoes for 20 min. Drain the water from the pot, and let the potatoes ‘steam off’ and dry out on the stove for about 5min.
Meanwhile finely chop the red onion and add them to a bowl. Chop the garlic scrapes, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, crumbled feta and the chopped oregano, and mint. Make a dressing with the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Once the potatoes are cooked and cool enough to handle cut them into cubes and add to the bowl. Add the dressing, and mix all ingredients with the dressing and serve at room temp.